Nvidia Delivers Complete Low Cost Tablet Platform


Nvidia has joined Microsoft, Google, Amazon and a host of others this week as it became the latest company to break from its traditional role in the hi-tech industry and deliver a hardware product designed for the consumer and business market, in this case a 7-inch tablet.

The company teased the market months ago with a brief demo of the product, and discussed its plans for a low cost platform last year but now the Nvidia Tegra Note is a reality, and has a basic structure that the company will then offer to third party customers who can add their own features in order to differentiate their products.

The Tegra Note features Nvidia technology to power the system and its graphics and includes a Tegra 4 with a 72-core GeForce GPU and quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU with a fifth battery-saver core. It has a 7-inch display that has 1280 x 800 resolution.

A key technology that the company is touting is its DirectStylus that it claims is a significant improvement over other stylus technology with faster response time, a finer point and broader stroke control. It calls older stylus technology passive in comparison

It will run the latest version of the Android operating system, feature 16GB of storage with an expansion microSD slot, an HDMI port, a rear 5MP camera with a VGA front facing one and what the company calls HD Audio speakers. All for $199.

The company has a host of new as well as established partners that plan to deliver tablets based on this basic platform including EVGA and PNY Technologies in North America; EVGA, Oysters and ZOTAC in Europe; Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology and ZOTAC in Asia-Pacific; and XOLO in India. They join other partners, including HP, ASUS, Toshiba, Kobo and Xiaomi, which have already announced Tegra 4-based products.

As tablets have seen their popularity soar over the last year it will be interesting to see how this cookie cutter method will work. Will the developers be able to create differentiated products or ones that have specialized and localized features that will make them appealing to the market?

It does seem that time to market could be cut for many of the developers because they have an almost finished product to start with, but then in reality so do a lot of other established players such as Samsung, Google and Apple.

HP Goes Big with 21.5-inch Android Tablet


Hewlett-Packard appears to be bucking the trend once again in the tablet space, although this time it looks as if it will have less to lose than its first disastrous foray into the market. The company has introduced the HP Slate 21 AIO (All-in-One) that features a 21-inch display.

While tablets are gaining ground as a notebook replacement, this more than full sized offering could serve as a desktop replacement, although if you plan to hold it in your lap you might want to start super-sizing your meals now.

However you don’t need to worry about holding the Slate 21 AIO, it comes with a stand. It is powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and unlike many other members of the AIO family it will be running on the Android operating system, version 4.2.2 to be exact.

While it may look like a desktop replacement due to its size, the company is touting its ability to be a home entertainment tool that can be shared among members of a household. However it does have a HP desktop productivity software including KingSoft office software.

The tablet is expected in September and hopefully the company will unveil additional features previous to the launch of the $399 devices. It did say that it will have 8GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot for additional storage expansion and it will feature three USB ports and a high definition web-cam.

Interestingly the price makes it the lowest Slate AIO offering from the company, however its others have Windows as the operating system and the Android OS is free, while Windows is not. It will be interesting to see how well the device does, many tablets are used while watching television and this might make a perfect second screen for sports fans.

Toshiba Unveils a Trio of 10-inch Tablets


Looking for a new tablet and not interested in the smaller screen offerings? Well Toshiba is hoping that its latest product rollout will have something that fits the bill for every potential buyer out there as the company has introduced a trio of tablets.

The family will consist of the Excite Pure, Excite Pro, and Excite Write, all three of which will feature an 10.1-inch screen and they will all be using the Android 4.2 operating system with two of them, the Pro and Write will be powered by an Nvidia quad core Tegra 4 processor while the Pure will have a Tegra 3
The Excite Pro features a 2560 x 1600 PixelPure high resolution display, 2GB of RAM and a32GB internal storage that can be expanded to 64GB with an optional MicroSD card. It includes an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2MP front facing camera. There is an optional add-on keyboard as well.

The Excite Write is very similar under the hood to the Excite Pro using the same processor, same cameras, amount of RAM and screen. It has either 16GB or 32GB of storage that is also expandable to 64GB. The biggest difference is that it features a stylus pen and includes a number of apps that support note taking and other stylus activities. It also features integrated Harmon Kardon speakers.

The Excite Pure is the entry eve offering with a 1280 x 800 resolution display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB internal storage expandable to 64GB with optional MicroSD card, and a 3MP rear facing camera and a 1.2MP front facing camera. The Pure starts at $299.99 while the Write will have a $599 MSRP and the Excite Pro a $499 MSRP.

Of the three I think the most interesting will be the stylus-based Write. I have not seen many stylus users among tablet users, but that could be because the software ecosystem has not caught up with the idea yet. All of the tablets are expected to be available by the end of the month.

Hewlett-Packard Expands Tablet/PC Options


Looking for a tablet? For a Notebook Computer? Want Android or are you sticking with Windows? It doesn’t matter because Hewlett-Packard has you covered in its latest platform releases in its HP SlateBook x2 and HP Split x2 offerings.

For a company that once abandoned tablets it now has some interesting offerings in this space while not abandoning the shrinking notebook market either.

The HP SlateBook x2 is the Android line of products and features the Jelly Bean 4.2.2 version of the operating system. It has a detachable keyboard that uses a magnetic hinge to connect to the 10.1-inch HD touch screen display.

