Nvidia unveils 7-inch, $199 Tegra Note reference tablet

Nvidia Note

Nvidia has been losing out to Qualcomm(q com) as the mobile processor manufacturer of choice recently, so the company decided to take matters into its own hands. Nvidia unveiled the Tegra Note reference tablet on Wednesday, which showcases a 7-inch design powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor for just $199. The only catch is that the Tegra Note is a reference device – you won’t actually be able to buy it under that name.

Instead, the Tegra Note is a reference for Nvidia’s Kai platform that will be sold under different names and brands. Hardware partners in North America include EVGA and PNY. These are somewhat interesting choices, as EVGA primarily makes graphics cards and PNY works in memory. Unlike the Nvidia shield, you won’t be seeing the Tegra Note sold as an Nvidia-branded device. Rather, it will come to market as EVGA, PNY, or perhaps another manufacturer Nvidia brings into the fold.

We saw some images and specs for the tablet pass through the FCC a couple of weeks ago, most of which were correct. The device is running Android and powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 ARM Cortex A-15 processor and 72-core GeForce GPU. It includes a 7-inch, 1280 x 800 pixel IPS display, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front camera, a micro SD card slot and a micro HDMI port. It also includes a stylus, along with support for Nvidia’s DirectStylus, which allows it to use a finer point and broader stroke control than much of the competition. Nvidia also promises to directly provide over-the-air software updates, which will help ensure users have the latest software.

Nvidia has created this tablet to show manufacturers exactly what is possible for a retail price less than $200. It expects the tablets to first start appearing on the market next month. It’ll likely be going up against some new iPads from Apple, as well as some new Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon and the recently launched $299 Nexus 7 refresh. Nvidia definitely got the price right, but it’ll be interesting to see how it fares against the better-known competition.

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