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First Android-Based Netbook, Set-Top Box

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the every-glovebox-could-have-one dept.

Portables 114

An anonymous reader writes "China based Skytone famous for making skype headsets have brought out a $100 device, the Alpha-680 netbook running Google Android for its OS. The device has Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB ports and an SD card slot. After watching the video though, I get a feeling that the boot time is somewhat long. IMO good enough for browsing." Also on the Android front, ruphus13 points out what the maker claims is the first "fully realized" non-mobile Android device (though I think there were some other non-mobile gadgets on diplay at CES), a set-top box from Motorola based on Android. According to the linked post, it's "capable of playing DVDs and CDs, transferring music and video to a mobile device, and ripping and storing files" and "will have a full-featured Chrome-like browser."

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Anemic for 100 (5, Insightful)

CSFFlame (761318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664793)

$100 isn't very much. As low spec as that is, it's very good for $100. I don't know why they were bashing it so much.

Re:Anemic for 100 (1, Flamebait)

lordtoran (1063300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665497)

Because Wintel fanboys can only run Windows CE on it.

not anemic (2, Interesting)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667523)

$100 isn't very much.

As low spec as that is, it's very good for $100.

I don't know why they were bashing it so much.

Agreed, the blogger makes some rather opinionated statements but misses the forest for the trees in this case.

It's a good trend that low cost hardware manufacturers are getting into the netbook game and featuring systems like Android. Backed by a mega corporation and open sourced, Android is bound to keep getting better. I think it's going to give the iPhone a run for its money eventually.

As for netbooks, it seems like a good idea for some purposes--a handy little sub laptop. If it works with Skype--and given that the manufacturer makes Skype headsets, and Android does support Skype, you would expect it to--it would be a sweet travel laptop to replace the brick (albeit, a fun Ubuntu brick but still rather hot and energy hungry).

I'm just a little worried about the origin of the hardware. I've bought several gadgets direct from Chinese resellers or factory sites via Ebay, and I've been underwhelmed by their quality.

For example, recently I got a little 4 gig MP3 player that turned out to have terrible firmware, a nonstandard headset jack, a very poor battery, crappy UI, and just plain didn't work very well. I later got a Sansa MP3 player that was approximately the same price but much, much better engineered. This pattern has played out several times.

I think the Chinese copycat manufacturers have some good ideas but their execution, especially their engineering, is nowhere close to American, Japanese, or Korean standards. It's ironic because they make great products when they are spec'd by Americans (e.g., the iPod family and millions of other things), but on their own they seem not to pay the same close attention to detail. Or else, could it be that I've just had bad luck? But I don't think so, or we'd be seeing more Chinese-branded products on local store shelves. Sooner or later, of course, like the Japanese, they'll get it right, and they'll blow the foreign manufacturers out of the water, but not yet.

In the meantime I think I would tend to trust a unit that was designed by Apple, or Google, or some Taiwanese or American manufacturer rather than one of these homegrown models.

Re:not anemic (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668023)

I think the Chinese copycat manufacturers have some good ideas but their execution, especially their engineering, is nowhere close to American, Japanese, or Korean standards.

The Taiwanese made the eeepc. Their engineers are top notch.

Re:not anemic (1)

xilmaril (573709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669843)

I think you just equated taiwan and mainland china. let's ignore politics, because it's got no definitive standards, but you simply must face two simple facts. Taiwan and Mainland China have massively different industrial complexes. Taiwan's makes higher end electronics.

Re:not anemic (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670147)

I think you just equated taiwan and mainland china

No, I equated them with the USA, Japan, and Korea.

Re:Anemic for 100 (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27672675)

I don't know why they were bashing it so much.

I especially don't quite get the "While this device is going to be extremely cheap, it does have some redeeming qualities."

Because if there's one thing we apparently don't want (at least at Computer World) it's for our devices to be extremely cheap.

slow???? (2)

Ingcuervo (1349561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664811)

sorry, but my cell phone takes more than that to boot!!

