05
Dec
2011-12-05 10h10_50

We've seen plenty of el-cheapo Android tablets hit the market in the last several months - most of which are running a phone version of Android, with no access to the Market or other Google products. Looks like MIPS Technologies is in the game to change the way we look at budget tablets, as it just announced a $99 ICS tablet. Yeah - $99. With ICS. Soak it up.

2011-12-05 10h14_14

The 7-inch tablet is equipped with a 1GHz single-core MIPS-based XBurst CPU, and has the features we've all come to expect from a modern tablet, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual cameras, HDMI out, and microSD card slot. If you're excited about the idea of a sub-$100 ICS tablet, you're not alone; the Godfather of Android himself, Andy Rubin, even dropped a line about the MIPS tablet:

I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world

The tablet is currently only available in China, but is expected to hit US soil "within the next several months under brands from companies including Leader International Inc. and OMG Electronics LTD." Of course, if you're willing to shell out more than half the cost of the tablet for shipping, then you can definitely get one imported.

MIPS Technologies and Ingenic Semiconductor Announce

Availability of World’s First Android™ ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ Tablet

1GHz, Low-Power Tablet Sets New Market Standard at Sub-$100 Price Point

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – December 5, 2011 MIPS Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: MIPS), a leading provider of industry-standard processor architectures and cores for digital home, networking and mobile applications, and Ingenic Semiconductor, a leading China-based CPU provider for mobile multimedia applications, today announced worldwide availability of the world’s first tablet based on Android ™ 4.0, known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’, that is retailing for less than $100 (U.S). The tablet is powered by Ingenic’s JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-Based™ XBurst™ CPU running at 1GHz.

According to Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, “I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

The new Android 4.0 tablet is available in China and online through Ainol Electronics Co., Ltd. It will be available in the United States and other geographies within the next several months under brands from companies including Leader International Inc. and OMG Electronics Ltd.

The new tablet is available with a 7” capacitive multi-touch screen. 8” and 9” form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics with the Vivante GC860 GPU, 1080p video decoding and dual front/rear cameras. The XBurst processor’s power-efficient architecture provides extended battery life—the 7” tablet draws less than 400mA during active web browsing.

“We are pleased to join with MIPS to announce these breakthrough high-performance, low-power, low-cost Android 4.0 tablets. Combining the elegance of the MIPS architecture and Ingenic’s innovation in processor design, we are bringing a new level of processor technology to mobile devices. As we continue to collaborate with MIPS to broaden the mobile ecosystem around the legendary MIPS architecture, we anticipate even broader proliferation of our devices worldwide. We believe the mobile world will be more versatile and colorful with another processor joining in,” said Qiang Liu, chairman and CEO, Ingenic Semiconductor.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe. We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies.

Ingenic JZ4770 SoC

The Ingenic JZ4770 SoC inside of the new tablet is one of the first MIPS-Based systems-on-chips (SoCs) targeted for mobile devices that delivers 1GHz+ frequency, increasingly a requirement for tablets and other devices that incorporate rich multimedia and high-performance applications/functionality. The JZ4770 SoC is powered by a MIPS32 compatible XBurst CPU designed by Ingenic. The XBurst CPU core adopts an innovative ultra-low-power pipelining architecture which consumes less than 90mW in 1GHz (with L1 cache), and the entire SOC consumes ~250mW with the CPU and video engine operating under full load. In addition to the XBurst CPU, the JZ4770 SoC integrates an optimized 1080p video processing engine, OpenGL ES 2.0 3D graphics processing unit from Vivante Corp. and numerous on-chip analog and application blocks such as audio codecs and GPS.

Pricing and Availability

Ingenic’s JZ4770 SoC for Android 4.0 tablets is available now. The new Android 4.0 tablet is available in China and online through Ainol Electronics Co., Ltd. at www.ainovo.com. The 7” tablet retails for less than $100 (U.S.) non-subsidized. The tablet will be available in other geographies within the next several months. For more information, visit http://en.ingenic.cn/.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://yggdrasil.net Joe Ewbank

    That's really neat. I wonder how that processor performs.

