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Video Review of Hivision's $100 ARM-Based Android Laptop

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the toward-marginal-cost dept.

Portables 220

Charbax writes "The Android laptops are coming. Thanks to cheap ARM-powered laptops made in China, and the latest, most optimized Android software, we can soon buy usable $100 laptops in all the supermarkets. In this video, I test the web browsing speed on the new Rockchip rk2808 ARM9-based PWS700CA laptop by Shenzhen-based Hivision Co Ltd. Web browsing on AJAX-heavy websites is surprisingly snappy, and could only be even faster if ARM11, ARM Cortex A8 or A9 processors were used and if it was configured with slightly more than 128MB RAM. How soon will Google release the $100 Google laptop?"

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220 comments

Obligatory (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958268)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those! Better yet, imagine a free Beowulf cluster of Google Adsense(tm)-supported laptops :)

Other distros? (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958294)

If I can put ubuntu on it I will be interested.

Re:Other distros? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958366)

I don't think you'd want to run Ubuntu with a full-blown Gnome desktop but it should do fine with Debian, a light-weight window manager, and a sensible selection of applications.

Re:Other distros? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958438)

Why not Ubuntu with a light-weight window manager and a sensible selection of applications?

Re:Other distros? (2, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958512)

From my half-hearted attempts, it's easier to build up from a net install of Debian than to strip down a highly customized Ubuntu.

The other argument you can consider is Debian doesn't do shit vs. Ubuntu keeps breaking shit.

There, now I've pissed everybody off.

If your gona piss everyone off, do it right. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958752)

Im installing Windows Vista on mine

Re:Other distros? (3, Informative)

gigabites2 (1484115) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958822)

Actually, there's a minimal iso image [ubuntu.com] for a net install and you can install a command-line-only system [ubuntu.com] from the alternate install disk. Both use a modified version of the Debian ncurses installer. I've used it both options a few times and found them to be very useful for building a lightweight system from the ground up.

Re:Other distros? (1)

DiLLeMaN (324946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958692)

Suddenly, it occurs to me that WindowMaker appears very touch-friendly to me. Big, clear targets. Calling up menus would prolly be a several-finger exercise, but still.

Re:Other distros? (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959024)

Enlightenment has finger dragging support in its scroll and list widgets. Even desktop installs of enlightenment behave that way.

Re:Other distros? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958484)

Maybe enlightenment. It runs well on my openmoko. I have run it on my eeepc as well. What I would like to see is a netbook with a keyboard and touchscreen, but no touchpad. Enlightenment works well with touch screens.

Re:Other distros? (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958642)

The Smart Q5/Q7 come with Ubuntu installed, and they have a similar speed (ARM) CPU.

Re:Other distros? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958772)

> The Smart Q5/Q7 come with Ubuntu installed, and they have a similar speed
> (ARM) CPU.

How much RAM? What desktop?

Re:Other distros? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958920)

But will it have enough juice to run Stellarium? [stellarium.org] Because if it will I can see selling a bunch of these to the local astronomy club. These would be just the right size to mount on a little post near their telescopes. Does it not have USB? Because mounting a USB camera to the telescopes and offloading to this to check them out would be nice.

But even if these won't cut it for the astronomy club I can see selling these to the local college kids easy as long as it gets decent battery life. I'm sure I would be able to move a "browser in a box" that does light note taking in class and gets decent battery life for say $150-$175, depending on how much I pay for them. Hell I wouldn't mind picking up one or two for myself, just for when I have to take the boys to their checkups just to give them something to do. I just hope these don't turn out to be vaporware like the last half a dozen times we have seen 'cheap ARM Netbooks' on /.

an ARM and not much of a leg (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959264)

I saw that one before Christmas at my local kmart for 150 clams. Not a hundred bucks yet, but getting there

Re:Other distros? (4, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958394)

Other distros? Sure would be nice, but the fact that they're ARM means it probably won't be ready just yet. This, by the way, is fantastic news.

The greatest thing about these laptops is, if they're as good as the article claims, the fact that they're ARM processors means that there won't be a version of Windows out for them for ages/ever.

That means that Microsoft can't just use its market share to bury the Linux versions by heavily discounting the OS, while using their deals with retailers to make sure they only stock the Windows versions, all the while pressuring the laptop manufacturers to increase the specs on them so they can run Windows 7 instead of XP which they're selling for so cheap (to compete with 'free') they're not making any money off it.

