Acer Planning Dual Boot For All Dual Core Netbook Models

Rumor has it that Acer is planning to make dual boot a standard feature on all of their dual core netbook models. And that dual boot includes a Windows 7 install sitting beside an Android install of all things. If it was some other distro of Linux like MeeGO, Jolicloud, Ubuntu Netbook or even the newly releases SmeeGol, — then things could’ve been slightly different.

Continue reading Acer Planning Dual Boot For All Dual Core Netbook Models

UK Soon To Get Toshiba AC100 Android Netbook

Toshiba’s [TYO:6502] Ac10 Android running netbook garnered quite a lot of attention when it was first released in Japan earlier this year. It became probably the first netbook ever to become available for purchase with the Google [NASDAQ:GOOG] mobile OS Android running on it. However, anyone who wanted to pick one up had no other option than to buy it from Japan. But it seems like that is about to change as Toshiba UK plans to launch it in the UK.

The hint that Toshiba UK might start selling the AC100 in the country comes from the fact that the company has put up a page for the product on the official website. The minisite is complete with detailed specs of the netbook/smartbook and gallery images.

Some prefer calling it a smartbook because it is essentially a mini-laptop that is powered by the mobile SoC from NVIDIA [NASDAQ:NVDA] called Tegra. The AC100 is using the Tegra 2 chipset. This chipset is already quite battery efficient and powerful. So put into a mini-laptop form factor with a mobile OS, it can become the perfect companion device to carry around. Something that is faster than a netbook’s typical full fledged OS and not as expensive or as limited (in some cases) as a tablet.

It has a 10.1inch screen with a native resolution of 1024×600 pixels, so it is not very different from your average netbook. But one good news is that it running the latest version of the mobile OS — Android 2.1. As for the battery life, Toshiba says that you can get 8 hours of life out of it with about 180 hours of stand by. Storage on the Ac100 is in the form of a 128GB SSD and memory is a 512MB of DDR2 — which probably the maximum memory for any Android device right now.

The only worry right now is that this OS was built for touchscreen devices. So this probably not the right form factor for it.

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Mobinnova Beam Spotted Running Android, G’Bye Windows CE

mobinova-android-03-25-2010

Just as Mobinnova had promised use even before they released the Beam, the netbook is now running Android instead of Windows CE. Good riddance I say — that OS is getting really old really fast when compared to the latest crop. Beam has made the switch over Android and it seems like Laptop Mag got some time alone with it. How nice!

As is evident from the image above, things haven’t changed much in the Android world. You still have that little tab that gives you access to all you need. The status bar is also there on top and the home screen seems to be acting like a nice little desktop substitute. The only thing that has visibly changed is the size of the display on which Android is running. We are way too used to seeing Android run on mobile phones. So when we see a large 8.9inch device running Android, the sheer number of icons fitting onto one screen is slightly unsettling.

More than unsettling, it is somewhat too busy for the eyes. They really should’ve tried to create a custom UI or at least create a few tweaks with a skin. Nevertheless, at least they have saved porting time by not doing those things.

The new Android model also features some other enhancements, other than the Android that is. There seem to be new media buttons on the keyboard and the CinemaNow software comes pre-installed so that you start downloading movies at once. As is to be expected — you cannot access the Android market from the Beam. It’s just too different at the hardware level  for that.

Since this is based on NVIDIA’s Tegra, it will have some games to show off its graphics capabilities. And the company is working on its own app store, much like everyone else in the market.

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HiVision’s PWS700A $100 Netbook Gets Video Review

hivision_pws700ca_android_netbook-540x416Like it or not, Google’s mobile OS Android has become the magic ingredient that makes cheap netbooks a reality. And I am not talking about $200 cheap. I am talking about $100 cheap or lower, in fact. This might not sound believable at first because we have reported $100 netbooks before and those have been barely usable. However, they did not have Android.

The man over at ARM Devices is pretty crazy about anything that has an ARM chip inside it. Hence, he usually has his hands on some pretty interesting gear and this time he has the HiVision PWS700A starring in a video demo. Hivision has made something that many thought would be an impossibility but they have made a netbook that fits under the $100 mark. It is not the retail price of course, that would be slightly higher than $100.

Still, Charbax of ARM Devices surmises that with a large enough order and the falling prices of the components, the retail price might finally work out cheaper than $100. The resultant device is not meant for your daily use at all. In fact, I think it should be contraindicated against such usage on the back. “May cause sever annoyance to extreme annoyance if used daily”!