    What I'd really love to see is a low-cost 10" ICS tablet, though. I love my Nook Color, but the 7" screen size has just become too small for easily reading comics/magazines on for me.

  • Sp4rkR4t

    Ok, that is insanely cheap.

  • Chris

    Woah, and it has a capacitive touch screen.

    So for basic usage, what's the catch? I assume it's not that good for CPU or GPU intensive tasks. Would love to see how it runs. Let us know if/when you find out about a video review.

  • Joel

    The implications of this intrigue me both for the ever-descending price of tablets and the departure from ARM in what looks to be a serious offering.

  • Darius

    .
    OMG Technologies?

    Ehm xD

    But it sounds really nice. Checking if there's any real video of it...

    • ocdtrekkie

      Yeah, I'd buy anything from a company with that name...

  • http://www.t-mobile.com tmogeek

    Fantastic. Now you can buy your kids a tablet to train on rather than hand them your iPad, Xoom, or Tab. Overall this will depress prices on tablets which can only be a good thing for the market.

  • nemo

    So not ARM based. That’s going to cause problems for some apps with ARM native code, much as the x86 based Androids suffer.

  • Owen Finn

    I would assume battery life will be 2 hours usage...? That seems to be the problem with most sub-$200 Android tablets, the Le Pan being the exception...

    • Ceddy

      Instead of assuming read...

      30 hours standby
      25 hours music
      8 hours video
      or 7 hours web surfing.

      Playing 720P & 1080p "10bit x264"

  • William

    Forget quad-core tablets when you can get a 99 bucks tablet with ICS. It really makes no sense to waste 499 dollars just for browsing the web and listening to some music.

    • jawabba

      Seriously, Just get four of these things and you'll have the same quality.

      • http://verb0ze.net verboze

        Almost spat my coffee at this XD. Good one, sir!

  • B.G

    I'm not sure that it's the same product, but here you can see a video of the thing running ICS:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS_fBBo80wU

    • http://www.cygamerentals.com sTevoo

      hmmmm that seems to be the one.
      It does look pretty good to me ... didnt play any video to actually see how it will perform there but the speed does seem good.

      I just hoped that it didnt had the physical buttons there but i guess they got stuck as it just come out with ICS from 2.3 or 3.

      A bit nicer review.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KSm0FRdNIs&feature=related

      I think i might bite the bullet on this one and give it a try and see ... after all it is only 160usd !
      And ill wait for the quad cores just around the corner to get a much better one

      • Lavi

        It's another tablet.

        This one is Ainovo Novo 7 - running Android 4.0 from day one (no physical buttons) - and Ainol Novo 7 initial running Android 2.3 (and now testing Android 4.0) - you can see the capacitive buttons on the right.

        This tablet seems even better than the old model. Unfortunately, this tablet is sold out now :(

  • tbieber

    This is exactly why the iPad is the top seller on tablets. Why waste your money on this crap when you can invest in a longterm solution? I am just going to sell my iPad2 when the iPad 3 comes out and be a happy little camper.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      Like 1-year long term? There's no such thing as long term in any iProduct. Whatever you own will be considered "uncool" 1 year later.

      • wpfn

        + 1 Pixel. And don't forget, whatever iProduct they bought is already hardware deficient compared to the onslaught of android devices continually being offered. LOL @ long term solution.

      • http://verb0ze.net verboze

        Yeah, major manufacturers have convinced the consumer that gadgets need updating every 1-2 years. At least if you wish to keep atop of the current-day tech. What sells iDevices imho is perceived quality and ease of use

    • Michael

      "longterm solution?"......"am just going to sell my iPad2 when the iPad 3 comes out"....

      Your logic is flawless.

