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7-inch Android Netbook From GNB 150

An anonymous reader writes "Netbooknews.com has scored a video of a 7-inch Google Android netbook from a company called GNB during Computex. The device is powered by a Freescale iMX31 CPU. The design might not be to everyone's taste, but it could turn out to be a super cheap Android netbook."
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7-inch Android Netbook From GNB

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  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:11AM (#28248531) Homepage

    You know, maybe a description of the spec, a couple of decent photos, that sort of thing...

    • by hotfireball ( 948064 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:14AM (#28248543)
      Definitely not super-thin. BTW, why I need Android (roughly saying, a limited Linux) on my netbook if there is a regular Linux?..
      • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:24AM (#28248591)

        Unless you just want to stick to VIM (or emacs), a 7 inch screen screws up a lot of user interfaces. My eeePC has dialog boxes in pre-loaded software that can't be "OK'd" because the buttons are off the screen. :(

        • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:13AM (#28248841) Homepage Journal

          In most of the window managers I have used, if you hold alt, dragging anywhere on a window moves the window.

          Having the OK buttons off the screen is a very bad design, but it can be worked around.

          • I have found with Gnome though at least, that you can't push a window up past the top of the screen, which has on one occassion been a huge pain when a massive unresizeable window opened with the next button at the bottom and off the screen. You can though of course use alt + a suitable letter to activate the buttons usually, but that requires knowing the correct char.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              Try what parent advised. It works under GNOME. Just grab by bottom of the window.

              • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                The bottom of the window?? Are you retarded? "Guys, I can't get click anything in the bottom of this window." "My advice to you: click something in the bottom of the window. thxbai you need not pay me."

              • Until recently (Intrepid?) it didn't work - the window manager would definitely refuse to hide the title bar off screen. You could draw the window all you wanted down, left, right, but up - nope, the title bar must remain visible.

                My workaround was adding extra workspace row below. Horrible experience.

              • by rouge86 ( 608370 )
                Actually, the above mentioned method works on any desktop manager using the X server.
              • Doesn't work for me.

            • I have found with Gnome though at least, that you can't push a window up past the top of the screen, which has on one ..

              there is a way you can turn this off with a simple gconf command check the http://wiki.eeeuser.com/ [eeeuser.com] for details

            • by ebuck ( 585470 )

              Turn off desktop effects. Apparently there's some code in there which prevents the top of the window from exceeding the top of the screen.

          • by jipn4 ( 1367823 )

            Unfortunately, some of them try to be "helpful" and prevent you from moving the window title above the top of the screen.

        • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:29AM (#28248917)

          Unless you just want to stick to VIM (or emacs), a 7 inch screen screws up a lot of user interfaces.

          Or possibly you mean switch away from vim or emacs? ;-)

          Seriously, I'd think that in a lot of cases, a small screen is actually more appropriate. Whenever I see someone using Outlook in full screen on a giant monitor, or using their browser in the same manner, I have to chuckle at the absurdity of it. You figure the ideal width of 74 characters or so for maximum readability and comprehension, but the latest and greatests in technology brings us mile-wide sentences?

          Or, as this is a tech site, how useful is it when trying to troubleshoot a system where the BIOS setup, boot messages and everything else appears in giant poster-sized fonts? No one's arms are long enough for that nonsense.

          I don't know what kind of person is representative of the netbook market, but I'd think that the majority of the great unwashed masses expect their computers to function like an appliance. A netbook seems to meet that requirement. So if checking email and browsing the web is all most people do, how big a screen do they really need?

          • Is that width (74 characters) really ideal or just some relic of old printers' limitations or some such?
            • Is that width (74 characters) really ideal or just some relic of old printers' limitations or some such?

              There's a reason that even with today's digital typesetting, printed newspapers have five or six columns of text and not one column running across the whole page. On a reasonably-wide column (30em to 40em, or 60 to 80 characters), your eyes can find the next line while your brain is processing the last words on the current line. Otherwise, hunting for the next line interrupts your train of thought.

              • On a reasonably-wide column (30em to 40em, or 60 to 80 characters), your eyes can find the next line while your brain is processing the last words on the current line. Otherwise, hunting for the next line interrupts your train of thought.

                Actually, with a reasonably narrow column, an experienced reader can take a line at a single glance, and read through a column without moving their eyes sideways.

              • ... printed newspapers have five or six columns of text and not one column running across the whole page

                God help us when that "dying industry" is replaced with on-line content. As it is now, I mostly dump pages I'm interested in reading using lynx, and while that's hardly ideal, it'll do until the dust settles in the Kindle arena.