It has a 7inch screen, seems to have a USB drive and a card slot, a prominent ethernet port and speakers on the side of the screen. Looks pretty snappy on the surfing but won’t take much multitasking, if any.

But that does not mean that this Rockchip RK2808 (ARM926) powered device can’t get work done. Even at only 600MHz, this thing can play back video at 720p. And thanks to the  Android OS, the PWS700A does not have a UI that looks like it is meant to cause you pain and frustration. So long Windows CE.

The WVGA screen doesn’t really help matters any but hey, the fact that you are getting a complete working system and not just barebones for this price should have you praying gratefully at the feet of the tech Gods. So if you want something cheap to surf on and off on when you are mobile and you are pressed for cash — get this one. Else get a MSI Wind!

Entourage eDGe Further Bridging eBook Readers And Netbooks

Entourage eDGe Final versionEntourgae’s eDGe is neither an eBook reader and nor is it a netbook. It is what the company calls a ‘Dualbook’, which is essentially the juxtaposition of both an eInk screened eBook reader and a LCD touchscreen bearing netbook/UMPC.

It has been looking very interesting from the very beginning and now some new videos courtesy of netbooknews.de, we can see what we can expect from the device at the very least.

Scheduled for early 2010, the very first version of the eDGe was shown off at an event. Although this version is significantly thicker than what the final product is expected to look like, it shows off very nicely what we can expect from the device.

Both the screens are touch oriented with the eInk screen supporting a digital pen for scribblling directly on to the screen. The LCD touchscreen seems quite responsive in the videos and it certainly looks like the company is on the right track with this.

It was already known that the device uses a Marvell chipset underneath it all. Now we are informed that the processor is an Armada PX168. Entourage has also claimed that the device will be able to playback video in HD quality and it will support true 3D graphics. Although those are not always priorities on a device like this, their presence means that the device will be extremely powerful.

Running Android on the device must’ve been a no-brainer for the developers. The OS truly compliments the device and gives the developers the flexibility that they need in order to make such a unique device work. Overall, the eDGe seems like just the thing that will eliminate the need to carry both an eBook reader and a netbook.

Asus To Make $180 Smartbook

asus-eee-2g-surf-laptopSpeculation throughout the Internet suggest that Asus is going to make an extremely cheap portable that will run Android and will cost less that $200. This sounds like the mythical $100 laptop, which has not been achieved with any reasonable success as of yet.

These speculations broke out after Asus’ CEO was interviewed by a Korean news site. In the interview, he seems to be talking about a new device that the company will be releasing in the year 2010. Jerry Shen (CEO, Asustek) said that his company is in the process of making a smartbook and tey will be launching it in the first quarter of 2010.

Smartbooks are different from netbooks. They are usually less powerful than netbooks and are also smaller. Smartbooks are made generally for the lowest rung of computing needs and are popular as devices that are given to younger students. They are usually made to be durable and cheap so that they can be made, purchased and distributed in bulk.

However, smartbooks do not have a clearly defined line that separates them from the netbooks. With technology evolving so fast, both segments seem to be overlapping at quite a few points. Hence, Asus’ target to make this smartbook needs more details before any estimated can be made about its performance and reception.

But there are already talks about what OS the netbook is going to use. Smartbooks are usually sold with an embedded OS because of the lack of resources. These are usually system-on-a-chip solutions that require very little resources. But since the price point was given at something around $184 (converted from Korean Won), it is unlikely to run Windows. And since the Android OS is already open source and so very sophisticated, that is likely to be a good choice. Other embedded OS’ are not nearly as advanced as the Android. Also, they are not as well maintained and supported by third-party developers.

Entourage Introduces Dual Screen eBook Reader Cum Netbook Device

enTourage eDGeEntourage is not a very well known company. In fact, if you go to their website, you will see that they have only one product there. But this one product is quite something. It is called the eDGe and it is at once a netbook and an eBook reader. The idea is simple and hence quite brilliant.

Many of us have taken to reading eBooks on a regular basis and the readers that we use are quite good at the job. The e-Ink screen makes sure that they last really long. But the eBook readers themselves don’t do much else. So you are stuck carrying around an extra device all the time.

The main thing that we need on the move is connectivity to the Internet and productivity in the form of viewing, editing and exchanging documents. A lot of us carry netbooks for that. But a netbook will not last through hours and hours of reading. The screen just uses too much battery for that.

