Intel's 32nm Medfield system-on-chip has been teased all year as the platform for the company's big leap into mobile devices, and now we finally have some real hands-on feedback to report about it. The MIT Technology Review team was allowed to have a brief play with a pair of Medfield prototypes running Android — a phone similar in size to the iPhone that was on Gingerbread and a tablet close to the iPad 2 in thickness running Ice Cream Sandwich — and came away impressed. Responsiveness, we're told, was pleasing on both devices, though it was the ICS-equipped tablet that invited the greatest praise in being evidently faster and smoother than its Honeycomb brethren. The phone was described as being "on a par" with the latest Android and iPhone handsets, while its Intel credentials were proven by it playing back "Blu-ray-quality" video.
Intel VP Stephen Smith is quoted as saying he expects to see the first Medfield-based Android devices announced in the first half of 2012, though he does also hint that some may be making an early appearance at CES 2012. His company's efforts to get into the smartphone game have been well documented, including a number of abortive starts, most notably with the Moorestown-equipped LG W990 two years ago, but Smith describes the current maturity of Medfield chips as production-grade, a level he says had never been reached before. So maybe, just maybe, this is one smartphone roadmap that Intel may be able to adhere to. Let's see what comes out of CES first.