by Staff Writers
Sydney Oct 27, 2010
Australia's major telecom firm Telstra unveiled a tablet device to rival Apple's iPad on Wednesday, featuring many of the same functions but with the added bonus of also working as a mobile phone.
Telstra's T-Touch Tab, which goes on sale next week, allows users to make video and phone calls and send text messages, and is being touted as the country's "most affordable wireless tablet".
"T-Touch Tab will suit Australians' appetite for quick and affordable access to information, useful apps and digital media wherever they may be," said Rebekah O'Flaherty, executive director of Telstra's consumer division.
"From games that keep the kids amused, reading e-books, checking your email or catching the weather on the move, the possibilities are virtually endless."
The device will retail for 299 Australian dollars (295 US) and has a seven inch (18 centimetre) touchscreen. It runs on Google's Android 2.1 operating system, offering access to more than 80,000 applications.
Experts have described it as Australia's first budget-priced tablet, giving it generally warm reviews.
PC World computer magazine said it stood out compared with competitors like the iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab as an "affordable, entry-level tablet that doesn't skimp on too many features".
Tech website Gizmodo Australia said the device was aimed at teenagers and older buyers "who might be interested in the idea of a tablet but don't want to pay 650 dollars for an iPad".
But the T-Touch's resistive touchscreen -- meaning users have to push down on it slightly -- was "probably too big a sacrifice for any discerning gadget lover," it cautioned.
Apple launched the iPad in Australia to much fanfare in May, with some customers holding overnight vigils to be first through the doors. Marketing firm GfK recently estimated almost 200,000 units had been sold.
Apple told AFP it "does not break figures down to a country level" but said more than 4.2 million iPads had been sold worldwide in the three months to September alone.
earlier related report
Apple opened two new retail shops in mainland China last month as it launched the iPhone 4. It now has two shops in Beijing and two more in Shanghai, with a total of 25 outlets expected by the end of next year.
The company's coveted products, from the iPod to the iPad tablet computer, are also available from a number of authorised resellers in major cities -- and widely in China's unofficial "grey" market.
"We are thrilled to open our newest online store in China," Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook said in a statement.
"With personalised engraving, configure-to-order options and free shipping on everything, the Apple Store is a great destination for our customers in China."
The launch of the App Store in simplified Chinese comes after Chinese users had complained that it was difficult to access content due to a lack of display in the local language.
Users still must have dual-currency credit cards to make purchases.
The iPhone 4 made its debut in China on September 25, a week after Apple officially launched the iPad in the country, with some customers queuing for several days to get their hands on the computer.
China has at least 420 million web users and is also the world's largest mobile market with more than 833 million subscribers at the end of September, according to official data.
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