Imagination has announced that an experimental version of Firefox OS has been ported to a reference tablet powered by Ingenic JZ4780, a MIPS based processor, that’s also used in MIPS Creator CI20 development board, and that the company organized a raffle to send 15 of these tablets for people to try or develop on.
The tablet is said to cost less than $100, runs either Firefox OS or Android 4.4 KitKat, and comes with the following specifications:
I could not find Ingenic JZ4780 based tablets on Aliexpress, Alibaba, or anywhere on the web, so this model is just a reference design, possibly to be sold in a few weeks or months. Firefox OS source code for the tablet and CI20 development board should soon be available on GitHub.
The build is still experimental, and they still have some work to do as the tablet still feels quite sluggish as you can see from the demo below. YouTube appears to be working just fine though thanks to the H.264/VP8 video decoder (up to 1080p30) inside the MIPS processor.
The makers of Neptune Pine smartwatch have unsurprisingly decided to make another smartwatch which they called Neptune Hub. Why Hub? Because although this smartwatch can be used standalone, its quadcore processor can also control a smartphone, a tablet, and an HDMI stick, probably over Miracast. So they’ve taken the opposite view to other companies in the market which are using the smartphone as the brain of your smartwatch to some extends.
Cellular Connectivity – GSM/3G/LTE with nano SIM card slot
Connectivity – 802.11 Wi-Fi, 60Hz WiGig 802.11ad, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS / A-GPS
Audio – Microphone and speaker
Sensors – Accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass, heart rate sensor, vibration motor
Battery – 1,000 mAh
The watch will run Android 5.0 Lollipop, and it’s rather big, but in this case it might be an advantage, as it can hold a 1,000 mAh battery, about half of what you’d get in a smartphone, but thanks to the much smaller screen, it’s expected to last just as long. The watch can make calls, send/receive SMS, be used as a fitness tracker, and pretty much anything you could do on a smartphone.
However, there are certainly cases where you’d need a larger screen as browsing the web, watching videos, or reading e-books is not quite enjoyable on a 2.4″ screen. But Neptune got you covered with three “dumb” devices, which are probably Miracast displays.
Neptune Pocket Screen
It looks like a smartphone, but it’s not quite as smart, and the processor is not even listed in the specs, but other smartphones features are there:
Display – 5″ capacitive touchscreen @ 1280×720
Camera – 8MP rear camera with LED flash, 2MP front-facing camera
Audio – In-ear speaker, loudspeaker, microphone
Connectivity – 60GHz WiGig 802.11ad
Sensors – Accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, vibration motor
Battery – Rechargeable 2,800mAh battery
Without a powerful processor, the 2,800 mAh should last for a while. I was quite interested in Miracast when the first devices hit the shelves, but after trying it I was rather disappointed with image quality and lag, but WiGig should greatly improve both:
Neptune Hub uses WiGig, a revolutionary wireless protocol operating in the 60GHz frequency band, to interface with other displays and devices. WiGig provides multi-gigabit speeds of up to 7Gbps, with non-perceptible latency. This is the key technological enabler for the Neptune Suite to be realized, as previous streaming protocols simply did not have the throughput or the latency levels required to make this feasible.
Neptune Tab & Neptune Keys
If you need a tablet sized screen, Neptune Tab is what you need:
Display – 10″ capacitive touchscreen @ 1920×1080
Camera – 720p front facing camera
Audio – Loudspeaker, micrphone
Connectivity – 60GHz WiGig 802.11ad
Sensors – Accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope
Battery – Rechargeable 7,000 mAh battery
Wigig again, and a sizable battery. If you need a keyboard, the tab can clip into Neptune Keys to convert the tablet into a laptop.
Neptune Dongle & Headset
That’s probably a pretty standard streaming dongle that connect to the HDMI port of your TV or monitor and provide a full screen experience. No specs were provided.
The Neptune Suite is completed with Neptune headset, a pair of wireless headphones, that can be use as a necklace when not in use, and which can also be used to charge up to three devices simultaneously including itself from a single power outlet.
The company launched the project on Indiegogo yesterday, and has already well passed its $100,000 funding target with close to $800,000 raised so far. Neptune Suite rewards with Hub, Pocket Screen, Tab, Keys, Dongle and Headset currently goes for $599 + shiping, is expected to retail for $899. The project appears to be quite challenging, and probably not without risk, especially since delivery is scheduled for February 2016, so it’s still early development, but at least the company has experience with its previous project.
As the Jolla Tablet running Sailfish OS 2.0 is about to ship to Kickstarter backers (Q2 2015), the company has issues a press release announcing Sailfish OS 2.0 is now ready for licensing to OEMs and other partners, and OS porting is being done to the newly announced Intel Atom x3 processors.
Sailfish OS 2.0 has been designed for both smartphones and tablets with the following key changes and improvements:
Stronger technical OS core and improved Android application compatibility
Support for Intel architecture, including the Intel Atom x3 processor
Best multitasking on the market for both smartphones and tablets
Improved user experience with an enhanced, even richer user interface
Strong privacy and personalization features
Many new UI/UX features, like enhanced notifications and events views, and even simpler swipe access to main functions
Sailfish 2.0 is designed to provide premium visibility in the UI for leading digital content providers and to enable OS level integration for mobile commerce
Interested company can join the Sailfish OS alliance described as “a movement that will unite OEM and ODM manufacturers, chipset providers, operators, application developers and retailers. The key target is to bring innovation to a stagnating market and help mobile industry players to stay on the bleeding edge of the mobile OS development.”
Jolla also issued a separate press release about Sailfish Secure open source and secure mobile phone platform. The company has partnered with SSH Communications Security to create a security-hardened European version of Sailfish OS, and independent of US based mobile operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows Phone.. You know just in case the NSA misbehaves again… The solution mostly targets governments and large corporations, and is not tied to any specific hardware.
Intel Atom x3 (previously known as SoFIA) will be entry and ultra-low cost processor up with 3G or LTE connectivity found in products up to around $150, while Atom x5 and x7 (previously known as Cherry Trail) will be found in tablets between about $200 to $400, with the top performing devices going with Intel Core M processors.
Intel Atom x3 are very interesting because they mix Intel 64-bit cores with ARM GPUs (to keep the cost down), and parts with RK suffix are made by Rockchip. Three x3 processors are currently available:
Intel Atom x3-C3130 – Dual-core processor up to 1.0 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU and 2G/3G modem.
Intel Atom x3-C3230RK – Quad-core processor up to 1.2GHz with ARM Mali-450MP4 GPU, and 2G/3G modem. Designed/Manufactured by Rockchip.
Intel Atom x3-C3440 – Quad-core processor up to 1.4GHz with ARM Mali-T720 GPU, and a 5-mode LTE modem
Atom x3 3G SoCs can be coupled with A-Gold 620 chipsets combining 2G/3G RF, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, GPS/GLONASS and Audio/PMU, while Atom x3 LTE SoC would interface with four chips for 4G RF (Smarti RF TRX), PMIC + Audio, 802.11ac/BT 4.1 (Intel Wireless-AC WCS8270), and GPS (Intel Wireless-GNSS WCS 2100 & WCS 2000). All three processors are manufactured with a 28nm process, again to keep costs low.
Atom x5 and x7 will however be 14-nm processor, bringing lower power consumption, but a least initially, a higher cost. These processors will feature Intel Gen8 graphics, and support next-gen LTE Cat-6 thanks to Intel XMM-726x modem, and be found in 7″ to 10″ Windows and Android tablets and 2-in-1 hybrid laptops priced between $120 to $500.
At first it seemed like the company did not provide that much information for Atom x5 and x7 processors just yet, and that it just expected products by Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, and HP should be shipping in H1 2015. They did however provide a block diagram for Atom x5 / x7 processors which reveals more details to what can be expected including HDMI 1.4b up to 4K30,2K internal display (DSI / eDP), PCIe, USB 3.0, eMMC 4.51, but no integrated Ethernet MAC or SATA IP blocks, although these could be added via the PCIe interfaces.
