SAN FRANCISCO—A Chinese consumer electronics firm is offering for sale a media tablet based on Android 4.0 for less than $100, MIPS Technologies Inc. said Monday (Dec. 5).
The tablet, which is available in China and online through Ainol Electronics Co. Ltd., features a 7-inch capacitive multi-touch screen and is powered by a MIPS-based processor from China's Ingenic Semiconductor Co. Ltd. The tablet supports WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3-D graphics with the Vivante GC860 GPU, 1080p video decoding and dual front/rear cameras.
The tablet, NOVO7, is the first tablet based on Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. It will be available in the U.S. and other geographies within the next several months under brands from companies including Leader International Inc. and OMG Electronics Ltd. It will also eventually be available in 8- and 9-inch form factors, according to MIPS.
According to Robert Bismuth, vice president of business development at MIPS, the
functionality of the NOVO7 is roughly equivalent to Amazon's Kindle
Fire, which is sold directly through Amazon for $199.
Bismuth said the company is working with other customers that will be bringing to market MIPS-based applications processors for tablets based on Android 4.0. Bismuth said the sub-$100 price point of the tablets is likely to be a sign of things to come. "The price advantage that the MIPS architecture brings to licenses helps to drive down the cost of all devices we are in," Bismuth added.
Bismuth pointed to an interesting proof point from recent history that underscores consumer interest in lower cost media tablets. When Hewlett-Packard Co. announced in August that it would discontinue its TouchPad tablets after just weeks on the market, it lowered the price point on the devices it still had in stock to $99 and $129. Consumers snapped them up within 48 hours.
"There was no future for [TouchPad]—no future support or future apps," Bismuth said. "But it did the four or five things that people wanted."
The Ingenic processor that powers the tablet is Ingenic's JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-based XBurst CPU running at 1 GHz, MIPS said. The company said the XBurst processor's power-efficient architecture provides extended battery life and the tablet draws less than 400mA of power during active web browsing.
The JZ4770 is among the first MIPS-based SoCs targeted for mobile devices that delivers more than 1-GHz frequency, increasingly a requirement for tablets and other devices that incorporate rich multimedia and high-performance applications and functionality, according to MIPS.
"I'm thrilled to see the
entrance of MIPS-based Android 4.0 tablets into the market," said to
Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google Inc., in a
statement. "Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile
consumers and a strong illustration of how Android's openness drives
innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the
MIPS has posted a corporate video touting the tablet and its role in its creation on YouTube.