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$199 Freescale Tablet Design Runs Chromium OS 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the proof-of-concept dept.
Charbax writes "This is an extensive video interview with Freescale's manager of software development about their integration of the Chromium OS onto their ARM Cortex A8 i.MX51-based $199 Tablet reference design. It seems to run smoothly and fast with multiple tabs. There's no touch screen support yet, so input is done through a USB keyboard and mouse for now, but the WiFi drivers are fine. Freescale is also demonstrating Android and Ubuntu versions. Those have a 3G SIM card reader built-in, an HDMI output and 720p video playback. The question is: will they be able to support Chrome browsing at full speed on the most JavaScript- and Flash-intensive websites and support a large amount of opened tabs?" The demonstration of the Chromium tablet begins at about 11:20 into the video. The Android and Ubuntu versions are displayed earlier.
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$199 Freescale Tablet Design Runs Chromium OS

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  • Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:27PM (#30715780)
    Wake me up when I can buy the thing at a store for $199.
    • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:28PM (#30716652) Homepage Journal

      Wake me up when I can buy the thing at a store for $199.

      That's actually very insightful. There are a lot of big players who are going to have to make sure a $200 Freescale Tablet never sees the light of day to keep their shareholders happy.

      If it ever hit the market, they'd sell a ton of them. Even the most ardent Mac supporter would have to think twice before spending more than $800 on an "iSlate" that will require another $600 in upgrades before it can be used instead of running out and spending $200 on a basic tablet that works.

      I'd take three of them right now, today, if they were on the market.

      Before they come out, I predict there will be "problems with the supply chain" and more "driver issues" and then several rounds of "intellectual property disputes" that will make sure a Freescale Tablet stays off the market at least until the big players can hit the markets with their more expensive offerings so the early adopters (aka "chumps") spend their money on 0-day.

      • by symbolset (646467)

        The dirty tricks squad is out in full force to nip this in the bud. There'll be the usual pans from Ina Fried and Mary Jo Foley and other puppets in the press. Then the arm twisting begins.

        They might as well just record the meetings and copy the DOJ and Pamela Jones [groklaw.net] on the transcripts and emails. It's not like we're all not going to read it on Groklaw after the Attorney General subpoenas it as part of the antitrust lawsuit.

        • Hey, maybe for a change we could get a nice whistleblower to leak some documents. That would be great.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The dirty tricks squad is out in full force to nip this in the bud.

          And the media is going to do their dirty work, just like they are with the Nexus

          Watch and see.

          But it would have to be pretty blatant before the DOJ gets involved. The antitrust group practically works for the dirty tricks squad, after all. They won't bring a lawsuit until the Freescale is safely dead and buried, and then in 10 years, the fines will be a fraction of the profits that the big boys make.

          It's just the cost of doing business to t

          • Here's a post from GigaOM [gigaom.com] that basically says that Google stabbed Motorola's Droid in the back to deliver this, despite the fact that Droid has a keyboard and Nexus One does not and so it's fair game.

            That was picked up by TheRegister [theregister.co.uk] which for some bizarre reason sees this as a reason for Moto to run home to the warm embrace of Microsoft, as if the whole Sendo Maneuver [theregister.co.uk] had not happened (even though they reported it), and as if Google had actually done something dastardly. Now it's in the Mainstream press [j.mp]

      • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:35AM (#30719900) Journal

        Well considering that we have been hearing about $200 and under ARM netbooks that are supposed to come out "any day now" for a couple of years now I'm afraid you're probably right. I just wonder how much of it is other companies interference VS being new players and simply not having their shit together?

        Starting new products in a field where margins are usually razor thin to start with is hard enough, then add in the fact that you can't show VC investors your new device running the dominant OS, because Windows don't run on ARM, add in having to cut corners all over the place and the sometimes dodgy vendors one deals with when going bottom of the barrel, and I can see why so many devices end up as nothing more than vaporware.

        Personally if they come out with sub $150 ARM netbooks (preferably $99) and $200 tablets I'll be happy to snap some up to sell in my shop, but I'm not holding my breath. There is a niche for these non Windows devices, how big a niche I don't know, but with a college nearby I'm sure I wouldn't have any problems moving a "browser in a box" that let them take notes in class and had 6 hour plus battery life. For college and HS kids these things would be perfect! Hell i would even snatch up a couple for myself just so when I had to go to the doctors office or some other "hurry up and wait" establishment I could kick back and surf and read.

