We told you so. CES 2012 was flooded with more cheap tablets than you could shake a dev kit at, most of which we neglected to report on for obvious reasons. But Coby has been steadily building a reputation for affordable (if not desirable) hardware for years, and they’re jumping into Ice Cream Sandwich in a big way. A representative was kind enough to show us an early hardware version of the tablet on the show floor. The “MID9742-8”, just one of nine tablets coming from the company in the next few months, is on the higher end of their Kyros product line.
The hardware we tried out wasn’t full baked (for example, the manufacturer still isn’t sure whether they’ll be including a rear camera) but the software seemed almost ready to go – the tablet was running a surprisingly solid version of Android 4.0.1. Unlike most of the more expensive models, not to mention other offerings from Coby itself, this tablet has a 4:3 1024×768 screen, and at 9.7 inches it’s almost exactly the same size and resolution as the HP TouchPad and iPad.
Under the hood you get a rather pokey 1Ghz single-core Cortex processor, but a generous 1GB of RAM. Internal memory is capped at 8GB, but a MicroSD card should allow for media junkies to add as much storage as they can use. Standard hardware like an accelerometer, microphone and B/G/N WiFi should make for an Android experience that’s at least comparable to more expensive slates, though you’ll have to rely on GetJar for apps. A Coby representative said that the company is well aware that many of its users add Google Apps and the Android Market via various hacks, and doesn’t really have a problem with it.
The 9.7-inch Kyros is intended for a Q2 release at under $200. Various other models with smaller screens and less powerful hardware will be even cheaper, though a 16:10 models of the 10-inch tablet will have better resolution. Coby is trying to hit every conceivable part of the cheap tablet market, and good for them – with heavier players like Asus preparing entry-level models like the $250 quad-core MeMO, they’ll need every edge they can get.