Um (1)

fisticuffs (1537381) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664879)

Did anybody else notice that the web browser shown in the picture of the device in the summary's link [skytone.net.cn] appears to be a simulated screenshot of Firefox on Windows XP? ;) Specs indicate only Android.

Re:Um (2)

lordtoran (1063300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665441)

It's probably just an XPish skin, like on the first Asus EEE. I hate that. They should just use the damn window manager's default skin instead of fooling potential buyers.

Re:Um (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665981)

Yes, but there could be a few problems with it.

A) The default skin is ugly for some WMs. While the default look of GNOME and KDE and even XFCE look good, other, lighter WMs look plain ugly when on their default themes.

B) Licensing issues with some custom themes. Some custom themes may be released under the GPL... But the artwork is proprietary or something so, while its no big deal for an individual, for a company looking to make a profit on them, this is a potential landmine.

C) People these days seem to think like this: XP like theme == Windows XP == familiar, while Grey and blue == Windows 9X == outdated, and Black or other dark colors == Vista == Unstable and new. So XP-like themes are going to get the most positive first looks for potential computer illiterate buyers. And really, its not that hard to change the theme to something more appealing if you know how to use Linux

Android Java (4, Insightful)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664913)

I'd be much more impressed with android if there was a full JRE available.

Why? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665147)

It's not as if there's tons of legacy Java GUI apps that people want to run.

I'm a developer, (2, Insightful)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665181)

so rather than having to go through the rigmarole of developing for this tiny set of Java classes, I'd much rather just develop for the Java SE and ME APIs with which I am already familiar.

One of my favorite features of Java is its cross-platform compatibility.

Re:I'm a developer, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27665573)

And I don't want swing on my phone. Different objectives.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666081)

Please. Java SE may not be the Windows killer Sun used to claim it was, but there are still a lot of people running Java GUI apps, especially in enterprise applications. And not "legacy" apps either. It's a simple way to create simple client programs that you can deploy over the web. It will never replace native apps for most purposes, but it still has a big role.

The absence of a JRE would all seem to relate to the confusion over what kind of device Android is really meant for. Google seems to have targeted at cell phones and PDA-style devices. In that context, not supporting Java SE makes sense. But once you start deploying Android on netbooks....

Re:Why? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668315)

"Java SE may not be the Windows killer Sun used to claim it was, but there are still a lot of people running Java GUI apps, especially in enterprise applications."

At the time that Sun was claiming Java was a Windows killer there was no such thing as Java SE. That was back before Sun discovered that WORA wasn't really possible.

"Google seems to have targeted at cell phones and PDA-style devices. In that context, not supporting Java SE makes sense. But once you start deploying Android on netbooks..."

I think netbooks are primarily intended for web browsing and email. They don't seem like a good fit to be a client for enterprise applications. Nevertheless, even in the enterprise client space, Win32 is more important than Java SE.

Re:Why? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669793)

Please. The "SE" in Java SE is just branding to differentiate it from Java EE, Java ME, etc. Java SE certainly did exist back in the WORA days. It was called "Java".

You certainly wouldn't want to run a heavy duty enterprise app on a netbook. But there are light-weight ones that are deployed over the web that could be very useful.

Suppose you're in charge of a bunch of Sun servers and one of them has a problem that you can only figure out by access the console — while you're off on a trip, and can't get back anytime soon. No problem. You just need a system with a recent JRE, and the server's service processor will give you a Java terminal application that gives you full access. You can even reinstall the OS and re-flash the firmware if there's a file server somewhere with the right image files.

You could carry a Windows laptop or netbook against that contingency. But then your system has to be Intel-compatible, which means you have a big power-hungry CISC processor. An ARM-based system is perfectly capable of meeting your needs, despite its limited processing power — if it has the JRE to run that terminal software on.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27672759)

That was back before Sun discovered that WORA wasn't really possible.

What are you talking about?

I've written Java (Swing) GUI apps deployed on hundreds of different configuration (OS X, Windows, Linux, Open Solaris) and it's all working from a single .jar file (on OS X that .jar is packaged inside a .dmg but that is a detail).

