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11:30 AM

Xiaomi, Samsung Use Color To Fight iPad

Xiaomi reveals Android-based iPad Mini clone, while Samsung preps colorful new tablets.

Xiaomi announced the Mi Pad, a colorful tablet that's clearly inspired by Apple's iPad Mini. The company hopes to tempt customers with brighter options and lower prices. Separately, Samsung invited media to a tablet-themed event scheduled to take place in June.

Xiaomi, the Chinese device maker that hired Android-lead Hugo Barra away from Google last summer, revealed the Mi Pad on Thursday at an event in Beijing. Anyone with eyes can tell where Xiaomi found inspiration for the tablet's design (see video below).

For example, the Mi Pad has a 7.9-inch screen with 2048 x 1536 pixels -- the exact same size and pixel count of the iPad Mini's display. The tablet is sold in a number of colors, all of which mimic the appearance of the Apple iPhone 5c (which is made of plastic). Further, the user interface (called MIUI by Xiaomi) bears a striking resemblance to that used by Apple in iOS 7.

The Mi Pad doesn't run iOS 7, of course. It is based on Google's Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Other factors that differentiate the Mi Pad from the iPad Mini are found under the hood. The tablet is powered by the Nvidia Tegra K1 mobile system-on-a-chip clocked at 2.2 GHz. Nvidia first revealed the K1 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and the Mi Pad marks its first appearance in a consumer product. K1 will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit configurations, but Xiaomi didn't say which one is inside the Mi Pad.

[Want to know what's next for Android devices? See Google I/O 2014: 8 Things To Watch.]

The Mi Pad will be sold in 16-GB or 64-GB variants and it supports microSD cards for storage expansion. Both versions connect to the Internet via WiFi, and there won't be an LTE 4G version.

The Mi Pad's price drastically undercuts Apple's tablets. The base iPad Mini with Retina Display costs $399. The base Mi Pad costs $240 (1,499 yuan) and the high-capacity model costs $275 (1,699 yuan). Even the 2012-era iPad Mini costs more, at $299.

The Mi Pad goes on sale in June. It will initially be available in China. Xiaomi didn't say if or when the tablet will be sold in other markets.

In other colorful tablet news today, Samsung invited media to an event scheduled to take place on June 12 in New York City. The invitation uses lots of bright colors and reads "Galaxy Premiere 2014: Tab Into Color." Samsung is clearly suggesting it will debut new, colorful tablets at the event. Samsung already brought high-end tablets to the market earlier this year in the NotePRO and TabPRO devices. Samsung typically reserves the "Tab" brand for its entry-level or midrange tablets. The new hardware on deck for June 12 will likely be a family of low-cost tablets that will be offered in a handful of colors.

Could the growing movement toward open source hardware rewrite the rules for computer and networking hardware the way Linux, Apache, and Android have for software? Also in the Open Source Hardware issue of InformationWeek: Mark Hurd explains his "once-in-a-career opportunity" at Oracle.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2014 | 12:32:31 PM
Re: One problem ...
True. And I am sure that in China, where there are multiples of accessories since they are made there, that a number of case options will be made available. 

But I think Xiaomi is on to something. They have the potential to be a serious contender in mobile devices. But right now, they are going to focus on China first.  
User Rank: Strategist
5/15/2014 | 6:22:33 PM
Re: new Mi Tablets available in U.S.through iProTablet
iProTablet -- is one U.S. site to offer the Xiaomi tablets and has more details on these new models as well as six other tablets to launch in May, including the first hybrid Windows - Android dual boot tablet and a mega-size 12-inch tablet model.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/15/2014 | 5:55:47 PM
Re: One problem ...
>Color alone won't cut it in the US. It's a gimmick.

Apple got some mileage out of it with its original iMac. But then Xiaomi doesn't have a brand that rivals Apple's.
User Rank: Author
5/15/2014 | 4:09:59 PM
Re: One problem ...
Color alone won't cut it in the US. It's a gimmick.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
5/15/2014 | 12:31:55 PM
One problem ...
This would be a great idea if people didn't almost universally immediately pop their tablets into protective cases.
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