updated 05:00 pm EST, Mon December 20, 2010
N-Trig to have Android support
N-Trig hopes to revive the mostly dead market for pen-based tablet computing with Android support, VP Gary Baum said Monday. The company plans to supply screens for several Android tablets next year that would recognize pressure-aware pens. One unnamed device would ship in the first half of the year, Baum told AllThingsD in a conversation.
He argued that the feature would let Android serve more for content creation, such as drawing or image editing, rather than just consumption. An N-Trig display would also offer greater accuracy than some screens even for finger touch.
The executive acknowledged that there were significant limits, however. A display would carry a $50 premium over a regular multi-touch screen and would also require app support for pressure sensitivity.
Chances for pen-aware Android tablets aren't certain. N-Trig has been essential behind some of the most important Windows-based tablets, including the Dell Latitude XT2, but the market for pen-based computers as a whole has failed to take off. Microsoft has been a proponent of the format almost exclusively since starting the Windows Tablet PC platform in 2002 but has never had more than a small portion of the computer market. Its share is now on the decline and should reach just 1.25 million units for all of 2010.
Apple, which has typically been against pens on mobile devices due to the need to carry them and the relatively unintuitive use outside of creative apps, is already known to have shipped at least eight times as many tablets as Microsoft. Most Android tablets, owing in part to cost, won't ship with pen support next year.