Atom x5/x7 Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)
Furthermore, Techreport mentioned two Atom x5 processors will be available first with x5-8300 @ 1.84 GHz (up to 1080p) and Atom x5-8500 @ 2.24 GHz (up to 4K2K), as well as one Atom x7 processors: x7-8700 running at 2.4 GHz, as well as specifications:
x5-8300 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x5 up to 1.84 GHz
x5-8500 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x5 up to 2.24 GHz
x7-8700 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x7 up to 2.40 GHz
Atom x5 – Gen8 12 EU, up to 500/600 MHz supporting DX11.1, OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.3, RS Compute
Atom x7 – Gen8 16 EU, up to 600 MHz supporting DX11.1, OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.3, RS Compute
Media (encode/decode) – HEVC (decode), H.264, VP8
x5-8300 – 1×32, 1×64 DDR3L-RS 1600, 1-2GB
x5-8500 / x7-8700 – 2×64 LPDDR3 1600, 2-8GB
Storage – eMMC 4.51
Internal – 1920×1200 (MIPI-DSI or LVDS)
External: 1920×1080 (HDMI)
x5-8500 & x7-8700
Internal – 2500 x 1600 (MIPI-DSI or eDP)
External: 4K2K @ 30 Hz (HDMI)
Modem – Intel XMM 7260/62 LTE Cat-6 (up to 300Mbps DL). M.2 only for x5-8300
Connectivity – Intel WLAN, Intel WWAN, Intel NFC; Atom x7 also adds Intel WiGig.
Processor – Heterogeneous 64-bit Multi-Core big.LITTLE architecture up to 2.4GHz featuring ARM Cortex-A72 and ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit CPU. Big cores and LITTLE cores can run at full speed at the same time for peak performance requirement
GPU – Imagination PowerVR GX6250 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL. Performance: 350Mtri/s and 2.8 Gpix/s.
WQXGA display (2560×1600) up to 60 Hz with TV-grade picture quality enhancement. Up to 120 Hz mobile display for other resolutions.
HDMI and Miracast support for multi-screen applications
Video – Ultra HD 30fps H.264/HEVC(10-bit)/VP9 hardware video playback
Camera – 20MP camera ISP with video face beautify and LOMO effects
Security hardware accelerator – Supports Widevine Level 1, Miracast with HDCP; HDCP 2.2 for premium video to 4k TV display
Tablets based on MT8173 processor should hit the shelves in H2 2015. MT8173 is being showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain at MediaTek’s booth – Hall 6, Stand 6E21.
Qualcomm has announced four new processors including Snapdragon 415 and 425 octa-core Cortex A53 processor, as well a Snapdragon 618 and 620 big.LITTLE processor with the latest Cortex A72 cores coupled with four Cortex A53 little cores.
Snapdragon 618 is the hexa-core version with 2 Cortex A72 cores, while Snapdragon 620 comes with eight cores including 4 Cortex A72, but apart from the difference in number of cores, both share the same technical specifications:
Snapdragon 618 – 64-bit dual-core ARM Cortex A72 @ 1.8GHz and quad-core Cortex A53 @ 1.2GHz
Snapdragon 620 – 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex A72 @ 1.8GHz and quad-core Cortex A53 @ 1.2GHz
GPU – Next generation Qualcomm Adreno GPU with support for the latest graphics APIs, hardware tessellation and geometry shading
DSP – Qualcomm Hexagon V56 DSP
Memory – Dual channel LPDDR3 (933MHz)
Integrated X8 LTE, with Global Mode supporting LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA (DC-HSPA+, DC-HSUPA), CDMA1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE
Cat 7 speeds of up to 300 Mbps down/100 Mbps up via 2×20 MHz carrier aggregation in the downlink and uplink on LTE FDD and LTE TDD
Support for LTE Broadcast, LTE multimode dual SIM and VoLTE with HD Voice and SRVCC
RF – Qualcomm RF360 front end solution
USB – USB 2.0
Bluetooth – Bluetooth Smart 4.1
WiFi – Qualcomm VIVE 1-stream 802.11ac
GPS – Qualcomm IZat Gen8C
4K@30fps capture, 1080p@120fps capture
Hardware HEVC (H.265) encode and decode
Qualcomm Immersive Audio
Hi-Fi 192kHz/24bit music playback
Support for low power Snapdragon Voice Activation
Camera – Dual ISPs can support up to 21MP and 930MP/sec throughput
Primary Quad HD 2560×1600
Miracast support for up to 1080p wireless display
Fast Charging – Quick Charge 2.0
Snapdragon StudioAccess Content Protection
Qualcomm SafeSwitch Technology
Qualcomm SecureMSM hardware and software foundation
Qualcomm will soon release Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) versions of the Snapdragon 620, 618, 425 and 415 processors to OEM partners, with retail devices expected in H2 2015. You may find more details on Snapdragon 618 product page, and Snapdragon 620 product brief (PDF).
