Although we've seen a couple of interesting Android devices from the land of the rising sun recently, I get the feeling that Japanese manufacturers have yet to fully embrace Android and the tablet form factor as much as other international companies. This may change sooner rather than later with the growing success enjoyed by Android and tablets such as the iPad, and one positive sign is NEC's announcement of a new Android tablet called the LifeTouch.
Upon first glance, the MID strikes you with its very clean, minimalist white design and a few interesting details such as a d-pad on the left edge. The hardware specs are also impressive, with a 7-inch WVGA resistive touch screen, an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU (clockspeed unspecified), 256MB of DDR RAM, b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, a rear-facing 3MP camera, built-in GPS and accelerometer, support for SD/SDHC cards, two USB 2.0 ports, and a mono mic and stereo speakers. In addition, the tablet will run Android 2.1, have a battery life of 8 hours, and weigh around 14.1 ounces.
Apart from the LifeTouch tablet itself, NEC was also showing a few interesting looking accessories including a compact docking station and a folder-style case with a lid. The case matches the tablet perfectly with the look reminding me a bit of the Nintendo DSi.
The tablet should go on sale in Japan in October, but there currently isn't any information on the final price or whether we will get to see it internationally.
Overall, I think the LifeTouch is a welcome entry to the tablet MID market with a potent mix of good specs and a very clean but interesting design. The d-pad should prove to be a useful addition as an alternative method to navigate the UI, websites, and perhaps for games.
NEC also has plans to market the tablet to businesses as the Cloud Communicator, with access to a range of cloud-based services and applications.[NEC via CrunchGear]