The device is powered by an Nvida Tegra 4 processor and it comes with 64GB of storage. A cleaver feature is the inclusion of a battery in both the display and the keyboard, when attached you simply get a much longer product life.

If you are looking to maintain existing PC files you might look at the HP Split x2 that features the Windows 8 operating system and an Intel Core processor. It also features a detachable keyboard and has a 13.3-inch touch screen display.

It also has an extra battery in the keyboard, 2GB of memory and an optional hard drive is available for the expanded storage capabilities. The exact amount of storage was not clear from the company’s web page but since the hybrid models are not expected to ship until August it is very likely that additional details will emerge. The HP SlateBook x2 and HP Split x2 are expected have starting prices of $479.99 and $799.99, respectively.

Advanced Micro Devices Jumps into Tablet Space with Z-60

Advanced Micro Devices is staking its ground in the tablet space with the introduction earlier this week of the Z-60 Tablet chip as it seeks to become a player in this market as some of its traditional spaces such as desktop PCs continue to shrink.

The chip, also called Hondo, is the company’s latest attempt to establish itself in a market where devices either use a variant of an ARM chip such as the processors from Broadcom, Nvidia or Texas Instruments, develop their own processor like Apple and Samsung, or in growing numbers use Intel’s Atom processor family.

The Hondo chip is a low powered, 4.5 watt, dual core processor running at 1GGhz and the company has packed it with 80 integrated Radeon graphics processor cores, which will give tablets high-definition video and gaming capabilities. It will include support for DirectX 11 has the horsepower for high-definition 1080p displays.

The processor is expected to available later this month when Microsoft formally unveils its Windows 8 operating system for tablets and a host of hardware developers, including Microsoft, start selling or at least formally showing their tablets. Systems using these chips will only be able to run Windows 8 or Linux

Intel appears to have a lead in this race since its OEMs have already started showing finished products with Intel chips, however some of the documentation on developers sites does seem to indicate that they might also use AMD chips as well.

The competition should be good for customers since it could help drive the prices down on chips and that should lower overall systems prices. We can at least always hope.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Microsoft Ticks off OEMs, Apple to Invest in Twitter?

The China Times, via Endgadget, is reporting the Microsoft is limiting the number of OEMs that can build a tablet that runs the RT version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. This is the version that can be run on a tablet built using an ARM-based processor.

According to the piece the lucky few include Asus and Lenovo, which can use Nvidia processors, Texas instrument processors will be in Toshiba products while Samsung and Hewlett-Packard opting into the Qualcomm camp, with HP later dropping out at least in the near term.

Apple looking to invest in Twitter?
The New York Times has reported that Apple is in talks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Twitter, according to unnamed sources familiar with the talks. It appears that the talks are informal at this point so do not cross your fingers just yet if you like the deal. However it could lead to tighter integration between Twitter and Apple’s operating systems, much like what Apple is doing with Facebook.

Google breaks down Motorola Mobility purchase
Ever wonder what $12.5 billion will get you? Well that is the price that Google paid for Motorola and the company has recently explained what each of the major components was valued. The 17,000 patents in its portfolio were worth roughly $5.5 billion. It paid $2.9 bn for the cash acquired, $2.6 bn was goodwill, $670 million was other assets and $730 million was customer relations. You can look here for more details or head over to its 10-Q filings with the SEC.

Microsoft wins around in Germany vs Motorola
Microsoft has won a round when a German court ruled that Motorola Mobility has infringed on a patent that deals with common names for long and short file allocation tables. The two sides have been battling around the globe on the issues of patents and both sides have won, and so of course lost, various patent rulings in the last six months so if this sounds like a repeat, it is close to one.

Microsoft admits hostility over Surface
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft has said that there could be potential problems with its introduction of a table that would compete with its OEMs that purchase the Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft said that smartphones and tablets from rivals such as Apple represent a threat to its current business, in part because their increased popularity coupled with declining PC sales makes Microsoft’s existing platforms less appealing to application developers.

Kickstarter favorite Pebble to deliver late
The Pebble smart watch, one of the real success stories in regards to funding via Kickstarter, has said that it will be delivering its product later than it had originally expected, IT Business is reporting. Part of the problem, according to the company, is the very success it had with Kickstarter.

The people that funded the company were to receive watches as part of compensation for their pledge, and originally the company had expected to produce 1,000 watches to meet that demand. Since it went off the rails in terms of funding the company now needs to produce over 68,000 watches for the investors.

Major settlement in patent case brings in major mobile players
The patent holding firm NTP has reached what is possibly an unprecedented settlement with 13 major mobile technology developers over the use of a number of patents that NTP owns. The companies included in the settlement are: Apple, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola Mobility (now owned by Google), Palm (now owned by Hewlett-Packard), LG Electronics, Samsung, and Yahoo.

According to a piece in InfoWorld the terms of the deal were not revealed but it did say that all of the tech companies could use a number of NTP’s patents and that NTP will receive a licensing fee from the firms and that in turn it has ended its patent infringement suits against these companies.

Apple vs Samsung starts today in Calif.
The on again off again suit between the two will start in front of US District Court Judge Lucy Koh today as Apple seeks to prove its damage claims against rival Samsung revolving around a number of Apple patents that it claims Samsung has infringed on. The stakes are high as Apple has claimed that it is entitled to $2.525 billion in damages.