                IIRC, there was a UK newspaper that offered a feature that would display the article in multi-column format in a new window. Immensely readable, but the extra clicks made it anno

        • Vim on such a machine can be very nice though. Most of the use I get from my Nokia 770 is running Vim. I can fit it and a folding keyboard in a couple of pockets, and I've then got a machine I can write articles on wherever I happen to be.
        • by MSittig ( 246604 )
          Taekwindow [sourceforge.net] can solve that problem on Windows.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          But not Android. It is set up for cell phones which have much smaller screens.

        • The size of the screen has nothing to do with that, it's from the resolution. The first generation EeePC's have resolution of 800x480 pixels, most interfaces are designed for at least 800x600 usually more like 1024x768

          The Fujitsu U820 has a 5.6" screen with a resolution of 1280x800. It's much smaller than the EeePC's display but there's a whole lot more screen space.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zlogic ( 892404 )

        Android is optimized for small screens and low-powered devices, with no unwanted background processes.
        Have you tried running Ubuntu (non-netbook edition) on a 10.2" screen at 1024x600 screen? Most apps simply don't fit on the screen, alt+mouse_drag only moves windows down, not up, meaning jumping through a lot of hoops simply to press OK in a dialog because it is below the screen.

        • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:46AM (#28248715) Homepage Journal

          can't you just turn the computer upside down and shake it till the button is visible?

        • Ubuntu works okay for me on my eeepc 701, but I can see the advantage of running android to the average computer user.
        • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

          Android is optimized for small screens and low-powered devices, with no unwanted background processes.
          Have you tried running Ubuntu (non-netbook edition) on a 10.2" screen at 1024x600 screen?

          FWIW I ran Mandrake with KDE on a Sony PictureBook C1XD (it was a pre Crusoe model, with a 400MHz PII) at 1024x480 for quite a while. Worked fine. Even back then (from 2000 to 2004 maybe, I didn't have to resize or drag around that many dialogs. The machine is still around. I have to update it (it has to boot from a floppy though, stupid hardware design) one of these days. I'm sure it'll still do fine with current software (well maybe not with digiKam or Blender).

          All in all the dialogs in the X11 environmen

          • by zlogic ( 892404 )

            In Ubuntu either Gnome or Compiz doesn't allow the window's title to be moved higher than the upper gnome-panel, even with Alt-Mouse1.

            • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

              Works fine with Kde. Another strange design decision by Gnome. Maybe you can switch this off in their Gconf thing...

            • Disable window effects and then it will work. I've never had this problem on Ubuntu with Gnome but I always disable the effects as I don't think they add anything of value especially on my netbook. I use the alt+mouse all the time with it for the very reasons already mentioned here.
        • I run Ubuntu (non-netbook edition) on my Acer Aspire One with its 8.9" 1024x600 screen. Many apps fit, some don't, alt+mouse_drag works in both directions (required a GConf tweak to make it work with Compiz, but it worked as expected with Metacity). That being said, more pixels would be greatly appreciated
        • If you want to run ubuntu on a netbook specifically an aspireone but a lot applies to netbooks in general
          may i recommend this page. https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne [ubuntu.com]
          There are similar pages but if your Netbook hasn't got a page you can easily start one contribute the bits you know and others will add the bits you don't.

          To remove the y constraint (allowing you to move your windows up and not just down) enter this in a terminal

          gconftool-2 --set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y

          • by zlogic ( 892404 )

            Thanks a lot for the tip!

          • I would use Linux4One except that the kernel is missing a lot of useful stuff such as usb-to-serial drivers. By the time I installed enough software that I could compile modules I might as well have just installed Ubuntu and fixed the minor issues with it. My other complaint was that the kernel source was very hard to get so making drivers was exceedingly difficult. So much so that I went back to Ubuntu on my Aspire One.
        • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

          My advice: Create four (virtual) desktops in 2x2. Then you can "easily-ish" get to "OK" by alt + down arrow.

          I agree, it is horrible mistake in Gnome not to be able to use 1024x600 as in every case I have seen the window could trivially be e.g. 700x500 without any loss in usability.

        • Android is optimized for small screens

          Of course. Can you imagine being a 7-inch android, and straining your neck to look up at a big-screen TV?

        • Have you tried running Ubuntu (non-netbook edition) on a 10.2" screen at 1024x600 screen? Most apps simply don't fit on the screen, alt+mouse_drag only moves windows down, not up, meaning jumping through a lot of hoops simply to press OK in a dialog because it is below the screen.

