Nvidia and Asus aim for $249 Tegra 3 tablet

CES — At Nvidia's CES press conference, Asus CEO Jerry Shen joined Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang on stage to talk about Tegra 3-based tablets. The subject of their chat was a compact 7" tablet, and the specs were very nice: a quad-core-ish Tegra 3 processor, 1280x800 IPS display, Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," the "world's best camera" (presumably only among tablets) and "all-day" battery life.

After introducing this device, Shen and Huang engaged in a catty little back-and-forth dialog, pretending to be bargaining downward on the tablet's price. Their banter ended with at a pretty impressive number. Shen said, "We want to achieve $249." Of course, at that price, the Asus tablet would be very close to bargain-basement tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire, yet it would have a full version of Android 4.0, a higher-density display, and a faster processor.

Some folks may remember this 7" Asus tablet as the Eee Pad MeMO, which was shown as a prototype at last year's CES. It's taken a while, but Asus tells us the MeMO is slated to arrive on U.S. store shelves in the second quarter of this year. We had some hands-on time with the MeMO in a short visit to Asus, and it looks very nice indeed—worlds apart from our Kindle Fire, to say the least. The screen is crisp, bright, and rather enticing.

That's "world's best" claim apparently refers to the device's eight-megapixel camera, which has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor and an F2.4 lens. The camera will record video at 1080p. The MeMO's dimensions are 7.8 x 4.6 x 0.5", and it weighs in at 14.2 oz. Another highlight of the spec sheet is the planned 1GB of RAM, which ranks as fairly ample among current tablets. The MeMO will come with 16GB of flash storage, and it will rely on Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi for connectivity.

If Asus and Nvidia can pull off the $249 price tag and deliver this thing in the stated time frame, it could be a very big deal indeed.

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