ViewSonic plans dual-boot slate

August 24, 2010 | 09:49

Tags: #android #atom #ipad #slate #tablet #windows

Companies: #apple #intel #viewsonic

ViewSonic is planning its own iPad-killer: a 10in tablet capable of booting into either Android or Windows depending on your needs at the time.

Although firm details of the device aren't yet available, the company has confirmed that a preview version will be available at the IFA conference in Berlin in September - and that it's based around an unnamed Intel processor, most likely an Atom of some description.

This makes it an interesting device; the main reason dual-boot systems haven't been available in the past is that Google's Android platform is designed to run on ARM architecture processors, while most versions of Windows - mobile variants excepted - are designed to run on x86 hardware. Without installing two different processors into a system, it's been hard for companies to make a device capable of running either operating system.

Back in April, however, Intel announced that it was porting Android to its Atom processors, meaning that the company's upcoming smartphone-oriented Atoms would be able to get a look-in against industry leader ARM's designs.

If ViewSonic's press release is accurate - and the "Microsoft" operating system it refers to doesn't turn out to be an ARM build of Windows CE - then it looks like the company could be one of the first to take advantage of the work Intel has done on an x86-compatible build of Android.

The question remains, however: will it be officially supported by Google? While Android itself is open-source, the search giant offers different licensing terms to different customers. Anyone is free to use the basic Android operating system, but access to the Android Market for apps downloads will cost you - and if you want to bundle Google Maps and other branded apps then it will cost you even more. With all previous Android licensees running on ARM-based systems, it will be interesting to see just how well supported ViewSonic's x86-based version turns out to be.

Do you think that an x86 device capable of morphing between a full-fat operating system and a slimmed-down mobile platform is the way for the PC market to beat Apple's iPad, or is it a gimmick that's unlikely to provide any real benefit to the consumer? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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