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.