AlessiTab: The Designer Android Tablet

CES 2011

Design nerds and Pinkberry regulars might recognize the brand Alessi. The Italian design company is primarily known for their assortment of whimsical and brightly colored products for the home and kitchen (often sighted at Pinkberry locations). What we didn't expect was for Alessi to jump into the Android tablet device category, but lo and behold, there they were at CES with their AlessiTab.

Designed by Stefano Giovannoni (who also designed one of the most beautiful landline phones), and born of a partnership between Alessi and Promelit, the 10.1" HD touchscreen AlessiTab is built with the Android operating system and specifically tweaked with a UI abandoning most of the unnecessary eye candy that hampers other Android devices, giving it a handsome overall impression. The AlessiTab is obviously aimed as a secondary kitchen and home device, with a form factor meant to be used in two positions: one at a slanted display angle for input/viewing and a more vertical position primarily for viewing media; a gravitational sensor can rotate the image according to position.

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So what's inside? An ARM 11 720MHz processor, 1GB flash storage, with a modest 256 MB of memory powers the 1024x600 screen so don't expect to outrace the latest and greatest with these specs. But there's also wi-fi b/g/n, an integrated 1.3 megapixel camera, 2x2 watt speakers, an integrated microphone, 2USB ports, SD card and HDMI out, making it a capable device if set for kitchen or bedside table duty.

The unit we played around with was set in Italian, which made for fun testing while launching an included recipe app; we also tested the web browser and scrolling through the interface. As expected, there was a tiny bit of lag, but surprisingly barely so. Apps included: email, Twitter and Facebook integration, weather information, recipes/nutrition, internet radio, photo frame mode, and even a hidden pop-out antenna allowed for digital television reception. And because it's an Android device, additional apps could conceivably be added to extend utility of the device.

But make no mistake, the AlessiTab's included apps reveal it to be a tablet with the primary duty of staying docked nearby in the kitchen while cooking or near your bed for alarm and information duty (a charging docking station is included; the connecting elements looked a little rough compared to the rest of the thought out finish). In an increasingly competitive tablet market, the AlessiTab's main ace up its sleeve is Giovannoni's sleek design and the Alessi branding, but we're not sure if it's enough to distinguish itself in our domestic market where the spec-crazed tend to overlook design. No word on price or availability according to the Alessi rep we spoke to; the company was there to showcase the product in hopes of finding a domestic distributor, but we'll follow up with any additional information about the AlessiTab when we hear back.