Velocity Micro Cruzes onto Tablet Scene in 2012

Posted by · January 10, 2012 3:34 pm

With 3300 exhibitors at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it’s difficult to decide which gadgets and companies to give press coverage to, and it’s often the smallest connection that makes the difference between getting  media attention or not.

Keith Kranepool, Velocity Micro’s Vice President of Channel Sales and Marketing, who I met at a brunch meeting yesterday, had me at “Richmond, VA.” I grew up in Richmond, specifically the suburb of Chesterfield where Velocity Micro is headquartered, so I knew I wanted to learn more about the consumer electronics company from my hometown.  Earlier today, Keith’s colleague and Velocity Micro Marketing Manager Josh Covington gave me a private demonstration of Velocity Micro’s products, including their line of Cruz tablets.

While Cruz tablets are certainly not going to be rivaling the iPad or other premium tablets anytime soon, they may very well give the Amazon Kindle Fire  a run for its money this year.  Velocity Micro currently has two tablets on the market: the Cruz T408 (8″ display) and Cruz T410 (10″ display) which retail for $199 and $299; and this week, the company launched the T507 (7″) and T510 (10″) two ultra-thin, lightweight tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0).  Both devices are set to hit stores by the end of February and will retail between $149- $249.

Having heard nothing about Velocity Micro and the Cruz tablets before yesterday, I asked Covington why (other than the price) consumers should purchase a Cruz tablet over an Amazon Kindle Fire.

“Our target audience is a slightly more tech-oriented user than the folks buying the Kindle Fire,” Covington said. “Kindle Fire users are often satisfied with the closed ecosystem that Amazon offers but our tablets have an open ecosystem so you can get ebooks, download applications and stream video from anywhere you want whereas the Kindle Fire is very locked down, you can only get your content from Amazon. Additionally, all of our tech support for the tablet is based out of our Chesterfield office, so if you have a problem with your tablet, you can call and talk to someone quickly, easily and who understands your language.”  

As for how Velocity Micro is able to retail the Cruz tablets so cheaply, Covington points to great overseas partnerships that allow Velocity Micro to purchase at a low cost.

“Amazon had to cut a lot of corners to produce the Kindle Fire and have it retail at $199,” Covington said.  “We didn’t have to do that and as a result our tablets are much more reliable. Anyone who wants a tablet but doesn’t want to spend $500 should look at our line of tablets.”

As for my opinion, well, the Cruz tablets seem like a nice option for people who just want to perform basic tablet functions (streaming video, playing games, reading ebooks, etc).  I was neither over, nor underwhelmed by them. A closed versus open ecosystem makes little to no difference to me, but I can see how some people–especially those of you who are more technical than I am–would find it to be an asset.  As for the US-based tech support, my experience with our own US based customer service department at Experts Exchange tells me that this is a real asset.  Though I would hope you would not have to use Velocity Micro’s tech support in the first place, it’s nice to know it’s there–and easy to chat with–when you need it.

So what do you think? Have any of you heard of Velocity Micro? Does anyone own a Cruz tablet? And does an open versus closed ecosystem matter to you?

Let me know in the comments section below!