What’s more annoying than a brand-new Android device that’s running an OS version behind? One that’s running two versions behind, with no clear reason for doing so. Sharp’s just unveiled their RW-T110 tablet for the Japanese business market, and as the title suggests, it’s running Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box. For the sake of completeness, I’ll note that Gingerbread was released in December of 2010, and Ice Cream Sandwich’s open source code was published just over four months ago by Google. Nice try, Sharp, we’ll see if you can product a tablet and tablet OS combination next year.

The specs aren’t actually that bad – it’s got a 10-inch 1280×800 resolution, a form factor I’ve never seen with Gingerbread before. A 1Ghz processor isn’t much, but a full gigabyte of RAM and and 8GB of on-board storage are quite respectable. It’s even packing near-field communication, something that an OS with certain dairy treat disposition might be able to make quite good use of. The RW-T110 goes on sale in Japan on March 27th, and given Sharp’s predelictions for smartphone hardware thus far, is unlikely to leave the land of the rising sun.

Honestly, this sort of decision wouldn’t have bothered me four months ago. Google didn’t release the open source code for Android 3.0 Honeycomb until they released ICS as well, leaving manufacturers who wanted to play outside of Google’s sandbox no real choice but Gingerbread. But now there’s no excuse for any new tablet to run anything else – it’s out there, all manufacturers have to do download it, compile it and grab some drivers for whatever components they’re using. Heck, doomed products like the HP TouchPad and $100 Chinese no-name tablets can run the latest version of Android. What’s not to get here?

Rant over. I’m going to go download the latest CyanogenMod build now, and be thankful that Android is flexible enough to get around the mistakes of manufacturers.

[via Engadget]

  • benjo

    an understanding on the Japanese market is necessary before making comments. The market is controlled by the three big phone companies (Docomo, AU & Softbank) and they dictate to the Japanese manufacturers what they need to produce in order to fill niche markets. Basically due to the overly complicated and rigid way they enforce their phone contracts a new line-up of devices is required for each season. Each manufacturer is putting out 10-20 or more new devices every year, with each one intended for a separate niche, in order to meet the phone company demands. For filling these individual niches, specs don’t matter too much as long as their meet basic requirements and have enough attractive functions for the average user (usually things specific to the Japanese market). It’s important that they have a product in each niche with their name on it or else they will be just handing profits over to one of their rivals. 

    Until the smartphone-era non-Japanese manufacturers completely failed to make any impact in this environment. Things have been changing a lot in the past few years with imported Apple and android devices becoming more and more popular but the traditional demands are still there for companies like Sharp. Likely this tablet will be sold by one phone company for one season and then manufacturing of it will cease so keeping costs to a minimum and meeting the production schedule are probably the most important factors for them. There is little point whining about this tablet as it will never be sold outside of a very limited target audience.The system does suck and it’s a big reason why the Japanese companies are struggling internationally but that’s the way it works here. 

  • benjo

    honestly speaking Gingerbread is still a much better OS overall compared to Honeycomb. Honeycomb may have been built with tablets in mind but I still feel Gingerbread performs better and is probably the best OS choice for lower spec devices right now. Going from 1.6 was a 2.1 was a big upgrade but it feels like 4.0 is just different from 2.3 as opposed to better. 

  • tef

    What’s that app in the pictures?