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Android China Portables

Sub-$100 Android 4.0 Tablet Coming Soon 278

jfruhlinger writes "One of the reasons the iPad has stayed at the top of the tablet heap for so long is that — in contrast with the story of the Mac and PC 25 years ago — the iPad has remained competitive with its rivals on price. That may be starting to change, with cheaper tablets like the Amazon Fire coming to market. And now, the sub-$100 Novo7 is on sale in China, sporting Android 4.0. It promises to arrive in the U.S. for a similar price point soon." The official press release from MIPS has a bit more detail. Of interest is the use of a MIPS SoC designed by Ingenic.
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Sub-$100 Android 4.0 Tablet Coming Soon

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  • Capacitive screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:09AM (#38278598) Homepage

    The problem with the other cheap android tablets has been the resistive screens. If the article is correct and this has a capacitive screen it could revolutionize the tablet market.

    • Re:Capacitive screen (Score:5, Informative)

      by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:23AM (#38278712)

      That one is capacitive. I actually bought their earlier effort, the $150 Novo8, and was pleasantly surprised: 8", 1280x800 capacitive TN, HD video playback with HDMI, OK build quality. What spoiled that was the 3hr battery life, but I knew that before buying it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by postbigbang ( 761081 )

        Resistive or capacitive, the ones I've tried are junk. You get what you pay for. They're not cheap to make and getting support from Chinese-based organizations has been frustratingly difficult for me. Others may have had different experiences, but there's a different expectation set by mainstream vendors, that while being occasionally ugly, isn't the total lack of support that I've seen from direct Chinese sources.

        Don't expect iPad or Xoom quality at a low price point.

        • I'm really tired of hearing "you get what you pay for" as an excuse for paying inflated prices for fanboi products. For an established product that's priced in true relation to its build quality, that might be true, but for relatively new products or products with artificially high profit margins, it is most definitely not true. Sometimes what you get is inversely related to what you pay for it.

          Mind you, the buyer should beware, but there are deals to be made if you know what to look for.

    • by tom17 ( 659054 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:24AM (#38278730) Homepage

      It will never work. It has a rectangular shape, rounded corners and a flat screen with narrow borders. How could they so blatantly rip off someone elses design like that!

    • by mcvos ( 645701 )

      I have a cheap EUR 140 Dropad with a capacitive screen. Cheap quality (the power connection broke after half a year), but unlike the article suggests, it does have Android Market access.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      I bought my kids an Arnova 10 G2 which is available with a capacitive screen for $191, not bad for a 10" tablet with a 1Ghz processor, 512MB of ram, 4GB of internal storage and an SD slot. The stock rom is a bit limited but there's a rooted ROM with Google apps available from the community. I'm looking forward to ICS since Archos has already shown it on tablets running the same processor. The battery life is pretty good too, probably 8 hours if you're not playing flash heavy content. I left it for a day wit
  • Not a competitor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:15AM (#38278636) Homepage Journal

    The Fire is only 7 inches. It's not really the same category as an iPad or any of the 10 inch Android tablets. I think it's stupid when people compare the two. There is an element of overlap for sure, but I don't see this eating significantly into the larger tablet market.

    Experience: I've got a 5 inch tablet/phone, tried some cheap 7 inch chinese tablets and also have a 10 inch Xoom.

    You can watch movies on 5 and 7 inch screens in a pinch, but I'd probably prefer just to read instead.

    My Kindle (Keyboard version) is 7 inches and it's just big enough to be comfortable for reading in portrait orientation. When I've used my phone for reading, I've needed to switch to landscape to read comfortably.

    I probably wouldn't even use my Xoom for watching movies, but I'd definitely choose it over a 7 inch tablet for web browsing and watching YouTube. I also like it for reading.

    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:30AM (#38278764) Homepage Journal

      I purchased the Fire on the idea it might make a good present for parents to use while camping (free WIFI is almost always found in the campgrounds they visit) for simple email and browsing. It also want to see how it performed versus the iPad for the same.

      The experience is certainly not up to the standard set by Apple but I find it very acceptable when one factors in the price point. The price point is important because for me a loss of a $200 device is far easier to take than losing the $500+ iPad. The Fire has already done the bounce test on the carpet, something I hope the iPad never tries.

      Web browsing, hands down better on the iPad. The Fire just doesn't have the oomph. So will knock offs have the same problem? It might be related to Amazon's browser but I am not wholly sure on that. Mail reading is fine, it could be better, but it works and I tend to leave the Fire on the counter and one hand hold it while eating so I can check up on mail. Something that the iPad form factor is not good at.

