Let me state right out of the gate that as far as design and looks go, the Grid10, Grid4, and the GridOS is very different from anything else on the market. It is, clearly, inspired by Metro, but it does give its own unique twist to just about everything. I'm obviously not sure how well it will work in real life, but it at least looks pretty good.
It also does a few interesting tricks, software-wise. The home screen is unlike anything you've seen before (check the video from Engadget below), and looks pretty neat. When you highlight a word anywhere on the device, you can tap on an icon to open a pie menu with all sorts of actions; look the word up in a dictionary, search the web, open Wikipedia, and so on. Other interesting tricks are the ability to start playing a video on the tablet, pause it, and then continue where you left off on your phone.
GridOS is based on Android, but while it retains the Android Linux kernel and Dalvik, everything else is custom. While Android application will run on the device, it doesn't pack any Google features (it uses Bing, even). In other words, no Android Market access, but it does come with the Amazon App Store and Fusion Garage's own application store.
Hardware-wise, the Grid10 is no slouch. It's based on an Nvidia Tegra II 1Ghz dual core processor, and sports 512MB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and all the usual wireless options and ports. The screen has a 1366x768 resolution. The Grid4 phone, on the other hand, uses a Qualcomm MSM8255 processor (a 1Ghz Snapdragon), 512 MB of RAM, and a 800x480 display.
"There's really been no innovation since iOS. Everything has been a carbon copy of the Apple devices, and Android has largely been that. If you're trying to copy and you're a poor carbon copy, you're not going to succeed, and I think that's what happened in this space," Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan told PC Pro, "Pricing is also a very important factor. At $499, why would you buy - it's like going to China and buying a [fake] Louis Vuitton bag, at the same price as the real Louis Vuitton bags. It doesn't make sense, when you know it's a rip-off product."
While I would say that iOS itself isn't particularly innovative either, his point is still largely valid - the smartphone and tablet space are dominated by operating systems which try their darn hardest to be as conservative as possible (except for Microsoft's Metro interface, ironically enough), so I'm personally very happy to see Fusion Garage be all bold.
Now, the question is going to be - will anyone buy this? The public at large will obviously be pretty oblivious to the whole JooJoo fiasco, so they'll look at the Grid10/Grid4 without prejudice, which is a good thing. However, the mobile industry is clearly going towards a situation not entirely dissimilar from the desktop world (one dominant operating system), and I'm afraid that with HP not even trying, and with Microsoft still failing to sell any significant quantity of Windows Phone 7 devices, Fusion Garage is going to have a very, very hard time.
In any case, they certainly get an A+ for effort alone already, and I'm wishing them all the best. Let's hope the software is up to snuff (often a difficult point for small hardware companies like this), because the hardware seems decent enough. I've inquired about loaning a review device, but with OSNews being very small compared to the likes of Engadget & Co., we'll have to see if our request is honoured.