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Handhelds Technology

Tegra 2 Tablets/Slates Impress At CES 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-they-actually-exist dept.
MartinSchou writes "At this year's CES it seems that everybody and their cousin are talking about tablets, slates or smartbooks. This year, however, might be the year of Linux — if not on the desktop, then at least on your other computing devices. Amongst this years top contenders are slates running nVidia's Tegra 2 chipset, boasting 10+ hours worth of 1080p playback, with entries from Quanta, Mobinnova, ASUS, MSI and Boxee (though this is a media computer). Notion Ink have brought their Adam slate, complete with a Pixel Qi transreflective, multi-touch capable screen."
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Tegra 2 Tablets/Slates Impress At CES

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  • Nice; but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:32PM (#30710140) Journal
    It would appear that Nvidia has(as was more or less inevitable) moved away from their WinCE support only stance on Tegra.

    What remains to be seen, though, is what their linux support looks like. If all there is is "enough binary blobs to get whatever version of Android the OEM decided to install to boot, and nothing more", that is largely useless. A bunch of OEMs get cheap software. Yay, I'm so happy for them.

    Given that this is Nvidia, I'd be shocked if any but the barest GPU driver support is OSS; but if the support isn't good enough to produce third party firmwares and upgrades for these devices, they might as well be Tivoized.
    • Re:Nice; but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheKidWho (705796) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:35PM (#30710172)

      A driver doesn't need to be OSS to work correctly.

      Many of you have gotten the means to an end confused... You act as if OSS is the end and hardware/software is the means to it.

      • Idealism makes for interesting opinions.

        I understand it, though. I get really excited when I meet someone with a mutual preference in hammers.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by maxume (22995)

          Is there really anybody who doesn't prefer sledgehammers?

          I mean sure, they aren't the best hammer for lots of tasks, but they are the best hammer for lots of fun stuff.

      • by jrumney (197329)
        As a device manufacturer though, any drivers that I distribute need to be legally clear. This is not the case with closed source binary drivers. We have a statement from Linus that open source shims to load closed source drivers that are originally designed for other operating systems are OK by him, but closed source drivers in general are not acceptable.
    • Re:Nice; but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by nutshell42 (557890) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @07:09PM (#30710402) Journal
      Stop spewing crap.

      When it came to building my HTPC I went with Intel Graphics because everyone on /. was touting their great OSS drivers and how much better they were than nVidia's binary blob.
      The reality is that I should have dug deeper because then I'd have found out that the gloriously OSS G45 drivers didn't want to implement a "cheap hack" and instead wanted to "Do It Right"(TM) - I don't know if they're still doing it right or if they're done doing it right by now, but the bottom line was that using xv crashed the X server. So I had an HTPC that couldn't play videos. Great.

      My HTPC now runs Windows 7 and my next PC's gonna be nVidia again because I prefer a Linux with cheap hacks to having to use Windows.

      So could the true believers please cease their Maoist campaign for ideological purity? Linux doesn't need a great leap, lots of small steps work just fine, thank you.

      • I'm sorry to hear of your bad experience with the Intel G45 drivers. My wife recently purchased a Toshiba laptop with the Intel M4500(?) integrated chipset precisely so we wouldn't have to deal with proprietary crap drivers (my experience with NVidia drivers was that the proprietary driver with its binary blob was great right up until it crashed my kernel and/or the X session. What added insult to injury was that the hardware became "legacy hardware" and I had to use the "legacy" driver. I also don't care m
        • by nutshell42 (557890) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:44PM (#30711072) Journal
          If they've finally fixed it two years (?) after the chipset's been released that's great. I'm gonna try it again some time next month to see if I have to buy Windows 7 when the forced shutdowns on the RC start and your post makes me hopeful.

          I never had a problem with compiling the Nvidia kernel driver or their legacy drivers, their installer is heads and shoulders above any other 3rd party driver for Linux I've encountered (which aren't that many) and the biggest problem is that many distros no longer include a build system on the default installation (which is mostly a problem with my network card because it leads to a catch 22. But thank God they fit 3 different twitter apps on that CD...).

          I don't have a problem with people preferring OSS drivers. I do have a problem when that preference becomes irrational and ignores glaring deficits of the OSS drivers out of a ideological hatred of binary drivers.

          I'd like OSS'ed Nvidia drivers, too. It's not gonna happen. But in the meantime their existing drivers provide timely support of the full feature set of current graphics cards and are quite stable. That's two things I can't say about Intel's OSS'ed drivers.

