It seems like every ARM chip manufacturer wants a piece of Windows 8 here at Computex 2012 — and for good reason. Hot on the heels of Asus’ Tegra 3-equipped Tablet 600 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4-based development tablet, Texas Instruments is showing Windows RT on its very own OMAP 4470-based system. The 1.5GHz dual-core SoC features a PowerVR SGX544 GPU and leads the competition with a dual-channel memory interface. We chatted with Bill Crean, Product Manager of the OMAP Processor Business Unit who showed us Microsoft’s latest OS running on TI’s development tablet. The demo looked snappy enough, providing some insight about what to expect from some of Toshiba’s upcoming devices. No word yet on a quad-core version. Enjoy our hands-on gallery below and take a peek after the break for our demo video.
It’s TI’s time to brag. We first met OMAP5 when the company’s VP of the OMAP division, Remi El-Ouazzane, unveiled the developer’s reference platform on our stage at CES. While there, he boasted OMAP5 as “the greatest platform on Earth right now,” but we were given only a few insights into the platform’s capabilities. Now, TI is back with a new wave of demos that better show the prowess of OMAP5 — a system-on-chip design that houses a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU clocked at just 800MHz, two Cortex-M4 cores for low-power processes, along with a PowerVR SGX 544 GPU that handles 3D compositions, and a number of accelerators such as TI’s IVA-HD, which supports both video encoding and decoding and plays 1080p video at a whopping 60fps. We were shown a demo of all these capabilities humming in unison on a 1080p display, along with a complex HTML5 mashup that adds credence to the company’s latest benchmark report. Photography geeks should know the system supports up to 14 megapixel cameras, and is able to process ten shots per second at that setting. We’re told to expect devices based on the OMAP5 platform by the end of the year, and if you’re anything like us, it’s going to be one hell of a wait. Hop the break for the demo.
Texas Instruments dual WiFi module lets your tablet connect to your TV and the web simultaneously (hands-on)
Texas Instruments is helping to lead the way when it comes to mobile computing — when we want an early look at what’s to come months and even years down the road, TI is always one of our first stops. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, the semiconductor leader wasn’t shy about showing off its latest innovations, including those from its manufacturing and design partners. Today’s demo focused on wireless video streaming — a concept that engineers are approaching from every imaginable angle, and that is bound to make its way to consumers in a very big way within the next few years. TI’s flavor is based on WiFi, and offers a dual-connection solution, letting you pair a tablet with a TV using peer-to-peer while also creating a second link between the tablet and a wireless router for Internet.
We took the tech for a spin using one of TI’s development platform tablets and an external WiFi dongle (shipping versions will be integrated), and everything worked as described, though the video stream was noticeably choppy and compressed. TI reps explained that they dialed down the bitrate in order to maintain a connection at the MWC expo hall, which, as you might imagine, probably had a wireless signal density greater than any other room in the world. The tablet we saw was running a very slick context-aware UI that displays one of three home screens based on your current location — there’s one for work (that displays your calendar), one for home (media and home automation controls) and another for travel (restaurant reviews and weather). Pushing content from the tablet to the TV seemed to be seamless, and while both the UI and wireless functionality may appear to be ready to make their way into your home, TI isn’t making any announcements about availability. There’s no need to wait for a teaser, however, which you’ll find just past the break.
Texas Instruments demos first OMAP 5, Android 4.0-based reference design, promises it in laptops next year (video)
Texas Instruments promised us a new helping of OMAP right around a year ago, and sure enough, OMAP 5 processors will be sampling to partners as early as next week. Texas Instruments’ Remi El-Ouazzane (VP of OMAP) just debuted an OMAP 5-based reference design (or “development platform,” if you will) on our CES stage, a solid four years after OMAP 3 debuted on a nondescript Archos tablet. OMAP 5 brings along a pair of cores and plenty of power savings, a dual-GPU architecture and more raw horsepower than the average simpleton is used to handling in a single palm. We saw quite a bit of swiping through Android 4.0.1, and as you’d expect, everything looked decidedly snappy. 720p video at 30 frames per second is no real chore, with the platform capable of pushing 1080p material at 64 frames per second (130 frames per second without screen refresh limitations). Of course, with everything being hardware accelerated, we can’t feign surprise about its future on netbooks and laptops. To quote Remi:
Sure, they might look the same, but are they actually the same? Inside that smooth, shapely polycarbonate shell lies internals that are actually significantly different between these two. How different? Well, the guy on the left, the newly-unveiled Lumia 800, has a 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor paired with 512MB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The guy on the right? That’s the ill-fated N9, and it packs a 1GHz TI OMAP chip with 1GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage. Inside the chart below lies the information you need, and the deltas you crave.
