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Android tablets touted for advanced audio

Nov 9, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Creative Technology announced 10-inch and seven-inch tablet computers along with a 3.2-inch portable media player (PMP) — all offering Android 2.1, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and “Pure Wireless Entertainment” branding. The Creative Ziio 10″ and Ziio 7″ each offer Creative's 1GHz, Cortex-A8-based ZMS-08 processor, while the Zen Touch 2 Wireless Entertainment Device features a two-megapixel camera.

The new line of Pure Wireless Entertainment devices appear to be developed by Creative Technology's ZiiLabs subsidiary, which has previously released its own developer-oriented, "Zii" branded Linux- and Android devices based on its homegrown ZMS system-on-chip (SoC) platform.

These include the 3.5-inch Zii Egg StemCell Computer PMP, built around the ARM9-based ZMS-05 system-on-chip (SoC), a processor that is also being used in an Android tablet from Tattu Mobile. ZiiLabs also shipped the Zii Trinity smartphone development platform, which incorporates the same 1GHz Cortex-A8-based ZMS-08 SoC featured in the two new Ziio tablets, says Creative.

The Zen Touch 2's SoC is not identified, but we're guessing it's the ZMS-05, and that the device is a smaller-screen spinoff of  the Zii Egg PMP design.

Creative Ziio 10" (left) and Ziio 7" (right)

The devices are initially targeted at the U.K., where they will compete with a fast growing list of available Android tablets and PMPs, including Archos' most recent line-up. With 8GB of memory, the Ziio 7" starts at 200 Pounds (about $322) and the Ziio 10" starts at 250 Pounds (about $403). The Zen Touch 2 starts at 150 Pounds (about $242).

Although these prices seem reasonable compared to an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, they're slightly higher than the similar Archos devices mentioned above. Also note that the tablets use stylus-focused resistive technology, rather than more touch-friendly capacitive screens, and as with the Archos tablets, they offer Wi-Fi but not 3G.

Not surprisingly for Creative Technology, the company trumpets the audio chops of its Pure Wireless Entertainment devices. In particular, the two Ziio tablets are billed as the world's first touchscreen tablet enabled with the Apt-X Bluetooth audio codec from Apt-X Audio Coding. As a result, the tablets are claimed to offer "the best wireless audio performance you will get from an Android-based tablet in the market."

In addition the tablets are touted for their "fuss-free Bluetooth pairing," thanks to a wide array of compatible speakers and headphones from Creative. 

All of the Pure Wireless Entertainment devices, including the Zen Touch 2, offer a selection of Pure Android Audio features said to include an X-Fi Crystalizer, X-Fi Expand, and Bluetooth 2.1 support. X-Fi Crystalizer restores lost detail and enhances digital audio content, while X-Fi Expand expands game and movie soundtracks into an immersive audio experience, most noticeably on earphones, says Creative Technology.

The company also announced new Bluetooth-enabled Creative WP-300 wireless headphones that can be used with any of the Pure Wireless Entertainment devices. The Creative WP-300 (pictured at right) is said to offer professionally tuned Neodymium drivers, enhanced audio-video synchronization via Apt-X Bluetooth support, easily foldable earcups, and easy-access earcup controls.

Ziio 10" and Ziio 7" tablets

The Ziio tablets run Android 2.1 on ZiiLabs' 1GHz Cortex-A8 ZMS-08 SoC. Like the ARM9-based ZMS-05, the ZMS-08 offers ZiiLabs' StemCell Computing array, which features up to 64 programmable floating point processing elements that offload media processing tasks from the ARM core(s).

As a result, The ZMS-08 is claimed to provide 1080p playback using H.264, plus 1080p, 24fps encoding, and simultaneous H.264 encode and decode at 720p for videoconferencing. OpenGL ES 2.0 2D/3D graphics acceleration is also featured.


Creative Ziio 10"

The Ziio 7" and Ziio10" appear to be identical in features, but they differ in size, weight, and display size and resolution. In addition, the Ziio 7" is available only in white, while the Ziio 10" comes exclusively in black.

Internal RAM is not identified, but each tablet is available with 8GB or 16GB of flash memory. It is unclear if the memory is offered internally or on a card for the devices' 32GB-ready microSD (Ziio 7") or SD (Ziiio 10") slots.

As noted, the Ziio tablets are limited to resistive touch technology, which is fine if you're happier using a stylus anyway, but not so hot if you like to dig in with your fingers. The seven-inch Ziio 7" (pictured at left) features 800 x 480 resolution at 16.8 million colors, and the Ziio 10" offers 1024 x 600 resolution with 262K colors, says the company.

