By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 8:02 am
I’m spending the day at the Future of Publishing Summit in New York City, a conference on the digital transformation of books, magazines, and newspapers. The room is packed with execs from the New York publishing industry, plus a few Silicon Valley types. Among the latter are the folks from chipmaker Marvell, who are showing off some prototype devices based on the company’s low-cost, power-efficient Armada processors.
The newest of these is a reference design for a 10.1″ Android-based color tablet that Marvell just finished putting together. Here it is:
As a reference design, this (rather chunky) tablet is mostly about technological guts rather than industrial design: I’d expect the companies who build devices based on it to make them sleeker and sexier.
Marvell says that it expects tablets based on this design to go on sale by the end of this year. It’s not talking about pricetags yet, but with the iPad starting at $499, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the starting price for tablets from other companies will be substantially lower. Manufacturers should certainly be able to sell an Armada-based tablet running the free Android OS for less than a “Slate PC” running full-blown Windows 7.
Marvell’s version runs Android in a form that looks pretty much like the Android on phones such as the Nexus One and Droid, only on a bigger, higher-resolution display. Assuming that tablets are here to stay, I hope that Google–or someone–builds an Android interface that was designed with big touchscreens in mind. Despite the theory that the iPad is merely a big iPhone, the most interesting thing about it is that Apple went to the trouble of designing a new interface tailored to its needs. I don’t think tablets running a stock copy of Windows 7 or Android are going to be anywhere near as interesting as ones that rethink the experience for a new class of gizmo.