Teardown of Vizio VTAB1008 tablet shows man-machine symbiosis
There’s just something about the Vizio VTAB1008 8-inch Android tablet: You take it out of the box, turn it on, start using it, and right away you just get attached to it. I did, and so did my family, to the point they’re asking for a new one now that this one is shredded.
Few designs generate a symbiosis of user and system, but all designers know how hard it is to achieve that natural, seamless integration. In the case of the Vizio, they were smart enough to leave it to the experts, so it came about through close collaboration between the applications engineers at Marvell, whose 1-GHz Armada 610 processor is at the heart of the device, and the contract manufacturer Foxconn.
Together they developed a solid system that not just does the basics well and fluidly at reasonable cost, but also adds some extras, such as an IR emitter that together with a universal remote control app controls your entire home entertainment system. (It didn’t work for my Pioneer 92-TXH receiver though.)
It also features HDCP compliance to allow streaming of secured high-definition content from Netflix, Hulu or other sources to your TV as well as a three-speaker system that allows multi-axis stereo sound using SRS TruMedia. You just know they put some thought into it!
Anyway, on to the Vizio device: The VTAB1008 was introduced in August 2011 at $329, but quickly dropped to $269 and now can be nabbed for $150 or thereabouts. For that, you get the added features mentioned above, on top of an 8-inch, 1024×768 LED display, a 1-GHz processor, GPS, 802.11n, and Bluetooth wireless. It has a capacitive, multi-touch panel, a 1.3-Mpixel, 30-fps front-facing camera and a total of 4 Gbytes of storage, though only 2 Gbytes is available to the user. That said, it is expandable, as most tablets are, to 32 Gbytes via an external memory card.
While the Viewsonic gTablet I looked at last time has similar capabilities, the VTAB1008 outshone it on many levels. From the format, feel and usability, right down to what’s under the hood, in particular with respect to security. Dedicated security paths and processors have ensured that it hasn’t been hacked (as of this writing) or rooted, a process which has been a bit of a boon to the gTablet as tinkerers love it.
That being said, your comments at the end of the gTablet piece indicate that those of you who have tried it have the same general impression (though ye are much more overt about it than I was.)
Personally, while hacking and rooting is fun, but it takes time away from simply enjoying a secure device that just, well, works!
Just as a quick point of reference, along with the gTablet and VTAB1008, I have an iPad 2, so for a couple of months I had three tablets in my house. While the iPad was preferred by all, the Vizio was a close second. The gTablet gathered dust in the corner. So, Kudos to Marvell, Foxconn and of course Vizio!
Note: I’ll be doing a teardown of a Cisco Linksys E3200 802.11 router, as well as the Viewsonic gTablet and Vizio at the upcoming DesignCon conference at the end of January. I’ll be joined by experts from Broadcom, Marvell, Quantenna, MicroSemi and some others to discuss the future of tablets and Wi-Fi connectivity. This’ll be an interesting panel for sure, with 2012 looking like it’s going to be the year of 802.11ac 5-GHz, 1.3-Gbit/s Wi-Fi. If you’d like to join the panel or the discussion, let me know and I’ll call you out at the event.
See you in Santa Clara!