Re:Other distros? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958476)

That's OK - not many people will want this crap since it won't run Open Office (or other apps) very well.

Re:Other distros? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958578)

Other distros? Sure would be nice, but the fact that they're ARM means it probably won't be ready just yet.

SHR [openmoko.org] would probably work with a bit of kernel tweaking.

Re:Other distros? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958652)

Debian GNU/Linux on ARM

Current Status:

Debian fully supports a port to little-endian ARM. As of our latest release, Debian GNU/Linux 5.0.3, the following ARM sub-architectures are fully supported:

        * footbridge: we fully support Netwinder machines and Simtec's CATS evaluation board
        * iop32x: we support some IOP32x based Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, such as the Thecus N2100 and GLAN Tank
        * ixp4xx: we support the popular Linksys NSLU2 device.
        * orion5x: we support Marvell's new Orion platform and we have specific support for a number of devices, including the QNAP Turbo Station (TS-109, TS-209, TS-409) and HP mv2120.

http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/ [debian.org]

Re:Other distros? (1)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959296)

No offense but Microsoft doesn't have to use their market share because Linux doesn't have any at all. I've never seen an anti-linux commercial from Microsoft. Again, why should they spend money on fighting something that for the majority of the world's population doesn't exist?

Remember all those awesome Flash ads for Android that ran on CNN's website and were all over the television three weeks ago? Yeah, I haven't seen one since.

One more time Slashdot. You encompass about 0.0000001% of the population that actually spends money on things. Nobody cares.

Re:Other distros? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959390)

Gentoo Linux supports arm processors.

720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (2, Interesting)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958354)

From the article: "800×480 screen, 720p Video playback support"

Someone care to enlighten me as to how you get a 720 progressive-scan image on a screen that is only 480 pixels high?

Re:720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (4, Informative)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958384)

Sure. You can download a 720p video, and play it on the device. You don't have to pre-convert it to 800x480 (or 400x240, like I have to for my n810). That's all that spec means, is the source video can be 720p.

Re:720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (1)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958532)

I think what is meant that it plays rather smoothly, because it might be hardware accelerated. But the producer's homepage does not give too much information, and they say in the section "audio"(!): "OS Provided: andriod" (sic!)

I don't know how much I would trust that kind of company, but that are just my 2 cents.

Re:720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (2, Informative)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958624)

The Rockchip processor is capable of 720p video, it's in a lot of the $120 to $160 Chinese MP4 players that you can get from various importers. It's not that the screen supports 1280x720, but rather than you can play your existing files without converting the video down. I recently picked up a Ramos T11TE with a 5" screen, also 800x480. It had 16g internal memory plus a micro SD slot, because it has a Telechips TCC8901 processor, which can handle 1080p versus the more common Rockchip. For $158, I load my MKVs right onto it. It came FAT-32 but supports NTFS (no ExFat), so I can load files over 4gb and play them back. Compared to my own pre-flight method of converting video to MP4/h.264 Simple profile to support my iPhone, this is a much better answer. It even has a mini HDMI port, so I can actually show 1080p if so inclined.

Re:720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958392)

External monitor connector? Just a guess, far be it for me to read TFA.

Re:720p playback on a 800x480 screen?? (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958574)

800 > 720, so turn it sideways. And now for the humor impaired...

Cheap Enough (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958356)

My $350 netbook is still expensive enough for me to be somewhat protective of it it. At $100, it becomes something that is tossed somewhat casually into a backpack, or if it's small enough, a coat pocket. I'd buy a couple.

Re:Cheap Enough (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958656)

Meh. Buy one, and if it breaks in six months, buy one with better specs to replace it. There are a few devices with similar specs hitting the market at around this price at the moment, so I'll probably pick one up before the summer. Ideally something with a screen that works outside, so I can use it in the park.

I'll believe it when I can buy it. (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958390)

We've been hearing about ARM laptops/netbooks/smartbooks for over a year now. They were demoed at CES 2009, and promised to be delivered during 2009. Nothing came. They were demoed at CES 2010, and promised to be delivered during 2010.

I can't wait to slap down $200 to $300 for an ultralight, long-battery life, ARM-based netbook running Linux. But until they make it out of video reviews and trade shows and into stores or online for purchase, what good are they?

