Tegra 3 Kal-El and buying a tablet (five cores!)
Recently I came this close to buying an ASUS Transformer Android tablet (and of course the requisite keyboard dock with extra battery power). Likewise, my buddy John refrained from buying a tablet until he got an awesome deal on a 32GB HP TouchPad for $149. My mom even has an iPad 2. Not to mention the folks that got 16GB TouchPads for $99! It must be tablet-fever time… so why did I refrain from buying a Transformer tablet?
One word. Kal-El. Or perhaps two words and a hyphen? If I am going to plunk down the cash for a tablet I want that thing to have oodles of performance and to last me for a long time. Kal-El is the successor to Tegra 2 and by all accounts it should make for some awesome tablets (and eventually Android smartphones).
UPDATE 2011.09.20: Kal-El will have FIVE cores! Four high performance cores and one low-power core which steps in when the phone is idle and just dealing with background tasks (or other non-intense usage scenarios). More info below…
Laptop + Android Phone = what do I need a tablet for?
An Android phone or iPhone does pretty darn well for most tasks (in a pinch). So for me, between a laptop and an Android phone, a tablet definitely becomes a luxury item for the couch or those moments when you just can’t bring yourself to open up the laptop. Still, I would probably have snapped at the chance for a $99 TouchPad just because it was a killed deal (with decent resale potential too) and I also think the Transformers tablets are awesome machines. However, I am very happy to wait until the ASUS Transformer 2 with Kal-El a.k.a. Tegra 3 is released this fall! It should hit a sweet spot of performance and capability while hopefully featuring a decent price.
I will try to update this post as more info is released on Tegra 3 and I will also try to list which specific models have Tegra 3!
The only thing that kept me from buying a ASUS Transformer when it was released was Amazon was out of stock almost immediately. By the time the 16GB version was back in stock, some well known limitations of the Tegra 2 SoC were making the rounds and I decided I really didn’t need it, yet. I picked up the Touchpad simply because it was one heck of a deal (not worth the MSRP of $500+ but at $150, why not?). While Kal-El fixes several issues present in the Tegra 2, doubling the # of cores without a process shrink means roughly 1/2 the battery life if aggressive power management isn’t implemented when compared to Tegra 2. You can blame TSMC for that one, they canceled their 32nm node, and their 28nm node is late.
Good points all around. For me I will sacrifice battery life for some future proofness. All the current tablet/smartphone CPUs and GPUs or SoCs seem a little underpowered for almost every task, i.e. I am searching for that instant everything feel that is now available on desktops/laptops with modern CPUs and SSDs. I am really hoping that Kal-El will get near that point… time will tell! 🙂
PS Apple actually got to that point with the new MacBook Air 11.6″ when upgraded to 256GB SSD and 1.8GHz Core CPU. It is tablet sized but everything is fast. I ended up returning it though because $1800 is way too much money to spend on a 2nd or 3rd laptop IMHO. I hate to spend that much even on a primary machine. And I am not going to bite on buying a $1K display for Thunderbolt to use as a dock when I have a Dell dock and monitors already that do everything I need. 🙂 Still, they are amazing little machine. Here’s hoping ultrabooks turn out as good as the Air.
So you returned the Air, I’m a bit surprised by that. The impression I get from the Apple fans is no one ever returns an Apple product, regardless of the reason :p. Honestly, I don’t see where I would need or use a second laptop, let alone a 3rd laptop. And, I can see where $1.8K is a little steep for something that isn’t a primary machine. I’m hoping that with the ultrabooks we see a rebirth of 16:10 displays (16:9 is utterly useless on a laptop).