Asus is to launch a relatively cheap quad-core tablet running the Ice Cream Sandwich variant of Android, the company said on Monday.
Jerry Shen and Jen-Hsun Huang, the chief executives of Asus and Nvidia respectively, announced the seven-inch ME370T tablet at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. The device will sell at $249 (£160), which is significantly less than the asking price for the iPad and most Android tablets on the market now.
Slide showing the Asus ME370T (Credit: Josh Lowensohn, CNET News.com)
The ME370T will run on an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which has four ARM Cortex-A9 cores along with a low-power 'companion' fifth core. This is the same processor that powers Asus's high-end Transformer Prime Android tablet.
The Transformer Prime costs around £500, which is standard pricing for high-end Android tablets at the moment. Apple's iPad 2 starts at £399. Cheaper tablets are available, but they often use poorer-quality screens or internals.
At the same Nvidia CES event, Huang announced that the Transformer Prime was now being sold with Android 'Ice Cream Sandwich' 4 rather than 'Honeycomb' 3, and existing units could also get an over-the-air update to ICS.
According to ZDNet UK sister site CNET News.com, Huang said Honeycomb had become an ecosystem of its own, as it was a separate, tablet-only strand of Android — ICS is the first version of Android designed for both tablets and smartphones.
Huang suggested that ICS would overcome this fragmentation and encourage developers to create better and more numerous Android apps for tablets.
Microsoft Windows marketing chief Aidan Marcuss also took to the stage during Nvidia's event. He claimed that Windows 8 — the first version of the venerable desktop operating system that will run on ARM architecture as well as x86 — will work well with Tegra 3 due to the OS's reliance on multithreading.
Nvidia and Microsoft are working together to encourage developers to code for Windows 8 on Nvidia hardware soon after the next Windows 8 preview comes out in late February, Marcuss added.