The modular concept raised interest last month when google announced the Project Ara smartphone. A Texas-based manufacturer, Entegra, now applies the intriguing modular concept to tablets, with an eye on the corporate market.
Geared for the commercial and military markets, The Crossfire Pro is a bulky shaped, 2.5 lbs (1.1kg), 10 inch tablet with a 1024×768 resolution.
How it differs from the many other rugged tablets on the markets –from manufacturers like Motion, Panasonic or Xplore– is in its modular approach. Several components can be changed within the device. These include the computing heart: the Crossfire can run on a x86 Intel or AMD processor but also on on ARM-designed system-on-a-chip (SoC).
Other hardware modules which can be swapped in and out include a bar-code scanner, a magnetic swipe card reader and a fingerprint scanner. Entegra sells 14 modules, tailored for various industries, but hopes that third-parties will jump in widen the range of hardware options. Via an SDK, Entegra will offer them to develop apps to optimize the use of their modules.
These third-party modules would be certified and then sold via an online store.
The interest of third party module manufacturers will probably depend upon how successful the Crossfire is in the market. The Crossfire starting price is $1,000, with an ARM chip running Android. A quad core/Bay Trail Intel chip running Windows 8 will push the price to $2,000. The device should be available in July.
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