      I hope the seven inch size takes off, it really is much more portable without losing too much screen to make it just worth sticking with a phone. There are rumors Apple may head this way too which should push prices down.

      I find I can treat a seven inch tablet more like a tablet than the 11 inch iPad, with the iPad I just felt I needed an external keyboard, possibly because after use it certainly loses the feel of portability. You don't one hand an iPad.

      • I tried a friend's Kindle Fire, and was a bit disappointed with the performance.. I don't know if it was just me, but the interface felt laggy and failed to register presses about 1/4 of the time. Amazon's launcher is garbage, and the rest of the hacks to the OS likely are too. I think performance will improve quite bit once someone gets an AOSP build of Android good and stable for it.

    • Ok, except there is no 7" Kindle. Sony has 7" e-ink readers (Sony PRS-900, Sony PRS-950)
      Sorry for nitpicking.

      • Oh yeah I guess my Kindle Keyboard has a 6" screen now that I looked it up. The form factor overall is about 7" though once you account for the keyboard.

    • Both screens are almost the exact same resolution, so they show just as much information. Size only matters if your eyesight is poor. Tablets only do very few things. Email, media consumption, and browsing. Those are the three main things that are done the most across all tablets. The cheaper ones like the Fire do this perfectly fine for a LOT cheaper. The IPad has the iTunes store, but for a $400 premium, most people will not bother going forward.

  • I'm getting much more enjoyment out of this story than I should.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:23AM (#38278716) Homepage Journal
    Price was not the only reason Apple lost out to the PC, not by a long shot. Gates seemed to be the only smart enough to figure out the whole familiarity factor to computing, people who use X computer at work will be much more likely to buy X computer for use at home as well. Knowing "how to use" such a computer puts the buyer at ease, and of course they can always take stuff from work home. Furthermore, there was a lot of stagnation in Mac OS after Jobs' ouster, pre-Mac OS sucked even worse than Windows, as hard as that is to believe.

    If price was the only thing consumers considered, we would be seeing Linux everywhere and Apple wouldn't be gaining market share every year....
    • My memory is of people wanting me to build 10 PCs for the cost of buying 3 macs. True I was basically a cheap hardware whore; but the fact remains, it was significantly cheaper to build then buy. Add to that the way free copies of DOS popped up out of nowhere. It was if Microsoft was making the OS as available as possible so people would buy software made for it instead of their competitors. wink wink nudge nudge.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      IBM, IBM, and IBM.

      It's hard to remember these days, but before 1985 or so, those three letters were all a platform needed to be successful. Anything IBM was automatically better than anything else. (Ironically, that's sort of the reputation that Apple has today.) There was nothing Apple could have done to compete with that kind of mindshare. It wasn't a fair fight; it wasn't even a fight. It was over before the first Lisa was demoed.

      Microsoft took the insidious approach, which was to hitch itself to IBM ear

  • by oPless ( 63249 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:23AM (#38278720) Journal

    Interesting, but it's MIPS, not ARM

    There goes a load of games, and whatnot ... but on the plus side they're paying license fees to MIPS, which prior to this they weren't, which is nice.

    • Phone games are not exactly built to run on a specific hardware arch like in the PC world. Most are just Java/Flash applets.

      • Phone games are not exactly built to run on a specific hardware arch like in the PC world. Most are just Java/Flash applets.

        Yes and no. I've heard a fair number of them use the NDK, which means the .so loaded by the Java part will be for ARM, maybe x86 as well if they used the current NDK. MIPS is not part of the official toolchain, though there is a 3rd-party NDK for it. As of 2.3 it is possible to make a game entirely natively.

        Flash certainly isn't going to be built for MIPS.

      • Phone games are not exactly built to run on a specific hardware

        Absolutely correct. No developer in their right mind would use any of the NEON vector instructions available on ARM CPUs. I mean come on, who could possibly want to process 4 floats in the time it takes to process 1? Especially when that code works on all of the ARM android phones too. I mean, what is the point in bothering to write scalable efficient code for a platform with a finite battery life? I can see absolutely no point to it at all. As a game developer myself, I can say with some authority that the

      • by pruss ( 246395 )

        Somewhere around 1/4 or 1/3 of the apps on my Archos tablet use a native library. I know because I occasionally monitor how much stuff is in the /data/data/*/lib directory, and for the apps with particularly fat libraries, I offload /data/data/*/lib to an SD card, and symlink to it.

