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 1024x768 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.
Source: Toms Hardware France (in french)
Here's my review of the Dell Streak, 5" capacitive Qualcomm Snapdragon powered Android Tablet, as posted by JKKmobile.com a few minutes after I first tried to use his unit at the recent Computex in Taiwan.
The 4.8" to 5" Android Tablet is in my opinion the coolest and the best size for a Tablet because it is the largest possible screen that fits in most pockets, thus this form factor Android tablet can be carried around everywhere with the largest screen size for web browsing and watching videos and launching apps always available.
Archos created and has been selling this form factor since 2003 with their release of the Archos AV300, back then the first large screen PMP device. Since 2005, Archos released the first WiFi enabled touch screen embedded Linux Qtopia based PMA430 and for over 9 months, the Android based Archos 5 Internet Tablet has been available on the market at $249 in Radio Shack.
The release of the Dell Streak is a good thing for Archos as it popularizes the form factor. Also, I believe Archos has some advantages even with their 9 month old Android product such as pricing with a 9 month old pricing that is at about half the launch price of the Dell Streak, support for all video codecs and high profile H264, larger storage capacities up to 500GB, HDMI output, USB host and a bunch of other features. Also, Archos is expected to release 45nm based OMAP3640 Android tablet devices by September, thus further improving on the features and on the price/value performance.
The Mifi is a great solution for bringing a WiFi hotspot with you everywhere in the city and even in the country (depending on HSDPA/UMTS/GPRS coverage in your country). It's perfect to add 3G connectivity to your Archos, iPad, iPod Touch, Laptops and any other WiFi-only devices that you may have. In this video, I compare the performance and features of the two Mifi adapters that are available on the market, the Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 and the Huawei e5830.
In this video, I demonstrate a VOIP call taken using Google Voice and Gizmo5 on my $249 Archos 5 Internet Tablet using SIPdroid or any other SIP VOIP applications on the Android OS. This is the vision where you just need a pre-paid 1GB or 10GB of bandwidth per month on a SIM card, just enter it in your unlocked Mifi device, make sure the right profile informations are entered using the control panel and that's it. You've just about got a full mobile phone replacement, but where you don't need to pay for voice minutes and SMS subscriptions any more.
Although eventually all devices will have built-in unlocked SIM card slots and modems, the Mifi solution is a really great temporary alternative, that connects on 3G all WiFi-only devices. When your city gets White Spaces, LTE or WiMax, you don't need to buy new devices, just buy a new Mifi.
If you travel a lot in Europe, this is a must have. Then find SIM cards for cheap pre-paid plans, for 5€ to 10€ and get Mifi internet access all over that city and country.
The Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 that I got was unlocked beforehand, I don't know if there are online programs to unlock one if you happen to have a locked one. It can be bought unlocked for 214€ at moblix.hu and expansys.com.
I will post further test video of the Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 once I get to figure out how to use some of the more advanced features. And at Mobile World Congress, Novatel Wireless advertised the functionality of installing applications on their Mifi device (see my video interview about it), to increase the functionalities. Such as hosting a little server in there on the MicroSD card, doing some file-sharing, file caching, GPS tracking and other stuff. The Mifi is the kind of device that I think all busses, trains in Denmark are getting installed to provide free WiFi to all people taking public transportation. If you own a taxi business, drive a bus, own a sausage stand, providing your customers with mobile WiFi is an awesome opportunity.
I bought the Huawei e5830 at the Three store in London for £49 with a compulsory £10 1GB/month first month pre-paid credit. I then unlocked it for 15€ using http://www.dc-unlocker.com/ (it can also be bought internationally from ebay.co.uk for around £80 unlocked) and I installed the latest firmware with full Control Panel, built-in Profile and other Router management features at: http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=98318&page=2. Consider also I filmed the Huawei E5 version 2 (with faster 3G HSPA+ speeds support and a new display) at Mobile World Congress, see my video here: http://armdevices.net/2010/02/15/huawei-e5-2-mifi-at-mobile-world-congress-2010/
How does Google control what services, software and hardware ships in Android handsets? The search giant has built an elaborate system of control points around Android handsets.
To dig deeper we spent two months talking to industry sources close to Android commercials – and the reality has been startling. From a high level, Google uses 8 control points to manage the make-up of Android handsets:
I love Android, yet I am also the webmaster of the Archos Fans community. Archos is basically so far still the only Android Tablet manufacturer in the world (although 50+ Android Tablets have been shown at trade shows, nearly none of those are yet available on the market). Thus Archos, this little French company with less than 100 engineers, has had an Android device on the market since September 2009 and yet NO legal official way for them to pre-install the Google Marketplace, Gmail, Gtalk on their devices. There are illegal ways to install Google Apps on the Archos tablets, even a very simple .apk to transfer to the tablet over USB that does all the necessary Google Apps installations pretty easily.
