IFA 2011 kicked off yesterday with a batch of product announcements, and no surprise quite a few devices are running Android. Whether you’re looking for a new tablet, or a gigantic phone of some sort, manufacturers are all over it. Lenovo, Toshiba, and Samsung all had new devices to talk about, but all these competing press conferences can run together, right?
We’re going to break down each of the big Android announcements at IFA 2011 and see which one’s are worth keeping an eye on.
This is a fairly standard 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablet from Toshiba. Unlike the chunky and heavy Thrive, the AT200 has a super thin frame, and light weight design. The AT200 will weigh in at 1.23lbs and is 7.7mm thick, which is a bit lighter and thinner than the famously svelte Galaxy Tab 10.1.
On the inside, we are told this device will run a 1.2GHz dual-core SoC, most likely a Snapdragon. Few other specs were available, but it’s not due out until Q4, at which point Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) will probably be live. A lot can change between now and then, and we expect the OS to be one of those things. If the AT200 doesn’t become an ICS tablet, it's going to be much less enticing.
The only real way this device could wow us is if it comes out at a low price point. By the end of the year, OEMs are going to have to be more realistic with the retail price. Basically, we want this to be a cheaper alternative to the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Lenovo IdeaPad A1
This is a bit of an odd duck of an Android tablet. the A1 is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a lightly modded user interface. It reminds us a lot of the original Galaxy Tab a bit in the UI alterations and the size; it’s 7.7-inches at 1024x600.
It’s only got a single-core 1GHz last generation SoC on board, but there will be 8, 16, and 32GB versions. This tablet may seem like a real waste of time, but the price is killer. The 8GB tablet will retail for $199. You may even find it cheaper after a few weeks.
It’s not the most advanced device, but if these things start shipping late this years as Lenovo says, it could be come a great modding device at that price.
Samsung Galaxy Note
This is a confusing device, no doubt about it. The Samsung Note is a phone, but there are shades of Dell Streak and HTC Flyer here. The Note is a massive 5.3-inch phone with the first Super AMOLED HD screen at a crazy 1280x800 pixels. Even at that larger size, this phone has one of the highest PPI screens (284.8, to be exact) of any Android device.
There is a 1.4GHz dual-core SoC inside providing all the speed users will need. Most of the other specs are standard for smartphones; 1GB of RAM, 8MP camera, 16 or 32GB of storage, and a stylus. Wait, what? Yes, the Galaxy Note has a pull-out stylus called the S Pen that will work on the capacitive screen and ties in with the new S Memo app. Samsung says there will be APIs for developers to support the S Pen, but we are always skeptical when we hear an OEM say things like that.
The Note is expected to be a real product in the next few months, by which time we hope it will have ditched Gingerbread for ICS. There will be HSPA and LTE variants, but no carriers were mentioned.
Aside from being really a peculiar device, the screen on the Note is truly interesting. There have been rumors of Super AMOLED HD screens on the Nexus Prime. Although this one is large, this lends credence to the idea of a much higher resolution screen on a phone. If only they can get the size down for a more conventional phone.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
A 10.1-inch tablet has become a sort of de facto standard in the Android tablet arena, but there are things to like about the 7-inch form factor. Samsung’s new 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab has a Super AMOLED Plus screen at 1280x800. This too is a first for Android, as these new AMOLEDs have only been seen in phones so far. We expect this device to look gorgeous.
There is the same 1.4GHz dual-core SoC in this device as we saw in the Galaxy Note. There will be options for up to 64GB of storage and a the tablet uses a 5100mAh battery to keep running all day. The 7.7 is going to be running Android 3.2 out of the gate with TouchWiz.
The appeal to this device is the amazing screen, but also that we will finally have a real tablet at this smaller size. A 7-inch tablet is useful because it can be held in portrait orientation for easier typing. It's also going to be much more portable. This one is also due out later this year, but no pricing details are available.
A trio of Viewsonic slates
There are three devices from Viewsonic that were announced at IFA, but the maker neglected to offer up all the details we would have liked. The ViewPad 10pro is a dual-booting, Windows 7and Android 2.3 tablet. It’s going to be pricey at about $714 on September 5th. We don’t expect anyone to buy it.
The 7-inch tablet from Viewsonic is the 7x, which is a Honeycomb device with a totally new skin. It looks a lot like SPB Shell to us, and we have to assume that Viewsonic licensed it from those folks. Hopefully it is still just a launcher, and not a total replacement of the Honeycomb UI. This device will have Tegra 2 chip and 8GB of storage for $499 (still too expensive).
The 7e is a budget device that’s going to sell for $242 in Q4, but we don’t have any details on it. Viewsonic’s announcements were some of the least interesting due to the high prices they seem to be angling for.
Samsung Galaxy S Wi-Fi 3.6
One final note, Samsung announced a new addition to its PMP Android line, the Galaxy S Wi-Fi 3.6. As the name implies, this device has a 3.6-inch screen at HVGA resolution, which is quite old-school at this point. It runs Android 2.3 on a 1GHz OMAP chip, and comes in 8 and 16GB varieties.
Unfortunately, ti’s only coming to Europe for the time being. An American release is not out of the question later. It will sell for about $240-270 depending on storage. It’s a shame, we’d really like to see a real Android PMP come to the US at some point.
So that's Android at IFA 2011 so far. We’re really interested in devices like the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Toshiba AT200. The Galaxy Note feels like a hard sell to us, but the technology it packs is genuinely exciting. The low-end Lenovo device is harder to get pumped about, but it could have some real traction at $199. What devices interest you the most?