Creative is no stranger to the OEM scene. Its Sound Blaster legacy is one such example, and in its prime, barebone PCs often used the Creative brand, touting their PCs as "powered by Creative Sound Blaster" to act as a marketing hook for consumers. The company has since moved on, turning its sights upon the processor scene. Nearly two years ago, we had a look at Creative's first StemCell processor developed by Zii Labs, named the ZMS-05. Back then, Creative had made it clear that their focus would fall upon developers and OEMs who wish to incorporate the Zii chips onto their own lineup. On their own, the company has also introduced its own ZiiO tablets, which was powered by an updated ZMS-08 chip. By that time, Creative has also allied themselves with Google, introducing their Ziio tablets with Google Android.
To reiterate its strategy, Creative unveiled its Jaguar3 reference tablet, which was first demonstrated with the ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core 1.5GHz ZMS-20 chip at Computex 2011. Similar to Creative's earlier OEM strategy, the Jaguar3 reference tablet acts as a blueprint for manufacturers who are interested to create its own tablet portfolio. The concept behind the Jaguar3 tablet is for manufacturers to have a ready-made tablet for mass production, with a few standard specifications locked in alongside a few variations.
According to Creative's Chairman and CEO, Mr. Sim Wong Hoo, the company's focus falls upon the 10-inch form factor powered by the ZMS-20 chip. Sim also mentioned that by Q4 2011, manufacturers can easily upgrade their options to the ZMS-40 quad-core option by simply swapping the chip into the downsized motherboard, which is dubbed as a "granddaughter board" to signify the compact nature of the PCB.
The Jaguar3 reference tablet comes in a few variants, though differentiation is still minimal. The noticeable changes will be its weight and thickness, with the thinnest version starting at a mere 7.4mm and weighing approximately 480g. Should OEMs decide to adopt this variant, this will make it the lightest and thinnest 10.1-inch tablet once it hits the market. Aesthetic differences are also possible, with different materials such as a non-glossy back and different locations for its standard connectivity ports being showcased.
Underneath the Jaguar3 lies the latest Google Android 3.2 Honeycomb OS, with customized apps such as Zii Photos, support for high dynamic range images that harnesses the prowess of its ZMS-20 chip. Multimedia gets a boost with its X-Fi audio effects, and various hardware-assisted CODEC support can be found on the Jaguar3, one of which is the VP8 standard alongside 1080p MVC high profile decode which are still absent on most tablets lineup. With the coming of Google's next Android update, Ice Cream Sandwich, we were also informed that the ZMS-20 and ZMS-40 chips will be optimized within a shorter timeframe, compared to other manufacturers that haven't obtained the source code for Android 3.2.
"We're not selling tablets, we're selling chips," says Sim, and that's an indication of how the company intends to gain a competitive edge with its low pricing for manufacturers. Following the Zii Egg's footsteps, the Jaguar3 won't be made available for retail purchase. According to Creative, the Jaguar3 platform can be priced from as low as US$100. However, this price point will come with a few sacrifices along the way, such as the removal of the accelerometer and digital compass features to reduce the overall cost. Ultimately, the costing is determined by manufacturers and their features request for the final product.
Key highlights of the Creative Zii Labs Jaguar3 Platform