Here’s an exclusive unveiling for an upcoming new Android tablet design made by Suli International Co., Ltd. It’s a nice combination of the new higher performance Rockchip RK2818 (ARM9 600mhz + 550mhz new high performance DSP) with Glass type 7″ Capacitive multi-touch touch screen. It supports 3G USB dongles on the USB host connector. Plays back mp4 and rmvb video at up to 1280×720 (bitrates/high profiles not yet confirmed). The Rockchip RK2818 improves web browsing from RK2808. At $249 this one is thus positionned $150 cheaper than the ARM11 Qualcomm MSM7227 3G-enabled Foxconn 7″ Tablet (also known among other brands as Viewpad 7).
(comparison graphics provided by Suli International)
Suli International also says they have a 8″ capacitive Android tablet coming in 2 weeks using either the Amlogic or the next generation ARM Cortex-A8 based Rockchip RK29 design!
Engadget and a bunch of other blogs have been reporting these last few days about the cool Augen branded Android Smartbook and Tablets that are being released in the US market at affordable $99 and $149 prices by Super Market chain KMart. I just would like to remind my readers that I posted my video review of the Augen Smartbook 6 months ago on January 29th as it’s based on the Hivision PWS700CA and its cool RockChip ARM9 processor that runs Android in this video: http://armdevices.net/2010/01/29/android-laptop-review-hivision-pws700ca/
To let you know my opinion. I think it is fantastic that Augen and KMart are promoting such cheaper Android Laptop and Tablet form factors as alternatives to the much more expensive Apple iPad and Intel Netbooks. Archos has also been selling the similarly priced Archos 7 Home Tablet on the worldwide market which I video reviewed 5 months ago, which is now broadly available in many retail and online stores below $200 for the 8GB version (and the 2GB version originally planned at $149, then $179 but for now they are mostly selling the 8GB version). That Rockchip based Laptop and Tablet platform also being upgraded to 1ghz still ARM9 to support newer Android 2.2 versions.
But as we have heard from Canonical developers and from hearsay and off camera chatter by Google people at the Google Q&A at Computex about Chrome OS on ARM Laptops, although the second generation 45nm ARM Cortex A8 with faster DDR RAM and faster I/O performance can be enough, the coming of ARM Cortex A9 platforms may be preferable to achieve the full desktop web browsing experience that most consumers may require for them to consider the ARM platforms as fully usable alternatives in the Intel/Microsoft dominated Laptop market. And the iPad and the whole bunch of smart phones that are currently spread all over the market, those may kind of set expectations at capacitive and ARM Cortex A8 performance at the minimum. So it will be interesting, capacitive touch screen manufacturers allowing, to see how soon and how cheap those capacitive Android tablet designs at full user interface speeds can reach the market. ARM9 and ARM11 resistive tablets are not bad for a start, they can give the consumers and bloggers a taste of what can be done with Android at retail prices below $200 and even below $100. The ultimate goal should be though that we should have full speed ARM Cortex versions of all these devices in all the stores, with the best capacitive screens for tablets or non-touch screens for Laptops, preferably Pixel Qi screens, and available below $200 without contracts, running free Linux based Android or Ubuntu OSes.
Rockchip may be the new “China Processor”, that ARM Processor coming out of China that can be found in some of the cheap Android Tablets and Laptops. This could be a major part of China’s attempt at providing every component of future low cost computing devices, even the processor. The new version of the Rockchip processor is said to be faster, RK2808 is 600mhz while RK2818 can go to 1ghz. But according to Toms Hardware, this new Rockchip RK2818 might still be ARM926EJ-S ARMv5 based.
In practice, RK2808 reached 1.1 DMIPS per MHz, while a core based on the Cortex A8 is 2 DMIPS per MHz and the recent Cortex A9 is 2.5 per DMIPS MHz. Even at 1 GHz, a Rockchip will be about two times slower than what the Cortex competition offers (at a higher price).
