Smartbooks will be a much talked about category this coming week as everyone gears up for CES and we’re excited to see the shape of the devices that manufacturers come up with. Though many are leaning more toward netbook-like clamshell machines, some companies see the an even more lightweight and portable future for smartbooks as tablets. Today Freescale Semiconductor unveiled their reference design, a 7-inch touchscreen tablet designed to make smartbooks relevant to mainstream consumers. The tablet is designed to offer “all-day” battery life in conjunction with instant-on functionality and persistent connectivity, just like a smart phone. The ARM-based device supports multiple connection options ranging from wi-fi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth to 3G and RF4CE. Storage options include 4 – 64GB internal (most likely SSD) plus a microSD slot and USB 2.0 and USB mini ports.
Henri Richard, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for Freescale, says that the tablet form factor is “specifically designed and optimized to support common online activities including social media, high-quality audio/video playback and light gaming.” The Freescale i.MX515 processor combined with the OpenVG & OpenGL/ES graphics cores will support not only the 3D desktop framework but also HD video playback. Freescale will demo the devices running Android (naturally) and Linux at CES this week. Freescale’s smartbook tablet will be available for OEMs to evaluate next month, so we may see the final devices hitting shelves as early as this summer with price tags of around $200 (or so the company hopes). We’ll get a closer look later on this week when we visit Freescale’s booth. The smartbook category is still in its formative stages, so will tablets like this eventually own the space or do consumers still want clamshells?