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Snapdragon-based Android 2.1 tablet

Expansys UK has begun selling a seven-inch WVGA Android 2.1 tablet from Huawei, making it one of the first available Android tablets. Priced at 300 Pounds (about $451) without a memory card or 370 Pounds ($557) with 32GB, the Huawei S7 offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth 2.1, and a two-megapixel camera.

Huawai showed off its SmarKit S7 tablet at the Mobile World Congress in February, but offered few details except to mention the Android operating system and 7-inch, WVGA touchscreen. Now, as revealed by TheUnwired, Expansys UK has begun selling the tablet as the S7 in the U.K.

This would make the S7 one of the first commercially available Android-based tablets, at least among those models running a full Android install with access to Android Marketplace downloads. Expansys claims to have an exclusive on the tablet, although it’s unclear if that only applies to the U.K. market.

The Huawei S7 runs Android 2.1 on the original 768MHz version of the ARM-based Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Qualcomm would presumably like to call it a “smartbook”, a name the chipmaker has applied to smallish netbooks and tablets running on the Snapdragon. A year ago, the company predicted the market would be awash in smartbooks by now, although the actual number of announced products appears to be small compared to Android tablets running on the rival Nvidia Tegra 2.

Equipped with 256MB RAM, the tablet is available with or without a 32GB memory card, making a large difference in price. The S7 is equipped with a seven-inch, 800 x 480 pixel resistive touchscreen, as well as a front-facing two-megapixel camera, says Expansys.

The tablet offers a SIM card slot, with support for GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as UMTS/HSPA, but it appears as if customers must add their own SIM card, offering flexibility but also cost. Standard features include 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1, but apparently there’s no provision for that other Android mainstay, GPS.

Additional features include a mini USB port, accelerometers, and light sensors, says Expansys. Powered by a 2200mAh Li Ion battery, the S7 is also equipped with an audio port, mic, speakers, and a kickstand, the retailer says.

Unlike most of the lower-cost Android tablets coming out of China, the S7 (pictured at right) offers an up-to-date Android 2.1 release, and lets users download apps from Android Market. The tablet also works with Exchange, POP3, and Google Mail, Expansys says.

No other software features were mentioned, although back in February, Huawei said that the S7 supported social networking websites. The company also said at the time that the tablet could be connected to a home gateway, TV, or Android handset, supporting information sharing across screens to present the same content simultaneously. This would suggest built-in support for DLNA media sharing and network discovery.

Specifications listed for the Huawei S7 include:

* Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon @ 768Mhz
* Memory — 256MB
* Flash expansion — microSD card supporting up to 32GB
* Display — 7-inch, 800 x 480 resistive touchscreen
* Wireless communications:
o SIM card slot supporting GSM/GPRS/EDGE, HSPA/UMTS 3G
o 802.11b/g/n
o Bluetooth 2.1
* Audio — 3.5mm stereo audio jack; “Hi-Fi” speaker; mic
* USB — Mini USB 2.0 OTG
* Camera — 2-megapixel, front-facing camera
* Sensors — Gravity; light sensors
* Software highlights — Android Marketplace support; works with Exchange, POP3, and Google Mail
* Battery — 3.7V 2200mAh Li Ion
* Shipping weight — 4.4 lbs (2 kg)
* Operating system — Android 2.1

The Huawei S7 is available now from Expansys UK. Without a 32GB memory card, the S7 is said to cost 300 Pounds (about $451), but with a card it runs up to a more iPad-like 370 Pounds ($557), plus shipping.

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