The Freescale ARM based $199 Tablet PC - priced right for the masses (You hear that, Apple!)

The Freescale ARM based $199 Tablet PC - priced right for the masses (You hear that, Apple!)

It’s pretty clear that 2010 is going to be the Year of the Tablet. Here we are in the first week of January and I’ve already seen more tablet products concepts than I can count on all my fingers and toes. There’s the ill-fated Crunchpad since reborn as the ridiculously named JooJoo, the Apple Tablet that’s coming out Any Time Now, various Apple clones, the HP/Microsoft tablet, a variety of eBook readers that are getting close to Tablets, the Asus tablet and more. And now we have yet another entrant to add to the list today: the ARM-based Tablet being peddled by Freescale.

Of course, since Freescale is a silicon vendor, they’re not going to build and sell the Tablet themselves. They’ve created the concept demonstrator and reference design but it’s up to their partners to actually take the product to market. Most estimates put a realistic ship date in the summer 2010 timeframe.

The device is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 1Ghz. Presumably, the OS will be Linux. 512MB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, with a microSD expansion slot. The display will be a somewhat small 7′ touchcscreen, but hey, what do you expect for under $200?!

Devices like this ARM tablet are particularly exciting to me because they’re cheap, have the potential of being even cheaper, provide a richer interaction paradigm than keyboards and mice, and finally, they double up very nicely as e-Readers. I think books represent the next big wave of content that’s going to be rapidly and almost completely digitized in the next few years. It’s like it’s 2000 all over again, but eBooks are the new mp3s. Between Google Books, the Kindle and Nook, eBooks being sold by all the major online book stores and an increasing amount of digitization of library titles, you know this is around the corner. For developing countries like Pakistan, in particular, these tablets can put a world of information and millions of book titles in the hands of children, students and professionals that would otherwise not have access to them. I think that’s pretty cool. It’s the same vision that the OLPC project started out with, but I think the tablet is the right form factor to make it happen and the $100 price isn’t all that far away if Freescale has its way.

More details on the device are available at PC World.

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