While Google is taking its sweet time on Project Ara, someone else might have beaten it to the punch when it comes to a modular tablet. Enter Crossfire Pro, Entegra Technologies’ own version of a tablet with somewhat replaceable parts.
The Crossfire Pro doesn’t seem to be as smooth or as modular compared to Project Ara, but that’s mostly because the tablet is designed for a different market. The tablet has a more rugged look and feel to it, as it has industrial and commercial uses in mind when it was created. The size and weight, for one, might be a bit daunting, at 11 in x 8.5 in 0.85 in and weighing just over 1 kg. The screen, however reaches only 9.7 inches in the diagonal and only has a 1024×768 pixel resolution. It does claim to be daylight-readable, though, and can work with you finger, gloves, or a stylus. Continuing our journey outside, we see a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera.
It is inside, however, where things get interesting. Unlike most tablets, the Crossfire Pro runs on an Intel M Series N2930, a Computer on Module or COM, not unlike a System on Chip (SoC) but a bit close to become a full-blown computer. This COM has four cores that can run at a max of of 2.16 GHz. It also comes with a Gen7 Intel graphics chip similar to that found on an Intel HD 4000 GPU. The tablet also has 4 GB of RAM and a 64 GB mSATA drive. While it seems that it comes with Windows 8 out of the box, Entegra wants users to know that they can dual boot with Linux or Android as well. For wireless connectivity, you have WiFi (MiMo), Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE. For wired connections, you do have USB 2.0 and 3.0, a mini HDMI port, and an SD card slot.
Of course, the biggest, perhaps the only, selling point of this tablet is that those internal parts, including the battery, are, in theory, swappable with other components. Whether it be the COM, RAM, hard drive, or the various input/output ports, those can be upgraded with nary a worry. Unfortunately, it seems that the camera and the screen do not enjoy the same modularity as the other parts of the system. But Entegra is taking “modular” beyond the definition popularized by Phonebloks and Project Ara. It is also making room for modules, practically expansion peripherals, that add some functionality or utility to the tablet, like a carrying handle, a Point of Sale dock, a clamshell keyboard,and a desk dock.
Before you get all excited for the Crossfire Pro, be aware that, for now, it isn’t being marketed towards consumers. Entegra is, however, hopeful that there will be an expansion into that market soon, within 9 months to be exact. There also isn’t much modules yet available for it, so the company plans to keep the hardware and software open and invite universities to take part in building those modules for the tablet.