We’ve just had the first public hands on with the Viewpad 10 pro. This is the Oaktrail-based 10″ tablet from Viewsonic that should be hitting in Q2. The battery life claims are a good 8hrs, 2Gb, weight 800gm and there’s a 3g version too. The icing on the cake was that Android is virtualized on top of Windows 7. We think its a runtime similar to Myriads Dalvik bit it really could be true virtualization. If so, we love it. Video coming later.
We’ve just recorded Meet:Mobility Podcast 62. If you haven’t tuned in, please do because JKK, Sascha and myself spend a long time talking in detail about what happened in mobile computing at CES and give you a good overview of the significant products we got to understand while were in Las Vegas. For me, the show brought me the biggest signal yet that the X-over is happening. That’s X86 and ARM platforms crossing over in the mobile and personal computing space.
We’ve seen many indicators before now that ARM-derived processing platforms and operating systems were capable of personal computing tasks. I tested the Compaq Airlife almostÂ a year ago (Fully Reviewed in May) and the Tegra2-based Toshiba AC100 that I still have for testing is everything needed for a good smart-book / PC experience except the software build but there hasn’t been a time when so many top-tier manufacturers have shown the same confidence by bringing out multiple X-over products. In that respect, CES 2011 is a very important year and I do believe that we’ll look back and say, yes, that was the start of the crossover.
It will be a turbulent year or whirlwind activities. We’re rising out of a depression and there’s new confidence that risks can be taken. Many of the products we’re seeing won’t’ succeed either due to being too early or by being side-swiped by other disruptive products.
Tablets came-of-age at CES 2011. The rising quality of devices and the number of top tier brands shows that there’s a big enough level on investment now that the segment is unlikely to fail to produce multi-million sales. Estimates range up to 40m units for 2011 which will match netbook sales. I agree. 40m is achievable, especially as prices drop like a ton of bricks.
We’re not just talking about tablets though. There are a whole list of products we need to mention.
Motorola Atrix. Taking the prize for most-talked about device at CES is this dual-core Android phone with a big battery and lots of connectivity. The laptop ‘dock’ turned it into a desktop that made people stop and think. This idea of modular computing is exciting but there are lots of issues to consider. I have a Tegra 2 smart-book running Android and while it’s fun, it’s not productive. Processing power is short of what is needed and the apps are limited. Despite a full Firefox build being available on the Atrix, the limits I’ve experienced on the Toshiba AC100, will also apply to the Atrix until Honeycomb and a lot of ISV investment, solve the problem. I also imagine the cost of that set-up to be getting close to $800 or more. Who’s going to invest that much into a system that still won’t do 100% of personal computing activities? There’s also the issue of putting all your eggs in one basket. Smartphones have a tendency to get lost! The Atrix is a cool product and shows very clearly how desk-top computing will be possible with smartphone cores.
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Like the Atrix, this is a device aiming to be more than one computing solution. Unlike the Atrix, this one offers the tablet as the screen and computing core with a docking keyboard finishing off the ‘smart book’ look. The smartphone ‘core’ isn’t so obvious and this isn’t a device aiming to be totally convergent. In fact, it feels to me like it fits in with it’s target audience in a more comfortable way than the Atrix. A consumer, coffee-table tablet with an optional keyboard for ‘getting things done’ sounds perfect for the iPad generation. With Android offering great in-cloud synchronisation, a two-device Android strategy could work well, especially as this product will get the important Honeycomb operating system update. [More info on the ASUS products at CES available here]
Gemtek. Highlighting the progress that Intel are making with their non-Windows platforms is the Gemtek Zeus. While the product is targeted as a media phone, it’s worth stopping for a moment to look at exactly what’s happening here. This is Android version 2.2 on an Intel Moorestown platform. That’s an official Intel Android build (that is likely to become an official branch of Android) optimised for Intels always-on platform. The product is light, is said to have good battery life. It highlights just how close ARM and Intel products are in the mobile space â€“ and this is just Intels first attempt!
OLPC XO-1.75 â€“ One Laptop Per Child product was another win for ARM this week. Starting with an AMD CPU and then moving to VIA, another X86 CPU, they have now switched over to a Marvel ARMADA 610 ARMv7 core for the XO-1.75 which should go into production in mid 2011. The difference in battery life is likely to be very significant because in the past, they were using relatively old X86 CPUs. Always-on, screen-off standby is also now possible. It will be important to see the performance too. Compared to the very old AMD Geode CPU that was used in the original, there shouldn’t be any noticeable difference at all and yet the power envelope has been cut from 5W to 2W! There’s an interesting video available on this here. OLPC CTO Edward J. McNierney says in the video that the performance is now better!
