A few weeks ago I talked about Netflix certifying the Texas Instruments OMAP 4 platform for HD streaming under Android. This was the first (and so far, only) chipset to pass certification. The problem was, there were no Android tablets that used OMAP 4.
And although that hasn't changed, we've at least got something firm to look forward to, as Archos has announced that its G9 tablets, which have OMAP 4 under the hood, will in fact ship in September as rumored.
That's the good news. The better news is that these tablets will be relatively cheap. At the low end is an 8", 8GB model that'll cost just $300. Bump that to 16GB and you'll pay $330, or go with a 250 GB hard drive for $370. The 10" range starts at $370 for 8GB, jumps to $400 for 16 GB and finally $470 with the 250 GB drive. The OMAP 4 inside all these models is a dual-core, 1.5 Ghz chip, and Archos says these will be the fastest Android tablets on the market.
Here's a few more stats. The 8" models have a resolution of 1024x768, the 10" have the pseudo-standard 1280x800. Both will ship with Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), both have front-facing, 720P cameras for video chatting and HDMI out for piping content to the big screen.
There're still a lot of details we don't know; for instance, do these tablets have microSD slots? That would make the 8GB models a lot more appealing. These are all WiFi models; if you want 3G Archos will be offering a 3G USB dongle on a $49 Pay-As-You-Go plan, according to Androinica's Charles West who calls this Archos' biggest innovation. I have to agree that offering 3G as an add-on dongle that an owner can buy any time, and turn on (or off) anytime, makes an incredible amount of sense.
Now for the only bad news: apparently Netflix won't come pre-installed on these tablets (once again, according to Androinica). Let's hope that Netflix approves them before they ship; it's unfathomable to me that we still can't get Netflix on an Android tablet!
Archos has always felt like the 'cheap knockoff' when it comes to Android tablets, but with this new G9 line they seem to really be stepping up their game. The best part is their aggressive pricing; if they can get some attention in the eyes of the public it might force the other tablet makers to modify their own pricing. All these tablets need to be cheaper!