1&1 SmartPad: ARM-Powered 7" Tablet With Android Under The Hood

Another tablet PC? Really? Can the world even stand to see another one? We sure hope so, because yet another company is trying their luck in the already-saturated market. But this company is a bit different than the rest. How so? Well, for starters, 1&1 isn't a hardware company. They aren't even a software company. They're a German Internet provider, which makes it all the stranger.

But we have to confess that the renders so far are extremely enticing, and if it's executed properly, the device (called the SmartPad) may have a decent chance at catching on. Not because we expect 1&1 to spend more marketing dollars than Apple or LG or any other major company will, but because it sounds as if it will be offered for nothing. Free. Nada. Nil.

That's a pretty seductive price tag, although it will only be offered gratis if you purchase a monthly Internet/data plan. But as with many netbooks that are offered on similar plans, there's definitely a market for subsidized gear. While it's a looker, the internal specifications aren't nearly as powerful as many of the other tablets being produced today. There's just a 500MHz ARM11 CPU, a USB port, 256MB of RAM, a SD card slot and Android 1.6. The company says that Android 2.2 will eventually be supported, but users won't have access to the full App Market; instead, they'll only have access to a proprietary app store. But if you can get over that limitation, and you're okay with the data rate of around 20 Euros per month, it may be next on your list when it ships later in the month. But only in Germany, for now.