It’s taken a long time for Nokia’s MeeGo-packing N9 to make its way into our top secret labs (the N9 moniker was first applied to early E7 prototypes), but it’s here in our dirty little hands, at last, and it’s glorious — well, as glorious as a stillborn product can be, anyway. The N9 is the latest and greatest in a long line of quirky, interesting, yet ultimately flawed touchscreen experiments from Nokia that includes the Hildon-sporting 7710, a series of Maemo-based “internet tablets” (770, N800, N810, N900) and most recently, the N950 MeeGo handset for developers. What makes the N9 special is that it represents Nokia’s last flagship phone as an independent player. MeeGo is already dead, and future high-end devices from the manufacturer will run Windows Phone and use Microsoft’s services. So, is this the company’s final bittersweet hurray? Did MeeGo ever stand a chance against Android, iOS and Mango? In its attempt to stay relevant, is Nokia throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Most importantly, how does the N9 fare in today’s merciless dual-core world? Find out after the break.
Motorola and AT&T are at it again with their Android shenanigans, this time following up the Atrix 4G with something a tad more… Atrix-y. Indeed, we’re referring to the sequel of February’s smash hit, honorably called the Motorola Atrix 2, announced at this week’s CTIA Enterprise & Applications. We had the opportunity to get some brief time with it, and it’s a fair device worthy of the family name: the 4.3-inch device feels good in the hand, and closely resembles the Photon 4G, only without the cutout corners. The sequel swaps processors, trading the 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU for a TI OMAP model with the same clock speed, and offers a full gigabyte of RAM to go along with it. Fortunately, the qHD 960 x 540 display looks gorgeous without its predecessor’s Pentile clothes. Also gone? The fingerprint sensor. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the missing “4G” moniker in the title; this little ditty packs a 21Mbps HSPA+ radio, up from 14Mbps in the first version. All in all, we like what we see here — we enjoyed the brief time we had with the sequel. It seems as though Motorola learned some important lessons from the original device, but we’ll reserve total judgement until our forthcoming review. Check out the full gallery and hands-on video (complete with bonus psychedelic carpet!) below.
It’s been said that absence makes a heart grow fonder, so it was with very willing and eager hands this week that we received the Droid Bionic, Motorola’s latest high-octane, robot-themed assault on Verizon Wireless subscribers. The phone was first announced at CES in the beginning of 2011 and we got to see it in the flesh just an hour later… but then the story took a tragic turn. The Bionic was attacked, killed and then reborn with all new internals.
Phoenix-like, the thing is now available for purchase on Verizon Wireless, $300 for a supposedly top-shelf device that packs both LTE connectivity and a dual-core processor. That makes it a first for Verizon, and it also happens to be the thinnest LTE handset yet to cross that carrier’s airwaves. Oh, and it has the biggest battery yet, too. Was it was worth the wait, then? Maybe.
It may have been hard to believe when it was announced back in February, but you can rest assured that Texas Instruments’ new color TI-Nspire CX calculator is indeed real, and shipping right now. Assuming you’re ready to make the jump from monochrome, the $165 asking price will buy you a 3.2-inch 320 x 240 display, 100MB of storage, 64MB of memory, and TI’s new version 3.0 operating system that comes complete with 3D graphing capabilities. Of course, TI isn’t completely breaking new ground here — Casio’s had a graphing calculator with a “high res” color screen since way back in 2010.
Remember how Microsoft unveiled that whole “Windows 8″ thing earlier today? It’s back for more: here at Computex 2011 in Taipei, prototype ARM-based Windows 8 slates and smartbooks are coming out of the woodwork. Foxconn, Wistron and Quanta all unveiled early hardware for the new OS, with chips from Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and NVIDIA powering their live tiles — including NVIDIA’s upcoming Kal-El, which got both a tablet and a super-slim prototype notebook to call its own. Dell’s also got a XPS development station up on stage, which Microsoft used to demo the UI — it’s bulky and ugly as such things are, but it suggests that Dell’s also likely to have a portable Windows 8 machine at some point. For its part, Qualcomm is promising a chip that can instantly wake from sleep, and one of the devices showed that USB host support works fine and dandy. Unfortunately, none of these machines will make their way to market, but it’s nice to know that the OEMs care enough to show their solidarity here.
The words “play” and “book” are a bit of an odd choice for RIM’s latest attempt at consumer relevance, a tablet that, at its core, runs one of the most hardcore and industry-friendly operating systems known to man. The OS is QNX and the hardware is, of course, the BlackBerry PlayBook. It’s an enterprise-friendly offering that’s also out to conquer the consumer tablet ecosphere, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the BlackBerry handsets that have filled the pockets of corporate executives and BBM addicts around the globe.
It’s something of a serious tablet when compared to the competition running software from Apple and Google and, while it certainly has games, its biggest strengths are rather more boring. It does a really great job at displaying PowerPoint presentations, for example, and has the security chops to keep last quarter’s dismal sales figures from falling into the wrong hands. Exciting stuff? No, but useful features for sure, and regardless of whether you find those intriguing or boring this is RIM’s seven-inch, Flash-having but 3G-lacking tablet clad in an unassuming but extremely sophisticated exterior. It’s what’s running behind the glass that disappoints.