Lenovo Skylight is pretty much the first firm offering we've seen, but it ain't cheap. The Touchbook seems to be a Beagleboard in a nice case, and isn't being mass-produced like other netbooks. Now that the iPad is out (with an ARM-based processor) and MSI et al. have ARM offerings in the pipeline, with manufacturers finally grow some balls, realize they can offer a non-Intel machine and still use Intel on their other machines, and offer us some cheap ARM netbooks?

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958664)

The Smart Q5 and Q7 are shipping. The Nokia 770, N800 and N810 all shipped. The iPad is shipping in a couple of months.

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (3, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958748)

The Smart Q5 and Q7 are shipping. The Nokia 770, N800 and N810 all shipped. The iPad is shipping in a couple of months.

None of those are netbooks. They're all tablet-format devices. As far as I can tell, the Touchbook is the only ARM-based netbook (in the sense of having a dedicated keyboard) that you can actually go and order right now (and it's actually backordered, so you can't in fact receive it anytime soon).

Fine if you want a tablet - I don't. I want an ARM netbook.

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (5, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958824)

I thought everyone knew what happened in 2008. At the 2008 CES dozens of ARM "netbooks" running Linux were displayed and a big hit at the show. They were produced on ARM and Linux because Intel didn't have Atom yet so no cheap x86 processor with any horsepower, and Microsoft charged $89 for XP. The Linux netbook was heavily hyped at CES that year and MS took notice. They went to the netbook makers and asked what they needed to do to make sure every netbook came with windows. The Netbook makers said give us windows for $10 and we won't produce the Linux Netbooks. As a result MS priced windows for netbooks at $8 (ask for a windows refund on a netbook, they will offer $8, this has been documented). Intel at the same time produced the atom because they didn't want mass market ARM netbooks hitting the streets and eroding the x86 monopoly. They were able to produce it so quickly because all they did was basically die shrink the original pentium processor (didn't want it to be fast or it could erode regular notebook sales).

So you ask what killed the Arm Netbook? The answer is the WinTel duopoly got involved and killed it to prevent it from eroding the X86 Windows monopoly. MS and Intel work VERY hard to make sure ARM/Linux Netbooks aren't produced in volume or at prices that will hurt them. Cash incentives, marketing help and all sorts of bad behavior is going on to prevent this market from developing because they KNOW everyone wants a $100 cheap little web tablet/netbook that doesn't weigh much and gets great battery life and that the first one to market will set sales records. Hell the half-assed netbook that has crappy performance set sales records because of price, weight and battery life. The first person to hit good performance, under $200 and with at least 8 hours of battery is going to sell hundreds of millions of them. MS and Intel will do almost anything to make sure that it's not an ARM netbook (MS because the only OS they have that runs on ARM is windowsCE and Mobile, which are both very dated and very crappy compared to Android or Moblin) that's the first one to that goal.

Mark my words, you won't see mass market ARM netbooks produced unless a large government gets involved in an Anti-Trust action against both MS and Intel at the same time.

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959112)

Maybe linux on arm will take off because android is a linux distribution the masses will accept?

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959428)

h incentives, marketing help and all sorts of bad behavior is going on to prevent this market from developing because they KNOW everyone wants a $100 cheap little web tablet/netbook that doesn't weigh much and gets great battery life [...]

I don't. Much like tablet computers, I have never been able to figure out what I'd use a netbook for (especially an ARM-based one).

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959564)

Put Firefox and Abiword on it and you have a cheap browser in a box that can also take notes in class. If I could score them so I can sell them for $175 and make $40 profit on them I could flip these things like flapjacks at the local college. I could just sit on a bench with a sign that said "surf and take notes for up to 8 hours at a time-$175" and I would have them lined around the block!

That said, we have heard about these "cheap ARM netbooks" how many times on /. now? hell I've lost count. Most likely this will either never come out or will have some crazy $400-$500 price that will make them worthless. If it ain't able to run windows it had BETTER be under $200!

Re:I'll believe it when I can buy it. (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959146)

I can't wait to slap down $200 to $300 for an ultralight, long-battery life, ARM-based netbook running Linux

Nintendo DSi once somebody cracks it :)
DS Linux works on the DS but the low memory and WEP WiFi limits what you can do with it.

