Intex i-Buddy, India’s first tablet with keypad, launched

In the era of cheap me-too 7-inch tablets, PC peripherals brand Intex has launched a standout ultra-slim tablet with a built-in keyboard like that of the Microsoft Surface.

The Intex i-Buddy, priced at Rs 6,500 (the same as Micromax Funbook), seems better value for money than the Micromax model and many others in the 7-inch mid-range tablet segment.

The main plus points of the Intex i-Buddy are

One – it is stylish.

Unlike the bulky (sometimes plain ugly) models that populate the less-than-Rs-10,000 market, this one has a bit of a Galaxy Tab air about it. With a thickness of 9 mm, Intex claims it is the slimmest 7-inch tablet in India. In addition, it weighs just 316 gm compared to about 360 gm for for Micromax Funbook and 402 gm for the new Reliance 3G Tab.

While it may not seem like a big deal, low weight is an important factor as it lets you hold the tablet like a book while you are lying on a bed or sofa, and read.

In addition, it has looks to match, and is one of the most stylish low-cost tablets in the country at present.

Two – it is decently speced.

The specifications are decent, if not the most awesome. The Intex i-Buddy has a 1 GHz single-core processor, a capacitive five-point touch display and comes with the latest Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. It is one of the few tablets in India that come with Android ICS and not Android 2.x.

Three – the keyboard.

It comes with a Microsoft Surface-like built-in keypad and a leather cover. This will be extremely handy for those who intend to also use the tablet as an input device — for example for typing out an email. No other tablet in India has anything like this and this feature alone makes the Intex i-Buddy a good choice for many people.

Four – it’s not overly expensive.

At Rs 6,500, Intex may have hit upon the current sweet-spot in the Indian tablet market.

At the same time, the tablet has a few downsides, which may be deal breakers for some.

First is that there is no built in 3G. Of course, none of the less-than-Rs-10,000 tablets in India have this feature either, so it’s not really a big drawback. However, if you must have built-in 3G, you will need to shell out upwards of Rs 10,000 in the Indian market, primarily because of the license fees involved in 3G technology.

The i-Buddy, however, supports 3G dongles (USB cards.)

The second drawback is the relatively short battery-life of 3 hours. Of course, it had to be – given that the tablet weighs only 316 gm. Some of that slimness has come at the cost of battery life. If your use is going to be primarily out of doors, this is perhaps not the best choice for you.

The final point of uncertainty is the display — the company has not given the resolution. Going by other models in the market such as the Funbook, it is perhaps 800 x 480 pixels, but we are not sure.

The model has been launched in South India for now and will be available at Intex distributors.