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Sep. 13, 2011 11:30 am

Philadelphia Media Network Android tablet Arnova 10 G2 hands-on [VIDEO]

Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, last night unveiled its Android-based tablet, the Arnova 10 G2, to a room full of partners at a cocktail party at 400 N. Broad, the Inquirer building. It’s a remarkably quick turnaround since the company announced the decision to launch an Android device bundled […]

Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, last night unveiled its Android-based tablet, the Arnova 10 G2, to a room full of partners at a cocktail party at 400 N. Broad, the Inquirer building.

It’s a remarkably quick turnaround since the company announced the decision to launch an Android device bundled with applications created for the company’s publications in July, as we reported. Philadelphia Media Network is the first in the country to launch a tablet that is bundled with newspaper subscriptions.

The device has a 10.1-inch capacitive screen and is running on a 1GHz Processor with 512MB RAM, standard fare in the tablet market. But it’s something new for the news business. Essentially, digital subscription sales helps subsidize the cost of the device.

Users can purchase a one-year subscription to the Inquirer and Daily News and receive the tablet for $285 or pay $339 for a two-year subscription. That makes it a sub-$150 tablet device, which beats the cost of an iPad (by $250 or more), but puts it on par with the competitively priced Kindle (starting at $139).

Video hands-on after the jump.

Below, Philadelphia Media Network’s Paid Digital Content Manager Sarah Schmalbach gives a walk-through of the device.
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Compare the cost of the device with the Inquirer’s current annual subscription rate of $316.16, and it’s a deal. Yes, company officials want you to know it’s already available for sale.

The company is dipping its toes in to this as a pilot venture, as only 5,000 tablets are initially available. That gives it time to improve.

Given the opportunity to play with the device last night, we found that though its tablet app offerings are smart (you can view content in a traditional newspaper format or in a more tablet-friendly format), the device was sluggish, and occasionally hard to navigate. That could mean a lot of customer service calls from the audience the company is likely targeting: older, affluent individuals who are seeing more and more of their friends and colleagues purchasing more responsive and longer-tested Kindle and iPad devices.

Performance and user interface could improve with software upgrades: the device is running Android 2.3.1 Gingerbread, a release of the operating system that came before the tablet-optimized version of Android 3.0 Honeycomb hit the public in February.

Below, Philadelphia Media Network CEO Greg Osberg introduces the device.

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[Full Disclosure: Technically Philly was invited to the partner exhibit for our collaboration with Philadelphia Media Network's Philly Tech Week event.]

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Brian James Kirk

Brian James Kirk is a cofounder of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Kirk was Web Editor of PlanPhilly, an independent online news resource covering planning and development issues in Philadelphia, and a freelance writer and designer. He resides in South Philadelphia.

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