Nvidia’s CES press event is underway, and while much of the Tegra 2 news is similar to that of last year’s show, there’s one huge difference: Many mobile products being shown off are using Nvidia’s chip. Yesterday, for example, it was two of the four new ASUS tablets running on a Tegra 2 chip and today, LG officially adds the Optimus 2X handset running Google Android. I got a 30 minute sneak peek at the new smartphone to see what a dual-core ARM Cortex A-9 processor with an ultra-low power GeForce graphics chip can bring. Here’s a short glimpse:
Some interesting conversation and observation that I didn’t capture on camera during my conversation with Nick Stam, Nvidia’s director of technical marketing:
- Adobe Flash player on the Tegra 2 will come closer to a desktop experience than what prior chips have offered. That’s good news for folks who have seen some marginal Flash performance in the recent past.
- Nvidia’s core competency in graphics really shines. You might see that in the video, but I also saw a side-by-side comparison of the Fruit Ninja game on the Optimus 2X and the new Samsung Nexus S. The fruit on the Nexus showed small signs of blockiness, while the Tegra 2 device offered smooth, crisp images. It wasn’t too noticeable, but moving to the larger display of a tablet would likely magnify the difference. Nvidia is also demonstrating a Skype HD video call on an Tegra-powered Android tablet here at CES.
- Nvidia is working with developers because there are some optimizations that can be taken advantage of with Tegra 2. Single-threaded code and processes can’t leverage the multi-threading capabilities of the chip, for example. A new Tegra Zone app will showcase software optimized for Tegra 2 with application purchases completed through the Android Market.
- General zooming, panning and scrolling were among the best I’ve witnessed on an Android device. It’s difficult to quantify, e.g., twice as good, 50 percent better, etc. … but it’s near that of Apple iOS devices I’ve used, just to give an initial frame of reference.
After my brief hands-on time, I’m convinced that waiting to upgrade my Nexus One is the right choice for me. Last year may go down as the year of the 1 GHz smartphone, but 2011 is shaping up to be the year of dual-core handsets, 1080p playback and recording and superb gaming performance.
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