The question might be, how much cheaper are ARM9 based devices? Rockchip might still be only for low-end lower cost devices mostly made by Chinese manufacturers. The good news is this new Rockchip can support Android 2.1 and 2.2 (while RK2808 can only do Android 1.5). It’s got to be thanks to its newer and better DSP graphics accelerator, with screen support at up to 1024×768 which could be great to power cheap ARM Powered laptops and low cost 10″ Android Tablets. Availability may be after September for a bunch of new RK2818 based products or maybe also simply quick upgrades of RK2808 based designs. I wonder if the new 720p video playback on RK2818 may be improved, while RK2808 could only playback H264 MKV 720p at up to 2.5mbit/s.
Acorp is releasing the EM501R, 4.8″ Android Rockchip RK2808 powered tablet to be sold at only $88 (for distributors buying at least 1000 pieces). This is the Acorp 5″ Rockchip 600mhz ARM9 based Android tablet. This sized tablet fits just fine in most pockets and provides better view of web browser, video and apps than on a 3.5″ phone.
So you might have seen my video of the Hott MD500 that I posted from CeBIT here last month. Hott is now showing the 7″ Android tablet called the MD700 at the China Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong. The price in bulk is said to be probably around $130 USD.
Chinese manufacturer Hott is launching a design for a 4.8″ tablet based on a version of Android which they have customized to work for them on the ARM9 Rockchip based processor which comes with full video playback support. Check out these interesting Android customizations in this product that they proudly define as “iPad-killer”.
The design of this 4.8″ Android tablet by Hott is the most compact that I have seen so far. I think it is very nice that it only has a minimal screen bezel. Check out it’s size compared to my Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android in the following pictures posted to Picasa (click to see the full size versions on Picasa):
Check out my exclusive video of the Archos 7 Home Tablet that will be released in April/May for $179 in the USA and 149€ in Europe:
It is powered by a 600mhz Rockchip 2808 processor, does web browsing pretty well (for an ARM9 processor) and plays all video codecs at up to 720p video playback (at up to limited 2500kbit/s bitrates for 720p).
For now, this Archos 7 Home Tablet is being released this next month or by May already and at this amazingly low $179 price for the 2GB version with MicroSD card slot. There will also be a 8GB version and maybe larger capacities for slightly more expensive. It also has a mini-jack to composite video-output using the headphones jack and micro-USB to USB host features built-in. The built-in stereo speakers are very decent for movie watching and the 7″ 800×480 resistive touch-screen is just very fine and does allow for fast text input.
Archos is still working on the Android software optimizations, it comes with special video player, audio player and file explorer applications by default. My guess is that the Google Marketplace could be hacked to work onto it by the open development community at http://forum.archosfans.com
This is the world’s first video-review of the Hivision PWS700CA ARM9 Powered Android Laptop, find more info at Hivision’s website. (Hivision, which I previously video-Interviewed about cheap Laptops from the trade shows at CES 2010 and IFA 2008)
The Hivision PWS700CA is based on a Rockchip RK2808 600mhz ARM926 processor, 128SDRAM, 7″ 800×480 screen, 720p Video playback support, WiFi, Ethernet, audio input/output and weights only 650grams.
The price has not yet been announced officially because Hivision is looking for worldwide distributors who will then decide how much it will be sold for to end consumers. But you can understand that if Hivision was able to sell those types of laptops for $98 to distributors more than a year ago (when I filmed my popular video from IFA 2008), then surely the mass manufacturing price has not gone up since then. My expectation is that if a giant consumer electronics reseller such as Walmart or Best Buy approaches Hivision today to order huge quantities of this laptop, it could be sold below $100 to end users.
I’ve seen those kinds of cheap laptops running Windows CE or some less optimized Linux distribution at Buy.com (2), at Amazon.com, at Kmart.com and plentyotherplacesfor even cheaper. The point of this video is to show that Android can make all these cheap laptops much more usable when it comes to browsing the web. The Android browser is much better than the one in Windows CE or the Mozilla-based ones used in other Linux distributions. More usable web browsing means more people will want to buy it, which means even cheaper prices.
Click on the thumbnails below to see the full sized pictures at Picasa: