Today I had yet another look at the website of the chinese manufaturer SmartQ, who are well known for their Linux/Android/CE MID/tablet devices.
And, guess what? On the chinese version of their website I found a device that hasn´t been covered by all major techblogs yet – some did, but the really huge ones didn´t: The SmartQ N7
|SmartQ N7 (Image from smartdevices.com.cn)
Being honest I must admit that this doesn´t exactly surprise me; the N7 isn´t that different from the well known V7 at the first glance, it features the same Telechips TCC 890x 720MHz ARM11 (ARMv6) SoC with 1080p video playback, 256MB Ram. But it is different: The screen has a better resolution, WSVGA instead of WVGA – and the touchscreen is this time piezoelectric multi touch, which is both quite an improvement.
What´ s not so great is the fact, that the device still ships with Android 2.1 (Eclair), Froyo (2.2) is said to be following in March (according to an australian shop)… no information about Gingerbread (2.3) or the too be released Honeycomb 3.0 (which is the first version of Android optimized for tablets).
While I think that the SoC is fast enough if you are not too picky, I doubt that 256MB will be much fun with future iterations of the Android OS – the N7 may be able to run Honeycomb (if Honeycomb won´t be ARMv7 only) – but it won´t be much fun with this amount of RAM.
If you are aware of this, and just want a cheap tablet with multitouch and HDMI, I consider the N7 (depending on its price point) quite an option.
This evening, after having written down that I was liking the new SmartV5 MID, which isn´ t yet available in Europe, although it might be in mainland china, back then assuming it was powered by an ARM Cortex A8 based CPU/SoC, i did some research I should have better done before.
As it turns out, these devices won´ t most likely be on par in terms of application speed with todays offerings like the Nokia N900.
The SoC being used by Smart Devices for their new offerings is most likely (almost certainly in fact, but not confirmed by Smart Devices) the Telechips TCC8900, an ARM11 based design enhanced with some additional circuits to be able to decode 1080p and encode 720p video, mostly used in PMPs.
This means that one cannot expect outstanding application performance from the new MIDs – but after all, this does not mean that they are “bad” deals – as the HDMI output makes them (at least this seems very likely after another visit to Smart Devices´ website) usable for presentations – as long as your (companys) beamer supports HDMI. Compared to the overall liked (mostly due to their low prices) predecessors, the Smart Q5 and the Smart Q7, this new devices will be better at multitasking (and be it multitabbing while surfing) – 256MB Ram is not that much, but still twice as much as the 128MB the former devices offered, and as the just mentioned memory will be a lot faster (DDR2@330MHz on the V* compared to DDR@133MHz on the Q*) the overall performance can be expected to be better.
Comparison between V and Q devices on SmartDevices.com.cn (translated)
Some information on the Telechips TCC8900 (translated)