The Ziio tablets offer 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, the latter paired with the aforementioned Apt-X codec, says Creative Technology. There's no 3G or GPS, both of which will likely be sorely missed on the more mobile Ziio 7".

Additional features include a front-facing VGA camera, a mini USB port, and an accelerometer. Audio is well-supported, of course, with a built-in microphone and speakers, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. An HDMI port is also said to be available.

The tablets ship with Android 2.1, but it is unclear what type of software is available. Without stating definitively whether the devices support Android Market, the company says, "You can also download applications from the Internet and ZiiStore, enabling you to easily install more applications from tens of thousands of cool choices." The tablets are also said to support "music, movies, games and downloaded Internet content."

Specifications listed for the Ziio tablets include:

  • Processor — Zii Labs ZMS-08 @ 1GHz (Cortex-A8)
  • Memory — 8GB or 16GB flash memory
  • Flash expansion — microSD (Ziio 7") or SD (Ziio 10") slot for up to 32GB
  • Display — 7-inch, 800 x 480, 16.8 million color resistive (Ziio 7") or 10-inch, 1024 x 600, 262,000 color, resistive (Ziio 10") display
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g; Bluetooth 2.1 EDR (with Apt-X and A2DP)
  • Audio:
    • microphone
    • speakers (stereo)
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • X-Fi audio enhancements (X-Fi Crystalizer, X-Fi Expand)
    • Apt-X codec
    • supports MP3, AAC, WMA9, FLAC, OGG, ADPCM, MIDI, WAV, Audible Format 4
  • Video support — H.264, MPEG4, WMV9, MJPEG, MOV, AVI, MKV
  • Other features — front-facing VGA camera; mini USB port; accelerometer; HDMI-Out
  • Accessories — leather case; stylus; screen protector; universal power adapter
  • Battery life — up to 25 hours (MP3); up to 5 hours (video)
  • Dimensions — 8.17 x 5.24 x 0.54 inches (207.4 x 133 x 13.7mm) for Ziio 7"; 10.31 x 6.81 x 0.54 inches (262 x 173 x 13.7mm) for Ziio 10"
  • Weight — 14.1 oz (400 g) for Ziio 7"; 22.9 oz (650 g) for Ziiio 10
  • Operating system — Android 2.1

Creative Zen Touch 2 Wireless Entertainment Device

Like its tablet siblings in the Pure Wireless Entertainment product family, the Creative Zen Touch 2 PMP offers advanced audio features, but it appears to lack the Apt-2 Bluetooth codec. The Zen Touch 2 comes in both a standard version and an enhanced version that adds GPS, a digital compass, and an FM radio.

Creative Zen Touch 2

Both devices run Android 2.1 on an undisclosed processor, which may well be ZiiLabs' aforementioned ARM9-based ZMS-05. Both are equipped with 8GB of memory, as well as a 32GB capable microSD slot, says Creative Technology. A 16GB option is listed only for the non-GPS version.

The 3.2-inch resistive touchscreen offers 480 x 320 resolution and 262K colors, says the company. The device is said to provide 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1, as well as a fixed-focus, two-megapixel camera, an accelerometer, and a mini USB port.

The Zen Touch 2 lacks HDMI, but offers composite video integrated with the supplied 3.5mm audio jack. The device provides a speaker, but no microphone. It supports all the audio formats supported by the Ziio tablets, as well as H.264, MPEG4, WMV9, and AVI video playback, says the company.

Both models are said to measure 4.72 x 2.36 x 0.51 inches (120 x 60 x 13mm) and weigh 4.3 ounces (122 grams). Battery life is listed at 25 hours for audio and five hours for video.

As with the Ziio tablets, Creative is rather vague about what software condiments one receives with the Android 2.1 install. Users can "download Android-compatible apps, games and even eBooks from the Internet," as well as "share photos taken from the built-in camera through your favorite website or stay connected with friends via email," says the company.

Stated Ting Lai Chu, vice president for the Advanced Multimedia Group at Creative. "With the release of the Pure Wireless Entertainment range of devices, we have brought personal entertainment beyond the confines of a single room to the whole house."

Availability

The Pure Wireless Entertainment devices are first being introduced in the U.K., sold via Creative Technology's Online Store UK, here. More information on the Ziio 10" (250 U.K. Pounds for 8GB, 270 Pounds for 16GB) may be found here, and more on the Ziio 7" (200 Pounds with 8GB and 220 Pounds for 16GB) should be here.

More on the Zen Touch 2 (150 Pounds with 8GB and 160 Pounds with 16GB) may be found here, and more on the GPS version (160 Pounds with 8GB) may be found here.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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