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Freescale preempts Apple with smartbook tablet demo

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.

By Electronista Staff


  1. eddd

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2001



    This looks like butt

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    just short of


  1. Zaren

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    WIth those pics...

    it would be nice if this article offered a link to the demo or design plans that it's talking about. Is it that hard to put somewhere in the article?

  1. slapppy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2008



    This is for Preschool use right?

  1. LunarMoon

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2008


    ugly as h***

    ugly as h***. I rest my case.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    It should be relatively easy for small companies

    to come up with powerful hardware specs for tablets. Even when Apple introduces its tablet, companies will automatically build tablets that are more powerful just to say they have a hardware edge. If Apple is building tablets in the millions, they'll probably stay fixed for a full product cycle of likely a year. That seems normal enough. The main thing Apple will have going for its tablet will be tight hardware/software/content delivery/platform stability which most companies won't be able to offer. That will be the best way to give non-tech consumers a reliable and useful tablet. All the tech-heads want to see is some rocket-spec'ed tablet.

    I simply cannot believe that this Freescale tablet can sell for $200 and a company could profit from it selling it for that price. Most companies can't even sell an unsubsidized smartphone for that price. Still, it brings me back as to why are companies are building these tablets if nobody wants them. It doesn't look like they're geared for vertical integration in businesses. They look like they're designed to be used as standard consumer products.

    I like that keyboard/docking unit. I could definitely go for that. I know people are going to say, "A hinged netbook is basically the same thing as that combo." Maybe, but I'd still prefer carrying just the tablet/display around when I want to.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jul 2004


    Ugly. The 90's called...

    They want their Star Trek The Next Generation PADD devices back.

    Seriously, these look like cheesy scifi props for the 90's compared to what we have these days. Why the wide and oddly shaped bezel?

  1. Wingsy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005


    My Imagination Preempts Your Imagination

    Let's count em...
    1. "by unveiling a reference tablet design"
    2. "smartbook would have a 7-inch display"
    3. "It would reportedly be fast"
    4. "stock design will have 512MB of RAM, Bluetooth, GPS ..."
    5. "it could come equipped with as little as 4GB"
    6. "it could hold up to 64GB internally, use microSDHC..."
    7. "Shipping products could be available as early as the summer"

    Everything is future tense. So where is the DEMO? h***, anybody can announce plans to do anything. This is the most non-news item I've seen all day.

  1. Mrjinglesusa

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Feb 2002


    I want to play!

    I am here, on MacNN, announcing a reference tablet design. My reference tablet:

    1) Would have a 10" OLED Display

    2) Would run on Intel Atom processor w/ NVidia graphics (i.e., ION)

    3) Stock design will have 2 GB memory, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G, and Wi-Fi (N-wireless), a Mini-Display port, USB port, and Firewire 800 port

    4) It could come equipped with a 128 GB solid-state drive

    5) It reportedly will run OS X Snow Leopard

    Shipping product could be available in 2011 at a retail price of $499.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    Did You Feel That?

    A magnitude 8.3 collective belly laugh just struck California. It's epicenter was located approximately 40 miles southeast of San Francisco and 8 miles west of San Jose.

    Brace yourselves for the aftershlocks.

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