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Cisco Enters iPad's Domain With Biz Tablet

LAS VEGAS ( TheStreet) -- Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) is the latest tech heavyweight to enter the tablet market, unveiling its Cius technology, a business tablet based on Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android operating system.

Speaking at the company's Cisco Live event this afternoon, Cisco CEO John Chambers explained that the tablet will combine high-definition voice and video with telepresence, a form of high-end videoconferencing. "Video is the new voice," he said. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, a multimedia video is worth a million words."

The Cius comes with both front-facing and rear-facing cameras and offers customers the ability to produce, edit and share cloud-based content. The tablet also supports Cisco's various communications products such as WebEx and Quad, a form of business collaboration technology. Security is provided by Cisco's AnyConnect Virtual Private Network (VPN).

"[It's] the ability to bring together what we have talked about in terms of collaboration and security," said Chambers, describing the Cius as "a collaboration platform of the future."

Chambers used his Cisco Live keynote to show how the Cius could be used in education, although the technology is also aimed at businesses looking to link workers based in disparate locations.

Although targeted initially at consumers, Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPad has already shown the latent demand for tablet technology within U.S. businesses, and Cisco clearly sees a window of opportunity within corporate America.

Less aesthetically pleasing than the iPad, the Cius nonetheless has a more robust appearance. An optional docking station and speakerphone will also be offered. Playing up the tablet's open-source credentials, Cisco says that the Cius Software Development Kit (SDK) will be made available to the Android community.

It could be some time, however, before businesses get their hands on the Cius. Customer trials of the Cius will begin in the third quarter of this year, with general availability in the first quarter of next year.

Cisco shares retreated with the rest of the tech sector on Tuesday. The company's stock fell 69 cents, or 3.08%, to $21.73, as the Nasdaq dipped 3.17%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

Follow James Rogers on Twitter.

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