Cisco Systems today unveiled the Cius, a 7 inch touchscreen tablet computer that runs the Android OS, and is sure to be compared to the Apple iPad.

The device was demonstrated at the Cisco Live! customer event here by CEO John Chambers with a live videoconferencing transmission over the tablet from researchers on a submarine in the Aegean Sea. The audio portion of the demonstration broke up slightly, but the video was constant. A satellite link was included in the connection and added some minor delay.

Chambers showed how the Cius (pronounced "see us") can be held in a wired docking station for desktop use and then carried as a mobile tablet when needed.

Cisco posted specifications of the new device, but no pricing was announced. The device works with cellular 3G and 4G networks, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. High-definition 720p video is supported, Cisco officials said. It will generally available in the first quarter of 2011.

The tablet weighs 1.5 pounds and has a detachable eight-hour battery. An Intel Atom 1.6 GHz processor powers the device.

While Cisco's online information describes a 7-inch device, Chambers also demonstrated a slightly smaller version of the Cius for use by students. No details on it were available.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at research firm Gartner, said "there will be a broad tendency to compare the Cius to the Apple iPad," but that the Cius is really an "upgrade to a worker's desktop, replacing the deskphone" with more interactivity for video.

But Dulaney said he is concerned over what price will be charged for the device, whose 7 inch screen is smaller than the the iPad's 10 inch screen. "And possibly [I'm concerned] that people in the marketplace just want iPads," he added.

Cisco got the name Cius from a combination of "Ci," for the first two letters of Cisco's name, and "Us." When combined the word is a play on "see us," to reflect the tablet's videoconferencing capabilities.