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CES: A Tablet for the Kitchen?

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

A big theme this year at CES features new ways to take gadgets everywhere: Bluetooth speakers in the shower, high-speed Internet in airplanes. Next up, a kitchen-specific tablet.

The $400 Qooq (pronounced “cook”) will be available stateside in September after debuting in France two years ago. It’s designed especially for kitchen use, with spill- and splash-resistant coatings, four rubbery feet to keep it from sliding off the counter and a built-in kickstand in the back. Continuing the food theme, it comes preloaded with more than 500 recipes and apps to manage weekly menus and grocery shopping lists. (All that content, however, requires a subscription — price to be determined — after the first month.)

Why would consumers want this, instead of sticking another tablet into a tablet cookbook stand or splatter-proof sleeve? A spokeswoman said the Linux-based tablet is good value because it does everything a regular tablet does and has that food content to boot. The Qook costs around $100 less than Apple’s iPad 2, which starts at $499, but it’s more expensive than both Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet and Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire.

An important term missing from the company’s literature is “Android,” says Andrew Eisner, director of content for Retrevo.com. Android is a Linux-based system, but the Qooq isn’t Android — which means it won’t have access to any of the Android apps out there. (A spokeswoman says it does offer web browsing, email, and a few apps including weather forecasts.) “The tablet sounds like it’s a solution in search of a problem,” Eisner says. “It’s gimmicky.”

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.