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Patent And Technology Partner To The World's Most Successful Companies

Patent And Technology Partner To The World's Most Successful Companies


Inside the Hisense Sero 7 – Under $50 Build Cost

The Hisense Sero 7 Lite – is the sky falling?Hisense has recently released a new $99 tablet to the US in an exclusive deal with Walmart. Is this device a game changer? On its own, probably not. But when coupled with the Hisense Sero Pro (at $149), it certainly may  herald maturity in the tablet market as we know it.Frankly, based on specifications and some (limited) user testing, we can’t honestly find a compelling reason to recommend buying any other 7″ Android tablet at list price that is currently sitting on a store shelf. The Sero 7 Lite is a darn sight better than the other sub-$100 tablets we have tested, and the Sero 7 Pro seems to be on par with all the more premium devices.With the next generation Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 tablets soon to come, and Intel and AMD-based hybrids starting to hit the streets, the higher end is certainly not dead. But the tablet as we have known it over the last 18 months seems to have a new price point that the market will expect. We expect that retailers will need to start having fire sales to help clear the shelves.

Hisense Sero 7 Lite

CompromisesWe’re tearing down the $99 version here, and to avoid the flame war from the owners of a Google Nexus 7 or an Asus MeMO, let’s be up front when we look at this  device. Most of it falls into the “good enough” category for most people:

  • Android 4.1 (good enough)
  • 1.6 GHz dual core ARM A9 (good enough)
  • 1 Gb RAM (good enough)
  • 1024 x 600 capacitive screen (good enough)
  • Front only 0.3 MP camera (bad)
  • 3400 mAh battery (bad)
  • 4 Gb flash (bad) but . . .
  • . . . MicroSD slot (good)
But enough about specifications. Let’s see what is inside one of the best sub-$100 tablets on the market today.

The PCBThe device has a simple one-sided board with the applications processor located separately from the memory (i.e., not a package-on-package configuration). Major silicon courtesy of:

  • Rockchip RK3066 dual ARM Core V9 with quad core Mali-400 graphics (top metal die shown at right)
  • 4 X Hynix H5TQ2G83EFR-PBC 256 MB DRAM
  • Hynix H27UUBG8TBTR-BG 4 Gb NAND flash



Rockchip RK3066 Die Photo

Other devicesHere is where we see a departure from the more mainstream tablets. Some of the design wins don’t fall into the “usual suspects” category:

  • Texas Instruments TPS659102  integrated power management IC w/4 DC/DCs, 8 LDOs, and RTC
  • Freescale MMA7760FC accelerometer
  • Realtek ALC5631 Audio codec (shown first)
  • Goodix GT811 touch screen controller (shown second)
  • Ralink RT5370N Wi-Fi SoC (shown third)
High resolution versions of these images are available in the Chipworks Report Store, just click the links above. 

Image sensorThe Chinese company Galaxycore, with die markings GC0308, wins here.

The bottom lineAt $99, this tablet has to have an electronics margin built into it. Based on the silicon cataloged, we estimate the build cost to be under $50. So perhaps there is a profitable bottom end that provides a good user experience after all. And according to Gartner, with tablet shipments expected to grow by almost 70% in 2013, that is 197 million units worldwide to profit from.