Saturday, September 01, 2012

Capacity focus, 66: The ~ US$ 120 - 150 multi-touch, capacitive touchscreen tablet is here -- e.g. the Ainol Novo 7 Elf 2 for Android 4.x

(Two Sigma/Digital learning transformation series  
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  )

Following up on a conversation today, I decided to check back on where the sort of tablets that would work for the digitalised education initiatives in view here at KF are.

They are here, at least as an initial wave.

The first eye-catcher on the price-point is the Ainol Novo 7 Elf 2 Android 4.0 1 GB RAM with 8 GB, from Amazon:

 On basic specs:
  • Amlogic 8726-M6, 1.5GHz, Cortex-A9 dual core; GPU: Mali-400
  • Operation System: Android 4.0.3
  • RAM: 1 GB DDR3, ROM: 8GB Nand Flash
  • Screen: 7 Inch, Capacitive Screen, 1024 x 600px
  • Multi-Touch: Yes, 5 points multi-touch
(The unit also takes a micro SD memory chip, so the memory can be boosted.)

Then, we see that this can be had with a carrying case with mini keyboard for US$ 127. 42.

This is of course not a product endorsement, it is just to say that we are in the price ball-park.

A little beyond this, there seem to be several metal framed tablets with a bit more performance, and I even saw a 10.1 inch tablet for under US$ 170.

What is most impressive, too, is the Android 4 operating system. This video comparison of two tablets a bit above the Elf (note the metal frame), gives a good idea:

The access to the Google App Store also allows a free Kindle Reader to be set up. Where also, Libre Office has indicated that around December, they should be releasing their version of the Open Office open source office productivity suite.

Thus, the enabling technology is coming along to develop a cyber campus based education initiative. END

U/D Sept 4: The above, of course is a matter of what popped up first. I note, the Coby -- yes, that familiar "low cost" consumer electronics brand -- Kyros 7" MID7042-4 is on Amazon for US$ 126.46 (marked down from $179.99). However, what catches my eye is the Ployer Momo9 III, at Amazon with multi-touch capacitive screen for US$ 89.99 and generally respectable mechanical build quality. This is said to have reasonable battery life and performance, with a reasonable screen. The key departure seems to be what Arpan Deb, an Indian reviewer, notes on an earlier version:
Moore's law has been vindicated again. ARM CPU's used in Android tablet and phones are doubling in power and reducing in cost, every few months. I can optimistically look forward to quad core CPU's in phones and tablets, coming out in late 2012 or early 2013 . . . . A company in China, broke many technological and commercial barriers by developing a Cortex A8 based CPU, which can run at speeds of 1 – 1.5 GHz and costs only $4.00 each [--> dateline: Jan 5th, 2012]. The A10 chip from Allwinner [--> Cf Wikipedia] is a game changing CPU that has paved the way for tablets that are high on features and very low on cost. The Ployer MOMO9 uses the Allwinner A10 1.5 GHz CPU . . . 
That is a significant breakthrough indeed, and a low-cost, reasonably high performance processor on the ARM architecture could indeed be a game changer. Indeed, Wiki points out:
The Allwinner A1X is known for its ability to easily boot from an SD card GNU/Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, and other ARM architecture-capable GNU/Linux distributions. The ability is in addition to the Android OS usually installed on the Flash memory of the device. . . . . Many manufacturers have adopted the Allwinner A1X for use in devices running the Android operating system and the Linux operating System. The Allwinner A1X is used in tablet computers, set-top boxes, and mini-PCs.
And, a quad core is rumoured.

In short we may see a shakeup in the phones, tablets and PC market based on low cost adequate performance processors and the Android OS, with Linux also in play. This becomes highly significant as we see Microsoft moving to a Tablet-centric philosophy for Windows 8.

Well worth bearing in mind . . .