        But considering the money Intel is already losing by having Atom eat into notebook sales, plus now AMD entering the market with really nice sub $500 netbooks with Radeon GPUs and real Athlon CPUs, I really don't see Intel sitting back quietly on this. so while I'm sure a lot will go tits up thanks to simply not having all their ducks in a row, after Intel shelling out 1.25 Billion to AMD for not playing fair i wouldn't be surprised if any of these do manage to get their shit together that old Chipzilla wouldn't be willing to grease a few palms to make them go away. with the kind of money Intel has in the bank if it looks like one is close to market Intel can always "buy 'em and bury 'em". So while I would love to have this and a few of those cheapo ARM netbooks sitting in my shop, I won't be betting the farm on them.

        • by Calinous (985536)

          There was some Elonex One netbook, for sale at around 200 euros (plus VAT). That's the cheapest I've seen so far, though not much cheaper than the original EeePC (with 7" screen)

      • by Yfrwlf (998822)
        Aah Capitalism, not giving consumers what they want since (pick one of various historical reference dates).
    • by JWW (79176)

      Wake ME up when the touchscreen on the "tablet" actually works.

    • Wake me up when there is a tablet which smoothly renders Slashdot...
    • by tbuskey (135499)

      I think we'll see $200 ARM tablets Real Soon Now.

      I have a SmartQ7. ARM MID. 7" 800x600 color touch screen with 128 MB RAM. Runs a custom Ubuntu that can apt-get from the standard repos. I paid $240ish including shipping from Hong Kong. WinCE is available.

      I'm using it to read eBooks and Google Reader. The RAM limits the browser (Midori) and the number of tabs. I don't have flash on it. I don't watch vids or listen to MP3s.

      For what I do, it's great.

      Maybe in a year I'll be able to buy a 10" 1024x600 (x

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:32PM (#30715824)
    I don't need a tablet PC unless it offers access to a compelling suite of applications. As it stands, this thing is basically an extremely underpowered netbook with a discrete keyboard and pointing device. Even with a touchscreen, it can't compete with a bottom end netbook for generic computing tasks (for example, typing just isn't efficient - I can't manage 45 wpm on a touchscreen). Apple gets this. The iPhone/touch is successful because of its integration with the app store, which offers *device-specific* apps. If apple releases a giant iPod Touch/eReader in the next couple of months, it will succeed only if there's a strong suite of apps written specifically for it. Other manufacturers will be left scrambling, because Chromium OS, Ubuntu NBE and Windows 7 just don't translate well to the tablet environment - you're left using a desktop OS on something that very definitely isn't a desktop. So Freescale's initiative will fail, as will dozens of goofy "tablets" that are little more than touchscreen-equipped PCs with user-hostile ergonomics.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      If the rumors of Apple's "advanced gestures" for iWorks are true, I can't imagine anything more user hostile. Sure, there will be a contingent of people who rabidly defend Steve's decision to throw gangsigns at the computer to open a file, but those people also praised him for only ever making mice that didn't fit human hands.

      And no one has seen the Chrome OS in a finished state yet, because it's not finished. How can you dismiss something that doesn't exist?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KeithJM (1024071)

        How can you dismiss something that doesn't exist?

        Uh, you made good points until this. How can you NOT dismiss something that doesn't exist?

    • by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:42PM (#30715882)

      the "compelling suite of apps" is already there, on the web: facebook, email, IM, twitter, browsing. Throw in google maps, an ebook reader, remote terminal... I don't think apps are that critical anymore, because they are already there.

      As far as a keyboard is concerned, I'd rather have a tablet + separate keyboard/mouse for when I need them, rather than lug them around all the time. A pure tablet is better when not inputting much info, which is 50-75% of my time on a netbook.

      • by Dzimas (547818)
        I guess I didn't make myself clear - I already have email and a good browser on my netbook. There's no good reason for me to replace it with a tablet PC.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by obarthelemy (160321)

          Oh, OK sorry, didn't realize you wanted specific apps for the thing. The way I see it, I don't, it's just a more portable way to do the same things, and it's easier to add a keyboard want I want one than to rip it away when I don't ^^

    • Sorry for conflating Chromium and Chrome above. I still think the jury is out though.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      odd I want exactly chromeOS. all I want is a decent web browser. Mobile safari is nice, but the iphone screen is to small and it doesn't have flash(good on the iphone bad on larger screened devices) Applications aren't nearly as important as the UI. if it isn't fully multi touch enabled it will fail. It is why windows tablet editions fail. as they cram a standard desktop GUI on a none desktop device.

      software available doesn't matter if you can't use them well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I agree fully. My main use for this would be browsing the internet and (since monitors do not strain my eyes) I would also use them to read on the couch and have much more massive personal library available for 'dedicated reading'.. When I need a more diverse range of applications I will go to command central and do work where my work is best done. It would just be nice to have a decent tablet capable of full web browsing capabilities and touch screen. Reading takes up such a large portion of my day that
    • by coofercat (719737)

      I see where you're going on this, but I think you're missing a proportion of possible uses for such a gadget.