WORA for you on the client-side.

On the server side, I've worked on Webapp who's .war could be dropped on several different web app server at will. And these web app servers are running on different Un*x versions.

The only Java that ain't WORA is Java ME.

Now of course there are countless developers coming with their Microsoftism or POSIXism that complain that their OS specific "ism" aren't WORA, but that has *nothing* to do with Java. Only with poor developer practice.

Check your facts or stop troll-FUD'ing.

Re:Android Java (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667003)

I'd be much more impressed with android if there was a full JRE available.

So you would prefer your phone/portable device to run as slow as possible? The Dalvik-VM, which runs on Android devices is specifically designed to run on low memory, low power, low-end CPUs. Check out the available design docs and videos before you comment further.

The VM running on Android right now has tons of room for performance improvement and is already pretty good at addressing its niche and doesn't even have a JIT yet. And surprisingly, performance is still pretty decent.

Re:Android Java (2, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667693)

JamVM [sourceforge.net] proved that interpreting java can be faster than JIT compiling it. JamVM is the fastest JavaSE-capable JVM for ARM based devices that isn't made by Sun.

It's still way slower than optimized C or assembly, but... GCC is pretty bad at optimizing for ARM, so the difference between C and interpreted java isn't that huge. (maybe 2-4x faster)

Re:Android Java (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669799)

I didn't mean to imply Dalvik will not get faster without JIT. In fact, its well known Dalvik is fairly unoptimized as is and still performs fairly well. The intent of my comment was to indicate there is much, much, much more performance to be had from Dalvik's early stage of development.

Re:Android Java (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670105)

JIT-compiled Java is nearly as fast as C for inner loops. So, the sense in which JamVM "can be faster than JIT compiling" must be some sense of "faster" that I am not familiar with.

Re:Android Java (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670559)

http://bugblogger.com/java-vms-compared-160/ [bugblogger.com]

Nothing is as you'd expect on ARM.

I've seen well optimized C programs get a 60% speed boost from some arm assembly. 60% is huge - it's hard to believe GCC could be failing so badly.

It's strange that interpreting is faster than JIT compiling in all those tests, but it was true when the article was written, and probably still is.

JamVM is very light on memory usage because of the lack of JIT compilation, which actually enhances performance on low memory devices. You can lose about 15% of your speed from too-frequent garbage collection.

All things considered, it plays to the strengths of the devices it runs on.

Re:Android Java (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668081)

The standard JRE runs fine on my eeepc at 600Mhz with 512Mb of RAM.

Re:Android Java (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669777)

Go look at the advantages Dalvik has - such as faster start up, MUCH lower memory footprint, MUCH faster memory mapping and class loading, etc...etc...etc...

Once Dalkvik matures you'll be wondering why you ever thought the JRE was a good idea. Remember, Dalvik is designed to run well on slower CPUs with 1/4 the memory, sharing it with the OS and graphics environment. I'd fully expect Dalvik to be faster, even as is, on design targeted hardware. And at this point, Dalvik hasn't had hundreds of millions of dollars and likely the same in man hours get where its at.

I'm glad it doesn't (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670065)

I'm glad Google trimmed some of the fat out of Java; bloat is one of the reasons Java has failed to go mainstream for desktop applications. The JVM and the JNI also were badly designed, and Dalvik improves on them.

If we're really lucky, Oracle will deprecate 90% of Java SE (since it's open source, you can still use it if you like).

In other news... (3, Funny)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664915)

...amateur astronomers have just spotted a flaming mass falling towards Skytone headquarters. Initial reports indicate that it is shaped like a chair.

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666177)

Really? Chair jokes are still getting modded +5 funny? Well in that case...I for one welcome our new flaming chair throwing overlords.

Re:In other news... (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666661)

I can has flaming chairz?

Re:In other news... (1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668605)

Now, perhaps you are beginning to understand why XKCD links are also modded as funny. Originality and creativity are a low priority around here.

Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664921)

Haven't seen android myself, but Leo Leport predicted this on a twit podcast. [twit.tv]

not a netbook (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664929)

MacOS, Linux, and Windows have enough apps that they can be considered full-blown operating systems. Android is absolutely not in the same league. It's closer to phone firmware than to PC operating systems.

This is just a glorified phone, at least for now.

Re:not a netbook (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27665169)

Well at one point any of those OSes that mentioned had less features and functionality than Android does currently, where do you draw the line between OS and "glorified phone"?

Re:not a netbook (0)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665387)

Well, if you want something quantifiable (somewhat) I would say that there need to be mature applications which perform all of the top 100 or so functions a desktop computer user does. It may get there some day, but it's far from being there now.

Re:not a netbook (2, Insightful)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665491)

MacOS, Linux, and Windows have enough apps that they can be considered full-blown operating systems.

So the iPhone is a full computer? It does run a version of MacOS, and it has tons of apps...

What about Windows Mobile devices?

I don't think either "number of apps" or "mac os/linux/windows" is the identifier for "computer" versus "appliance/phone/etc".

Also, the need to draw a line between the two is rapidly disappearing.

Welcome to the Great Convergance. AI controlled machines will take over the world and eliminate the human race in 3...2...

Re:not a netbook (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665625)

Well if you want to have mobile phones and netbooks as separate categories, there must be a distinction. And my definition would be that netbooks have all the functionality one would expect from a desktop PC.

Windows mobile and iPhone do not have anywhere near that functionality. Have you ever tried using the spreadsheet app on WM6? A toy.

Re:not a netbook (1)

timbck2 (233967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665979)

Does the Alpha-680 have the capability to place and receive calls (and I'm not talking about Skype)? No? Then it's not a phone. Besides, I can't carry it in my pocket, and I don't want to hold that thing up to my head.

There definitely is a distinction, and it's not that difficult to draw.

Re:not a netbook (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666091)

I always thought that an item should be defined by its primary intended use (assuming that it's actually DESIGNED for its intended use...). A portable music player should be small and accessible; a mobile phone should make it easy to place calls, etc. This rather breaks down when looking at very multifunctional devices. (Netbooks would be simpler to operate [for the general user] than a laptop maybe?)

Re:not a netbook (3, Insightful)

Polumna (1141165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666249)

How about this for a distinction: I can't imagine trying to talk into a device with a 7" screen.

Indeed, using a spreadsheet app is mostly a futility on WM6. I can speak from experience on that. Why? Because putting a spreadsheet on a 3" screen is ridiculous. Not because of anything else. My phone has multiple TIMES the processing power and memory of the first computer I used a spreadsheet app on. If I had a VGA output and a mouse input on my phone, there is no reason it couldn't run a port of Excel 97.

I had a good friend in college (2-3 years ago) who ran around with a 233 Mhz PII, just because he could. It worked fine. He kept some data from our projects on it, even. By comparison to this android device, what would you say it is now? An underpowered netbook? A sub-netbook? A glorified phone? It certainly wouldn't run any modern desktop software either. If it changed categories at some point during its what... 9 year life, when was it? When did it become a netbook? When did it drop to glorified phone?

Labels are a convenience, so people can talk about roughly the same thing. Sometimes they can be used in arguments for fun or flamebait. They are irrelevant. A device is what it is and is defined by what it is intended to do, nothing else. Arguing about it like it's super important with strict, yet still inherently arbitrary, definitions is an exercise in futility... much like running a spreadsheet app in WM6.

Re:not a netbook (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668313)

Actually, I think this is more of a netbook than most of those recent 600 USD power consuming-beasts running windows and with those noisy hard drives on them. A netbook != laptop with small screen for gawd's sake...

Re:not a netbook (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27674821)

It looks like a slightly higher-spec'ed Alpha 400: AKA CnMBook, Elonex OneT, Trendtac, etc.

