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MSI Rumored To Introduce $500 Tegra-Based Tablet This Year

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MSI had a relatively large showing at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and while their new desktops and notebooks were certainly interesting, it's the tablet that has us most on edge. And understandably so, given that 2010 looks to be the year that the tablet gets another chance at life, this time with things like Apple's A4 and NVIDIA's Tegra 2 as the wind behind the sails.

According to a report at DigiTimes, MSI is expected to launch a "Tegra-based" (no word on Tegra 1 or Tegra 2) tablet PC in the second quarter of this year, and just like Apple's iPad, this one will be priced around $500. Reportedly, that's the word from company sales director Sambora Chen. What's unusual about this to us is the $500 price point. Apple's iPad was seen as fairly expensive for what it could do, and now it looks like all the competitors that will follow will be selling their own tablets for about the same price. Are people really interested in paying more for a tablet with no physical keyboard than a full-fledged netbook? Guess time will tell.



Either way, the MSI tablet that was shown at CES (which we assume will be the same one that ships later this year) is really gorgeous. Clean lines, lots of screen real estate and a sleek enclosure. Still, tablets had their chance years ago--does the world feel like giving them another go?
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Lets see that makes MSI, HP, ASUS and ExoPC who've entered the tablet market hoping to compete with Apple. Acer, unsurprisingly decided against it. So after 2009 was the year of the netbook, it looks like manufacturers are hoping the tablet will the fad in 2010.

Like the iPad, this table also has a 1Ghz processor, the 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 MPCore. But unlike the iPad, it will also be able to multitask and play videos in 1080p (vs 720p on the iPad). Additionally, the price point, a camera (Video skype?), Android (yes to flash support) and capacitive touch screen make this a viable alternative.

Biggest disadvantages to MSI is the lack of an App store...and they lack the marketing genius that has made Apple products so successful in the past. But if you're not an Applemaniac, the MSI tablet resolves a lot of the grievances that people have with the iPad without increasing the price.

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Feb 1 2010 11:34 AM

Yeah gibbersome don't forget IBM already had one, and Asus probably has one in the works to, they are just trying to be strategic on there info release. Let all the other players make it news worthy, then right before or after they actually release drop yours and an add campaign.

Plus away from the Apple unit it is not on the App store as you said. I don't think that's a negative though really if you think about it. The reason for that as I see it is this, there will be some way whether it's wireless or what I don't know to install regular Windows software on it.

For a business or general user this also gives this much more marketability as a replacement for a netbook and or a notebook. The capabilities are also at a much higher level against an Atom and closer to a UL, but less expensive with more capabilities than an iPad. I also bet that the $500 dollar unit will have more memory storage capacity than a $499 iPad as well. Also as you noted a higher resolution and therefore wider capability level, as well as Nvidia graphic capability.

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Feb 1 2010 1:28 PM

I also wonder if the Tablet segment will have a major impact market wide. If so the general mobile market may change to this platform. In many ways it does make a lot of sense. To have a device this capable and energy conscious as well as enabling pretty much full capabilities, no not to a desktop level maybe. Either way it is greatly strengthened mobile communications and operations in a much more svelte package.

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"Biggest disadvantages to MSI is the lack of an App store...and they lack the marketing genius that has made Apple products so successful in the past." - gibbersome

I would actually say, that for most people making the argument you are, the lack of an "App Store" is actually a BONUS, not a detriment.  For you to see it as a "lack" means that you're seeing only part of the appeal Apple assumes their target market will respond to.  As far as Apple is concerned (along with some experts I agree with), the whole "fad" for tablets will be made or broken by whether users can quickly and easily accomplish the tasks they want to do. An App Store quickly and easily accomplishes "finding new programs", "purchasing", "installation", and "updates". In fact "uninstalling" is even easier. Apple's marketing "genius" aside, the fact that each and every one of these apps was written from the ground up to be "multitouch" is another huge factor.

"The reason for that as I see it is this, there will be some way whether it's wireless or what I don't know to install regular Windows software on it." - rapid1

The main problem for any new UI, is to have software manufacturers to adopt the input mechanisms and for users to get used to the new interface convention.  Microsoft and Adobe have dealt with these questions with every iteration of their industry standard toolsets.  From floating palettes, to tabs, to toolbars. Users often take a while to understand what's going on.  Your comment about running "regular Windows software" on a tablet, is right on the nose with where this whole issue will be settled.

Will people want "regular Windows software" on a tablet?  Wouldn't it be better if the entire OS was written to cater specifically to being "touch-based" (for a while, these interface conventions were the prime difference between Windows mobile OS versions when touch input began to challenge the stylus)? Better still, wouldn't it be nice if all of the software was also written specifically to take advantage of touch and multitouch as opposed to being written for mouse and keyboard input?  I can't imagine the difference being anything but night and day.

For instance, when Ballmer stepped up at CES and demoed the HP Slate.  The Kindle software was already running, and all he did was show how you can turn pages by "swiping" his finger.  Compare that to the iPad demo where Jobs launched the iBooks shelf, opened a book, and flipped virtual pages, and chose another book, and how to purchase more.  If Ballmer had conducted the same comparable operations, it would have been embarrassingly awkward. 

The amount of screen real estate taken up by "scrollbars" and maximize and minimize title bars and menus, is also notable.  In order to get precision "clicking" in Windows 7 (that approaches the mouse) with one's finger, you might imagine the "pinch and zoom" function of the iPhone might help... but this would only highlight the useability gap between a truly "multitouch" OS and application set, and one that is only using "touch" capability as a tacked-on asset.  Imagine doing the spreadsheet operations Jobs demoed in "Numbers" with Excel on a tablet PC with no keyboard.

This will become a bigger and bigger mountain to climb the more people ignore it. 

My prediction is that Microsoft will realize this shortly and begin working out some kind of solution (like Blackberry working on the Storm series)... only their users will have already convinced themselves that running regular Windows software is a "feature", that lacking an App Store is "better" because you can by software anywhere, and that "multitasking" every program being run is a powerful way to operate.

Meanwhile, all the new customers who have computers but never wanted laptops or netbooks will be flocking to the iPad because it paints a more "friendly" picture unfettered by tech-speak about running anti-virus software, application slow-downs, task managers, plug-in upgrades, and registry cleaning. It will be a more and more startling picture to see unfolding.

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acarzt replied on Mon, Feb 1 2010 11:39 PM

I still wanna get hands on with one of these things to see how I like it. I wanna say I would like it... but I want to wait til it's in my hand before I pass judgement :-)

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