Monday, February 16, 2009

Nvidia's Tegra ready to power $99 mobile Internet devices

Nvidia said it's ready to show how its Tegra computer on a chip will power a new family of HD mobile Internet devices that could sell for $99 to $200, or nothing at all with a subsidy from a mobile carrier.

The graphics chip maker said this new class of devices will provide users with a full high-definition experience that boasts a cheap price and a battery life 10 times that of current Intel Atom-based netbooks. Nvidia will be speaking more on its latest moves in mobile at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

The devices will range from 3-4 inch pocket gadgets similar to the iPod Touch to bigger 12-inch tablets and more traditional-looking computers. They will be able to decode 720p and 1080p video and should be able to run for days. The Internet devices will run Windows CE, will support Wi-Fi and 3G and will be able to provide browsing on Internet Explorer and attachment viewing.

With its latest moves, Nvidia is poised to scramble the nascent netbook market. It just announced Windows Vista certification for its new Ion platform, which pairs an Nvidia graphics processor with an Intel Atom CPU. That should provide the basis for a more expensive laptop experience but with a cheap sub-$499 netbook price. Now, with this new line of HD mobile Internet devices, Nvidia can create a viable class of devices that will provide Web access and computing, but with a much longer life, a cheaper price and better video than a netbook.

"There has never been a better time to bring this functionally to people at a very low price," said Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia's mobile business.

Rayfield said he expects carriers will want to subsidize the cost of the devices and sell them direct to consumers, as they do with cell phones today.

He said Nvidia is working with manufacturers who will assemble the new mobile machines. The first of these devices should appear in the second half of this year.

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