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ARM-Powered Linux Laptops Unveiled At Computex 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-and-what-arm dept.
Charbax writes "At Computex in Taipei on June 2-6th, several companies unveiled ARM-powered laptops that are cheaper ($99 to $199), last much longer on a regular 3-cell battery (8-15 hours) and can still add cool new features such as a built-in HDMI 720p or 1080p output, 3D acceleration, connected standby and more. The ARM Linux laptops shown as working prototypes at Computex will run Ubuntu 9.10 (optimized for ARM), Google Android, Xandros OS for ARM, or some Red Flag Linux type of OS. In this video, the Director of Mobile Computing at ARM, is giving us all the latest details on the status for the support of full Flash (with all actionscripts), the optimizations of the web browser (accelerating rendering/scrolling using the GPU/DSP), the stuff that Google is working on to adapt Android 2.0 Donut release for laptop screens and interfaces and more. At Computex I also filmed an interview with the Nvidia team working on Tegra laptops, the Qualcomm people working on Snapdragon devices and the Freescale people doing their awesomely thin ARM laptops in cooperation with manufacturers such as Pegatron as well."
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ARM-Powered Linux Laptops Unveiled At Computex

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  • by jginspace (678908) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ecapsnigj}> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:38AM (#28240911) Homepage Journal
    Well, they're not going to run Windows any time soon. Good opportunity here. I hope the application availability is going to be good - as a Nokia Tablet user I've been running a variant of Linux on a ARM processor for some time now and I can't wait to get my hands on a ARM netbook.
  • Come on, guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:54AM (#28240993)

    I looked at the pictures in the article and was crestfallen. I don't want some half assed useless handheld toy.. I want an ARM powered real, usable laptop with an 8.9-11.1" display, readable outdoors in daylight , with a real keyboard, that will be everything that all netbooks to date have emphatically not been. Something with true 20+ hour battery life while doing useful work. It should have WiFi and mobile broadband. An ARM would be more than powerful enough for taking notes, surfing, reading and replying to email, etc. Ubuntu 9.04 would be just perfect. I would pay real money for this. I thought the HP2133 would be it, but mine is going unused. You can barely read the display in a dark room, let alone daylight or even a bright office. The Lenovo X301 is about the closest I have come, but it is a long way from where it needs to be, and brutally expensive.

  • Re:Link whoring (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jginspace (678908) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ecapsnigj}> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:56AM (#28241001) Homepage Journal
    Submitter was trying to squeeze in yet another techvideoblog.com link.
  • by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:03AM (#28241035) Journal

    Yeah, because Microsoft shareholders are just desperate for yet another massive antitrust case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:13AM (#28241095)

    Oh, to be young and naive again...

  • Re:Come on, guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:16AM (#28241119) Homepage

    You want a good laptop, and that's the problem. The industry has always moved toward pretty, flashy or buzzy devices, at the expense of usability and performance.

    That's why today's laptops still get only 1.5 to 2 hours on a charge. That's why 15" and 17" models are cheaper than travel-friendly sizes. That's why they can barely survive traveling in a padded bag. People would much rather pay for a shiny useless gadget, than an ugly functional one. The netbook is only the most recent cristallization of this attitude, users think of them as "cute toys". Some brands do offer a workable laptop, and they're all too happy to charge $3000+ for the "luxury" of a machine that cost maybe 10% more in parts and labor.

  • by siloko (1133863) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:30AM (#28241193)
    I agree with the sentiment but this a a trade show and the designs on offer are by "industrial designers from the Savannah College of Art and Design". I am not saying they won't come to market . . . well, to chuck in a gratuitous car reference - how many of those concept cars that we see at motor shows actually make it to mass production?
  • by Celeste R (1002377) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:04AM (#28241377)

    Fragmentation may be an issue, but trying to fix fragmentation by making a one-shot wonder isn't going to make it less fragmented, it's only going to make it more so.

    Especially because it -is- Linux... I'm sure there's still people out there that are using e9 and xfce (for their own reasons).

    I myself am not disappointed with the fragmented nature of things. It gives me choice. I got tired of toying with GNOME, so I moved to KDE.

    Both of them have good applications, and yes, there are some applications that I'd still use over the 'native' counterparts, because they're just that much better. That's not a problem (to me) either.

    Android is lighter and all; which is a significant plus. Providing an alternative to the heavyweights (like X) is a good thing! However, as another alternative, it's only going to fragment the landscape that much more. (i.e. can I run Android apps on my linux netbook? yes, but only if you run a container app).

    And then, I have to ask: would you still want to use that KDE or GNOME app on your android netbook? Would you want it to be -capable- of running GNOME or KDE apps? (at worst, this means running a minimalized X server on top of Android).

    The only solution to being able to run those apps at all would mean getting a high-end smartbook. This would include things like more ram, some sort of hard drive (I'd go with SSD here), and things like that.

    And in the meantime, the general public would have to deal with a limited application environment. Which... isn't a big problem, provided it can at least do the basics.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:14AM (#28241425)

    > I don't understand who are going to sell these when Microsoft call them up and say...

    Notice who is doing this. Mobile phone carriers, mobile chipset makers, etc. are the driving force behind this effort. They came together and did Symbian because they understood letting Windows in would end up with them in the PC situation where Microsoft is the one making the bulk of the profit. So if Microsoft had the ability to hurt them I'd think they would have crushed them like bugs already.

