Next year, Intel will release Medfield, and we'll see the first x86 phones and tablets competitive with ARM-based designs—at least, that's what Intel has been promising for the past little while. However, MIT's Technology Review posted a hands-on preview of reference Medfield tablets and phones earlier this morning, and what it says sounds encouraging.
According to Technology Review, Intel's Medfield reference phone is "similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter." The Android 2.3-powered device is capable of streaming high-definition video to a TV, can snap a burst of ten eight-megapixel photos in quick succession, and purportedly enables "smooth and fast" web browsing. Intel is reportedly using the handset to try and convince handset makers to adopt Medfield.
The reference tablet, meanwhile, runs the newer Android 4.0 release. Technology Review says that device is about the same size and weight as Apple's iPad 2, albeit with a bigger screen, and is "noticeably nicer to use" than today's Android tablets.
Technology Review's hands-on experience doesn't tell us about battery life or cost, two things that could make or break future Medfield tablets and phones. If Intel manages to be competitive all around, though, then perhaps next year could indeed be the year of x86 handhelds.