This whole unofficial Google Apps deal is absolutely not sustainable, it's like some kind of cyanogen thing. The mass market consumers that buy ipod touch and ipads would never accept to have to go through such unofficial channels to get some sort of "Google Experience" on their device. For the 50+ Android Tablets to be released to the worldwide markets these next few months, Google will have to unlock the Google Experience for more hardware configurations.
As the roadmap of Android is top secret, as Google geniuses prepare their Knock Out blows against Apple/Microsoft/Nokia/Intel, I think we as Android fanboys can also rather straight forwardly guess what that roadmap likely is going to be.
I see it a bit like some kind of trojan horse approach. Deep down I am sure Google does not want to do evil, but to reach the goal of providing sub-$100 Android devices that do all the VOIP, VOD, Credit Card and ID replacement, RFID, Augmented Reality, GPS, Social Networking and all that other stuff, Google first simply has got to play it nice with the largest Manufacturers and the largest telecom carriers.
I was at the Mobile World Congress recently at the Q&A with Eric Schmidt, you could hear really fun questions being asked by provocative telecom industry people, such as Google wanting to "Steal the telecom industry's voice minutes", that Google wants to "Transform the telecom industry into dumb pipes". Those transformations are for real, and I am sure the Google top strategists are aiming to reach those goals as soon as possible. But Google alone, even though they have the most and best PHDs cannot make the $100 unlocked Google Phone/Tablet/e-reader/set-top-box happen. So they have to work in certain levels of secrecy with the right big companies that need to have their investments recouped before Google opening up the next level of Android openness to the whole industry.
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The Hong Kong Electronics and Sourcing fairs and the China Consumer Electronics Fair were just held in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. I had tried for 3 weeks after CeBIT to find a sponsor to cover my flight and hotel costs so that I could go there and bring you 50 videos of all the new products that I expected to be shown there. But I did not succeed to convince any sponsor for going to film in Asia this time, so I am for now staying in Copenhagen where I am currently filming some interviews at the Cphpix Copenhagen Film Festival: 1, 2, 3.
I've then been trying to find other sites covering those trade fairs with video, pictures and infos, but I have not found much thus far. Google News has some things about CCEF and about HKTDC in Chinese, clonedinchina.com has a few posts showing such things as a new Rockhip powered Android phone, SmartDevices R7, Onda VX560 7-inch PMP, Kinstone Windows CE MID, Huawei C8600 Android phone, MDO Avatar G580 Android phone, lots of cheaper ipad-like tablets.
I don't know for sure how much innovation and new products were shown by the Chinese manufacturers at these Trade Shows these past few days. I didn't yet spend enough time translating all the Chinese blogs and searching more for those most interesting Android tablets, new cheaper Android phones, new interesting e-readers, ARM Powered Laptops and more.
I guess also that this year's CCEF, HKTDC and HK Spring Sourcing fairs may not have been too popular among those European and US based bloggers that I know. Maybe they don't go there for a reason.
Anyways, I will try to bring you exclusive videos of a bunch of awesome ARM Powered products that I have right here to review, I've got a $95 10" Android VIA-ARM Powered laptop (watch me showing a brief preview of it in the video below), I've got an Intelligent Mobile Hotspot Mifi adapter by Novatel Wireless, I've got the touch-screen PocketBook 302 with WiFi/Bluetooth and I've also got a Bluetooth wireless foldable keyboard by Chinfai Leicke. I'll post extensive video reviews of those and more as soon as I find the time.
This video was posted at: netbooknews.com
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- Is Android Evil? (Andreas Constantinou/VisionMobile :: blog) (techmeme.com)
- Moonse E-7001 7-inch 3G Android Tablet (ubergizmo.com)
- CJ-2 Android prototype (ubergizmo.com)
The prices are said to be $100 to $350, the sizes 3" to 10", ARM Cortex processor from 800mhz to 1ghz, with multi-touch and 3D acceleration.
My guesses are, based on this slide presented by Henri Crohas in China:
2x Archos 3 Android Gen8: starting at $100, what would the second 3" model be about?
1x Archos 5 Android Gen8: starting at $200?
2x Archos 7 Android Gen8: $200-300? Why two 7" models?
