Freescale's $199 Smartbook Tablet Design Means Tablets For Everyone (Later This Year)

Illustration for article titled Freescales $199 Smartbook Tablet Design Means Tablets For Everyone (Later This Year)

Freescsale, supplier of the chip that powers the Kindle as well as about 70% of the ebook market, has just developed a 7-inch tablet reference design that will basically be the genesis of many tablets starting 2010. And it's $199.

Now, to be fair, those two figures are a bit preliminary. The $199 figure is the one quoted by Freescale, not the final price that OEM companies that will buy this design from Freescale and put their own spin and customization on it will charge. And, although Freescale says this tablet design will allow companies to bring the tablet to market in as low as 6 months, customizations (hardware or software) and bug killing will undoubtedly inflate that.

Even if only on paper, this Freescale reference design is pretty damn promising. It's powered by a netbook-esque ARM processor, a 7-inch touchscreen (resistive, unfortunately, to keep the design under $200—you'd go up to $250 if any OEM put a capacitive touchscreen on there), 512MB RAM, 4-64GB internal storage, removable microSD slot, an optional 3G modem, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, USB, audio ports, SIM card, speaker, microphone, 3-megapixel webcam, 1900 mAh battery, accelerometer and light sensor. Whether or not including all these options in a build will result in a machine that's less than $200 is unclear, so there might be some sacrifices that need to be made.

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As for the OS, it's primarily browser based, but the root of it is a customized Debian Linux build, so you could theoretically go and install Linux applications onto it. But, as a tablet, people are mostly going to be consuming media, so going with a browser, like the JooJoo did, makes sense. Freescale did come up with an interesting $50 keyboard docking station addon that you can keep at home and use as an input device if you actually need to do some typing, so it's kind of the best of both worlds.

The bottom line is that Freescale has made a pretty enticing design, and if a decent enough OEM picks it up and gets it to market at under $200, it could be the start if a very interesting computing category—one that's a step higher than smartphones but a step lower than netbooks.

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DISCUSSION

tomcat1483
tomcat1483

I started writing and I came up with a few ideas. A lightweight take anywhere device has a lot of possibility's.

A. It could be a lot easer in bed than having the laptop on my knees like it is now.

B. Leaving it on the coffee table to then pick up and check show times or when the game will be on. Then when the game is on checking ESPN for other scores or how the fantasy league is doing.

C. If it can take signatures I could see many forms being put on that.

D. Medical work: Go into a Dr. office, the receptionist then send you the forms to fill out via wi-fi, bluetooth or e-mail u fill it out right there on the device. Then you send it back to the nurse. Devices like this could be a real changer in the medical field. Think about it. Instead that vanilla folder filled with chicken scratch hanging outside the door there is a tablet with your entire medical history. Recent x-rays and CAT scans. Blood work is instantly sent to it. You could be wearing oxygen sensors and heart-rate monitors that then transmit their data to the device. (I am just speaking off the top of my head and I know privacy concerns abound and HIPA laws but hey its the future lets forget that for now and think about what is possible)