Nvidia Offers a Sneak Peek at Android Tablets

Laying unceremoniously towards the end of Nvidia's booth at a press event last night was an early prototype of the Ultra, an Android 2.0 tablet developed by ICD.

It's the same tablet (or slate - I'm as baffled as Harry by the terminology shift) that appeared briefly, of all places, on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, a 7-inch tablet with all the trimmings: Wi-Fi, 3G, Webcam, MicroSD slot, 4 GB of internal memory, and, of course, Nvidia's formidable Tegra chip. An Nvidia representative promised more and better tablets at the company's booth on Thursday, but I had to take a stab at this one.

The Ultra was a bit buggy, which explains why Nvidia wasn't making a big deal of it. As soon as I picked it up, it crashed. Then it took a while to load up. Then the touch screen acted a bit dodgy. And yet, I walked away excited.

What most impressed me was the tablet's speed and smoothness. Maybe it's the iPhone effect, but lately I've become obsessed by this sort of thing. And because I've never seen Android running so smoothly - even the Nexus One phone on display elsewhere at the event showed some choppiness - using the Ultra was a pleasure. A 1080p version of Star Trek played without a stutter, and the e-reader function flipped nimbly between pages.

We don't yet know what Apple has in store - or for that matter, whether Apple has anything in store at all - but even if it's something completely surprising, I could get comfortable with Tegra and Android as purveyors of working class tabletslates. We'll see what else is in store tomorrow.

For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PC World's complete coverage of CES 2010.

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