      I'm personally looking for one or two (touchscreen) tablet machines - definitely one in the kitchen, and maybe one in the bathroom or else just on the coffee table. I'm not looking to do all that much with it, except (in the kitchen) to be a place to play music, maybe watch something like BBC iPlayer for a cookery show, or just display a recipe on a web page (or fiddle with the home automation or wha

  • Flash (Score:4, Informative)

    by randallman (605329) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:43PM (#30715886)

    In response to all of the questions of the form "can it play flash". It's up to Adobe, not so much the hardware manufacturer. A manufacturer can included chips to offload video processing, etc., but if Adobe doesn't take advantage of the hardware capabilities, Flash won't play well.

    Flash is terrible on everything but Windows. My 3 year old Pentium-M laptop with Ubuntu 9.04 can play 720p nicely using mplayer, but can't play 480p acceptably in flash. The problem is Adobe's exclusive control over the flash player. We need a real standard, hence the debate over html5 video codec inclusion.

    So please realize more times than not that the shortcoming is with flash and Adobe, not with the hardware.

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:15PM (#30716114) Journal

      And that is to blame website developers who use flash for stuff that it ain't needed for. Such as playing video. The video tag works now (not on IE, but lets face it, if you got IE, you got flash) so support it.

      • by TheSunborn (68004)

        Does the browsers that support the video tag support H.264 ?
         

        • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:34PM (#30716688) Homepage

          Firefox supports Ogg/Theora/Vorbis.
          Safari, iPhone, Android support H.264,AAC,MP4
          Chrome supports all of the above.

          http://diveintohtml5.org/video.html#what-works [diveintohtml5.org]

          If you're a web site developer, it's probably best to host both, and have your pages detect what the browser supports.

          • by StreetStealth (980200) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:59PM (#30716924) Journal

            If you're a web site developer, it's probably best to host both, and have your pages detect what the browser supports.

            And right there is why the HTML5 video tag will never defeat Flash video in its current form. With Flash, you need only one encoding.

            • If you're a web site developer, it's probably best to host both, and have your pages detect what the browser supports.

              And right there is why the HTML5 video tag will never defeat Flash video in its current form. With Flash, you need only one encoding.

              "Never" is a bit strong. Apple is reconsidering its decision to avoid Theora, last I heard, but since it involves lawyers it's taking a long time. In the long term, I expect everyone will settle on a baseline royalty-free format that works well enough, like Theora.

          • by hitmark (640295)

            if one ignore iphone and android (both use hardware to save on battery, and would therefor need new devices to run on before ogg can be supported in any form, unless they use a DSP or something), safari can make use of anything that has a codec in quicktime, tho by default only the mentioned codecs are included by apple.

      • And that is to blame website developers who use flash for stuff that it ain't needed for. Such as playing video. The video tag works now (not on IE, but lets face it, if you got IE, you got flash) so support it.

        Well, it does work but honestly the support is still quite preliminary. But you're right, many sites use Flash only for the video part for which it is quite a hack. HTML5 video is stuff that matters. :)

      • And that is to blame website developers who use flash for stuff that it ain't needed for. Such as playing video. The video tag works now (not on IE, but lets face it, if you got IE, you got flash) so support it.

        It works, yes, but . . .

        • It doesn't support fullscreening at all in any released browser, only in Firefox 3.6.
        • It doesn't support programmatic fullscreening in any browser, or even in the spec itself – so you can't have a custom "click to go fullscreen" button.
        • It doesn't support control over autobuffering in Chrome or Safari. They always fully buffer anything you put on the page, wasting your and your viewers' bandwidth if the video is never actually played.
        • Firefox supports autobuffering control,
    • Actually, it's a bit of both. Freescale worked with Adobe before the launch of the i.MX515 to get Flash running on it.
      • by hitmark (640295)

        adobe seems to lately be pushing flash to other platforms besides wintel, probably because they see html5 taking over if they do not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clang_jangle (975789)

      My 3 year old Pentium-M laptop with Ubuntu 9.04 can play 720p nicely using mplayer, but can't play 480p acceptably in flash.

      My 3 year old Pentium-M laptop with FreeBSD 8.0 plays flash just fine via the linux-f10-flashplugin10 port -- we don't even get a native libflashplayer.so. Sounds like you have an Ubuntu problem, not a flash problem...

