Driving the Cius’ focus home are a single-button video conference control and a unique docking station with traditional phone handset; it can also support gigabit Ethernet and USB. Cisco’s full range of features, such as VPN connections and WebEx, are supported in software.
As an independent device, the tablet mostly uses 802.11n Wi-Fi to get online but has the option of 3G and will eventually support 4G. Bluetooth is built-in. Opting for a smaller size helps keep the weight down to 1.15 pounds, but Cisco still expects that the device can last for up to eight hours.
Cisco’s entry marks a defensive move for the company, as the iPad has already been entering business to a limited degree. Many of Cisco’s features are still off-limits for the iPad without third-party apps, but the Cius may let Cisco keep selling to large customers for common tasks like the web and e-mail.
The news comes early as Cisco is testing the Cius with some of its clients in the summer; it won’t ship in earnest until 2011.