This afternoon, a pizza from something called "TabCo" arrived at our offices. It came with a strange laminated sheet of paper taped to the inner lid, and 8 - 15 - 11 was spelled out in pepperoni on the pie. I'd been tipped that this delicious present was on its way the night before, so this morning the office was already abuzz and the question was already on people's lips: Who is TabCo and why are they sending us pizza?
After visiting the URL whoistabco.com and scoping the YouTube video of user whoistabco, I've learned this much: TabCo has a tablet coming out/making a debut on August 15th, and they truly, deeply feel that it's way different from any other tablet we've ever seen.
I'm going to put aside my usual skepticism when it comes to tablets that will supposedly blow me away by how different they are and take what TabCo has presented to the world so far at face value. It's clear that the company has a startup mentality and that they're hoping to build some buzz by engaging in some guerrilla marketing tactics (or, at least, the appearance of such). Thus, we get this video that depicts TabCo employees breaking into the Empire State Building to hack the lighting and make TABCO 8 15 11 appear on the side of this iconic building.
I don't believe for one second that they broke in, but if they did get or pay for permission to do this (instead of just applying some video wizardy), I'm still impressed. TabCo clearly intends to make a splash and not go about it in the normal way.
Along with this kind of hip(ster) marketing comes the cheeky self-referential mini-movies such as "Lost and Found" below:
Once you get past the insanely awkward bits at the beginning, it's hard not to smile at the parody of the iPhone 4 leak of last year and the not-so-subtle digs at the Notion Ink Adam, not to mention Gizmodo's Jason Chen. However, Mr. Chen would not earnestly end a hands-on video with: "Whoa, how did they do this?"
Also, if I can just engage in some constructive criticism for a moment: Even if you're on a tight budget, it really, really helps to hire good script writers and good actors for your funny videos. The focus group one is painful because no one is delivering their lines in a convincing way. Plus, it's hella obvious what you're doing.
Despite my high-handed critique, I'm enjoying the lead-up to this tablet's launch. I like TabCo's approach to getting attention (not just because I like pizza) and I like the company's style.
I'm not yet sure that this will add up to a tablet worth buzzing about, though.
There are few details on TabCo's website, but I've been able to glean some more information from various sources. The tablet appears to run a custom OS, or at least an existing OS with a very involved custom skin on top of it. The word Android does not appear.
The UI appears to involve a wheel or circle, as seen close up above (from the pizza box). This looks very similar to some elements of the Acer Iconia 6120 UI, but that's just an impression based on this still. Of the UI, the TabCo FAQ states: "It is predictive and draws its inspiration from the semantic web. The desktop is different, almost a canvas that gives you extensive flexibility to organize your life and work."
Judging from the "Lost and Found" video, it appears to have a silver aluminum backing with a black bar across the top, similar to the iPad. However, it looks to be 16:9 ratio, not 16:10.
As far as apps, the company is soliciting developers and there's a vague promise of Angry Birds, which is a clue that the underlying OS is likely something that exists already, such as Android.
So far, that's all I've got. I guess we'll have to wait for TabCo to drop the science on us August 15th. But now that they have our attention, do they really want it? Don't they know that I will be calling and e-mailing and tweeting every day until I get my hands on a review unit so I can do an unboxing so I can show you, dear readers, how wonderful/awful/awe-inspiring/disappointing it is?
One more suggestion for the TabCo folks: Pizza is awesome, but the staff here at LAPTOP Magazine also really loves Tab soda.