          • Group buy for AMD stocks, merger with ARM, and then forced merger with nVidia. Anybody up?
            </fanboy type='open source'>
        • Splitting hairs I know, but freedom is more equated to liberty rather than democracy, and do as we say or get shot is more akin to tyranny rather than communism. Democracy is more about everyone getting a say. Communism is more about sharing.
          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            Good thing we don't live in a democracy then? I would hate to see what would happen if the masses ruled.

      • I took back a laptop with ATI graphics that I couldn't get to run properly, and was an instant convert when the intel integrated video worked perfectly "out of the box" with Linux Mint.
    • If nvidia were to use the same driver model as for their other GPUs, the community could continue writing their own drivers via nouveau.

    • It would appear that Nvidia has(as was more or less inevitable) moved away from their WinCE support only stance on Tegra. What remains to be seen, though, is what their linux support looks like. If all there is is "enough binary blobs to get whatever version of Android the OEM decided to install to boot, and nothing more", that is largely useless. A bunch of OEMs get cheap software. Yay, I'm so happy for them. Given that this is Nvidia, I'd be shocked if any but the barest GPU driver support is OSS; but if the support isn't good enough to produce third party firmwares and upgrades for these devices, they might as well be Tivoized.

      Why oh why, would the likes of always want to put 3rd party firmware on almost everything. Yesterday it was wireless router, then there were mobile phones. What would you expect? 3rd party firmware for G-Shocks ? Yes, I agree that manufacturer should not create artificial limitation for us to install alternative firmwares or OSs on devices that we own. But they shouldn't be mandated to provide support to you. If you really want support from them, you can always be their OEM partners, I'm sure they will hel

    • Vaporware (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:43PM (#30711984) Journal

      It seems reasonable to expect given a long history that all of these vendors will show off a bunch of stuff to get us all excited, and then go back to their offices and have a long chat with some rather persuasive gentlemen from Santa Clara and Redmond. And then they'll run into unanticipated difficulties in production that prevent them from shipping more than a few hundred units.

      And then Google will go "Oh, screw it." and launch the thing on their online store and reap the billions of dollars from an eager world clamoring for this hot new technology.

  • This year, however, might be the year of Linux if not on the desktop, then at least on your other computing devices.

    2009 was the first year of linux dominating on TVs and STBs since 2009, and probably the year of *nix on smartphones as well.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      2009 was the first year of linux dominating on TVs and STBs since 2009

      Really, you don't say?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nxtw (866177)

      2009 was the first year of linux dominating on TVs and STBs since 2009, and probably the year of *nix on smartphones as well.

      If it was the "year of linux dominating on TVs and STBs", who cares...? How many of these devices have any accessible method of replacing or modifying the software? My TV has a USB port that can play pictures and music and upgrade the firmware, but there's no documentation on how to do so and hasn't been a firmware upgrade. And I have my doubts about any mass-market STB hardware be

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by formfeed (703859)
      The year of Linux will come. While you are off to buy a slate or smartbook, Richard Stallman will come in glory and those who are ready will feast with him. Then the door will be locked. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the power of linux comes.
  • So when they make a Pixel Qi Adam Slate that can be charged wirelessly, it will be called Qi [wirelesspo...ortium.com] Pixel Qi Adam Slate? Gee, Pikachu's late, too.

  • I love Tegra 2 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's a fantastic chip. Low power and really fast. I'm seeing about 2x the CPU performance on benchmarks over an Intel Atom N270. And the GPU performance is just amazing compared to the intel GMA stuff.

    I often joke that Tegra 2's ARM could emulate x86 in software faster than an Atom could run it natively. Put that in your Windows pipe and smoke it!

    • by nxtw (866177)

      It's a fantastic chip. Low power and really fast. I'm seeing about 2x the CPU performance on benchmarks over an Intel Atom N270. And the GPU performance is just amazing compared to the intel GMA stuff.

      Any comparisons to the Atom N450? CPU performance is slightly improved over the N270, but the GPU is a generation newer, and the CPU/memory controller/GPU are all integrated for significantly reduced power usage). (And the GPU with most Atom N270 systems is a low-power version of the five year old GMA 950 -

      • Atom (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well even the dhrystone mips of a 1ghz dual-core Tegra T20 (cortex-a9) against a 1.6Ghz dual-core Atom 330 had the T20 coming out a little ahead for us.
        Atom is the only thing Intel has brought out to compete against ARM. Also the T20 was 1Watt against an Atom's 4W, and the T20 is an SoC with GPU and other peripherals. It's not that ARM is fast, it's that Atom is just a real dog.

