The promo for this ARM TechCon teardown event is actually a bit misleading: “Which tablet PC will come out on top? [Moderated by Ron Wilson] Watch as EE Times Editors Brian Fuller and Patrick Mannion dissect the inner workings of the devices and explore which is the strongest contender, based on speed, power consumption, display, features and functionality.”
If this were about the parameters listed, it’s not really a fair match-up and on November 10th I’d be wiping the blood off my aged Archos 7’s broken, crannied face. Going toe-to-toe, round-for-round, against the new, glistening, vigorous Dell Streak (see video preview below) under those somewhat modified Marquess of Queensbury rules is just not a good idea!
(UPDATE: See video excerpts from the Nov. 10 teardown below).
So why even have a teardown smackdown against the Streak? Well, like the oh-too-frequent boxing or mixed-martial-arts beat down, it’s possible to learn much by observing the limitations of one fighter in the ring with a much stronger opponent. So too when it comes to design.
Unless you’re one of the lucky few, all designs you’re tasked with will have constraints. How you deal with those constraints and still achieve an acceptable outcome is the mark of a successful engineer. In the case of the Archos 7 design team, managing feature creep and the rigors of time to market, low cost and optimal user experience on a brand new platform such as the Android were clearly the prime objectives.
That the Archos 7 could even be considered ‘aged’ after having been launched by Archos as the ‘jewel’ of this new range of devices a scant four months ago is testimony to how rapidly the technology is changing.
The Archos 7 Home Tablet weighs it at a scant Android 1.5 and a closed apps marketplace, but does a lot of fun multimedia and connectivity for the $189 investment.
Nonetheless, aged it is: At $189 it’s still relegated to being an entry-level device in the now burgeoning Tablet PC market. With the recent launch of the $549.99 Dell Streak and the pending launch of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Archos 7’s 600-MHz ARM 9 processor, Android 1.5 platform and reliance on the company’s closed AppLibs ecosystem instead of the Android Marketplace, seem almost quaint by comparison.
Still, in many ways the team was successful, for its time. But the compromises, design and component choices made to achieve those objectives for an early, entry-level device become even more interesting when contrasted with those made for the cutting-edge Dell Streak, though it too comes with its own set of constraints.
The Dell Streak is the hottest Android device on the market, and has the looks and features to go with its pedestalic positioning, but it also brings with it the associated cost at $549.
In the final analysis, how the two designs compare and contrast under the light of rapidly improving technology is a classic case-study in optimal-design management that Brian and I are looking forward to exposing.
Bring your questions and your own insights to Santa Clara at noon on November 10th. There’s lots to cover in 50 minutes, but this is for you, so jump into the ring..at your own risk. Let us know in advance if there's anything in particular you'd like to explore, we'd be happy to start the discussion here (add comments below).
Alban, hope to see you this week. To your point: I showed the Streak to my Apple-bigotted son (18 years old) and he loved it. This could be because he still has an old Samsung clamshell mobile phone and would like to be more Web-enabled as he skateboards to school.
I'm not sure on the small format Dell Streak future...
A lot of the "trendy" and successful products are quite popular amongst teenagers, most of them spending their parents money.
However, as much as I liked it *very* much, the teens did not really fancy the Streak when I showed it in a local School. They were more impressed by the Kindle!
I guess they still have the sharp eyesight ;)
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is quite sexy too.
I feel "we" need to decide ourselves on what size is the most happy with... Huge phone or comfy tablet?!
Kind regards, Alban
ARM Connected Community
I have to say, having played around with the Streak before the teardown, it may be a tablet (one of scores coming to market) but Dell's done a really nice job on it. It makes going back to a cell phone weird and it's far more portable than an iPad. The only thing you have to get over is using such a brick-size device as a phone (although it's much lighter than those original Motorola bricks in the 1980s).
Dell will still be here in 5 years not to worry on that. But the bug question is in what place. They are struggling with the laptop sales going down and having lost market share to HP last year. They are cautious in testing the android for the gadgets 'cause no one knows where the x-pads, x-lets, etc are leading to.
I wish Dell will still be here in five years. I am worried that investing in Dell with its performance and execution strategies may be wrong headed. You cannot build on others ideas, you need your own. Dell must innovate to be taken seriously.
Hi Charbax, I really liked the look of the Archos 70 (and the newer 101) and thought they would be great teardown candidates! (I like your videos by the way). The 70 may actually be available now so maybe I'll get to do both the 7 and the 70..if not, maybe I'll nab yours!
That said, I like the hardware and software design contrast between the entry-level Archos 7 for the home user and the high-end, more mobile Streak. A teardown done by our colleagues at TechInsights of the Galaxy Tab bore out the suspicion that Samsung would reuse much of the insides of its Galaxy S cellphone, but clearly provided a much different user experience. See that teardown here: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4210143/Samsung-tablet-borrows-handset-chips.
But, with the Streak vs. Archos 7 Home Tablet, there's a clearly different target market and user experience and for designers interested in the hardware and software trade-offs associated with each, the contrast may be useful.
PS: I started the teardown and swapped out the image. Thanks!
I'll bring my sArchos 70 Internet Tablet, at just $269 it brings ARM Cortex A8 45nm 1ghz, 7" capacitive, HDMI and all audio/video codecs. I'm writing this comment on my $199 Archos 43 Internet Tablet, same specs but 4.3" resistive (but siensitiive), also Android 2.2 (Dell uses somewhat "old" version of the 65nm snapdragon and supports few video codecs. By the way, you are talling about the Archos 7 Home Tablet, the Archos 7 Intternet Media Tablet picture you use is of the 65nm ARM Cortex A8 non-Android (but multi-OS hackable) hard drive based tablet that Archos released back in late 2008.
Brian Fuller and myself will be going deep inside the Dell Streak and Archos 7 in a comparative teardown 'smackdown' at the up-coming ARM TechCon in Santa Clara. But the issue really isn't which is the 'best' device. It's more about how the design teams managed the constraints they were under at the time of the design. What is it you'd like to see 'exposed' here?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.