Android really fit for Netbooks? (4, Insightful)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958408)

Ok, so Android is pretty resource saving. It is pretty impressive that it can display 720p videos.
But now to the problem. Android is optimised for a touch screen. So, just to give an example, as also shown in the video in the article: When scrolling while browsing, you have to grab the page and "throw" it upwards. Also, there are buttons for zooming in and out.

So it will be interesting to see how some other minimal linuxes would fare.

But anyway, for that price, it is probably still worth it.

Re:Android really fit for Netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958516)

Now I'm wondering if it would be feasible to patch Android to have a mouse-friendly UI (scrollbars, etc.) without significantly breaking existing apps.

I don't know if the smartbook manufacturers aren't trying this because it's technically infeasible, or if they're too cheap to pay for any significant changes to the OS. I'm guessing the latter, given that most of the Android smartbooks seem to be coming from little Chinese companies I've never heard of before.

Interesting, but not the iPad-killer (2, Insightful)

hlh_nospam (178327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958414)

Quite an interesting device. I might even want one myself, but only if it gets support for YouTube. I didn't see any mention of how much storage it comes with, but I would hope that it at least comes with a couple of USB ports and an SD card slot -- and isn't hampered by the limitations of built-in storage like the G1. I would also hope that it would support PDF (which might make it a reasonable e-book reader).

The demo showed the virtual keyboard, which I thought was a bit of a waste, especially since it was not clear that the display was touch-sensitive.

As for the hope that a company like WalMart would pick this up and sell it for $100 or less, I don't think that will happen. Most of the folks that shop at WalMart are not techies, and in its present form, this is a netbook only a techie would put up with. It's certainly not the iPad-killer, even though I personally would not buy an iPad (or Kindle, or any other platform that allows the vendor to "repossess" content).

LOL!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958448)

Did you just try to pretend the Epic Fail that the entire computing world is still laughing at Apple over is some sort of benchmark other devices 'aspire to'???

Re:Interesting, but not the iPad-killer (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958700)

It has 1 USB port and an SD slot. It looks like it has space for a second USB port, but the specs don't mention it.

Re:Interesting, but not the iPad-killer (2, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959138)

The iPad needs to be released, and be wildly successful, before we start talking about 'iPad-killers.'

Re:Interesting, but not the iPad-killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30959412)

Nothing wrong with killing it in the cradle =D

Re:Interesting, but not the iPad-killer (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959496)

As for the hope that a company like WalMart would pick this up and sell it for $100 or less

WalMart needs product to fill 2500 stores.

Hivision's [hvsco.com] site doesn't quote a retail price. It doesn't quote a wholesale price.

Their English language contacts use Hotmail and Skype. The company has been around for about ten years. Mostly they seem to make digital photo frames and Win CE netbooks.

Sure, the web browsing may be snappy... (2, Insightful)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958422)

... but that doesn't change the fact that most websites suck when viewed on an 800x480 screen.

Re:Sure, the web browsing may be snappy... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958524)

Get a few hundred million 800x480 screens into the wild and maybe some web developers will take notice and start developing more accessible pages?

Re:Sure, the web browsing may be snappy... (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958720)

Well in a sense that many pages expect to layout at 1024 horizontal pixels. Even with pages that flow properly, 480 pixels high still makes for a lot of scrolling.

I wouldn't buy one myself but it seems no coincidence that Apple's new device has standard XGA, 1024x768.

Re:Sure, the web browsing may be snappy... (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958640)

I have 3 Android devices and all of them do a fairly good job of rendering websites for "Mobile" display. In fact, I am currently working on porting my Wordpress sites to a mobile friendly auto-switching theme bases on visits from mobile devices.

Just because it's laptop shaped doesn't mean it will display websites like a full PC would. It'll display mobile versions, which are still perfect for that resolution.

I just want Cyanogen to make a mod for this sucker.

Re:Sure, the web browsing may be snappy... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958978)

The iPhone has far lower resolution that that and some folks seem to like it for browsing..

Zoom (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959636)

The iPhone has far lower resolution that that and some folks seem to like it for browsing..

It has lower actual resolution, but you are really viewing websites at more like 1024x768 or so scaled down, then zooming in on portions. But even in the zoomed out view, I can read pretty much everything on the Slashdot homepage.

