Nvidia's mystery tablet, known as the Tegra Tab, appears to be more than just a reference design. If a filing with the FCC is any indication, Nvidia plans to sell the Tegra Tab in the United States.
The filing, spotted by Engadget, also reveals that the device will have a 7-inch, 1280-by-800 resolution display, a front-facing HD camera, and either a 3200 or 4100 mAh battery. Of course, the Tegra Tab will be powered by Nvidia's Tegra 4 chip, though it could be modified from versions that are on the market now.
A product manual included in the filing also mentions a "premium model" with a stylus and several built-in stylus apps, including Sketchbook Express and "Nvidia Camera Awesome." This model will also supposedly include a 5-megapixel rear camera, HDMI output, and an SD card slot.
Although Nvidia hasn't made any announcements about the Tegra Tab, images of a similar tablet have been popping up on Chinesegadget sites for about a month. Some of these images contain the name Tegra Note instead of Tegra Tab, but the overall design looks the same. (The two names could refer to the basic and premium models.)
Why now, Nvidia?
But why Nvidia is making its own tablet now? It's possible that Nvidia is trying to go it alone after having its Tegra chips passed over for many of the latest and greatest Android devices. Most notably, Google's new Nexus 7 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, whereas the original Nexus 7 used Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip. In response, Nvidia could produce a tablet under its own brand name, as it did with the Nvidia Shield handheld, or it could let another company slap its own branding on the device.
In any case, Android tablets are a brutal business, with most hardware makers racing to bottom on pricing in lieu of distinguishing features. Nvidia would need standout features to make a dent in the market, and the stylus won't be enough, given that Samsung practically owns the concept with its Galaxy Note tablet line.
Gaming is still Nvidia's strong point, and it'd be great to see the Shield's PC-to-handheld gaming capabilities make their way to a proper tablet. However, the user manual filed with the FCC doesn't mention this feature, nor does it talk about Nvidia's own TegraZone gaming service. That's potentially a major omission by Nvidia--or a secret the company is keeping until the finished product is ready.