A Tegra Blog Entry

I wasn’t able to achieve it last night, but tonight I post this blog directly from the Tegra development board.  I wasn’t able to use the Tegra development board to post last night simpy because I had not inserted an SD card into the available slot.  Now, with that in place, the browser works great, and I’m able to use this wonderful little computer as a very functional device.

A Most Important Posting

This posting is perhaps one of the most important postings I have had in a long time. It’s just like any other posting, except for one thing. I am writing about my new Android development platform: a “Netbook Device Grade”, Nvidia Tegra Development Kit, running Android 2.2.

I ordered my developer kit from Nvidia a couple weeks ago, and after waiting patiently for the device to be built because it was on back order, and a whole week of un-necessary delays by Fed Ex, the kit finally arrived today.

So, naturally when I got home I had to set it up and turn it on.  With a standard VGA cable, I was able to connect the board to my 36″ television and take a few pictures:

The first picture shows how Android looks on my 36″ television.  The paper taped to the television is for scale and reads ‘Android ™ on my 36″ TV‘. The second picture is the Nvidia Tegra development kit all hooked up.  The debug board is not connected.

The Nvidia Tegra development kit is a great product.  Is it worth the price? Sure – especially considering it’s giving me a jumpstart on non-phone Android hardware, and especially because I’ll be able to build a case for it and use it as a notebook/portable computing device.  The only hurdle I had to get through, really, was Nvidia’s approval process to become a registered developer.  But, I figured since I do Android development full time for a living, it would be fine … which it was. 🙂

And, I am glad to be working with Android on some hardware that’s not only a step up from a cell phone, but a dual-core step up (Tegra is a dual core processor).

I did notice a couple things about the board, that you might want to be aware of if you plan on venturing into Tegra waters:

  • The ribbon cables are delicate.  After flashing the ROM, I tried to unhook the companion debug board from the mainboard.  I accidentally pulled too much on the ribbon cable and the plastic end of the ribbon cable literally came apart in my hands.  No damage to the board though.
  • It’s still not a PC. The beauty of the Android operating system is just that.  Android does simple things, and does them well.  A straight forward OS on good hardware like the Tegra development kit is just the ticket for scalability.  It’s all about being simple.
  • Browsing and networking is sensitive. I haven’t benchmarked the board or the software yet, but the Internet browser sometimes sticks and becomes unresponsive.  It could just be my faint wireless signal.  This could also be because I haven’t installed an SD card either so the browser might not be able to cache properly.
  • There’s terminal access right on the device. Using the dev tools that come pre-installed on the flash image, you can telnet to the local device and peruse the file system.
  • There’s limited software on the device (thank GOODNESS). The last thing I wanted to put up with is a bunch of pre-loaded software that just gets in the way of development.  This board comes pre-loaded with a minimal software set that is geared toward developers.  It is a development kit, after all.  Very nice.
  • Installation of the OS was a breeze. Just follow the instructions on the website and on the documentation that comes with the development kit and you’ll be fine.  Total setup took mere minutes.  The majority of that was waiting for the developer tools to download from the Nvidia website.
  • It’s a delicate board. Don’t stress the board.  It’s just a baby and has delicate parts.  Do be careful.

I can’t wait to benchmark this board and see what it can do.

Overall, I give the Tegra development kit two thumbs up.  Looking forward to some dual-core Android development and mucking around in the board support packages.