Nvidia and Asus take on Kindle, Nook with $249 tablet

Nvidia teased a still unnamed 7-inch tablet that's sure to be a threat to the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. It also introduces new touch tech.

Nvidia teases a still unnamed 7-inch tablet, similar to the Asus Transformer Prime and running a Tegra 3 chip Josh Lowensohn/CNET

While no huge announcements came out of Nvidia's CES conference this afternoon, the company did manage to fuel the tablet price wars by teasing a yet-to-be named 7-inch, Tegra 3-based tablet that Asus plans to sell for just $249.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang takes the CES stage today. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

A company spokesman confirmed that there's no launch date for the tablet, which would be similar to the powerful Asus Transformer Prime and would ship with the newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. Strictly from a hardware perspective, though, it's sure to provide some fierce competition for Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

Along with that announcement, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Haung told the crowd that Ice Cream Sandwich would be coming to the Transformer Prime beginning today, as opposed to later this week. He touted Ice Cream Sandwich as unifying all Android devices under a single platform.

Today's event was largely geared toward showing off the power of Nvidia's Tegra 3 chip, which was always thought to be quad-core. Huang clarified that it actually has a fifth "ninja core" which allows it to do things in the background "sneaking around extremely quietly." That, in turn, reduces power and improves battery life, Huang claimed.

That fifth core also allows for a new technology called Direct Touch, which gives devices a more responsive screen and a "buttery smooth" experience, Haung said.

Just as dual-core processors were the powerhouse chips last year, quad-core is the new standard, and Nvidia has a jump on the competition. Rival Qualcomm, for instance, has opted to focus on better performing dual-core chips before making the hop to four cores.

Huang used his speech to show off Tegra 3's performance, demoing tablet apps and games found in the Nvidia Tegra Zone. He showed how a Tegra tablet can remote into your PC via Spashtop, and treats it like a server "and it just works."

Huang spent some time touting Windows 8, which it says will enable a new class of devices to mobile device. And he hit on the "connected car," teasing an upcoming announcement with Audi and mentioning other cars with Tegra processors. Tegra chips can be found everywhere from "from super phones to super cars," he said.

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