So this company has combined an e-Ink screen with a fully functional netbook featuring an LCD screen. And they are interconnected so that you can view images in full color while reading a book, for example. You can use either or both screens at the same time and battery life is suitable for all day long trips. If you use only the reader screen, you will get more than 16 hours of usage and the netbook part is rated at 6 hours of usage. So over all, with regular mixed use you should get about 8-9 hours of battery life.

It is currently on pre-order and the arrival date is February 2010. The price is $490 and for the things it does, it is worth it. The LCD screen is multitouch and the netbook runs on Android.

Google To Launch It’s Own Chrome OS Netbook

chromebookNot content with only third party manufacturers making devices with their open source OS platforms, Google is rumored to be planning to bring out their own line of branded phones and netbooks.

This has been spreading as a rumor from a blogger who cites unknown sources within Google claiming this to be one of the major things coming from Google in 2010.

The first ever full scale OS from Google – the Chrome OS, is still under development. Half-baked versions of the OS have been sought by obscure Chinese companies (as we reported sometime back) but they are likely to have been denied already. It would be unwise for any company to release something so very anticipated in a state that is far from stable and fit for mass use.

Hence, the Chrome OS launch is still slated for next year but it looks like there will be at least one Google-branded netbook in the market that runs the Chrome OS exactly as Google intended it to be run.

Google is apparently in talks with a Chinese company who will be manufacturing both the mobile handset and the netbook, according to the blogger who reports this. It is not entirely too difficult for any company to make a phone these days, as long as they get at least one part right. For example, Android is in such high demand because there are great handsets makers but they need something as sophisticated as the iPhone OS to be taken seriously.

Google already has all the data they need and they have the software too. So commissioning another company to make the handset according to their specifications does sound like the next logical step.

Skytone Alpha 680 Android Netbook

Skytone Alkpha 680 PromoGoogle has been developing the Chrome OS for netbooks and Android was meant as a mobile OS for next generation smartphones. However, manufacturers are seeing the Android platform as quite a stable and robust OS that can easily power a small device that does not have the power or inclination to run Windows XP.

The problem here is of course that Android was never meant for something like a netbook. Even placing it on an MID like the Archos 5 is something of a stretch. But that is not going to keep manufacturers from experimenting with this exciting new platform.

The Skytone Alpha 680 has been built along those lines of thought and it runs on the Android OS. However, Skytone either did not have the budget or the inclination or both for decent UI customization. As a result, the OS does not seem very user-friendly.

Thankfully, the 7inch device does have a touchscreen that can be folded over the keyboard and used like a mini-tablet. That way, it is much easier to think of it as a smartphone that cannot make phone calls. The device is not likely to sell very well though because there is not built in networking feature on it. Even Wi-Fi needs to be bought as a separate adapter.

There has been a smattering of Android experiments on netbooks and quite a few manufacturers have surely flirted with the idea. But Google has jolted them all out of their musings by reminding them that a great netbook OS is coming very soon to the world and it is called the Chrome OS and not Android.

Acer Working on Android Netbook

The Current Aspire One Models From Acer

The Current Aspire One Models From Acer

The Android OS has become plenty common in smartphones and MIDs. We had the Archos 5 MID using the Android OS and there are quite a few Android phones in the market right now. What has not been common is Android being used on Netbooks. Now even though Google is working on a separate OS for the netbooks, namely the Chrome OS, putting the Android OS on netbooks should not be too bad. In fact, it might actually be a very good idea.

That is because the Android OS is meant to run on low resources and is tuned to perform well even under low-powered conditions. Running it on netbooks might mean super fast response actually. However, adapting the UI for a keyboard and mouse setup might prove challenging. So far, it has only been used on touchscreen phones.

The Chrome OS is a good few months away with most major manufacturers looking at releases dates sometime next year. In all likelihood, we will see a major roll out about this time next year.

Acer has not officially announced the Android netbook yet but major tech blogs have already posted information leaks that give out the details. The netbooks will not be solely dependant on Android but will dual boot with Microsoft Windows XP. Looks like Windows 7 needs more time to eclipse XP completely. Perhaps half a decade or so more.

This new netbook is expected to be out before the holidays hit, with the leaks putting it sometime this November. It will be part of Acer’s current Aspire One line of netbooks and configuration-wise it should not be that much different from existing Windows based netbooks. Since the lowest Aspire One starts from $350, the new Android dual-booting netbook will possibly hover around the $400 range. Acer is also expected to bring out Android phones sometime next year.