        Here are two examples: The open source APV PDF viewer that I am on the dev team for is just a relatively small java wrapper around a native library that encapsulates muPDF code, with no changes in the core muPDF code, and uses o

  • come on... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:27AM (#38278752)

    do you really think the majority of apple customers care about price? they'll fork out $2k+ for a 17" mbp w/ a 5400rpm hdd... i highly doubt a cheap chinese co's tablet is going to put a dent in their thinking.

  • Price is China only (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zoxed ( 676559 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:34AM (#38278794) Homepage

    USD 99 is price in China: US version estimated at +USD 50 = USD 149

    • Not only that the price is expensive after factoring in the shipping charges, this tablet is MIPS-based, so it will have a very limited Android Market. Take note!

      The tablet to get is actually Ainol Novo 7 Advanced, not the Novo 7 Basic stated in the article. The 7A has a much better hardware. It is widely believed that the Novo7A will get ICS real soon as there are videos of it running ICS circulating in the chinese forums.
  • by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) < minus punct> on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @09:41AM (#38278848)

    This reminded me of a post regarding [] thoughts on Yellow Dog Linux [] being ported to velocity's stuff. It made me wonder if a more X11 friendly version of Linux could be ported to another inexpensive tablet running MIPS []. Maybe more tablets like these will help make that happen. I'm getting to like the idea of running a phone inside Xnest.

  • I've seen low-end tablets from China. I have one. At least the ones that were available 2 years ago are unusably slow. The next time I get one, I'll pay careful attention to the specs. A $90 tablet from china running ICS is garbage if it takes a full second for it to respond to any fingertap.

  • The HP touchpad was sub-100 for a while, and maybe soon will be able to install ICS on it. Anyway, comparing on it WebOS and CM7, i prefer the WebOS user interface, not sure how much things will improve in ICS.
  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @10:09AM (#38279120)

    For me, no tablet exists that will really change how I live.

    I'm not going to get a data-plan with one because I object to paying $50 a month to carry a device around with me.

    I simply don't have that much desire to access the internet on the go... sure, it would be cool- but not $50 a month worth.

    I'm not going to use it to watch videos often. I have a television with a larger screen and better resolution at home.

    If I'm not at home- I'm driving somewhere, I'm busy, or I'm at work. Yeah- there may be occasions- waiting at the doctor's etc- but rarely get enough uninterrupted time to watch anything at those places.

    Some people have use of a tablet- some people it is all they need- but I know there are plenty of people like me.

    For us, if we got a tablet (or if we already own a tablet)- it is a toy more than a functioning device. For us (and I suspect we're the majority of those 30 and over)- price matters- because we don't want to throw money away on a toy that will be available half the price in 18 months.- then half the price again in another.

    So price matters. Even if it isn't as good as an iPad. You need to get a device that is low enough to be worthwhile just being the "occasional" toy that connects to our wifi.

    Expensive Samsungs and iPads have their market- kids and executives who have $50 a month to throw on data plans. (yes, and geeks who like electronic toys- and don't balk at the idea of shelling money for them- which is probably a lot of people on here- which makes this not the average representation of the planet earth)

    To get the rest of us- you need to make the devices cheaper- OR get the cost of data plans to be low enough that we consider it worthwhile.

    • by AdamJS ( 2466928 )

      Perhaps the devices themselves are just premature?
      I'm not sure about manufacturing costs, but a large part of their purpose - consumption of media, particularly online, on the go - would be massively benefitted by nationwide/'global' wifi access.

  • by na1led ( 1030470 )
    Comparing an iPad or Galaxy 10.1 tablet to these cheap 7" Tablets is like comparing an i7 Laptop and a cheap netbook. Some people at first will buy cheap but when they realize it's limitations they'll opt for the better tablet. I purchased a cheap 10" Epad awhile back for $150 and was sorely disappointed with its performance, and lack of features. Most of these cheap tablets are slow and don't respond well to your touch, leading to misspelled words when you type and frustrating web browsing experiences.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:07AM (#38279768) Homepage

    This "sub-$100 Android 4.0 tablet" is kind of like saying you can run Windows 7 on a 600mhz Pentium 3 with 512mb of Ram. Yes, it actually boots and runs, and you can get Aero working on an old ATI card, but that doesn't mean it's a pleasant experience. If you were to sell such a PC with the headline "Windows 7 PC, runs great", you would be one hell of a scumbag and the potential buyer just might swing that heavy dinosaur upside your head.

    The chinese love cheap gadgets, because often times it's cheap gadget or no gadget. For us here in the western world, we tend to want un-crap gadgets, perhaps because we have better things to do than staring at "busy" spinners. Maybe if I lived in the 3rd world, my opinion would be different, but I don't.

  • We're using AndyPad Pros at work, and they're actually surprisingly nice for a £179 tablet.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson