If a new product unveiled this week by Freescale Semiconductor is any indication, 2010 could be "the year of the tablet computer ." Just in time for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opening Thursday in Las Vegas, the company has launched a seven-inch touchscreen tablet computer that it described as "the future of the smart-book category."
The new product, available with either Android or Linux operating systems, will be priced at $199. Freescale is promoting its instant-on capabilities, persistent connectivity, and all-day battery life, and said it expects products based on this design to be available by the summer.
First in SABRE Series
The tablet is built around Freescale's i.MX515 processor , which uses ARM Cortex-A8 technology, as well as the company's MC13892 power -management IC, SGTL5000 audio codec, and MMA8450Q three-axis accelerator.
Available in a selection of colors, the tablet includes Wi-Fi , Bluetooth and optional support for 3G. Users can add an external keyboard and mount the tablet on the keyboard as its display.
The tablet is the first platform the company has offered in its SABRE (Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering) series, which utilizes feedback from an end-user research study undertaken with Savannah College of Art and Design's industrial-design program. The tablet is being offered to OEMs who want to jump-start a tablet line.
Henri Richard, Freescale's senior vice president for sales and marketing, said the new tablet is "specifically designed and optimized to support common online activities, including social media, high-quality audio/video playback, and light gaming." He added that Freescale intends to play a vital role in propelling the mainstream adoption of smart-book devices.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., said the success of Freescale's tablet could depend on the reaction to the possible release of a tablet computer from Apple. "A lot of people are waiting to see the Apple tablet," she said, "and seeing what Google might offer."
'A Preemptive Strike'
There has been rampant speculation that Apple will release a tablet computer sometime this year, with some reports even speculating that the name will be iSlate. Recently, the reports have gotten more detailed and numerous, but the question is still whether there is fire in all that smoke. (continued...)