    • nerdshowandtell

      Do yourself a favor now - sell your ipad2 and get the transformer prime, and stop waiting around for apple to feed you.

    • MicroNix

      If you are a typical buyer of iPads, you fork $600 every year because you must have the latest. Apple makes billions more and you have your fill of Apple crack. Don't preach long term solutions and iSomething in the same post. We know how you operate :)

  • Steve

    So, it will have the same issue as the Cruz tablet I have - it won't run anything that is compiled with the ARM NDK. Wonderful!

    This feels like the days of WinCE 2.x when you have a 5 .cab installers for each program - 1 for each platform. I wonder if Google already has a plan in place to address this since they are moving to the Atom platform for future versions of Android.

    • Adam

      Yes, the NDK already supports x86

  • http://Google's.com Geohottz

    When can we buy!!!

    • Budorat

      http://www.ainovo.com/

      There is a buy button near the top

      • ss

        Clicking on it says sold out.

        AND only available through paypal. Never using that (dis)service.

  • squiddy20

    I'm just trying to figure out why it has capacitive buttons (Vol +/-, Home, Settings, etc) on the right side of the tablet if it's running ICS which has its own virtual buttons...

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      Why not? Like, if a Xoom got updated to ICS, will it magically lose its buttons? No.

      ICS came out for how long? About a month? This tablet was designed/made long before the maker gets a hold on the ICS source. It's probably made to run Honeycomb.

      That said, it's probably a piece of junk. If Amazon is producing a Kindle Fire at a loss, I can't see how this tablet can offer so much more "in spec", w/o giving up quality.

      • squiddy20

        True. I see what you're saying but my understanding of ICS is that if it's run on a device that has "hard-wired" capacitive buttons (like the original Galaxy Tab), the virtual ICS buttons disappear so that you don't have the redundant buttons. Unless what I heard/understood is not true at all?

        • James

          That does seem to be the case. I'm running a build of ICS on my Samsung Captivate (with capacitive buttons) and there are no onscreen buttons.

  • SDL

    Might be perfect for my teenage daughter. She ONLY wants a 7" tablet.

  • http://hunboon.wordpress.com Hun Boon

    Judging from the Youtube video, the screen looks to have a low resolution.

    Any official word on the screen resolution?

    • http://www.cygamerentals.com sTevoo

      i think 800x1200 if i am not mistaked

  • MarcosV

    Any idea on the screen quality? Using my Kindle Fire with its IPS screen spoiled me for the screens they usually toss into these devices.

    • http://hunboon.wordpress.com Hun Boon

      At this price, I'm pretty sure it ain't an IPS screen.

  • Jonathan Harford

    I like this because it'll put pressure on tablet manufacturers to sell tablets with the most recent version of Android.

  • Jon Howard

    Love to see a review on this one...

  • Motorola Triumph

    $60 shipping? total cost comes out to about $160, so only a bit less than the Kindle Fire.

  • http://developer.mips.com Bill

    Here is a video on the product
    http://www.youtube.com/user/MIPSTechnologies

  • Jason

    I know its more than $100, but I got the Acer Iconia Tab Windows edition and dual booted it with a just-released ICS build of Android-x86. It works great except for a few flaws, but its running ICS and Windows 7 HP

  • RJ

    that description looks...... actually decent for $100. Capacitive touchscreen? A CPU/GPU that uses 250mW at full load (while supporting OpenGL ES 2.0)? The battery can't suck THAT bad when it's that low powered.

  • froyo

    not I would buy one. not even 50 bucks for this crappy tab. just added to cart, 60 dollars s/h.

  • http://www.cygamerentals.com sTevoo

    Ok ... i just bit the bullet ... i ordered one.

    The video looked pretty smooth ill let you know when it comes in and what i think of it !

  • iofractal

    The tablet is sold out now, too bad.......

  • http://quickduck.com/blog Meno

    sTevoo let us or AP know when you get it!

