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Velocity Micro offers an affordable option with its Cruz tablets, including the Cruz T103 model, which costs hundreds of dollars less than some higher-end tablets.

Image courtesy of Velocity Micro

Fast food chain Taco Bell launched an advertising campaign in 2006 promoting the fourth meal, that food you just might need between dinner and breakfast and outside of the recommended allowance of three meals a day. You could look at tablets to be a kind of fourth meal of computing -- between a notebook or laptop and smartphones or other portable devices. Tablets aren't quite as necessary as desktops and laptops, but they do fill a need many didn't even know they had until they had the option to get one -- much like a 3 a.m. burrito.

Marketing and innovation have a lot to do with the explosion of tablet sales since 2010, and some users have replaced computing staples like notebooks, PDAs and even PCs with tablets, making them less a novelty or accessory option and more of a main meal. Even Mark Dean, the chief technology officer at IBM, announced "my main device is now a tablet" in August 2011.

But for most tablet buyers it is still an in-between device that hasn't been available at much of an in-between price.

Velocity Micro, Inc., however, provides a more affordable option with its Cruz tablets. With models costing hundreds of dollars less than some higher-end tablets, the Velocity Cruz devices fall within the "mass-market tablet space" [source: Pierce]. When Apple launched its iPad in early 2010, it sold 3 million units in the first 80 days at a price of $499 to $699 [source: Apple Inc.]. Coming fast on its heels, Motorola, Samsung, HP, and just about anyone in the computing game started releasing their own tablets in a price range similar to Apple's iPad. In the fall of 2010 Velocity Micro, known more for high performing desktop and laptop computers than mass-market devices, introduced the Cruz Tablet, and at a cost of $299, it made news for its price point maybe more than for its selling points.

Velocity Cruz tablets are recognizable as tablets, those (mostly) non-phone, not exactly computers with an interface right on the screen -- a kind of smallish notebook but without a standard keyboard or lid display and closure -- but are they in the same consumer space as the iPad or other tablets? Are they trying to be? Do they have the velocity of the higher priced forerunners?

In other words, do Velocity Cruz tablets have enough meat to meet tablet buyers' needs or are they more of a tablet-lite snack? We'll look at what goes into the Cruz tablet next.