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Nvidia Touts Tegra Platform for High-Definition MIDs

Nvidia Touts Tegra Platform for High-Definition MIDs

Graphics developer Nvidia is looking to rachet up competition with Intel in the mobile computing and media market, and today at Computex unveiled a 12 new high-definition-capable netbooks and tablets based on its Tegra system-on-a-chip platform. With these devices, Nvidia is hoping to appropriate the term MID—for Mobile Internet Device—and turn it into something larger—and more media-friendly—than the too-big-to-be-a-smartphone, too-small-to-be-useful devices that spawned the acronym a few years ago. As one might expect from a graphics developer, Nvidia’s Tegra is designed to give high-powered graphic performance—including high definition video capability and hardware acceleration for Adobe Flas content—along with low-power operation designed to keep battery-dependent devices running for hours on end.

“The mobile computing revolution has arrived,” said Nvidia’s mobile business general manager Michael Rayfield, in a statement. “These new Tegra-based products combine excellent Internet and media capabilities, always-on operation, and wireless connectivity for the un-tethered Internet experience consumers have been craving.”

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Nvidia’s Tegra platform combines a CPU, HD video processor, and a low-power Nvidia GPU, and the company claims they achieve up to five times the power efficiency of existing products,. In fact, Nvidia says Tegra systems can play music for up to 25 days or push 1080p video for up to 10 hours on a single battery charge—and if saving power isn’t your worry, the systems can play games at up to 46 frames per second. The systems will also be able to support Wi-Fi, 3G, and WiMax networking in order to delivery a truly mobile media experience.

One example of a Tegra-powered device is the Mobinnova élan, a netbook weighing les than two pounds with an 8.9-inch display, Wi-Fi and 3G networking, integrated Webcam, fanless operation, and 720p video support. Mobinnova is also showing its T8 tablet at Computex, which features a 10.1-inch touchscreen, HDMI and VGA video output, an integrated GPS. Although the companies note the systems can view Microsoft Office and Adobe documents, don’t expect these systems to be running any flavor of Windows—at least not right out of the gate.

Neither Nvidia or its partners have announced when they expect Tegra-based systems to begin hitting consumer markets, but its a good bet at least some of the equipment makers want these products in retailers’ hands before the end-of-year holiday buying season commences.

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Nvidia’s Tegra 4i reference phone spotted, could be on sale early next year

Component manufacturers often build phones to show off what their products can do to help drive sales. These devices, sometimes known as reference phones, have appeared in the past, most notably in Intel’s case, as its first Medfield reference phone went on to become the Orange San Diego and the Lava Xolo X900.
When Nvidia first announced the Tegra 4i processor, it also discussed a reference phone codename Phoenix, which has a 5-inch, 1080p screen all wrapped up in an 8mm thick chassis. It was shown off at Mobile World Congress, where Nvidia confirmed it was looking to sign up manufacturing partners to use the Phoenix design. Now, a second Nvidia reference phone has been spotted, and Nvidia has similarly ambitious plans for it.
It has been seen by, but it doesn’t have a cool codename, and instead wears “Brand” branding, so is clearly being used to entice manufacturers into licensing the device. It’s not as high-end as the Phoenix either, as it has a 4.8-inch touchscreen with a 720p resolution, but the Tegra 4i chip is inside and has 1GB of RAM, plus 4G LTE and HSPA+ connectivity. The chassis measures 7.9mm thick, and there is an 8-megapixel camera mounted in the top left of the device’s rear panel.
Nvidia apparently wants to get this unbranded model, along with the Phoenix, on sale during the first three months of next year. According to the report, it will be priced at around $300 to $400 without a contract, and Nvidia is also preparing an even cheaper, $200 device too.
The Tegra 4 hasn’t been seen in any smartphones yet, although we’re expecting something from ZTE in the near future, but it has recently appeared in several tablets, including those from Toshiba, and the new Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. With three reference phones now doing the rounds, it seems Nvidia is being proactive in speeding up the Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i’s adoption by phone manufacturers.