          I have, and it was also slow on Aspire One (512MB), that's probably why they had Ubuntu NBR (Net Book Remix) [ubuntu.com] ready very soon. I like it. Great for reading pdf's and such or testing networks...

          • by zlogic ( 892404 )

            Ubuntu NBR seems to be missing some packages, like bash command autocompletion or NTFS-3G. I spent half an hour trying to copy stuff from an external NTFS-formatted HDD before realizing this. Although NBR is indeed a very nice distro, I wish they removed only the packages that were 100% not wanted on a netbook.

      • by nem75 ( 952737 )
        Because a netbook is a limited notebook?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Trust me: 7 inches doesn't mean much if you don't have the girth to go with it.
      • BTW, why I need Android (roughly saying, a limited Linux) on my netbook if there is a regular Linux?..

        Well, it means that you'll be running a GUI designed to run on low-powered computers with very small touch screens, and have access to an App Store full of apps designed to run on low-powered computers with small touch screens.

        With a regular Linux - you won't. You'll be running a full-strength GUI with maybe a small-screen-friendly launcher grafted on and applications designed for full-strength PCs. If you're really, really lucky someone will have checked that all the crucial configuration dialogues actua

    • by angryphase ( 766302 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:13AM (#28248835)
      • CPU: 533MHz Freescale i.MX31 ARM-based processor
      • Operating System: Google Android
      • Display: 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen (Sascha says it's not glossy, but you can see a fair bit of glare in the video)
      • RAM: 256MB
      • Storage: Up to 8GB SSD
      • I/O: 3 USB ports, mic, headphone, and 4-in-1 card reader
      • Weight: 680 grams, or about 1.5 pounds

      See working video of it here [liliputing.com]

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:56AM (#28249059) Journal
        Note that the i.MX3 series is very old (in CPU terms). The current generation, the i.MX5, is based on the Cortex A8 and is a very nice chip capable of, among other things, running Flash and encoding H.264 in real time. The i.MX3 is an older generation (there was no i.MX4) based on an ARM11 core. It does have the VFP (vector / floating point) coprocessor, but does not support the NEON SIMD instruction set. It is likely to be significantly slower than a 600MHz A8 as found in something like the OMAP3, and a lot slower than the 1GHz A8 found in the i.MX5. The i.MX3 didn't have an on-die GPU, so this may be using a simple frame buffer while most A8 SoCs (OMAP3, i.MX5, etc) include an OpenGL 2.0 ES-compatible GPU.

        The A8 is currently in the process of being superseded by the Cortex A9, which includes a slightly improved pipeline, out-of-order execution, and support for up to 4 cores on a single die. ARM started licensing it a year ago, and SoCs based on the core (e.g. nVidia's Tegra) are beginning to appear.

      • Also has an Ethernet port. Estimated run time of 2.5 hours. Apparently will also come in 2GB SSD, 128MiB ram options.
        • Estimated run time of 2.5 hours.

          That's pretty bad. Most existing netbooks, both Windows- and Linux-based, manage more than that.

      • Thanks for that. I don't really have the attention span for videos ;-)

      • Somehow I have the feeling that my phone has got better specs.

    • It looks like it's not capable of running a webserver.
  • Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Check out the video on the site, they're covering all the specs in it

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:29AM (#28248613)

    I evaluated a freescale board for a major computer manufacture and we ended up deciding not to go with it. Sure its a fast ARM chip and the video processor supports multimedia acceleration but the resolution is tiny. The max resolution when we looked at it was 1024x768(I beleive this was it, we needed much higher). So don't except to be able to hook these things up to an external monitor unless they go with a different video card.

    The good news about all these arm manufactures coming out with netbooks is they really try to support the Linux community and are actively submitting patches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )

      I wouldn't call it "ultra small" resolution. The latest from eeePC in the economical range is the 1000HE and according to amazon, this 10" has 1024x600 res, worse than this with 3 more inches.

      I believe Dell's offering has better res but not sure. (Of course, it could be bigger too, defeating the purpose.)

      BTW, wtf is with slashdot and the random bars in my browser?

    • by ColaMan ( 37550 )

      Fucking hell. 1024x768 is "Ultra small resolution"?

      The cpu is relatively slow, most users in this range run only one app full-screen at any one time and 1024x768 is perfectly fine on a 15-21" monitor.