    Remember also that Chinese contract manufacturers live in a totally different world where Microsoft has no influence. Get consumer electronics instead of PC makers to do the end marketing and again, Microsoft can't hurt them. That just leaves the retailers. Yes Microsoft owns a while isle in Best Buy so they might keep these guys out of there for an Xmas or two. And frankly Best Buy will fear them on their own for their ability to turn a $500 laptop purchase into a $200 netbook sale. Until the wireless carriers put them in the part of Best Buy THEY own bubdles with a 3G contract. And what of Walmart, Walgreens, etc. These puppies are cheap and heading down. Sooner or later they show up as impulse purchase items at Big Lots in blister packs. How much leverage does Microsoft have with any of those markets?

  • Re:Price? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:18AM (#28241459)

    For them Windows is much better, because all the Chinese software that everybody around them is already using will work, and they don't give a hoot about piracy. In fact, lots of them don't even have a concept of "software piracy". Software is just something you copy from someone else, or buy from the street vendor for a dollar.

    But the box to run it on is 3 months pay... The "Free" WinXP gets very expensive that way. This is one place MS can't just get market share with Piracy. But they will try with WinCE. They can not just abandon the market... And WinCE can't run WINE and Windows apps either...

  • Re:$99 huh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 07, 2009 @01:07PM (#28242253)

    I have an Asus Eee 100 0HE. It ships sans optical drive, and that was one reason why I wanted it. Considerable power savings, and really, most folks who have a netbook have another more powerful machine. Just rip and encode from CD/DVD to a file and enjoy. This netbook has a 160GB drive which is quite capable of holding a good bit of my FLAC files or H.264 videos.

    Then again, I'm biased against optical media. Once you've managed to archive all of your music and movies to files on a disk (or more likely an array of them), you'll wish everything were just a file.

  • by boredomist (1570917) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @01:12PM (#28242307)
    Way to feed that troll. (Even though it wasn't really a troll, but more of a joke) :)
  • by fnj (64210) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @02:59PM (#28243161)

    The kicker is that display, mass storage, and wireless power start to predominate as you drop well below 10 watts in terms of total system power. These other components have a long way to go. Until then, the CPU could take 0.01 watts and battery life would still be a big disappointment.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @06:05PM (#28244565) Journal

    But you did research before making hardware purchases, yes? You see, there is the catch. Joe and Jane Public NEVER do research on anything less expensive than a car. They walk into best buy and go "Oohhh sale!" and add it to their cart.

    Here, try the "hairyfeet challenge" and see for yourself. Open up three tabs in your browser. go to Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com, and Staples.com. These are the big three when it comes to retail PC peripherals sales. Now in each store you place these three things, which are the big sellers here, and NO RESAERCH!. Remember, you are an average consumer. No cheating! Ready? An all in one printer, a USB Wifi stick, and a USB TV Tuner. Now if you want this simulation to be accurate, buy the cheapest, as most consumers buy on price. Now go to...lets say Ubuntu, go to their forums and see if the nine items you just "purchased" as three average shoppers works. Go on, I'll wait.

    They don't work, do they? I'll wager you won't get a whole cart out of the store without doing research. I'm sure you also avoided lexmark to try to tip the odds in your favor even though a consumer wouldn't know about lexmark support and wouldn't do that. You see, Linux is GREAT for servers and the enterprise markets. It is great because major corporations spend major bucks on making damned sure that server hardware "just works". But they don't give a flying fart about home users. So just like how you saw how Asus is phasing out Linux [computerworld.com.au] and even Canonical admits that Linux netbooks suffer higher return rates [laptopmag.com] you will see more companies try Linux and then abandon it. Why? because the stuff that is sold in the above stores don't work in Linux, that's why. And when it don't work they say the PC is "broken" and come wanting their money back. It is just that simple.

    So while I truly support Linux as a server OS, and even as a desktop OS for those that are willing to spend the time and effort to research every product and go CLI whenever something goes wrong, the simple fact is that isn't going to fly in the mainstream markets. If you have to do ANY CLI it is a dealbreaker, just as if you can't support the new gadget they just got at Best Buy they will return the PC. I'm sorry, but the average users is not going to be willing to learn CLI or do research on every single purchase. They're just not going to do it because they don't give a flying fart about "free as in freedom" or "the M$FT monopoly" all they care about is does their stuff work, and you are deluding yourself if you think you can get them to change for Linux. And if their consumer level stuff doesn't work your OS is "free as in worthless" and they'll be taking it back for a Windows machine. Sorry, No Sale.

  • What that article is forgetting is chipset power, which is 2.3 W for the Poulsbo, which is more expensive and requires a more expensive (although 2 W instead of 2.5 W) CPU. So, 4.3 W there.

    But, most netbooks run the cheaper Atom N270 and 945GSE, which is... 2.5 W for the CPU, 6 W for the northbridge, and 3.3 W for the southbridge. Total platform power consumption, 11.8 W.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:29PM (#28246405)
    You brought this straw man up before. If I do your experiment I find stuff that doesn't run on a Macintosh either. So, this is not an insurmountable problem like you try and make it sound. Mac users know that they need to buy hardware that works with their computers (and there was a time when there weren't any Apple stores and Macs did ok then too).

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