I've had an Elonex OneT for a few months and it's fun. I can only imagine that this model will a little bit more capable. The ARM proc compares favourably to the MIPS SoC found in the Alpha 400 and the dedicated game pads are a good omen (the 400 can run Gameboy Color games in emulation).

I'll be watching this one with interest.

Re:not a netbook (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670297)

MacOS, Linux, and Windows have enough apps that they can be considered full-blown operating systems. Android is absolutely not in the same league. It's closer to phone firmware than to PC operating systems.

This is just a glorified phone, at least for now.

And that is a problem because...

With the current HW trend towards low power, low cost, all in one hardware (netbooks) a cut down OS that can do everything the average person needs (read: Email, Messaging, web browsing) on a cheap (sub A$800) 6-8" touch screen tablet is ideal. Android is the perfect OS for this situation, cut down enough to be light and usable on a variety of low power processors (killing reliance on X86/64, which is a good thing for low powered computers) but having enough flexibility and functionality built in to do everything the average non-technical user wants. The only thing missing from Android for this to be a reality is full flash support and I suspect that this is a problem with Phone processors not being able to handle flash in its entirety.

On a side note, I'm not one of those anti-X86 zealots but I do realise that other processor architectures are better for low power applications. X86/64 will still remain the most widely used processor in desktop and laptop computing.

All of your base are belong to Google (1)

SunSpot505 (1356127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27664973)

Dell and HP must be cutting shit-bricks with their sphincters right now.
Fortunately Google is a nice company that gives its employees great workspaces, so we'll all be happier when they take over every software and hardware related business right?

Not disappointed at all! (4, Insightful)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665095)

I'm actually wanting one if it's around $100. It would be perfect for showing simple stats or doing very basic quick commands. Could even write a custom application quickly.

I'm not anywhere close to disappointed by the specs as the author of the article is.

Re:Not disappointed at all! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665385)

The specs look pretty good to me. I've been looking for something about this speed and cost for a while now. As long as it isn't locked to Android, and lets my do a full *NIX install then I'll probably get one.

Re:Not disappointed at all! (1)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665721)

I believe Skytone offers a nearly identical device with linux pre-installed.

http://www.skytone.net.cn/en/products.php?bigclass=3&smallclass=10&show_type=2 [skytone.net.cn]

Re:Not disappointed at all! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666313)

Ah, thanks. One thing I didn't notice was that it appears to be aimed at the US market exclusively. The fastest mobile connection that it supports that is widely deployed on this side of the pond is GPRS. It has no UMTS or HSPA, which limits it to around 4KB/s and 1-2 second latency; the same kind of throughput I got with the phone I stopped using four years ago. Shame - apart from that it looks nice. I want a small / cheap machine for working in the park this summer (assuming the weather stays relatively nice), but I'd rather not subject myself to GPRS again. I guess I'll have to try to persuade Pegatron to loan me a review model of their new design over the summer...

It's $100 bucks...! (4, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665103)

Geez... The reviewer was criticizing this netbook saying that this thing was "low-end" and a glorified cellphone. Well I have no idea what kinds of cellphone you can get with a QWERTY keyboard, an RJ45 Jack, USB, 3G, Wifi an SD card slot and an 800x600 screen for $100.

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (2, Insightful)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665231)

I was thinking the same. And maybe I'm showing my age, but I know I can use a laptop very productively if it has up to 256MB RAM and 4 gigs of storage. It'll never be a powerhouse, but for $100 bucks I'd be happy with one.

obviously a glorified cellphone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27665277)

If it wasn't a toy, it would be running a real OS and not Android. Android is Linux for Hardware Dummies.

Re:obviously a glorified cellphone (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665405)

If you can't modify the hardware without a soldering iron, does it really matter?

Re:obviously a glorified cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666159)

The video was a bit fuzzy, but it appears as though they had Fedora as an option in GRUB. Is Fedora real enough?

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (2, Interesting)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665425)

For the size, yiou could probably easily make a smartphone with those features. They're expensive because they're small.

