Nvidia today announced that they would be launching a new Tegra 4 based product, the Tegra Note 7. This device appears to slot perfectly into what could have been the next Nexus 7. Everything about the Tegra Note screams that it was destined to be the next Nexus 7 device, but something just didn't click and Google ended up going with Qualcomm. We reported quite a while ago that this switch would eventually occur, but it seems like Nvidia never gave up and continued towards the development of a $199 tablet. In fact, the Tegra Note is actually cheaper than the new Nexus 7, coming in at a solid $30 cheaper, or more than 10%.
For the curious, the specs of the tablet include a 7" IPS LCD display with a 720P resolution as well as a 5MP rear camera and a VGA front camera. The internal storage of the tablet will be 16GB and it will have a MicroSDHC card slot with expandable memory up to 32GB (much like the SHIELD). In fact, going from a SHIELD to this tablet should be more of a function of design than anything else since they both run at the same resolution and run on the same SoC. The only difference is that SHIELD is actively cooled and have thumbsticks, while the Tegra Note will be passively cooled and have a stylus with Nvidia's own DirectStylus technology.
For me personally, the most interesting part of this tablet is the implementation of Nvidia's own Chimera camera architecture, which was detailed back during Nvidia's own CES keynote and at their GPU Technology Conference. The promise of 100 FPS video and slow motion among many others promises to deliver a new camera experience. In addition to the camera, it will feature front-facing stereo speakers, a feature that HTC re-introduced to the smartphone arena and now Nvidia is responsible for bringing into the tablet market. Nvidia quotes the battery life at 10 hours of HD video playback, which is a bit difficult to understand in terms of daily usage since it removes virtually all wireless communications from the equation. After all, most users have their tablets connected to the internet when they're on them. Either way, 10 hours of video playback is impressive and will be interesting to see what real world usage is like.
In terms of updates, it looks like Nvidia is going to be giving these things the latest updates directly and if their track record with the SHIELD is any indication, expect any Android system updates to be rolled out incredibly quickly and still preserving the stock Android feel.
Before we go into the analysis of the device itself, I just wanted to reiterate that you get all of this for $199, that's $100 less than a SHIELD and $30 less than a Nexus 7, which is supposed to be the standard for Android tablets. It will be interesting to see if Nvidia releases a better tablet than Google.
This brings us to the analysis part of the article. There are a lot of things that one can wonder about this tablet, but the truth is that there's a very good chance that it could actually deliver a better tablet experience for users for cheaper than Google. I don't know how Google will feel about this, but I honestly believe that Nvidia can be successful with this tablet and I think there will be far fewer naysayers at a $199 price. Especially when you consider that most of their channel partners like EVGA, PNY Technologies in North America; EVGA, Oysters and ZOTAC in Europe; Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology and ZOTAC in Asia-Pacific; and XOLO in India. Most of these companies are already very deeply rooted in their respective markets and should have no problems putting these tablets in the hands of their customers. There will likely be some rumors that Nvidia is 'saving' these companies by launching these tablets through them and giving them a chance to sell something non-PC related, but some of their listed partners don't even sell Nvidia components.
What is interesting to see is that ASUS is excluded from both the US and APAC lists of channel partners, even though they are a well known brand in both regions among Nvidia's current and past customers. This is possibly because ASUS was responsible for the new Nexus 7 design and didn't include Nvidia. While this is mainly rumor and conjecture, you can't help but think that it's a bit odd that Nvidia would leave them out of this considering their size.
It will be interesting to see how Nvidia rolls this tablet out in the coming months and whether or not they will be able to improve their Tegra division's sales to compensate for the huge drop they experienced in the last quarter. There is no doubt that Nvidia has won some serious design wins, but they have already launched two of their own products that technically compete with some of their own customers, which is a bit worrying. Either way, we're really interested to see this thing come to market and to see how it stacks up against the SHIELD and new Nexus 7.