        The original EeePC 701 with its underclocked 630MHz Celeron M has often been shown better at dealing with Flash applets than the N2

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Intel's GPUs stink, the Tegra GPU is easily 5-10x more powerful.

  • This will leave a lot of filipinos [wikipedia.org] unhappy...

    • 9.88 hours is less than 10 hours.

      • by ZyBex (793975)

        Damn math, always ruining good jokes.
        Actually, I saw it here [wikipedia.org], where it says 643 minutes. I then pasted the linked url.

        Since wikipedia is always right, this surely proves Heisenberg wrong...

  • by steveha (103154) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @07:54PM (#30710700) Homepage

    I had never seen the term "smartbook" before. This article defines a "smartbook" as a netbook with a non-x86 processor (likely ARM).

    I guess it's a portmanteau of "smart phone" and "netbook". Or maybe it means "smart enough finally to use something other than x86 for an ultra-portable device".

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2357758,00.asp [pcmag.com]

    steveha

  • TFA seems to suggest that the Quanta, Mobinnova, ASUS, and MSI are capable of playing 1080p video. I would like to see a single spec proving that it is possible without attaching to an external monitor. Otherwise, it is not very useful to travelers, which paradoxically appear to be the primary target of these devices.

    Also, space savings by not including screen cover are an illusion. One will have to carry it in a special protective shell, or your screen won't last very long.

  • Holy Cow (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I heard it can run Farm Ville in 3D.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:30PM (#30711896) Journal

    You can expect a press conference in a few days with The Asus board chairman [pcworld.com] flanked executives from Intel and Microsoft declaring "Non-Windows OS on a non-Intel system? We don't see a future in that." Meanwhile he'll be furtively gesturing pleas for help, but noone will notice.

  • I dislocated my jaw yawning at the offerings. Yes, neat, as long as you only do a couple light-weight tasks at a time. Otherwise, S-L-O-W. Want speed, get a desktop, want to sacrifice speed for portability, tablet/slate is fine, just don't expect it to be a desktop. Effectively it's the revolution of the Kindle-wannabes.

    • by g253 (855070)
      The killer feature isn't speed, it's battery life. Being able to do useful office type work or to watch video for even 8 hours is priceless. With current laptops or even netbooks battery life is always something that has to be carefully managed, and while smartphones last long enough they are too small to use for the same kind of purposes.
  • Buzz (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:15PM (#30715686)

    I can't help but notice the deafening roar of... silence. Lack of buzz. Boredom. Yawn. Sigh. Tablet? This story has been up for over 24 hours and there are only 40 posts. Slashdot generates more comments than that about obscure astronomical phenomena.

    Ok, so it's the weekend. Still. The attempts to generate buzz among the planet's English-speaking technorati has flopped. Miserably. If not even Apple can sustain the buzz, 2010 ain't the year of the tablet.

    I see only one possible way to salvage the market. A radically low price point would do the job. These things aren't PCs. They're glorified interactive picture frames. Consumer electronics, in other words. If they're priced accordingly, they'll move. Sell them for $100 to $150 and they'll be all over the place. $200 to $250 might be tolerable, but would still leave a lot of units on the shelf. $300 is really pushing it. Anything over $300? Forget it. That's netbook/low-end desktop territory now. A jumped-up picture frame isn't going to sell for that.

    The $1000 price that's been speculated for Apple's tablet? It is to laugh. They'll gather dust in warehouses. Not even the Jobs reality distortion field can make people cough up that much cash for a device with no compelling use.

    What are we going to do, sit on the couch with a tablet in our lap and watch a movie... while sitting in front of the 50" flatscreen on the wall?

    Maybe the kids will sit in the back seat and watch a movie on the tablet... while the overhead display system that requires no recharging stays off? Just so they can fight over who gets to hold it?

    Maybe we'll sit in our office chairs with a tablet in our laps and watch a movie... while our desktop PC idles and the boss starts placing ads for an opening?

    There's lots of possible uses. None of them can tolerate a $1000 price point. The $700 smart-phone trick only works once.

    • I see a niche market. Many find smartphones too limiting for web browsing and their fingers too fat for onscreen keyboards. Others find a cramped 10" netbook keyboard unappealing; if the size is right but the keyboard is daft, dispense with it altogether!

      Slates, sans keyboard, can go places netbooks can't: lecture theatres, coffee-shop couches and buses. Even for their size, IMO netbooks are still bad etiquette on public transport - elbows during typing are irritating to people either side and should a trai

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