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Nvidia introduces smart, pressure sensitive stylus for Tegra 4

The stylus has been around for a very long time, but it's remained relatively unchanged since the days of PDA. (Remember when those ridiculous things were regarded as a sign of importance?) And really, when you think about it, just how much innovation can you even do to something that effectively does exactly what it is meant to do? Nvidia announced today a way discovered to do just that. The company unveiled new stylus technology, DirectStylus, that will work on Tegra 4-based tablets, which will make writing and drawing a whole lot easier.
The company says that its new technology will help users utilize a stylus much the same way they would use an everyday pencil. Rather than having to jump back and forth between settings to adjust the thickness of the lines that are drawn, or to switch between drawing and erasing, they’ll be able to use a new, more passive approach. Want a thin line? Press the tip of the stylus lightly against the screen. The thicker you want the line, the harder you should press. (Within reason, of course.) Make a mistake and need to undo it? Flip the stylus over, just as you would with a pencil, and the unique touch of that end will be registered with the tablet, telling it you are looking to erase. The same pressure feature applies for this side as well.
Nvidia is quick to acknowledge that yes, others have created passive styluses in the past, but they tend to have 5mm thick tips, and still utilize the aforementioned method of switching line thickness. To boot, the tablet technology will also be able to differentiate between the stylus, and a person’s finger or palm, avoiding unintended writing.
Are you a fan of the stylus? What do you think about this new technology? Would it be something you seek out? Let us know in the comments.

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Nvidia exec says Tegra 4 will power Windows RT tablets

Turns out Windows RT isn't just a flash in the pan – at least as far as Nvidia is concerned. The chip maker's vice president of computing products, Rene Haas, just told investors on a quarterly call that next-generation Tegra 4 processors will power Windows RT devices. Unlike Windows 8 and most other major versions of Microsoft's OS, Windows RT is designed to run on ARM-based processors such as the Tegra chips and Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. Nvidia's support of Windows RT comes despite lackluster sales and consumer confusion about the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. 
Currently, Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor is powering Microsoft's Surface RT tablet, the Asus VivoTab RT, and several other tablets. Nvidia's public support for the fledgling RT is a sign that while consumers aren't enamored with it, both Microsoft and manufacturers still believe it has promise. According to IDC figures reported by ComputerWorld, only 200,000 Windows RT tablets shipped in the first quarter of this year, representing just 0.4 percent of the entire tablet market, which is dominated by the iPad and Android-based tablets.
As Haas pointed out on the call, ARM-based processors like the upcoming Tegra 4 have several advantages including a long battery life and a slimmer form-factor that will be attractive to mobile users who are used to the convenience of their smartphones. He also stated that 100 percent of smartphones are currently using ARM processors so  "[t]here's no reason to believe ARM won't have dominance in tablets as well."
Nvidia introduced the Tegra 4 processing platform at CES back in January, but hasn't stated which manufacturers will be using the technology in upcoming Windows RT tablets. PhoneArena speculates that Tegra 4 could be inside the upcoming HTC R7 and R12 Windows RT tablets, although it seems more likely that Qualcomm will be powering those two devices. 
While Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Microsoft still believe there is a place for Windows RT, we've seen more than a few complaints about it. One of the biggest gripes is the lackluster app store which currently only has 65,000 apps. Even compared to Windows Phone's 120,000 apps, that's a paltry number. The Android and iOS app stores each have close to a million apps. It's the one item Haas hinted needs improvement, "The faster that growth continues, the better for the overall platform, but we're in the first inning of this ballgame and it's not over by any means." Let's just hope that Windows RT isn't the equivalent of baseball's perennial losers, the Chicago Cubs. 
What do you think? Is there hope for Windows RT if it becomes available on more tablets and expands its app store?

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