Nvidia announced a reference design for 7-inch Android tablets using its ARM Cortex-A15-based Tegra 4 system-on-chip, which could show up in sub-$200 slates by year’s end. The Tegra Note design is equipped with a 1280 x 800 IPS screen with stylus support, dual cameras including a 5-megapixel model with Nvidia Chimera technology, and 10-hour battery life.
Previously tipped as the Tegra Tab, the Tegra Note should continue to increase price and performance pressure on 7-inch Android tablets. While Nvidia’s previous Project Kai reference tablet, running its Tegra 3 SoC, formed the basis for Google’s Asus-built Nexus 7 tablet, the Tegra Note design does not appear destined for a next-generation Nexus. Instead the list of hardware partners includes lower-tier manufacturers, many of them Nvidia graphics card vendors, and few of which are recognizable to the average consumer.
Nvidia Tegra Note tablet
(click image to enlarge)
In “the next few months,” tablets based on the design should appear from at least seven different announced partners, according to Nvidia’s announcement. These include EVGA and PNY Technologies in North America; Oysters and ZOTAC in Europe; ZOTAC, Colorful, and Shenzhen Homecare Technology in Asia-Pacific; and XOLO in India.
Other companies building Tegra 4-based products using their own designs include HP, Asus, Toshiba, Kobo, and Xiaomi, says Nvidia. The Tegra 4 is also rumored to be heading for an appearance in Microsoft’s Surface RT tablets.
Unlike Project Kai, the Tegra Note is not just a piece of hardware, says Nvidia, but a fully realized platform that should make it easier for smaller vendors to rapidly spin their own tablets. In addition, end users will get OTA updates directly from Nvidia.
World’s fastest 7-inch tablet?
The centerpiece is a top-of-the-line Tegra 4 system-on-chip with four Cortex-A15 cores, a fifth battery-saving core, and 72 GeForce GPU cores. Although Nvidia did not list the clockrate to be used on this typically 1.9GHz SoC, the company claims the Tegra Note will be the world’s fastest 7-inch tablet when it ships as early as the end of the year. That could prove quite significant given the recommended retail price of $199.
The screen, however, is a step down from the 1920 x 1200 resolution of the 2013 Nexus 7. The Tegra Note’s 7-inch IPS screen offers a more modest 1280 x 800 pixels. No RAM details were provided, but the tablet will provide 16GB of internal flash, plus a microSD slot for up to 32GB more storage.
The Tegra Note supplies a VGA webcam and a back-facing 5-megapixel camera equipped with Nvidia’s Chimera computational photography technology. Designed specifically for the Tegra 4, Chimera is said to offer always-on high-dynamic range (HDR) photos and videos, HDR panoramic, and persistent tap-to-track capabilities. The latter feature is exploited by SmugMug’s bundled Camera Awesome app, which also supports the Tegra Note’s slow-motion playback.
Tegra 4 Chimera technology
(click image to enlarge)
Tegra Note specs
The Tegra Note is further touted for its Nvidia DirectStylus technology and wide frequency range Nvidia PureAudio technology. Like Nvidia’s Shield, the tablet provides Nvidia TegraZone gaming support, wide support for game controllers, and the ability to turn the tablet itself into a game controller via Bluetooth. The tablet is said to enable 10-plus hours of HD video playback.
According to Nvidia, the following is a “full set of the specs” for the Tegra Note:
- Processor — Tegra 4 (4x Cortex-A15 cores plus 72-core GeForce GPU)
- RAM — N/A
- Storage — 16GB flash; microSD card for additional 32GB
- Display — 7-inch IPS (1280 x 800) touchscreen
- Audio — HD Audio front-facing stereo speakers with unique bass-reflex and PureAudio
- Wireless — WiFi; Bluetooth
- Camera — 5-megapixel rear camera with Chimera and Camera Awesome app; front-facing VGA webcam
- I/O — micro-HDMI port
- Other features — Stylus with DirectStylus technology, plus chisel and brush tips for natural writing and broad strokes
- Battery — 10 hours HD video playback
- Operating system — Android (latest version)
The Tegra Note should be available in “the next few months,” with a suggested retail price of $199 from companies including EVGA, PNY Tech, Oysters, ZOTAC, Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Tech, and XOLO. More information may be found in Nvidia’s Tegra Note blog post.