The ICE Smart from Latte Communications is a 5 inch Android device that blurs the lines between a smartphone and a tablet. I mean, it doesn’t make calls, so it’s kind of like a tablet. But it’s about the same size as a phone. And at about $190, it’s cheaper than most Android phones or tablets.
In a nutshell, it’s like an Android iPod touch.
Apple offers customers a few choices when it comes to mobile devices. You can pick up an iPad if you’re looking for a tablet, or an iPhone if you’re looking for a smartphone with many of the same features and the ability to fit in your pocket. If you like the portability of an iPhone but don’t need to make phone calls on your handheld device (or don’t want to pay for 2-year service contract), there’s the iPod touch.
The iPod touch is cheaper and thinner than an iPhone, and it doesn’t make phone calls, support GPS, or work over 3G mobile broadband networks. But it has the same screen size and processor as the iPhone and can run most apps designed for the iPhone.
The ICE Smart has a few features you won’t find in an iPod touch (or iPhone or iPad), such as support for 1080p HD video playback, a mini HDMI port for video output, and a microSD card slot for expansion.
But the rest of the device’s specs are decent, while not spectacular. It has a 5 inch, 800 x 480 pixel resistive touchscreen display with support for two-finger gestures. The ICE Smart runs Google Android 2.3, has 8GB of storage, and an 800 MHz ARM 11 processor. It supports 802.11b/g WiFi and has a g-sensor.
The media player also supports USB host capabilities, so you can connect a keyboard or mouse or hook up a digital camera or other storage device to copy files.
In Android land there haven’t been many just-like-a-phone-without-the-phone devices. Archos makes a couple, and Creative, Cowan, and Philips have introduces similar products. But none have made a huge splash, perhaps because they don’t come from big-name companies that also produce popular Android smartphones. Samsung keeps threatening to bring a WiFi-only version of its popular Galaxy S smartphone to market, but the company’s been all talk, no sales so far.
So if you’re looking for a portable media player that can run Android apps, your best bet is still to go for a product from a company like Archos which may not have the name recognition of Samsung, but at least has several years of experience delivering Android devices. Or if you’re willing to go with an unknown, I suppose the ICE Smart is going for a good price.