ZiiLABS announced Tuesday they were launching Plaszma, their new open standards development platform. At the heart of the news was the Zii EGG StemCell Computer, a new device capable of running Android. The press release was filled with marketing fluff and hard to follow, but I have attempted to break down the top points and what this means for Android.
Zii EGG has impressive specs.
A quick overview of the technical specifications reveals many exciting features not yet found on any Android device. The unit contains rear and forward facing cameras to allow video conferencing. A full sized SDHC slot if offered to allow high speed and large capacity storage. HD movies can be stored on the device and output in full 1080p. Overall, it appears to top any Android gadget that has been officially announced.
- 3.5″ 320×480 true-color capacitive 10-point multi-touch display
- X-Fi audio processing
- Up to 32GB internal NAND Flash
- 256MB RAM
- HDTV support via HD Cable
- Composite video In/Out
- Forward facing VGA camera
- Rear Facing HD camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- Hardware GPS receiver with antenna
- 3-axis Accelerometer
- Ambient light sensor
- Full size SDHC slot (supports up to 32GB of external SDHC Card)
- USB 2.0 Mini-B (MTP and Charging)
- Universal Docking connector (HDMI, USB, Audio Line-In/Line-Out, Composite-In/Out, UART)
- Headphone socket, built in speaker and microphone
- 1200mAH rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Supports Linux-based Plaszma OS and Android
- 115 x 62 x 12 mm
- Light weight: 108grams
Zii EGG is not a phone, yet.
ZiiLABS new device does not contain a cellular chipset, but one could be added. The platform is being marketed towards system integrators and OEM’s who could easily rebrand the device as a phone. Since ZiiEGG already supports the Android OS, it would not take much modification of the platform to add cell service.
Zii EGG is available for pre-order now, but you won’t see one for sale anytime soon.
Right now, developers can pre-order the Zii Plaszma Starter Kit for $399. The Starter Kit comes bundled comes with Plaszma OS, Plaszma SDK and the Zii Optimised Android OS. As a bonus offer, developers will also get a free 32 GB Zii EGG with the purchase of the Starter Kit.
It appears that the Zii EGG actually ships with the Plaszma OS, but Android can be loaded onto it. “For customers who want to run the Android OS, an after-sales installer upgrade will be made available soon allowing them to change their operating system selection.”
Zii EGG could compete with the iPod Touch and Nintendo DSi
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Android platform is the current lack of advanced 3D support and games. Zii EGG is promising accelerated 3D graphics, but we will have to wait and see. Android desperately needs a flagship device centered on mobile gaming.
Powering the Zii EGG is the new ZMS-05 processor. This is one of the first devices to feature the new processor so it is hard to estimate the performance. The ZMS-05 is powered by a dual core ARM subsystem. This is similar to the way the Nintendo DSi includes an ARM9 and ARM7 cpu, but the overall architecture is quite different.
Zii EGG is offered to value added resellers for $199
Bulk purchase price of Zii EGG starts from as low as $199 in volume quantities. The $199 configuration has 0 GB of internal storage but can be customized up to 32 GB. This low base price will allow developers and companies to create some exciting hardware and software solutions.
The obligatory press video demonstrating the Zii EGG.