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (1)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667989)

This is a smartphone. It's a netbook-sized smartphone, for $100. How is that not awesome?

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (1)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668085)

Correction: according to the Skytone website, it needs a USB dongle to get 3G access, which is a shame.

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665787)

The "reviewer" was the usual ignorant and opinionated "technology columnist". Saying stupid things is practically part of his job description.

Re:It's $100 bucks...! (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27673157)

The reviewer was criticizing this netbook saying that this thing was "low-end" and a glorified cellphone. Well I have no idea what kinds of cellphone you can get with a QWERTY keyboard, an RJ45 Jack, USB, 3G, Wifi an SD card slot and an 800x600 screen for $100.

A Nokia E90 [wikipedia.org] can almost fulfil all these specs.

Motorola denied the android set top connection (3, Informative)

pancakegeels (673199) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665123)

according to the reg http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/21/android_set_top_not/ [theregister.co.uk] If you are getting your hopes up...

And as someone working with Motorola set-tops... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27667255)

... (posting anonymously for obvious reasons) the browser KreaTV is switching to is not Chrome.

The KreaTV stack uses a browser engine as its default frontend (currently an old version of Gecko) and they're switching to WebCore and JavascriptCore. Sure, Chrome uses WebKit, but it's not the same thing.

Kernel source available? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27665199)

Given that android is a Linux kernel, that would mean that all of these devices are going to make their (kernel) source available right?

I wonder what avenues of "hackiblity" having that source will provide for these devices.

Transforming that STB to be a decent Mythtv front-end seems most interesting.

Compare to TiVo (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665361)

Given that android is a Linux kernel, that would mean that all of these devices are going to make their (kernel) source available right?

TiVo makes its kernel source code available, but is it useful?

Re:Kernel source available? (1)

lordtoran (1063300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665591)

From what I understand, Android is a Linux kernel with a Java based userland. So either you wait for an appropriate solution to appear, or you install a real Linux distribution and install... MythTV.

Re:Kernel source available? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668159)

From what I understand, Android is a Linux kernel with a Java based userland. So either you wait for an appropriate solution to appear, or you install a real Linux distribution and install... MythTV.

Unix userland comes from netbsd so that they don't have to mess with GPLv3. Java is more like a presentation layer.

Battery? (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665217)

Any info on the battery? ARM cpu could make for some impressive battery life, especially with that tiny screen.

Low specs? For $100, who cares? (1)

downix (84795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665267)

This guy is dismissing the specs, calling it a Cellphone. Fine, call it that, but geesh, for $100, a smartphone with a 7" screen and full keyboard, that is one sweet phone. Sign me up right now!

Bundled with a data plan? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665415)

but geesh, for $100, a smartphone with a 7" screen and full keyboard, that is one sweet phone. Sign me up right now!

Is that $100 alone, or $100 with the purchase of a 2-year data plan at $720 per year?

Device in the video is slow because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27665317)

The netbook shown booting in the video is slow because it is x86 and using grub to dual boot fedora and android.

cable cards ... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665399)

I know the licensing for cable cards is stupid and companies aren't willing to pony up for it, and I know there's yet more talk about some new standard, but until more set-top boxes can handle them, they're getting to the point where they're not overly useful. I have three Tivo's, and being somewhat older models, they can't handle a cable card - so I can't use them with our HD FIOS. The Apple TV box (whatever it's called. AppleTV or something?) is the same thing. I'd love to get it to use as a DVR or whatever. But without a cable card, I can't...

Re:cable cards ... (1)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665841)

So get a new Tivo. My S3 uses a dual-channel cable card without an issue.

Re:cable cards ... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668873)

If you mean an M card, a Tivo Series 3 needs *two* cable cards, regardless of whether it's an S card or an M card, to be dual tuner. (With one cable card, S3s revert to single-tuner-ness, even if the other tuner could be recording an analog channel. That is, 0 cablecards = dual analog/ota digital recording. 1 cablecard = single recording at a time, 2 cablecards regardless of type == dual recording capability.)

