MapMyIndia, a Qualcomm Ventures, KPCB, Sherpalo, Nexus Venture Partners funded location based services and maps company, has launched a 3G device: the CarPad, a 7 inch Android tablet that offers its navigation interface along with communication and multimedia capabilities. The device is powered by a Qualcomm S1 processor and features MapmyIndia’s 3D navigation interface, Aura.

Tablet Features

Although, all maps are pre-loaded on the device, the CarPad being 3G enabled, doubles up as a communication device allowing users to make phone calls, send messages and mails, and browse the internet. It also sports a 2 megapixel camera with video recording capabilities and is bundled with a car kit and an 8GB memory card. The device also features multimedia capabilities and an FM radio tuner for in-car entertainment. Since the device runs the Android 2.2 or Froyo iteration of Android, it also gives access to the Android Market, allowing users to download several third party applications. The CarPad is priced at Rs 22,990 and includes a car kit with head rest and windshield mounts for in-car use. It will be available from 15th September at MapmyIndia’s online store, electronic showrooms, car dealers and accessories shops.

Niche Tablets VS Mainstream Tablets VS Budget Tablets

The company claims that the tablet has been designed keeping in mind the requirements of in-car use, however, we wonder why someone would choose the CarPad over other Android powered tablets, some of which offer MapmyIndia’s navigation software pre-loaded. This list includes Samsung and Indian manufacturers like Olive. MapmyIndia also offers the software as a download for iOS and Android devices.

Recently, Bharti Group’s Beetel introduced an Android 3G tablet at a much lower price point of Rs 9,999. Reliance also launched an Android tablet with cheap data plans bundled with the device. With Chinese OEMs bringing the cost of hardware down, and Android being a free and a comparatively open platform, we’ll see many more hardware and software companies, along with telcos introducing their own tablets.

But the big question is, will consumers be pulled in by these ‘niche’ offerings or are they smart enough to know that at the core they are different tweaked-up flavours of the same dessert?