updated 10:40 am EST, Mon January 4, 2010
Freescale tablet concept dips below $200
Freescale today staked its ground by unveiling a reference tablet design ahead of Apple. The touchscreen-only smartbook would have a 7-inch display and use either Android or an optimized Linux build for its interface. It would reportedly be fast and use the company's i.MX515, which would not only give it all the speed of ARM Cortex-A8 processors like those in the iPhone 3GS but also HD video decoding.
The stock design will have 512MB of RAM, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi, with 3G cellular data and the RF4CE home automation standard as options. Since it would primarily depend on the Internet for data, however, it could come equipped with as little as 4GB of storage and cost below $200. In current guise, it could hold up to 64GB internally, use microSDHC cards as a supplement and support external peripherals like keyboards.
Despite its role as a reference design, outside companies will have access to the tablet as a foundation for their own projects in February. Shipping products could be available as early as the summer, though Freescale hasn't named any of the potential clients.
The unveiling of the concept comes just three weeks before Apple is expected to hold a special event that is rumored to focus primarily on a tablet. What this might include has varied somewhat from source to source but has most often centered on a 10-inch multi-touch screen, iPhone-like apps and an ARM processor designed by Apple's 2008 acquisition, PA Semiconductor. Some have suggested a 7-inch model might appear, while others have hinted at optional 3G and focuses on books and videos. It's expected to be more expensive but also to have features that Freescale's device might lack.