Honeycomb â€“ Finally, the gun has been fired for a true large-screen version of Android. This is likely to be a branch of Android that will run parallel to version 2.x but the important thing is that it signals Googles commitment which, in turn, with give ISVs the confidence to invest in larger Android application projects. Serious productivity apps, video editing and ‘HD’ versions of existing applications. Motorola and Nvidia were the big winners as they have been chosen to provide the reference hardware and product. Soon after the Xoom launches you can expect to see more Honeycomb product announcements that will roll in the second half of 2011.Finally, we could see a productive ‘smart’ book although don’t forget that Intel will also be involved here. Honeycomb on i86 is announcement I expect to hear about soon.
Windows and Office on RISC SOCs. This was a huge announcement that gives ARM partners a reason to take a Cortex A15 license if they haven’t done so already. I’m not expecting to see a mobile product drop out of Microsoft onto ARM but again, it gives ISVs reason to create ARM versions of applications. That effort could spill over into Honeycomb-related work too. Interestingly, it puts Adobe in a great position as a runtime that will work across all of these platforms and operating systems. They could find themselves being used as an important bridge. Timescales for Windows, timescales for drivers, timescales for ported software are all in the 2-5 year timeframe although X86 emulation could speed that up? Developers could be given virtual ARM SDKs to aid development work which would explain why Microsoft took a full ARM license this year.
One of the interesting things about Windows on ARM is that, finally, it will give everyone the ability to benchmark ARM against X86 in like-for-like products. My money is on Intel having the processing power advantage and ARM offering battery life and price advantages. Differences, however, are likely to be minimal and it could all be decided on value-add features like security, wireless integration and application stores. OEDs are the ones that will make the decision here.
Angry Birds on AppUp. Angry Birds migrated from ARM to X86 this week as Intel announced that the popular phone game was available on their AppUp store. That makes it available to some 100 million netbook and notebook customers and will have driven a large number of installations of the AppUp store that doesn’t yet come pre-installed on netbooks. Clearly Intel have bought-in the app to drive adoption but even so, it’s great to see and it won’t take many more of these wins before AppUp starts to drive its own adoption. Video demo here.
I was surprised not to hear any news concerning Windows 7 Compact. Microsoft still don’t have a consumer internet device operating system for the 4-10â€ segment. What’s going on there?
Intel’s Oaktrail surprised me at CES. I saw a number of WIndows-based products that were significantly smaller than I expected and had logner battery life than I expected. At least the claims of battery life seem to be good anyway. Viliv, a company that has both an ARM/Android and Intel Oaktrail/Windows product in the same 7â€ screen casing proved that parity has almost been reached. The X70 Slate is some 35% lighter than the previous model and even increases the battery life from 6 to 6.5hrs. I can’t wait to see the performance on both Intel and ARM versions. The Samsung Gloria/PC7/TX100 was also an interesting product in terms of technology, size and battery life on Intel. Ocosmos are also working on an Oaktrail device. It’s tiny!
Nvidia announced project ‘Denver’ which aims to bring ARM to the desk-top. [More info] I suspect this is a Cortex A15 project and won’t see the light of day until 2013 but once again, there’s the confidence and investment in a crossover product. These are hugely expensive projects so the message is clear now â€“ the risks are low enough and potential gains are high enough to get these projects underway.
Finally, there was another signal that crossover is starting to happen. I used a Galaxy Tab A LOT at CES. Wifi and 3G internet was hard to come-by but as my PIM, note-taking device, map and Twitter device it worked perfectly and preserved my phone battery , a Nokia N8, for photos and those voice-type things some people do! SMS were also handled on the N8. The netbook was with me most of the time and, like now, there’s no easier way to get a lot of text in a blog and video edited and posted. For bum-on-seat activities, I still need Windows but I surprised myself just how much I used the tablet. You’ll see me use it a lot more at MWC next month.
[This was posted live during the Intel Ultra Mobility Event. 2nd June 2010. Excuse the formatting, brief analysis and spelling mistakes please!]
I’m ready to go into the ultra mobility event which starts at 1400 here in Taipei
Stay tuned for updates on Moorestown, Oak trail, MeeGo and AppUpâ€¦
We’ve just been given the fact sheet..
Acer Backs MeeGo, ASUS supports Intel AppUp Centre and MeeGo, MeeGo Tablet Demos, MeeGo V1.0 based products (9 demos listed) , Service providers Rally Around MeeGo, MeeGo Enabling Center.
More from fact-sheet:
Mandriva, Linpus (Lite), Novell (SUSE MeeGo), Red Flag (Red Flag inMini), Turbolinux (Great Turbo IVI) to release OS builds based on MeeGo.
1325 Doors should open soon.
Fact-Sheets uploaded to Flickr.
1333 We’re heading inâ€¦taking pics of display. brb!
Just had a quick peek into the demo area. Aava smartphone is showing 3D, video, gaming demos and girlsâ€¦
1345 Seated at the front. The show starts in 15 minutes
Sascha from Netbooknews.de sitting next to me.
Open Peek Moorestown-based products on-stage.
2-minutes to go. Execs seated to the right of me. More importantly, Nicole from netbooknews just arrived.
Power usage demo on stage. Lights down. Here we goâ€¦
1404 Events kicks off, as usual, with a ‘thank you’ to Taiwan.
Anand Chandrasekhar (sp?) now on stage.
Anand talks about video consumptions. Content is getting richer. Sharing. Live sharing.
Matt Serletic from Music Mastermind on stage to demo a very cool studio on an X70
That was a cool demo. He basically layered up a track by using vocal input to set the sequence.
14:17 Anand continues, talks about Intel’s compute continuum and ‘a little bit of magic.’ This is where we go to the power drain demo I guessâ€¦
Nope, we’re going into a videoâ€¦about 1954 and the 4 minute mile. Breaking barriers is the theme I guess.
Anand goes on to talk about to the power barrier!
Anand holds up an ARM-based Blackberry and says ‘that’s a platform.’ goes on to talk about the 50x power reduction figures and how they related to a platform and not to silicon.
Video highlights smartphone and tablet. Talks about 8-10 hours battery life on the tablet.
Andy [?] of Open Peek now on stage demoing the product.
2:29 we’re getting a demo of the ‘Open Peek’ home energy app.
2:32 Talking about performance. There’s that sub 2 second SunSpider figure again.
These figures look correct to me. iPad is running 10 seconds on SunSpider.
Graphics and video slide highlights 1080p performance. (High Profile at 30fps) and 3D performance.
Interesting slide shows the battery life improvements over Menlow.
1437 Now watching a demo of battery drain. 100mw audio playback. Not bad!
1440 Comparing against competition nowâ€¦.
Quite some power in Anand’s voice at this stage. He’s pushing this point home.
In performance we’re â€œIn a league by ourselvesâ€ with an average power consumption for the smartphone space.
World Of Warcraft being demonstrated on the Aava smartphone (on Moorestown) but the demo isn’t that impressive. Low FPS.
Quake demo shown. I have no idea if it’s good or bad!! Looks fast.
Mutitasking demoâ€¦of courseâ€¦.and a nice textured interactive 3D demo. Yeah, it looks quite impressive.
14:46 Video conferencing demo. Ofer Shapiro of Vidyo comes in live over a conference. 2 live screens shown. quality very good. 3rd video conference screen now added. It’s coming in via a Moorestown phone.
1452 We move into MeeGo. Sounds like this is a summary of what we heard this morning. I’ll have a post about that later. Doug Fisher steps up on stage
Brief slide on Medfield which is ‘on track’ closes up the event here. Anand rounds up with ‘best is yet to come’
That rounds it up. We’re off to the demo area and then to a private Q&A. Anyone got questions? Put them on twitter to @chippy and I’ll try and ask Anand.
Updated: Q&A Session reveals timeframes.
In a Q&A session following the event we had the chance to ask Anand questions about Moorestown and related products.
Chippy: â€œPremium performance, premium price?â€ Anand responded to the effect that Intel will be aggressive with their pricing in order to get into the market saying that Intel will be ‘competitive’ and following up with ‘expect us to be hungry but not stupid.’
Sascha (netbooknews) asked about timeframes for products. Anand responded saying that products will ‘trickle’ in within a 6-12 months timeframe with tablets coming first. It’s not clear if he’s referring to MeeGo/Moorestown tablets or WIndows7/Oak trail tablets. We get the impression that there’s been a slight slip in the Moorestown program.
On Android: I asked about the project both to Anand and Doug Fisher.Was Android was just an internal project or something that is being worked-on with Google? It appears that the X86 branch of Android will become an official branch although some work will needs to be done on the power elements by Intel for its platforms. Medfield (the next generation after Moorestown) was mentioned so I assume that Android-on-Intel will be a late 2011 product.