Transformer Prime

Last week two companies demonstrated their next-generation mobile processors inside upcoming devices and we noticed quite the interesting contrast. NVIDIA showed off their Tegra 3 processor inside the ASUS Transformer Prime running Android 4.0 and Qualcomm unveiled their Snapdragon S4 Liquid development platform running Android 2.3.

As a lover of all things mobile, I was excited with both showings. However I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with NVIDIA’s software team getting Android 4.0 up and running only two days after the source code was released or more confused with Qualcomm deciding to demo the year-old Android 2.3.

First we had Qualcomm’s Raj Talluri pay a visit to The Engadget Show where he announced the Snapdragon S4 Liquid development platform. This device boasted some impressive hardware specs like a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 (16:9)  display, 13 MP rear-facing camera and 2 MP front-facing camera (both capable of 1080p30 video capture), 2 GB of 400MHz LPDDR2 RAM, fingerprint scanner, and integrated LTE modem.

However, the Liquid was still running Android 2.3 instead of 3.x or 4.0 that are optimized for tablets. We know that Qualcomm already had access to the Android 3.x source code because their partner HTC released the Jetstream tablet earlier this year. My guess is Qualcomm chose to show Android 2.3 on their new tablet because they already had it working on their Snapdragon S4 development phones we saw last month.

Qualcomm Liquid

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 development platform “Liquid”

Next we had NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang take the stage at UBS Global Technology and Services Conference, where he showed off the Transformer Prime running Android 4.0. This took place on November 17th, but NVIDIA recently shared a video of the Transformer Prime running Android 4.0 that they claim was recorded on November 16th (the same day as The Engadget Show).

Jen-Hsun Huang told the audience that his team had the advantage when it comes to tablets with Android 4.0. “My prediction is this will be your first demonstration of Ice Cream Sandwich for some time. Our goal is to get Ice Cream Sandwich to production this year and I would be very, very surprised if any other tablets were to reach market with ICS before us.”

With the Transformer Prime already up for pre-order, it looks like his prediction will come true. Qualcomm expects they will have Ice Cream Sandwich up and running in early 2012, so they shouldn’t be far behind.

Qualcomm is an absolute giant in the mobile industry and NVIDIA is still the new kid on the block, so it’s always exciting to watch these two companies try to one up each other. In the long run it probably doesn’t matter who was the first to market with an Android 4.0 tablet, but it might come with some small advantages. We have seen that Qualcomm is starting to emulate NVIDIA’s mobile strategy (see Snapdragon GameCommand), so they must be doing something right.

When it comes to your next Android tablet, does the mobile processor found inside affect your purchase decision? Or does price remain the number one factor?

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