ARM TechCon Teardown Smackdown: Dell Streak vs. The Archos 7
10/26/2010 6:47 PM EDT
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).