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N-Trig to supply touchscreen for Google Chrome tablet

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In news that will surely elicit mixed emotions from our regulars: Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that N-Trig will be supplying the multi-touch digitizers for Google’s upcoming Chrome tablet, rumored to be arriving on “Black Friday” November 26th. Oh, and also for the HP Slate too.

The Google tablet, which Haaretz calls “gPad”, is said to be in the “single-prototype” stage and a closely-guarded secret (though not so guarded that Haaretz can’t report on it being secret). They also claim the November rollout date is still subject to change. While there is a lot of uncertainty in their story, taken as a whole it further supports the rumors of the Google Chrome tablet launch later this year.

The story yields a few other interesting tidbits. First up is this claim about the mythic HP Slate:

Another would-be iPad competitor, HP’s on again-off again Slate, is expected to use N-trig’s multitouch technology as well – if it ever gets built.

That perhaps comes as a surprise to some given that HP recently switched from N-Trig to Wacom in their Touchsmart Tablet PCs with the tm2. However, HP never claimed to be cutting ties with N-Trig altogether, and others, such as Lenovo, offer both Wacom and N-Trig digitizers in their lines of touchscreen and tablet computers. Unconfirmed but I doubt it would have been mentioned if N-Trig wasn’t at least in the running.

Second item of note is the way the story was passed on by Appolicious with the headline “Israeli firm developing new touch screen” and a subhead of “Secret tablet technology”. Admittedly, supplying digitizers for Tablet PCs is a relatively secretive way of getting your technology into the market, but N-Trig’s technology has been used for the past three years by companies such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo. It may be generally unknown, but it’s neither new nor secret.

Lastly, the headline on Haaretz, “HTC taps Israeli technology for its iPad-slayer,” strikes me as profoundly foreboding given how Dell literally slayed Tablet PCs in their pre-release marketing for their N-Trig-equipped Latitude XT. None of the parties actually involved are framing the gPad in that manner, but it looks like a bad omen to me.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

10 Comments

  1. dstrauss

    08/23/2010 at 1:41 pm

    N-Trig digitizers are not as good as Wacom (my personal opinion, but I believe shared by many) and this does not bode well for the upcoming HP Slate. It does not give teh same quality inking experience (had an HP with the N-Trig screen and returned it to best Buy in two days).

  2. Eve

    08/23/2010 at 2:20 pm

    After following the Dell/N-trig drama here on GBM, I’m wary of anything with the name N-trig. I’ll stick to Wacom, thank you very much!

  3. RJ

    08/23/2010 at 2:37 pm

    Can’t say I’ve had the displeasure of using N-Trig, since all my tablets use Wacom…but the N-trig digitizer on the hpTX2 and Dell Latiude had multi-touch but also supported Pens, so does that mean these Tablets will have Pen Support as well? If so then thats at least a great step in the right direction.

  4. Yossi

    08/23/2010 at 4:26 pm

    I live Israel, I know some people that work in this newspaper, and I know this newspaper – do not take them very seriously – they are just entertiment tools here (like most newspapers here).

  5. Steve S

    08/23/2010 at 4:57 pm

    …does that mean these Tablets will have Pen Support as well?..

    RJ: Yes, it very well might. N-trig has been advertising that they have developed a powered pen that works with their capacitive touch screen; it’s a way to add pen functionality to a product whose primary interface is touch. This may be why some are saying that the HP slate will be both pen and touch, but we’ve never seen a pen.

    Regarding N-trig in general, I’ve spent as much time in the trenches as anyone, but I wouldn’t dismiss the next wave of products just yet. I believe that N-trig is making progress.

  6. acerbic

    08/23/2010 at 5:01 pm

    The article reads just like any baseless blog rumor mongering.

  7. Perry

    08/23/2010 at 7:43 pm

    I’d be more impressed if HP and N-Trig actually fixed all of the bugs in the tx2 drivers, which remain as frustrating as ever, so long after they released the thing. They really should be ashamed for allowing the problems on the tx2 touchscreen to go on this long.

    • ChrisRS

      08/23/2010 at 8:50 pm

      This is interesitng. N-Trig should be scrambeling to fix their current mess. I can’t imagine what HP is thinking using n-trig in the slate.

      If HP and N-trig support hold the course, the HP Slate will go go immediatly from being vaporware to legacy hardware on the day it is released.

      I’m afraid that HP will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      • acerbic

        08/23/2010 at 10:39 pm

        I wouldn’t despair just because of an article that babbles about N-trig being “called the iPhone of notebook computers”, that their “technology is integrated into Windows 7″, about “original equipment manufacturers that incorporate the company’s SOFTWARE in its products” and about HP as a`”troubled company”. :rolleyes:

  8. sbtablet

    08/24/2010 at 5:49 am

    As an XT owner, I think this is good news. IMHO, the digitizer itself has never been the problem. It’s been drivers. As long as N-Trig is still getting new contracts, and staying afloat, they can keep working on getting the drivers right. That’s good news for me. I still want to see some competition out there to keep Wacom on their toes, and maybe help bring inking capability into everyday computing.

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