On Monday MIPS Technologies announced the release of the "world’s first" Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" tablet, the NOVO7. The good news is that the gadget will cost less than $100 (non-subsidized) for those looking for a cheap mobile solution for the holidays. The bad news is that it's landing in China first and won't cross over onto North American soil for the next few months.
Manufactured by Ainovo, the tablet is powered by Ingenic Semiconductor's JZ4770 SoC containing a 1 GHz Ingenic XBurst1 MIPS32-based CPU, a 3D-capable Vivante GC860 graphics core (supporting OpenGL ES 2.0) clocked at 444 MHz, and an optimized 1080p video processing engine. It also features a 7-inch capacitive multi-touch screen, 802.11 b/g/n connectivity (external 3G supported), a USB 2.0 port, HDMI 1.3 output, a microSD card for adding storage space, a front-facing camera and a 2MP rear-facing camera, and support for the exFAT storage format.
According to MIPS, the XBurst1 CPU core adopts an innovative ultra-low-power pipelining architecture which consumes less than 90mW in 1 GHz (with L1 cache), and the entire SOC consumes ~250mW with the CPU and video engine operating under full load. The SoC also contains numerous on-chip analog and application blocks such as audio codecs and GPS.
"I'm thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market," said Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google. "Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android's openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world."
The 7-inch model is available in China now as well as online through Ainol Electronics Co., Ltd. at www.ainovo.com. The tablet will be available in other geographies within the next several months, and will be followed by 8 and 9-inch form factors that will be announced soon.