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.

Will Nvidia’s Kai lead to Less Expensive Tablets?

At its annual shareholder meeting Nvidia showed a prototype Android tablet platform that it has code named Kai and that it is positioning as the basis, with its processors, for lower cost family of tablets.

The heart of the Kai tablet would be Nvidia’s Tegra-3 processor that the company seeks to leverage as the heart of a new line of Tablets that will have powerful processing and graphics capabilities but will rival Amazon’s Kindle in price rather than butt heads with Apple’s iPad at the high end.

Nvidia already has a head start in the tablet and smartphone space going forward as along with Microsoft it has been actively seeding hardware vendors with laptops that feature the chip in an effort to create an active ecosystem of apps prior to the release of Windows 8 later this year.

This appears to be taking that a step further. Its executives talked about how the processor, along with an ARM-based chip, could enable a generation of less expensive Android tablets and that its years of experience in this space of developing for Windows will serve it in good stead.

Of course so does rival Intel which is seeking to establish its Atom processor as at least part of any Windows Tablet ecosystem and while it can work with Nvidia it is also seeking to supplant ARM as the heart of these systems so how closely Nvidia is integrated with the various ARM chips out there could be an issue.

We at MSR support anything that will help grow the tablet market, and not because we secretly own stock in the companies involved. Currently I use my phone as a secondary screen quite often when watching sports, particularly football. When the price point drops enough I think I might have several, one just dedicated to sitting next to my remote control, unless I use it as a remote control as well.

I can see not only the second screen market but also as portable screens when visiting friends (in some cases) following outdoor sports and a variety of other uses. Since a household is likely to have more than one person it would make sense to have one dedicated for use in the TV room and another for a any other use that might occur.