Novo7, a $99 tablet computer equipped with Android's Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and several other hot features, is set for release in the U.S. in the coming months, expected to hit the American market later this winter.

The tablet, currently available only in China, is already being compared to Apple's iPad, and many consumers and tech analysts are quick to note its impressive features and much-hyped performance.

In order to take on Apple and other competitors, however, Novo7 creators would do well to take a lesson from another one-time Apple challenger and its $99 tablet: HP and its much-lauded by now defunct TouchPad launch.

Novo7's Impressive Features

According to PC World, the Novo7 tablet computer will likely be offered by Leader International and OMG Electronics, and will be supported by Google, featuring some of the best specs of any tablet so far.

The Novo7 is only the latest tablet computer to shake up the tech market, but it may be one of the best.

The Kindle Fire began to challenge the Apple iPod monopoly when it premiered this fall, and the Novo7 comes equipped with the latest Android operating system and a capacitive multi-touch screen. The Novo7 will be the first Ice Cream tablet in the world, and Chinese company Ainovo has already sold out most of its supply.

PCWorld even claimed that American consumers could buy the Novo7 tablet computer now. The shipping cost from Asia to America would bump the price from $99 to around $150, but the Novo7 may be worth both the wait and the price bump.

$99 Tablet Computer: Rundown of Novo7 Specs

So what, exactly, does the Novo7 offer, especially compared to the Apple iPad? Here's a rundown of the Novo7 tablet computer's specs.

  • 7-inch capacitive multi-touch screen, meaning the tablet is incredibly sensitive to touch
  • Great WiFi support (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Ports for USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD
  • 3D graphics with the Vivante GC860 GPU and 1080p video decoding
  • Dual front/rear cameras (front sports 0.3 Megapixel, back has 2.0 Megapixel)
  • MIPS XBurst 1GHz CPU, which helps the $99 tablet computer run faster, smoother and provide more realistic graphics
  • Amazing Battery Power: Up to 8 hours of life while watching video, 25 hours for usic, 7 hours for browsing and 300 hours for standby

Features like these could make the Novo7 a serious contender for the top spot in tablet computers, even with Apple's iPad 2 sporting iOS5 and iCloud in its own very impressive specs list.

With recent SIRI outages and some reports that Apple products like the iPhone 4 are exploding on airplanes, there's never been a better time for another tech company to sneak their product in to the top. Google's senior vice president of mobile Andy Rubin certainly seems to think so.

Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android's openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world, he told PC Magazine.

$99 HP TouchPads: A Cautionary Tale

Before the Novo7 is declared a challenger to the Apple iPad 2, however, or even before the tablet computer is considered a likely success, consumers should also look to another tablet on the market for $99: HP TouchPads, now being sold by the company on Ebay.

When the HP Touchpad first appeared on the tablet scene, many hailed it as the next iPad, and predicted that Apple would finally see some competition in its tech monopoly. By Aug. 18, 2011, HP's grand experiment had failed: the company announced that it would stop production of the TouchPad and discontinue development of its Palm webOS operating system.

HP TouchPads are currently the second top-selling tablet computer, just below Apple's iPad, but is still selling roughly 10 million tablets less than its competitor, and is only succeeding through auctioning off TouchPads for $99 on Ebay. Despite great specs and costumer reviews, HP couldn't shake Apple's lead, and the company had to cut funds for what is now a successful product.

The Novo7 has admittedly far better specs than some earlier Android models can boast, and the hype already building around the product's release is likely to propel it past rivals like the Samsung Galaxy tablet and the Nook tablet. It may even surpass its partner the Kindle Fire, especially with its impressive features, and may beat out HP simply by being the newest available alternative to Apple that has great features.

To take on iPads, however, the Novo7 will need to impress American and international consumers as something more than an Apple-lite. With specs like these, and such excellent prices, the $99 tablet computer may just have a chance. But in order to beat Apple at its own game, Novo7 will need to play up its convienance, its ease of use and its slick style, not just the impressive features it can offer.

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