Tivo HD/HD XL will work with 2 S cards, or 1 M card, for dual recording functionality.

Android-based? (1)

manoelhc (1172781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665577)

This set-top box have arms and legs?

E-book reader (1)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665667)

I think these upcoming ARM based devices would be the thing
to get a decent e-book reader which can be used for something
else as well.

I wish I had one of these few of months ago when I had to
stay a couple of nights at a hospital. Xvids, e-books and mp3
collection.

This is what the netbooks should be: really cheap, small form
and great battery life.

Benefit for the phone (1)

Cyberwasteland (1467347) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665675)

Ok, so you're probably going: "why would you put a phone OS on a PC, why not just go with a 'real' OS" I'm sure there are several reasons, but I quite like the idea what this would do for the OSes of phones, if people start using it on laptops they will at some point demand the same or similar software/performance of a genuine OS as much is possible, which I hope will be a big boost for the development of the OS which will benefit the phone OS since it will have more software ported to the OS/phone which will make phones even more like second computers.

It's really nice for $100, but... (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665683)

Does it run Debian? Would make it even more useful.

Better and Prower (1)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665685)

Better and Prower ...from the website...

Is is really available? (2, Insightful)

tennesseejim (1294164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665899)

Is there anyone actually selling one of these netbooks? Or is it just vaporware?

Re:Is is really available? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666343)

Looks like vaporware to me. I checked their site and can't find a price or any way to buy one. So, I don't know where article is even getting an idea for the price.

Re:Is is really available? (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27674957)

The Alpha 400 has been on sale internationally (under many guises) for the past year or so. I wouldn't be so hasty to dismiss these models as vapourware.

Teaching tool (2, Interesting)

oh2 (520684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27665987)

A tablet like this one would be a very useful teaching tool. As a teacher I see many potential uses for it and with a low cost it might actually be able to pry loose the money for one per kid. oh, the possibilities. Its going to be a few interesting months ahead when the ARM netbooks start to appear...

Re:Teaching tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27666653)

Not a tablet. No touch/stylus screen. If this were 800x600 or 1056x594 (something close to 600 height) and had a touch screen, you could double the price and I'd still buy 2. 800x480 for screen resolution is pretty weak.

Re:Teaching tool (1)

Fully Functional (1174407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670623)

It does have a Stylus(pen) so maybe it has a touch screen. Probably not though at that price, but GPS units are getting very popular around the world and maybe it's using some common GPS unit 7inch screen. See bottom image at http://www.skytone.net.cn/en/products.php?bigclass=4&smallclass=15&show_type=1 [skytone.net.cn]

WTC? (1)

loudmax (243935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666111)

Some nice pictures of the device on the manufacturer's web site:
http://www.skytone.net.cn/en/products.php?bigclass=4&smallclass=15&show_type=1 [skytone.net.cn]

The SkyTone corporate picture at the top of the page has a road leading to a city... apparently straight toward the Manhattan's erstwhile World Trade Center.

One Word (1)

reeeh2000 (1328037) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666259)

Sold. If this thing is as advertised with "unlimited" internet, I'm buying one.

Touch screen display for $100? Sold! (1)

inotocracy (762166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27666507)

I'd pick this up simply because its a decent sized touch screen for a $100 bucks. Hacker and hobbiest paradise!

I guess Nick Negroponte wins, then. (2, Interesting)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667233)

He drove the price of a basic laptop down to $100 just like he said he would.

What was it Ghandi said? First they mock you, then they fight you, then you win?

Re:I guess Nick Negroponte wins, then. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27673145)

First they mock you, then they fight you, then you get murdered, then you win.

Fixed that for Ghandi and you.

Video is of an i-Buddie prototype not Alpha-680 (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667681)

Unless I'm missing a video posted elsewhere, the video in the article is not that of the Alpha-680 as the summary implies. You can clearly see the Intel logo during boot.