Without touch controls on the screen zooming is way too annoying on a laptop.

Milestone (5, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958428)

I've always felt that $100 was the magic barrier for turning a netbook into an impulse buy, and that if the barrier was ever reached it would truly become a mass market phenomenon. What I want to see now is an attempt to make the screens a little larger and obviously specs a little faster over time, all while maintaining that same price point.

Re:Milestone (2, Insightful)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958596)

i got a netbook recently for use in court and i am so impressed with it, I am LOOKING for other reasons to use it. The battery life is OUTSTANDING! It lasted all day all the while playing video and audio. Seriously, it can't get much better than this unless it has a touch screen! (and non stop inet acces). But if android comes along with a $100 price point, I'm in! Just for the "yeah i'll check it out" factor. But my samsung netbook is kickin ass right now.

Re:Milestone (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958706)

Only if it can do what people want. I would love to have such a cheap option for my kids, but they'll only use it they can play flash games and watch video on the web, and do their homework on it. But you can't run flash on there, and OpenOffice wouldn't run well with 128 MB RAM. Getting closer though!

Re:Milestone (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958898)

At $100, I'm going to buy it for the pickers in the warehouse I work for. I've been wanting to switch to a digital pick system, but the devices are either to fragile to drop from 20' up in a lift or too expensive to buy.

This is probably still too fragile and not quite so cheap that I'd be entirely cavalier about breakage, but I could buy 3 of these instead of a netbook(or 1 Office license!), cover them in spray foam and cannibalize the first break to fix the next.

If only I could buy them now.

Re:Milestone (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959542)

Yeah, "I would buy too, if it just had ...".

It will be missing good quality keyboard, 1280x720 display, 200gig SSD drive, 4gig memory, quad cores, OpenCL, 1000 hour battery life, weight less than 1kg, WiFi and 3G. And will be too expensive - I'd pay only 50.

Translation: What it will miss is mass appeal.

TFA is blocked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958478)

Why would the hospital I work for block TFA at our firewall? Do they somehow know I shouldn't read it before posting?

WTF.

Make mine a slate, please! (1)

dokebi (624663) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958486)

Yes, I see all the limitations of a tablet. But as an internet consumption device, it is an ideal form factor. And at $100, I can replace it every 6 months.

Finally, something I want to buy.

Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (2, Interesting)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958498)

Ok can someone please explain why a cell phone with less power then this laptop costs around 300 bucks and that apparently still does not cover the mfg costs of the device hence the locked in contracts to recoup phone costs? Yet this laptop with an arm proc and a larger screen and more moving parts can be sold at 100??? The iPhone costs $179 to mfg.. Pre $138... g1 $140

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (2, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958606)

Quick guess, cheaper but bigger and heavier components. Same reason desktops are relatively cheaper than laptops.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958610)

Miniaturization and 'i am so cool now cause i own one of these'-prize inflation come to mind here.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958662)

Ok can someone please explain why a cell phone with less power then this laptop costs around 300 bucks and that apparently still does not cover the mfg costs of the device hence the locked in contracts to recoup phone costs? Yet this laptop with an arm proc and a larger screen and more moving parts can be sold at 100??? The iPhone costs $179 to mfg.. Pre $138... g1 $140

Very good question there. $100 seems almost too cheap, though I agree with other people's comments that this price point is a game changer - that's an impulse buy for a lot of people, and something attainable for many,many more with some planning and saving. So how can this work for the manufacturers? Does it have anything to do with GSM/CDMA licensing/development/hardware, or the lack thereof in this case?
I still dig my G1, but if I could get something else with a bigger, better screen and that smokes the phone but is still highly portable for only $100, I'd buy one immediately.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958708)

Cell phones are actually quite hard to integrate. Batteries are smaller so you have to suspend a lot. You have to come out of suspend fast and not muck up the phone module as you do it. You have to wake up on an incoming call and start ringtones, etc. Openmoko distros frequently break on simple upgrades in weird ways, I tend to upgrade infrequently for that reason.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958718)

Licensing for 3G and 2G and other cell phone chip hardware is expensive.

Also, you have to add additional interfaces (SIM card interface, internal antenna, etc) that increase the cost of delivery and design.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958844)

> Licensing for 3G and 2G and other cell phone chip hardware is expensive.

