Nvidia has announced that it plans to power $99 mobile internet devices with its Tegra 600 series chips, perhaps as early as this summer.
What’s a mobile internet device (MID)? Well, it’s a gadget that fits somewhere in between a smartphone and a netbook. It’s compact and internet-enabled, but it can’t quite fit in your pocket or make phone calls. It’s primarily intended for web surfing and watching videos over a WiFi or 3G connection.
According to VentureBeat, Nvidia is touting both the long battery life and the HD video capabilities of these Tegra-based devices. General Manager Michael Rayfield says they can go for days without a recharge and they support 1080p HD video playback, which is the high end of what you’ll find streaming online.
Nvidia plans to use both Windows CE and Android to power its cheap MIDs (although it appears as though the Windows CE-based versions will come first, with Android-based devices a more distant prospect). The $99 Tegra-based device is just the low-end of a product line that includes a $299 device (that also runs on an Intel Atom processor) and a $599 device that has more of the functionality you’d find in a regular laptop.
Part of me wonders whether Nvidia is trying to fill a niche that doesn’t really exist. If I want to surf the web, my smartphone does just fine – and I’m already paying a monthly data plan for it anyway (I certainly don’t need to pay for two). As for video, I’ll stick with my laptop since it can play DVDs, which are still the most reliable way to watch TV shows and movies.
It also doesn’t help that Nvidia plans to run Windows CE (really…Windows CE?). Android sounds more promising, though, especially with its greater potential to power netbooks and an array of smartphones all at the same time.