Touchscreen? (1)

binary.bang (1372881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27667853)

The article suggests it might have a touchscreen, while the specs say no such thing. Has anyone seen any evidence either way? At that price, it could be a flipping screen that's meant to be controlled with arrows/trackball

Re:Touchscreen? (1)

itsthebin (725864) | more than 5 years ago | (#27672115)

on the product page it says F- pen , maybe stylus

this would make a great PDA

Looks like a potential Car PC (3, Interesting)

Eccles (932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668047)

I want a car PC. GPS/Nav, ~7" screen, music, bluetooth for my cell, rear-view cam, voice recognition, browser if possible (at least if near Wi-Fi, ideally with 3G if my phone supports it), more. For $100, this might serve as a good basis for it.

I'm not looking to compile code on it, play FPSes, etc., so the specs don't have to be impressive.

Re:Looks like a potential Car PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27669309)

Consider paying attention to the road instead.

good for MIPS assembly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27668193)

I already own two ALPHA 400 netbooks from Skytone and they work great. They use the MIPS processor, which is good for learning MIPS assembly without an emulator. The real thing is always better than emulation, I believe, and their cost was the same: $100.

Multimedia and the Android settop box (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668487)

TFA states that Motorola has built the set top box for the Japanese. No further details that I care about are given or linked to.

Intriguing and fine and good, but not being an Android guy, maybe somebuddy here can help me out: play DVDs and CDs - how?

I'm in the US and use VLC on my Mac mini (pulls duty as a set top box, among other things), and damn the consequences - who's going to stop me?

But what would a commercial, Android-based set top box use without violating whatever license(s) seem to the problem? It couldn't be VLC, could it? Or could it if the mfgr paid someone some sort of licensing fee?

I am very confused. Maybe Linux guys are using other things for media playback. I use Linux - quite a lot - but haven't gone near media with it, ever, having had no real need before.

128MB RAM expandable to 256MB RAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27668549)

Argh I have 256MB RAM on my MP3 player and just for that it's not enough.

Nope not for me. The OS needs about 340MB to run comfortably fast. You need a bit more(around 512MB) to run some other apps comfortably.

I don't care what OS you're running, if we want reuse, need a bit more than that if we don't want everyone coding in assembler for mips/arm.

This is a waste of time. This looks like a "make work" project to me.

Everybody should be focussing on making faster/more faster at a better price and "making due with the hardware" and remarketing it with a new spin.

Recycling old hardware design only goes so far and from my experience attempting to reconfigure old pc's with 256MB with linux to get more bang for the bug has been nothing but a waste of time.
Nobody appreciates the end result. It's best to invest your time and money in new faster/bigger hardware BUT using Linux on it to get the most bang for your buck.

Won't last. (1)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27668683)

$100 bucks? Made in China? I love the Chinese people, but given these two facts, I give it a good 3 weeks before the hinge breaks off. Newsflash kids: You get what you pay for.

My question is: When can I get DD-WRT for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27669271)

Also, does anyone make a USB to multi-port Ethernet adapter?

dimensions? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669469)

Am I the only one who can't seem to find the dimensions and weight in the specs?

I mean, 7in screen tells something, but how hard is it to provide full dimensions?

the video is NOT for the Alpha 680 (1)

DrEasy (559739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27671753)

I actually RTFA: the video on that link is showing a prototype called the "i-Buddie" which is running on Intel Atom. That's not the same thing as the Alpha 680 which the bulk of the article is discussing. Mind you, I don't expect the Alpha to boot any faster, although it might, since it's not just a prototype like the "i-Buddie".

My question: is there a VGA output on the Alpha 680? If so, it would be a decent ultra-mobile device to use for slide-show presentations.

Also: where does the author get the $100 price point? There's no such info on the Skytone web site, or at least I didn't find any.

Re:the video is NOT for the Alpha 680 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27672303)

My question: is there a VGA output on the Alpha 680? If so, it would be a decent ultra-mobile device to use for slide-show presentations.

Yes, there is a VGA port on the side:

http://www.skytone.net.cn/en/products.php?bigclass=4&smallclass=15&show_type=1

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