Phone chip hardware is expensive, full stop. Microwave rf is not bit-banging. It involves hairy analog circuitry using uncooperative exotic semiconductors.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959228)

Given two devices that do the same thing:

1) The bigger one will cost more
2) The one with less battery life will cost more
3) The effects of #1 and #2 compound dramatically.

As in, small batteries holding lots of charge are expensive. Working well on less charge is expensive. Smaller components are generally more expensive.

Oh, and custom processors are more expensive than off-the-shelf ones.

Re:Laptop vs Cellphone Costs (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959348)

> 1) The bigger one will cost more
> 2) The one with less battery life will cost more

Those should both have said "less" of course....

A comment (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958530)

That is one fugly netbook with very limited memory. I might buy one as a play computer for my two year old. Otherwise - its a fail.

Re:A comment (2, Funny)

dannycim (442761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958566)

It's running Android, not windows, so it's got plenty of memory.

Re:A comment (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958576)

(Score: -1, Troll)

Re:A comment (1)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958890)

Not to mention it's got 16 times as much memory as a Cray-1 bleeding supercomputer. I don't know which is sadder, the fact that it's surprising that something so much more powerful than a supercomputer needs a video demonstration to prove it can successfully view a webpage, or the fact that some people can't think of anything to do with a supercomputer beyond giving it to a 2 year-old.

Re:A comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958950)

rock on, bro! your reply to the "i'm too good for this piddly shit" pretentious jackass made my day.

Re:A comment (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959254)

So what? I've got a 64MB Toshiba Portege that runs Win98 and DSL. What is it useful for? I gave the thing to my 6 year old so that she can run TuxPaint.

Yes its cheap. No it doesn't do anything much useful.

At best its a thin client for Google's online software. Its not a supercomputer because it doesn't do anything that a supercomputer would do.

gPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958604)

netbooks suck the air out of a room, I have a drawer full. Not as good as a laptop, not as portable as a phone.

Rip the display off the laptop, stuff the electronics into it, replace the keyboard/base with a snap-on bluetooth keyboard, speakers, extended battery, slot DVD drive base. When I want a tablet, I snap the computer off the base. When I want a laptop, I snap it together and it closes like a normal laptop.

Think macbook air that comes apart. It's *so* doable with very little additional cost or engineering over what it currently is. All the connectors are in the lid/display/computer, so when it snaps off, you can connect it somewhere else. (eg: display and audio out, USB

Re:gPad (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30958778)

They are great on public transport where space is limited. I can carry my eeepc to places where my wife would want to know why I am taking a full sized laptop.

Not the right question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958704)

The question is not when the $100 Google Laptop is coming, but when the "Ad-Supported" Free Google Laptop is coming.

I hope to see these devices at my local stores... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30958926)

It would be cool to see these for sale at Best Buy for $119. Hopefully these will become a big competitor to Microshaft when it comes to netbooks.

$100 ??? You get what you pay for. (1, Interesting)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959014)

News for nerds, hardly - it's a toy. With all the hype over the iPad, here are a few pointers for something some of us would actually buy:
  1. Pick a standard LCD size that can display 720p content, e.g. 1366x768 seen in some 11" netbooks.
  2. Use a mainstream distro like Ubuntu on it but allow those in the know to install distro-of-choice. e.g. Ubuntu is hinting at support for android's software stack
  3. Stick a decent amount of RAM in it. 4GB seems to be the limit on 32bit, make it an option.
  4. Mini HDMI so we can plug into our 1080 TVs
  5. Touch screen, xorg has multitouch now. But allow choice, some prefer styluses...
  6. A camera, if only for skypeing relatives
  7. Bluetooth, wifi, 3G, usb, ethernet
  8. keyboard optional, iPad will show there's a market for both

In short a real competitor to both the iPad and Atom Netbooks. Cut out the Windows tax and Apple DRM and there's your niche. All these things are possible today with a decent dual core SoC like Tegra 2. Wake me up when such a device actually exists but be warned it won't be for $100.

Yes I know there's a detachable machine with beagleboard specs but let's see the next-gen that doesn't feel as sluggish as a desktop from 1999.

Re:$100 ??? You get what you pay for. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959288)

If it has mini HDMI to plug into a bigger screen, 11" built in screen is too big (unless it is foldable). Personally, I want a keyboard, but I think there might be a market for one with just touch screen. Price needs to be below $300. If you can get it below $200, it is a game changer. It seems that all of the manufacturers introduce cheap machines then try to leverage that to higher priced machine.

