Talking tech since 2003

Today, graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia has officially announced the Tegra Note, a design for low-cost tablets that pack a lot of power at a budget friendly price. A post on TechCrunch reports that the Tegra Note offers up a 7-inch display with 1280×800 screen resolution, along with a Tegra 4 chipset, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, not to mention a microSD card slot. The whole thing would run stock Android, and would also feature DirectStylus capability, meaning that budding digital artists could get the chance to use a pressure sensitive tablet without shelling out a ton of money for one with integrated Wacom technology.

What’s interesting about the Tegra Note, however, is the fact that, well, Nvidia isn’t actually going to making it. Instead, the Tegra Note exists as a design, which Nvidia will make available to electronics manufacturers around the world looking to enter the low-cost tablet game without putting money into research and development—sort of like a high-tech recipe.

The post says that Nvidia has entered an agreement with PNY and EVGA in North America to create the low cost tablets in this part of the world for an expected price of about $200. Other 7-inch tablets with recognizable brands attached to them—like those made by Samsung and Amazon, for instance—will now have yet another competitor to contend with.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of the Tegra Note. Will $200 tablets from PNY start appearing in Radio Shacks and Best Buys? And how much will branding factor into this? While Nvidia is a known quantity—at least among those interested into the guts of computers and other electronics—tablets are far more visible devices than desktop computers or even laptops. Tablets are still a niche enough gadget category that using one in public amounts to making a statement about your consuming choices. I know that when I see someone using an iPad or a Google Nexus tablet in a coffee shop, I make certain kinds of assumptions (rightly or wrongly) about what kind of consumer that person is. Considering the costs of those devices, why don’t I ever see the bargain basement Coby Android tablets sold for a fraction of the cost in stores like JC Penny? Probably because people won’t take a chance on a brand with a reputation as being cheap—and for cheap people.

I love saving money and getting good deals, but even I won’t touch a Coby with a ten foot pole. What I’m trying to say is that brand associations are impossible to ignore, even with today’s emphasis on austerity and saving money. While the Tegra Note may pack a punch, unless a big brand picks it up and starts selling it, I have a feeling we won’t be seeing too many of these in the wild, no matter how good a deal they turn out to be.

That said, I hope I’m wrong. I’m interested in getting my hands on one, whenever they might start appearing in stores.

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