Ina Fried

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TabCo Picks Wrong Day to Reveal Itself as Fusion Garage’s Latest Effort

Secretive start-up TabCo today revealed itself to actually be the second attempt by Fusion Garage to get into the tablet game — not that anyone noticed.

After weeks of PR stunts aimed at gaining attention for the effort, the company picked the worst of all possible days to reveal itself. The company announced its product just as Google announced its blockbuster $12.5 billion deal to acquire Motorola Mobility.

In case you are still wondering what TabCo — or Fusion Garage, rather — had up its sleeve, its tablet is a 10-inch device based on Android but with a user interface the company says makes it unlike any other product on the market.

The Grid-10 tablet is on sale now through Amazon and from Fusion Garage’s Web site. The company said a 16 gigabyte, Wi-Fi-only model of the Grid-10 tablet will sell for $499, while a model with 3G connectivity will sell for $599. It also plans an unlocked smartphone to go on sale in the fourth quarter.

Fusion Garage was the hardware maker originally partnered with TechCrunch on a device known as the CrunchPad. The company later came to the market with a product called the JooJoo, but it was quickly overshadowed by the iPad.

With its current price tags, Fusion Garage finds itself priced essentially the same as a comparably equipped iPad and considerably more than rival Android tablets from well-known companies like Acer and Toshiba.

The company insists that its product, though, is not just another Android tablet.

“This is not a re-skinned version of Android,” said CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan. “What we did with the Android kernel is akin to what Apple did when it created the Mac OS. They built a completely new OS on top of UNIX BSD, and we took exactly the same approach with Android. This approach gave us the stability of Android and allowed us to bring a new level of functionality, aesthetics and flair to the tablet market.”

Even assuming that is true, though, the company could find itself with a host of other issues, including compatibility with existing Android apps.

Update: In an interview on Monday, Rathakrishnan clarified that the Grid-10 is available for pre-order, but won’t start shipping until Sept. 15. He also said that the company plans to give free Grid-10 tablets to those that bought the company’s previous product, the JooJoo, but declined to say how many customers that represents.

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