  • Tim

    I took the plunge and ordered one with a 16gb card case and screen protector for $146 American, can't wait to play with it.

  • Al McDowall

    Hi Guys,

    My girlfriend (star that she is) bought me one of these as an early Christmas present. There are definite pros and cons to it, but overall it does a better job than I would have expected at the price.

    Transitions between desktops are smooth and clean, programs start up and shut down quickly enough. Certain aspects of the display are a little touch and go - some text can be a little blurred, although reading The Guardian is a pleasure - very clear. Semi hi-def video is no problem (720p) have not tried 1080 yet. Tried out....forgotten the name of the game...Turbofly? Wipeout clone. Anyway, runs very smooth and fast, no problem at all.

    A few glitches: Weird screen glitch when changing orientation. Accelerometer does not seem to work with games. Wallpaper does not scroll when changing desktops. No live wallpaper support.

    I suspect that this is still a relatively early build of ICS on the this machine, so will re-flash if a better version pops up - there is already a good amount of community support.

    Overall, I am very pleased with it. I won't be doing a lot more than reading news, watching videos, remote desktop control of servers and the occaisional game, and it has done all of these very well indeed. I think for an entry level tablet, at that price, it is a real bargain.

    And for those wondering about the ICS on screen buttons, they are all present and correct!

    • Al McDowall

      Forgot to add, although I haven't done exhaustive testing, I'm getting about 8 hours of continuous use, wi fi on and browsing, running apps, playing video.

    • Al McDowall

      Reflashed the machine with a 'firmware' update which actually turned out to be a ROM as well/instead, bumping Android back to Gingerbread.

      The ICS that was running on there was a beta or trial version.

      With 2.3.4 on board, I have none of the issues I had before and the tablet is, if anything, slightly faster and smoother in use. Would I have flashed it if I had known I was going back to Gingerbread, possibly not.

      Am I glad I did? Definitely.

      Community word has it that Ainol may be releasing a complete ICS in January. I'll happily update, but I am still very pleased with my little tablet right now.

      • Tim

        @ Al do you have the American version of your OS on your novo7 I want to flash mine as the Asian market etc is way to limited

  • Tim

    @ AL , how long did it take to recieve your Tab from Hong Kong?

    • Al McDowall

      Hi Tim,

      Sorry, I'm in Shanghai, so mine was delivered about 3 days after my girlfriend ordered it. But it was ordered from a Chinese supplier, so not sure if they are being made over here anyway, or if the vendor just shipped a load over from HK.

  • Tim

    Ok, thanks Al. I think I'm going to do what you did and downgrade it until the real ICS is ready.

  • Tim

    Been playing with my 7 basic and the company needs to have an OTA update asap as many simple apps are not yet supported

  • v3r5u5

    Check this out, Ainol Novo 7 Basic MIPS Applications

    http://tsentas.net/ainol-novo-7-basic-mips-applications/

  • Larry

    Back in the days of the Intel StrongARM CPU, the equivalent speed MIPS CPU performed much worse. I have a Velocity Cruz tablet T301 with a MIPS CPU and it feels very slow. Even the touch response lags so much that it misreads most touch gestures. I would be very surprised if this performs even close to a 1Ghz ARM. The bigger issue is that there are few programs which run properly on the MIPS. Most apps I have tried need the ARM due to native code integration.

  • Tim

    The support is CRAP !!!! plain and simple.

  • Stdsteve

    There are sites which sell these from $89 to $138, depending where end up. Got one of the very basic versions, then two weeks later the Elf became available, same size but has an A10 processor and camera, just another $40.00 more. The shipping time to U.S.A. is about 2 weeks, gotta love apps that come with it. Have found that there are not that application either for this particular tablet or ICS in general. Okay, you want a e-reader for those long flights, this little tab like the Fire or Nook will serve just fine. Browse the internet via WiFi, seems to be no problem. BUT DO NOT play Videos, oops someone forgot to install Flash and YouTube...