Meet NVIDIA's New $199 Tegra Note

Well, that didn't take long.

Just last week, the mobile market was buzzing with excitement after FCC filings showed NVIDIA  (NASDAQ: NVDA  ) was potentially getting ready to launch its own Tegra 4-branded tablet, tentatively dubbed the Tegra TAB.

The tablet wasn't a complete surprise, especially considering NVIDIA did briefly demo an early version of the device back in June at Computex, but rumors regarding all the little details have continued to swirl since then. 

Then, on Wednesday, all those rumors were put to rest when the company took to its official blog to unveil the final version of the tablet, calling it Tegra Note. 


Image source: NVIDIA.

That said, the specs aren't much different than what anyone had expected. The $199 Android-based, Tegra 4-powered tablet sports a relatively high-quality 7-inch HD IPS display, has 16 GB internal storage which can be expanded via microSD by an additional 32 GB, and will utilize a slick stylus pen to take advantage of NVIDIA's unique DirectStylus technology.

What's more, it'll also have both rear 5 MP and front VGA cameras -- naturally incorporating NVIDIA's awesome Chimera digital photography architecture -- as well as a micro HDMI connector to plug into your TV, and the ability to play up to 10 hours of HD video on a single charge.

In addition, Tegra Note users will be able to receive over-the-air software updates provided directly by NVIDIA, which should ensure everybody quickly receives the latest software goodies without worrying about mobile carriers bottlenecking speeds.

Here's why this time is different
NVIDIA, for its part, is calling the Tegra Note a "complete tablet platform, designed by NVIDIA and brought to market by our partners," using a co-branding strategy not unlike the one it has implemented in the past with its high-end graphics cards sold through companies like PNY and EVGA.

That confirms my suspicions last week that the Tegra Note would go way beyond the scope of a mere reference design like last year's Tegra 3 Project Kai -- a design from which NVIDIA pointed out Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) massively popular Nexus 7 tablet was originally derived.

But it's also worth noting NVIDIA suffered a devastating loss earlier this year after Qualcomm took advantage of Tegra 4 delays by securing a spot in the second iteration of Google's Nexus 7.

This, in turn, begs the question: Is this merely a desperate attempt by NVIDIA to move more chips in the wake of their Nexus 7 loss?

Or, perhaps more important from an investment perspective, does this mean NVIDIA is effectively taking matters into its own hands? After all, if the Tegra Note proves successful, it would both appease analysts who are worried about Tegra 4's sluggish start while at the same time reducing NVIDIA's reliance on other OEMs to drive sales over the long term.

Foolish takeaway
In the end, though, I simply can't find much not to like about NVIDIA's Tegra Tab.

Unlike NVIDIA's new Shield mobile gaming console, which retails for a whopping $299 and shouldn't be expected to move the revenue needle anytime soon, I think the Tegra Note has massive immediate potential to make a huge difference for NVIDIA, especially with its more-than-reasonable $199 price tag.

And who knows? Perhaps other performance-hungry OEMs (Google, anyone?) will take note of what the Tegra 4 can really do when the Tegra Note begins to hit the market over the next few months, which could drive additional design wins from there.

In any case, that's why I'm convinced this looks like a win-win for everybody but the competition.

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