Nvidia Tegra X1 was expected to outperform the competition, but based on Antutu results provided by Mydrivers, the performance leap might be greater than expected, as Nvidia Tegra X1 reference tablet gets 74,997 points in Antutu 5.6.1. As usual caution is warranted with Antutu results, as the benchmark is easily cheated, which explains why Allwinner A80T devices can get over 140,000 points. But let’s assume Tegra X1 result is representative and compare it to its predecessor the Tegra K1. Surprisingly I struggled to find a detailed Antutu 5.x score for the Nexus 9, and I had to get the scores from that video with Antutu 5.2.0.
(Tegra K1 64-bit)
* Resolution for Nexus 9: 2048×1536; resolutions for X1 reference platform: 3840×2160.
After completing this table, I’ve just noticed some other people got 34,000 points on the Nexus 9, still with Antutu 5.2.0. Let’s us just hope Antutu gets obsoleted very soon. Having said that the results don’t see so unrealistic with 30% improvement over Tegra K1 64-bit. Multicore tests provide a much higher score thanks to the eight ARMv8 cores in X1 vs the two ARMv8 cores in K1. CPU clock is unknown for X1since Antutu stopped reporting it. RAM “operations” are three times faster on X1 too, whatever that means, which the speed is about 20% faster. 3D graphics should be much better on X1 thanks to its 256-core Maxwell GPU, but the difference is not that great, because of the higher resolution used for X1 hardware, so the total score would certainly be higher if X1 was connected to a 2048×1536 display.
MeegoPad T01, Pipo X7, MeLE PCG03, MINIX NEO Z64, etc.. you could name a pretty long list of Intel Bay Trail-T Z3735 mini PCs running Windows 8.1… They all cost above $100, but the ones that include a valid Windows 8.1 license usually cost closer to $150. That’s because contrary to the Windows 8.1 with Bing on small tablets that comes free and with a one-year subscription to office 365, Windows 8.1 with Bing on mini PCs adds about $30 to the price, and it does not even include a one-year subscription. So using a tablet as a mini PC should be cheaper, even with the extra touchscreen display and battery. And as I checked out Liliputing’s list of cheap Windows tablets, Winbook TW700 stood out as it sells for just $60 on Micro-center (US only) or $70 on Amazon US, and features a mini HDMI port, a full-sized USB port, meaning it can easily be connected to an HDMI TV, and be used as mini PC for over half the price of actual Windows 8.1 mini PCs.
Winbook TW700 specifications:
SoC – Intel Atom Z3735G “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics (2.2W TDP)
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
Camera – 2MP Front-facing and rear cameras
Sensors – G-sensor, light sensor
Misc – Power and volume buttons
Battery – Rechargeable lithium-on battery (Capacity not specified)
Power Supply – 5V/2A
Dimensions – 189 x 121 x 11 mm
Weight – 350 grams
So the memory and storage are a bit tight, but it should probably be enough to run Kodi 14 with the default skin, and should make a very good media player based on my Kodi 14.1 testing with MeLE PCG03, providing a smoother experience than on any ARM based mini PC I tried in the past, as long as you play videos up to 1080p, and don’t need HEVC/H.265 video decode. Some people also noticed an overheating issue on other devices while playing high framerate videos (50 fps @ 720p or 1080i), leading to throttling on Pipo X7, but I could not reproduce this in MeLE PCG03. It mostly depends on the thermal design of the device, and one person also said running Kodi in Linux does not exhibit the issue, but requires a USB sound card, as HDMI audio does not work (yet). Hopefully a working OpenELEC image will soon be released for Intel Atom Z37xx devices.
One other difference is the use of Z3735G instead of Z3735F, which means the maximum memory is 1GB RAM, and the memory bandwidth is only 5.3 GB/s instead of 10.6 GB/s.
As I understand it, Winbook is a US brand and only sells in the US, so if Amazon US won’t ship to your country, you’re out of luck. But as the device is certainly a re-branded Chinese table, so I checked out for similar Z3735G tablet on Aliexpress. I could not find an exact match, but PiPo W7 and Cube iWork7 tablets are selling for about $80 including shipping, and both include micro HDMI and micro USB OTG ports, but no full-size USB port.