updated 02:45 am EST, Fri January 8, 2010
ICD Ultra fast but limited for now
Touched on briefly during NVIDIA's keynote, ICD has confirmed its new high-end tablet, the Ultra. It should be one of the fastest tablets yet with a dual-core Tegra 250 and (eventually) support for 4G over Verizon's LTE network. We've tried it at CES, however, and can weigh in on how close it is to that goal.
The 7-inch slate is, not surprisingly, best when it's handling the tasks most expected of a tablet. It's fast with the web and can display full pages properly. The photo browser is surprisingly fast, too, as it could handle previewing hundreds of shots without bogging down. We saw it play 1080p video without a hitch, and it's believed the battery life is long too: at least in theory, it should play "hours" of HD-grade YouTube video.
That said, right now the tablet is in a rough state. It runs Android 2.0, but it's not a "with Google" device and so lacks Google Maps and other software that would make it truly feel at home with the OS. Our example also had rough firmware and at one point locked up entirely when we tried to leave the video browser. It's perhaps not surprising given the brand new state of the device, but we hope ICD is up to polishing its tablet much sooner.
Not surprisingly, the example we tried didn't have any visible 4G connection and so we couldn't test how well it ran. Verizon itself has estimated about 12Mbps in real-world speeds, or enough to stream HD video; that could be the tablet's saving grace once Verizon rolls out 4G in earnest.
The release date are likely to hinge on when Verizon's 4G becomes active in mid-2010. When it ships, it will also go under the Motorola badge rather than ICD's as the company intends to promote it as an example of its 4G modem technology.