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Cisco's new tablet computer focuses on collaboration and communication

The jury is still out on whether the Apple iPad will win over the health care community, but competitors are wasting no time trying to get in on the action. This week Cisco unveiled its entry in the tablet computer market, the Cisco Cius. The Cius is hailed as a “mobile collaboration business tablet” that integrates with Cisco’s collaboration and communication applications.

How does the Cius compare with the iPad? The Cius weighs 1.15 pounds, slightly less than the 1.5-pound iPad, and is based on the Google Android operating system. The iPad does not have a camera for video conferencing, but the Cius has two — a front-mounted 720p high-definition camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, along with dual noise-canceling microphones. The Cius has a 7-inch screen, compared with the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. The Cius’ battery is detachable and serviceable, unlike the iPad’s built-in battery; the two tablets have a similar number of battery hours. Their wireless capabilities also are very similar; both the iPad and the Cius support 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and 3G cellular services. The Cius will offer 4G services at a later date.

Even though the iPad has a significant head start in the tablet computer market, the Cius has a couple of advantages that could give it the edge for widespread adoption by the health care industry. First, it uses virtual desktop integration, making it easier than the iPad to integrate into an existing IT infrastructure. Second, it can be used for Web conferencing, making it a possible vehicle for telemedicine services.

Health care providers will have to wait to test drive the Cius, however: It won’t be available until the first quarter of 2011.

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