New Web devices mark Creative's move into wireless entertainment

Singapore company expands product range from music gadgets to now include Internet-connected tablets in bid to become wireless entertainment player. But company execs say devices won't compete directly with Apple iPad.

SINGAPORE--The launch of its new Internet-connected devices marks Creative Technology's efforts to move beyond a music device provider and become a wireless entertainment player.

During a media briefing here Tuesday, the Singapore company showed off new products which include 7-inch and 10-inch ZiiO tablets announced earlier this month, as well as a wireless speaker and wireless headphone.

According to Creative, the Web-connected devices signify the company's move from a wireless music device provider to a wireless entertainment player.

But, rather than compete headon with other players in the tablets market, the ZiiO tablets are designed to be companion devices that will complement the company's suite of wireless entertainment devices, Joseph Lee, marketing manager of advanced multimedia group, told ZDNet Asia at the sidelines of the briefing.

The executive added that there is not going to be a repeat of a Creative Zen versus iPod battle playing out for the ZiiO tablets.

Lee revealed that the new Creative tablets are not targeted to be direct competitors to the Apple iPad. Noting that Apple is "in a league of its own" in the tablet market, he said it would "take a lot of money" to unseat the Cupertino giant from its throne.

Instead, Creative aims to leverage its music heritage and build devices that are able to work with the company's wireless devices, he said.

The low price-point of the ZiiO tablets is also a advantage, said Lee. The 7-inch 8GB and 16GB models will be priced at S$359 (US$274.4) and $389 (US$297.43), respectively. Both devices will be available in the first week of December.

The 10-inch 8GB and 16GB models will be priced at S$429 (US$328.01) and S$459 (US$350.95), respectively, and will be available from mid-December.

In Singapore, the low-end iPad 8GB Wi-Fi model is priced at S$728 in Singapore.

The ZiiO tablets run on Google Android but will not have access to the Android Market because the Google app marketplace currently does not support non-3G devices, Lee explained. He added that Google is giving priority to the smartphone market this year but this might change in the future.

He said the ZiiO tablets will be shipped with existing apps developed in-house by Creative and third-party developers. Users who wish to install other applications can do so at the Creative Ziistore, the company's own app marketplace, or other app aggregators, he noted.