Freescale Semiconductor has unveiled a prototype smartbook that is one-third the size of a typical netbook. Instead of a clamshell form factor, the chipmaker chose a tablet design featuring a 7-inch touch screen and optional keyboard accessory.
“We believe the tablet will emerge as a popular form factor for the next generation of smartbooks,” said Henri Richard, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for Freescale, in a statement. “By introducing this prototype reference design, Freescale intends to play a vital role in propelling the mainstream adoption of smartbooks.”
Freescale unveiled the device with the intention that its new design will spur the development of smartbooks costing less than $200. Like the smartbook developed by Qualcomm and Lenovo, Freescale’s tablet is designed to provide instant-on functionality, continual connectivity and all-day battery life.
The tablet will be demonstrated at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, which starts Wednesday. Freescale plans to make the smartbook’s reference design available for evaluation by OEMs beginning in February. The company says end products based on the design could hit retail shelves by summer.
The tablet is Freescale’s first design based on its Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering (SABRE) series. The device is intended to run platforms including a Web browser with Adobe Flash, a mail client, an RSS reader, an office suite and social networking widgets. It will run both the Android and Linux operating systems in the CES demonstration.
Freescale is calling the tablet a “second-generation” smartbook form factor. In contrast, the Snapdragon-based Lenovo smartbook features a clamshell design with complete keyboard. It was unveiled by Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs at a November analyst meeting and will be formally launched this week at CES.
“Semiconductor providers looking to differentiate in the nascent tablet market will need to offer solutions-focused system reference designs if they are to succeed with the world’s foremost consumer electronics OEMs,” said Jeff Orr, senior mobile devices analyst at ABI Research, in a statement. “There is clearly strong end-user demand for tablet form factors, and new reference designs look to play a major role in helping OEMs speed tablet smartbook products to market.”