Re:$100 ??? You get what you pay for. (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959430)

Well if you want a keyboard, good luck typing on this device. If you look at the picture in the article, compare the man's hand span to the size of the keyboard. My personal preference is that anything smaller than 11" is too small for real typing (and yes I have battled with 10.4 inch screens at work). Unless you have very deep pockets, you still need a satchel or backpack to carry these things in be they 7 inches or 11.

A keyboard-less iPad would suffice but my preference for external output is that one can dock one's on-the-road device and plug in a keyboard, mouse and display when at home.

Without this, you still need a secondary desktop machine for anything more than basic computing. My point is that these higher-end ARM chips are reaching a point where aside from playing crysis and other heavy operations they'll suffice for the average desktop. But not at a $100 price point and if you have to maintain a separate home machine is it such a bargain? I'd rather spend more on a single device that can do both.

Will it bring another wave of newbies? (2, Insightful)

lpaul55 (137990) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959316)

My prediction: when the $100 barrier is broken and laptops are in the supermarkets, the impact of this on the internet will be comparable to that of AOL.

Re:Will it bring another wave of newbies? (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959418)

[sarcasm]

You mean we'll use them for coasters like we did with AOL's disks and CDs?

Or do you mean it will bankrupt the company which produces them into oblivion after the bubble bursts?

[/sarcasm]

Not a $100 laptop (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959388)

TFA uses a simplistic economic fallacy to argue that the price will be around $100:

The price has not yet been announced officially... But you can understand that if Hivision was able to sell those types of laptops for $98 to distributors more than a year ago (when I filmed my popular video from IFA 2008), then surely the mass manufacturing price has not gone up since then. My expectation is that if a giant consumer electronics reseller such as Walmart or Best Buy approaches Hivision today to order huge quantities of this laptop, it could be sold below $100 to end users.

He's assuming that any given tech drops in price by a huge percentage every year. If that were true, IBM would still be making 8088-based PCs and selling them for a few bucks. (Take the $2K 1981 price and divide by 2 about 15 times.) Instead, you can't buy a new 8088-based system for any price — it's not worth Intel's while to even manufacture the chip, never mind somebody else to build a system around it.

There's always a certain minimum cost to any manufacturing process. Scaling up reduces costs, and so does Moore's law, but only to a point. You'll always have to pay for materials, factory space, workers, shipping, marketing, etc. Some of these things are cheaper outside the U.S., but again, only to a point.

I'm not sure what the minimum cost for manufacturing a computer is, but I very much doubt that it's much below $100. When manufacturers reach that minimum, they can't keep cutting prices, no matter how much the electronics improve, bang-for-buck-wise. So instead, they find a good price point, and provide the best product they know how to for that price. The result: low end products don't get cheaper, they get better.

I couldn't begin to guess how much these new ARM laptops will sell for. It will have to be a lot less than the competing Atom-based systems, or else no one will buy them. But I doubt if the retail price will ever go below $200, not if they're sold by anybody who's in it for the money.

Of course, even a $200 laptop would be damned popular. And a couple years after they come out, you'll be able to buy used ones on eBay for a pittance.

where can i buy it? (2, Informative)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959398)

TFA is only speculating at the price. really, let's see this article when there's a link where this device can be purchased.

I don't want it (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30959620)

The end goal of the "net-book"/ :net-device" fad is this....they are trying to steal your right to anything you do with a computer. You write a song? No hard-drive, no personal storage, no personal storage, no proof it was ever yours! You design a new piece of software? The geek on the dark side of you desktop already has it compiled and sitting in front of several potential buyers. The fad is meant to bring about the dissolution of personal ownership (at least ownership by the unclean masses anyway) and materialism itself. Serfdom unlike any before, where a minor glitch can turn a prince to a pauper, and personal failure in EVERYTHING can not only be internally conditioned, but externally manufactured as well. In other words, 1984 is nothing compared to what they have in mind. I for one will have nothing to do with it (if I can avoid it). It might be a little harder to play computer games while in-flight, but I think I can live with that knowing that I won't have to be online just to check my available drive-storage (and paying some schmuck $29 a month for the right to access it!).

-Oz
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