Apr 22, 2013

Intel’s pain, your cheap Android tablet

Cheap Intel tablets and laptops, expected to appear in coming months as the PC industry mounts a last-ditch defence against the Apple iPad, could come with Google’s Android software rather than Windows, according to a report.

Intel boss Paul Otellini said last week that touch-screen computers would “probably” come down in price to below $US200 by the end of the year. That would get you a computer with a “non-Core” processor, known as Intel’s “Atom” processor. Atom tablets and laptops are significantly slower than computers running Intel’s Core i7, i5 or even i3 processors, but nonetheless we’ve seen some very nice Atom machines this year, all of them running Windows 8.

Well now it turns out that at least some of the cheap machines in the pipeline may not run Windows at all, but Android.

“There are design wins for Android tablets at that $200 price point. Intel will be participating in that market this year,” reported CNet, citing a source said to be familiar with Intel’s plans.

Intel already has a bit of experience with Android. In a few markets overseas (but not here, as far as I know) you can get Android mobile phones that use an Intel Atom chip rather than the ARM chip that’s inside almost all Android devices.

Android on Intel isn't exactly the same as Android on ARM, it should be noted. Depending on how they’ve been written, some Android apps need to converted, or “ported”, over to the Intel platform, and as a consequence there are fewer apps in the Android app store when you have an Intel device compared to when you have an ARM device. I can’t find definitive information on how many Intel Android apps there are, compared to how many ARM Android apps there are, but Intel said last year that around 95 per cent of all Android apps should run on devices with Intel inside.

95 per cent compatibility isn’t at all bad, and it may be worth the sacrifice for the sake of a cheap tablet. You just need to hope that, if you do get one of these cheap Intel tablets, your favourite app isn’t in that 5 per cent of apps that won’t run. - source


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