1x Archos 10 Android Gen8: $350? Pixel Qi dual-mode screen (my huge wish, so it can be readable for e-books and run 50h on the battery)?
The slide mentions multi-touch, a big question would be, does Archos now use Capacitive touch-screens? The the case of 3" and 7", might it be that the second skew is to provide a cheap resistive choice as well as a $50 to $100 more expensive capacitive type? The thing about capacitive screen is this, as far as I understand, and as far as one can find by just looking at what's available on the market, it might be capacitive screens are really much more expensive and hard to come by in sizes other than some very definite sizes decided to be mass manufactured by the smart phone industry.
OpenGL acceleration and multi-touch features are clearly stated in the slide. Which may mean that Android 2.1 support is pretty much for surely available. Another hardware feature would be interesting to know about would be how well those devices will integrate 3G connectivity. We know Archos does Bluetooth tethering well, and one can buy a Mifi for WiFi to 3G tethering, how about Archos building 3G modems directly into skews of those Android tablet devices, and how about them making sure that power is managed in a way so that Voice-over-IP and other instant messaging over IP applications can constantly be active and stand-by on 3G and WiFi connections.
Logically to reach 1ghz they will use the Texas Instruments OMAP3640 series of processors, which is a significant upgrade on OMAP3440 of the current generation. This is not only a matter of increase of mhz speed. OMAP3640 is built on a 45nm process instead of the 65nm process of the current processor, which means the processor is significantly smaller and uses a lot less power, which probably brings better battery runtime. You can watch my video comparing OMAP3630 with OMAP3430. The performance increase for 3D rendering with the new processor is more than 62% going from 92fps to 156fps on the same 3D rendering animation. I don't know if video decoding and encoding performance has been improved. And I don't know how much things like website rendering is improved, if it's just 25% faster based on 800mhz vs 1ghz or if it is more than that.
I do not know if OMAP3640 can do 1080p decoding and much higher HD video decoding bitrates. I don't know if OMAP3640 simplifies the integration of mini-HDMI output directly into the device. If Archos includes a camera, it could probably record 720p video which would be really awesome, if a wireless microphone using Bluetooth or mini-jack input also can be used for good sound recording.
You can discuss this news in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=32392
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- Archos announces new line of internet tablets for summer 2010 (engadget.com)
The swarms of Apple fans buying and talking about the Apple iPad during these next days and months, are rapidly popularizing the demand for ARM Powered tablets in the worldwide market. This should be a great opportunity for the many companies working on releasing Android Powered Tablets during these next few weeks and months.
1. Will consumers prefer cheaper and more powerful Android powered tablets?
- As you can see in my Tablets category http://armdevices.net/category/tablets/, there are more than 50 Android Powered tablets coming to the market from all major manufacturers during these next few months.
3. This can accelerate the release of many ARM Powered laptops. As consumers see that ARM Powered embedded platforms load the full screen full resolution websites fast, consumers will demand there be regular laptop form factors available as well using the same technology.
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- OLPC to use Pixel Qi 3Qi screens (armdevices.net)
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Chris Ziegler writes at Engadget.com that with the upcoming Android Froyo software release, Google will be
decoupling many of Android's standard applications and components from the platform's core and making them downloadable and updatable through the Market, much the same as they've already done with Maps. In all likelihood, this process will take place over two major Android versions, starting with Froyo and continuing through Gingerbread.
This means that Android may get built in a way where software and component updates come from the central software update system controlled by Google, and as long as the hardware follows a certain set of hardware requirements, that manufacturers will not even have to work to update their customized firmwares anymore, but where Google will be taking care of the software releases centrally providing all the different hardware platforms with component, feature and application updates automatically.
This brings us to another important aspect of the fragmentation of Android which I certainly expect to see Google add support for with Froyo:
Which means that Google has to provide a set of customized Google Marketplaces for all those different categories of products.
I see no reason Google wouldn't want to support a market of Android tablets to compete with the iPod Touch and the iPad. Customizing Android for WiFi-only small or large Tablets with or without Cameras, accelerometers, GPS and 3G should be easy. It's just a matter of Google adding a few filters to apps in the Marketplace based on the hardware configurations of each device.
I am convinced Google wants to help provide an Android platform for e-readers to better access the Google Books, Google Reader and Google News, to create a powerful platform for the competition to the Amazon Kindle in e-ink based e-readers. An e-ink based e-reader with Android-powered RSS, Bookmarks sync, e-mail, webkit based web browser, Google Fast-flip, Google Reader Play, Aldiko/FBreader, WiFi and text-input all those apps and components will make e-ink based e-reader much more powerful.
Although Google is coming with Chrome OS, the way I see Chrome OS for ARM, is basically that Google is optimizing the web browser for all ARM based Linux platforms. So there would be no reason not to just include the full Chrome Browser simply as a Web Browser icon inside of Android. What Google needs to customize though in Android is a User Interface adapted for mouse and keyboard input of Laptop form factors instead of touch-screen inputs. The filter for laptops will highlight the best high resolution Android apps.
The core here is to provide Youtube support on set-top-boxes. But also it is to provide apps with optimized user-interfaces to be used on a remote control on the TV. Customized Widgets, user interfaces for overlay Chat, Polls, Debates, all that will work on an optimized software platform like Android. The HDMI-passthrough features recently rumored could make the Android-powered "Google TV" set-top-boxes even more impressive as they would bring in all the interactivity on top of all existing TV tuner platforms, be them any existing Cable, Satellite or DVB-T tuner platforms. So the Android set-top-box not only realizes Video-on-demand, it also improves existing live broadcast television.
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Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, recently spoke about large screen Android Tablets at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit keynote (at timecode 10 minutes and 39 seconds). It's a nice way of Eric Schmidt to indirectly confirm that Google is definitely going to support the development of Android based Tablets as alternatives on the market to the upcoming iPad.
When I say "phone", you might have a really big phone, like a phone about "this" big (he shows a size of about 10" diagonal for a tablet with his hands), also known as a Tablet, makes sense [to have] big screens (...) you are going to have them from many vendors including using Google's Android Operating System.
How soon until Google announces official Marketplace support for all Android Tablets?
Of all the Android Tablets which I have filmed so many of at the last couple months at CES, Mobile World Congress and CeBIT consumer electronics shows, none of the companies presenting those tablets were able to confirm if and when they might be allowed to include the Google Marketplace on those tablets officially supported by Google. As you may know, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet and any other currently shipping Android tablets around the world, none are yet officially certified by Google to include the Google Marketplace.
As you can see from my videos of the Archos 7 Home Tablet, the Hott MD500, the $199 Freescale powered tablets, Creative Zii Egg, Altina's 4.8" Android GPS Tablet, the Camangi Webstation, Forsa 7" Android Tablet, 1Cross Tech MIDhybrid, Hard Kernel ODroid and many many more which you can find at http://armdevices.net/category/tablets/, Android Tablets can be sold for cheaper, they can come with or without 3G, they may not come with capacitive but only resistive screens to save costs, they may not include cameras or even accelerometers. They instead bring higher resolutions, larger screens, more connectors and ports (such as built-in USB host, HDMI outputs..) and most importantly, Android Tablets can be sold at more affordable prices and be sold at retail stores without the need to signup for 2-year subscription plans with telecom carriers. Basically, the Android Tablets can occupy the market segments that go from the iPod Touch to the iPad.
Will Apple have a hard time selling as many devices and making as much revenues and profits in a market when dozens or hundreds of Android based competitors are going to be available for a lot cheaper prices and offer if not at least the same, then likely more features because of differentiation through free market competition? Android Tablets are likely to come with Flash support, HDMI outputs, USB host ports, hard drive storage options, storage expantion, Pixel Qi screens, removable batteries, video-conferencing, full video and audio codecs support, mass storage device modes not requiring iTunes to synchronize media files, open source and even open firmware software updates for the installation of alternative Android firmwares and even alternative Linux OSes including Ubuntu, Maemo, Angstrom. Can Apple compete with that?
Also check my (off camera) interview with Andy Rubin and Eric Schmidt about Android Marketplace on Tablets and Laptops from Mobile World Congress last month: http://armdevices.net/2010/02/22/i-interviewed-eric-schmidt-and-andy-rubin-at-mwc-off-camera-for-now-watch-eric-schmidts-keynote-video/
This following video starts at the correct 10m39s timecode when you click the play button, where you can see Eric Schmidt's above statement regarding Google's official support for Android Tablets:
You may copy and paste this embed code to your blog if you want the embedded video to start at that same timecode:
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You can hear me featured on the Meetmobility podcast episode 45 with JKKmobile, Sasha Pallenberg and Steve Paine available at http://meetmobility.com/2010/03/12/meetmobility-podcast-45-cream-of-the-expo-cebit-2010-roundup/
I talk about the Archos 7 Home Tablet, Gigabyte's Android-based e-ink e-reader, Android on set-top-boxes as well as my 10" Firstview VIA ARM powered Android laptop which I will post a video-review of here one of these next few days.