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      It will play flash the day one of the companies that need it seriously fund Gnash or any other open-source group trying to make a decent open source implementation.
    • Youtube doesn't play smoothly on my Athlon II X2 3.5ghz. I'm amazed you got it to play acceptably on Windows, because I couldn't. ;)

      PS: This seems relevent. Don't DDOS them.

      http://camendesign.com/code/video_for_everybody [camendesign.com]

      It's a non-javascript solution for embedding video that plays on a wide variety of devices and platforms. (iPhone, OSX, Linux, Windows, Firefox, IEx, Opera, etc.)

  • This is what Intel and Microsoft most fear - a perfectly usable ecosystem of increasingly powerful web connected devices that don't need them. At all. At last! M (Note they didn't bother to do a Windows Mobile version - kinda a dead os there)
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      at last? i strongly suspect the first ecosystem of increasingly powerful web connected devices didn't use intel processors or the windows operating system at all

      • by Arimus (198136)

        Especially as for a long time MS didn't have a reliable tcp/ip stack - you had to use third party stacks.

        Also recall a certain Mr Gates knocking the internet and basically saying it will never take off ;) Kind of like his 640k is enough for anyone comment - proof that even successful people frequently place their foot in their mouths.

        • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:51PM (#30716828) Homepage Journal

          Personally I prefer the much more recent statements from Mr. Ballmer [usatoday.com]:

          There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

          That foresight - it's eerie. It's like he's got some sort of direct view into the future... Maybe we should call him the Oracle of Redmond.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:41PM (#30718752) Journal
            I'm not sure what you think he got wrong. Apple has under 2% of the total phone market share (although a bit more than that if you only count Smartphones, and a lot more than that if you do what a lot of analysts have done and redefine Smartphone to mean 'thing like an iPhone' before you do), and they've made a lot of money. Personally, I'd prefer to own the highest margin 2-3% of the market than the lowest-margin 60%; the money's often about the same, and the effort required is a lot lower. I guess that's why I'm not a manager at Microsoft.
          • by hazydave (96747)

            Only problem... Mr. Ballmer forgot that Microsoft's software is ALSO Smartphone-only. So they're sharing the same 10% (well, a bit less in 2007 when he said this) of the total phone market as Apple. And from the look of things, Apple's market share had grown every year (Android grew faster in the last year, but essentially from nothing), while Microsoft's has fallen, fast (Nokia and RIM are still numbers 1 and 2 in smartphones, world-wide, but they have been losing market share, too... but in a growning mar

  • IDEA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by clinko (232501) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:31PM (#30716186) Homepage Journal

    I have an awesome idea!

    Instead of $199 for people that will buy it, lets make it:
    - For Children in (um, africa? india? as long as it's not Gadget Geeks...)
    - Bright green (or uglier if possible! Think Big!)
    - Delayed by 4 years
    - Cost Twice as much!

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!

  • Work around Flash (Score:4, Informative)

    by loudmax (243935) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:47PM (#30716320) Homepage

    The best solution to working around Flash video that I've worked out it to use the Video download helper [mozilla.org] Firefox plugin, then play the videos in Mplayer. It has pretty good support for Youtube and its many imitators. Unfortunately, it doesn't handle copy-protected stuff so it won't work with the full length movies on Youtube or anything on Hulu. It is an extra step to download the video before playing it, but the add-on makes it pretty easy, so I find it worth the hassle if I'm going to watch anything more than a few minutes long.

    I haven't seen anything approximate ported to Chrome yet. Hopefully it'll get one soon... or better yet the <Video> tag becomes universally supported even sooner.

    • by slim (1652)

      With the YouTube HTML5-ifier Chrome extension, YouTube pages are rewritten to use the <video> tag.

      If/when Chrome for Linux supports extensions, you're golden, for YouTube at least. The same hack for other sites shouldn't be too hard.

      • by iammani (1392285)
        I am already using HTML5-ifier in chrome running on linux. Its cool, hardly uses 10% of the resources compared to the flash version.

        My only gripes about html5-ifier are that it does not support auto-start yet, ie automatically start playing video on open and that it does not have playlist support, ie at the end of a video start playing the next video on queue. Otherwise its superb!
  • I really do feel sorry for him the interview really is terrible

    why cant people do interviews...

  • ...browsing at full speed on the most JavaScript- and Flash-intensive websites and support a large amount of opened tabs?

    Dude, my (rather powerfull) desktop comp. doesn't do that.

  • Seriously, especially if it's not locked down to disallow other operating systems.

    I'm not interested in Ubuntu or Chromium OS, I'd like to install whatever flavour or Linux/BSD/${OtherOS} I feel (obviously that means something that will run on ARM, anyway).

    I bought an iPod for my wife for that price (8GB model) and it is very restricted and physically smaller than what she actually uses it for (eBook reader via BookShelf and light web browsing).

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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