      Don't get all pixel-snobby here, or I'll be forced to mention my mis-spent youth programming Coco II games and the oddball CGA resolutions like 160x100 - which, coincidentally, is about the resolution of my basic Samsung phone at present.

      So I'll do you a deal - once your phone is routinely capable of 1024x768 o

  • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:29AM (#28248617) Homepage

    It looks like they're running their server on a netbook as well - Slashdot has brought it to its knees with only a few comments on the topic so far :)

  • Site slow (Score:4, Informative)

    by boiert ( 934539 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:31AM (#28248639) Journal
    Better link the youtube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZlKnubPUbk [youtube.com]
  • But it doesn't matter. The story was just a Youtube Video [youtube.com] embedded in it and the following one-line message:

    The Google Android powered GL-750 from GNB is a 7-inch netbook that's powered by a Freescale iMX31 processor.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:01AM (#28248793) Journal

    First of all, it's a real netbook, with keyboard and touchpad (I wish it had the nipple, but ok) and all the connectors one can find on a number of (intel-based) netbooks. So this is good - this is the first real ARM-based netbook I have seen so far.

    I like the weight - 650g! Amazingly light.

    But battery consumption is not good. It will work for 2.5 hours on one charge. That's pathetic.

    • by jipn4 ( 1367823 )

      I wish it had the nipple

      Don't we all [youtube.com]

    • But battery consumption is not good. It will work for 2.5 hours on one charge.

      That's amazingly bad! I thought Freescale = ARM (= low power), but maybe not.

      Yesterday's article about the range of ARM based netbooks at Computex mentioned battery life of 8-12 hours, so this isn't even remotely in the ballpark.

      • by ebuck ( 585470 )

        The ARM is not the only items that drains power.

        It could be the screen, the wireless card, the ethernet chip, the disk drive, or some messed up code that keeps the CPU far too busy for no particular reason whatsoever. For example, my wife's Acer Aspire One has a very low power CPU attached at the hip to a power sucking memory controller. Go figure.

        I'm sure they'll eventually get the kinks worked out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by guisar ( 69737 )

      Yeah- two design features I don't get are the stupid touchpads and crappy batteries. Netbook manufacturers are you listening- DITCH THE DAMN TOUCHPADS. Hardly anyone uses them- it just ends up taking up very valuable keyboard real estate and periodically moving my cursor around in unexpected ways. I hate these damn things.

      Secondly- 2.5hrs may be enough for regular laptop users who just use the thing as an overly expensive, delicate desktop anyway but netbooks are actually meant to be carried around and as s

      • I much prefer a touchpad. As far as keyboard space goes, my laptop's keyboard already occupies the full width of the screen, how would increased depth help?

  • True netbook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YourExperiment ( 1081089 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:02AM (#28248797)
    Nice to see another "proper" netbook being brought to market - 7" devices are what started the ball rolling. Ultra-portability combined with a cheap price is what defines a netbook. The term has become so diluted that it's being applied to 12" machines, and machines which cost as much as a traditional laptop.
    • That's what defines a netbook for you. Everybody seems to have his/her own definition of what a netbook is. For me it's any laptop that's less than $500 and less than 15".
      • I agree, everyone seems to define it however they like. But the original definition was useful, it told a potential buyer something about the product in a single word.

        To me, what you define as a netbook is simply a cheap laptop. :)

      • Wow, that's a pretty strange definition. Almost pointless I'd say. An old G3 Powerbook [wikipedia.org] would qualify--and let me tell you, they ain't no netbook.

        I would define it something more like: an ultraportable laptop designed to maximize portability by using cheaper components rather than more expensive ones.

  • by commlinx ( 1068272 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:20AM (#28248877) Journal

    I've done quite a bit of work on ARM processors without an operating system and limited work using ARM9 devices with a Gentoo based distro and something I've wondered is if under Linux there's a way to conveniently enable low-power mode essentially putting the processor to sleep while allowing certain peripherals to remain running? An obvious example would be leaving the LCD controller running to display an e-book page while the CPU was in sleep mode or running at a low clock rate until a button is pressed. I know how to do that when programming most ARM CPUs natively, but are there any attempts out there to standardize some low power behaviour for the kernel?

    It could really help some of these devices that are no doubt often used for a single task at a time. Perhaps it could even be in the form of some sort of system call that allowed a process to request the minimum slice of CPU time per second and wake-up latency required per task and the scheduler could determine the required clock frequency and possible sleep time required to fulfil the requirements of every process. Just seems to me it could be a way to extend the battery life and take advantange of some of the amazing low-power modes of newer ARM cores in a standard manner.

