A tablet that acts as a gaming console and as a smart TV controller. The new Android-based Unu media station is ready to take up those roles, for a price tag of about $250.
The system, from 17-year-old German video game accessory manufacturer Sunflex, is taking pre-orders for a scheduled release date of Nov. 8. The centerpiece is an Android-based 7-inch tablet, which can connect into the accompanying TV docking station and, via a handheld remote, become a media extension that turns your TV into a smart TV. A separate dual-stick video game controller allows the tablet/TV combo to also become a game console, running Android games. On the back of the handheld remote is a physical QWERTY keyboard.
The tablet utilizes the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, and features a quad-core 1.6 GHz processor, a 1280x800 resolution screen, cameras on both sides, a gigabyte of memory, 8 GB of flash memory, and USB and HDMI ports.
When the tablet is docked to a TV, Unu provides access to such services as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora, which can be controlled by the Airmouse handheld remote. When using the TV via the custom smart TV user interface on the tablet, viewers can find the TV programs they're looking for, including checking through video services online.
As a game console, the system can access the over 1 million Android games available in the Google Play Store. Because it has both a two-stick controller and a gestural Airmouse, it can play both gesture-based games as well as ones with more conventional interaction, like racing games. Reports on the Web indicate a wide variation of performance by various Android games, which may be due to the vast range of quality for that platform.
A version without the controller, called the Media Edition, is available for $200, and the full Gaming Edition, with the tablet, air mouse, docking station and wireless game controller is $249.99.
'Why Didn't I Think of That?'
Sunflex has added its own interface on top of Android, not unlike what, say, Samsung has done for its Galaxy smartphones or other device makers do to brand and customize their mobile devices.
Unu's multi-usefulness is the direction that many consumer electronics devices are heading, except it may have gotten there at a less expensive price and by building around the capabilities of the tablet. Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii have all provided some levels of non-game entertainment besides video gaming.
Sunflex's vice president of business development, Nicki Repenning, told news media that the company, like others, wants to provide an entertainment hub for the whole family. But he also emphasized that the platform "is completely open," such that games or other content for an Android smartphone can also be played on the Unu.
Unu, Repenning said, "may just be the 'why didn't I think of that' product for 2013."