  • by Pembers ( 250842 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:28AM (#28248907) Homepage

    ...or something very much like it.

    It's called a CnMBook. Have a look at this page []. (Yeah, I know - bare IP address looks suspicious. I don't think the manufacturer's quite got the hang of this Internet thing. Google is your friend if you don't trust me.) It's sold under a lot of different names.

    The specs are similar to the gadget on show here. Mine has a slower CPU, less memory and no touch screen. Battery life is 2.5-3 hours. The OS is a heavily-customised Debian. I love the small size and low weight. I can fit it into my coat pocket. The screen is nice and clear. The keyboard is reasonable, but is prone to registering phantom keystrokes - running vi is therefore not recommended. I don't know if it's just mine that does this, or if it's a design flaw.

    The main app I run on it is a text editor. It's a bit slow for anything else.

    I paid £139 for mine just before Christmas. I bought it from Maplin, who are now selling them off for £99 - probably because they were evasive about it not running Windows. They now have a Windows CE version of it, which has "Windows CE" in the product name.

    • Very interesting looking device and they also offer all source code on their website.

      It seems you have the MIPS version of the device, I wonder if the ARM based is any
      different (faster etc.) as they don't seem the provide complete specs for the actual
      CPUs they use.

      • by Pembers ( 250842 ) on Monday June 08, 2009 @07:35AM (#28249265) Homepage

        Yeah, they might not understand the Internet, but they understand their obligations under the GPL :-)

        The CPU in mine is a 400MHz MIPS clone. No idea how that compares with an x86 or ARM device. It has 128MB of RAM and 2GB of on-board flash. It has an SD slot and 3 USB sockets, so you could plug 4GB into each of those, for a (rather unwieldy) 16GB of additional storage.

        It takes about 2 minutes to boot into an X desktop. More annoying is that it doesn't have a suspend or hibernate mode - or if it does, I haven't found it. It has a key with "Zzz" written on it, but this just switches off the screen backlight. Still, it does what I bought it for.

    • It's called a CnMBook.

      That looks like a rebadged SkyTone Alpha 400 [wikipedia.org], a.k.a. the World's Cheapest Laptop (it hit the news here a while back). There's about a dozen different products based on it for sale.

      They look fascinating, and at some point I want to get one. I can think of lots of things to do with one, from using it as a cheap web browsing appliance to a lightweight mini server to a serial console to an automation computer. Plus, MIPS is cool. Skytone appear to be working on successor models to the 400, but they have ARM p

      • by Pembers ( 250842 )

        Yes, that's the one. It's sold under so many different names that I have no idea which is the real one and which are just symlinks.

    • There's a great user forum for this class of device here [ark2webdesign.co.uk]. One of the users, Wicknix, has created his own distro called 3MX, and has just completed a build of Debian Etch (for MIPSEL). I use the Elonex ONEt version with the default Linux OS and find it a lot of fun.

      • by Pembers ( 250842 )

        Thanks for that. I've had a quick look around it just now, and I'll definitely be spending some more time there.

        I replaced the default distro with Xenium, as I wanted something a bit more familiar. Sadly, the guy who created it looks to have lost interest in it, so it's good to see someone else picking up the torch.

      • by Thag ( 8436 )

        Another good site for that line of machines is Little Linux Laptop [littlelinuxlaptop.com].

        I've got one, and am now running 3MX on it. 3MX makes it better, but still has some issues.

  • ... we have to go trough the whole miniaturization race again, that already happened with phones.

    Remember when phones got smaller, and smaller, and lighter, and lighter.
    Until people were unable to use them anymore.
    It was even parodied. For example in the movie "Dodgeball", where a main character owned a phone that was roughly this size: http://www.unwiredview.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mds-mobile-projector.jpg [unwiredview.com]

    Then the phones got bigger again. Even bigger PDAs came out. Etc.

    A full qwertz keyboard only ma

    • A full qwertz keyboard only makes sense if you're German

      Fixed that for you ;-)

      if the keys are at least as wide, as the distance between your fingers.

      If you're a crappy typist like me, hunt and peck works even on an undersized keyboard. As a former Psion 3 & 5 user, I speak from experience.

      • And an AZERTY keyboard makes sense if you're...um, French, I think. Or live in a French-speaking country.

        Hunt & peck works surprisingly well for a large number of people. Most people I know don't touch-type but achieve reasonable typing speeds. Even with thumb-typing on a cell phone with fully keyboard, a reasonable speed can be achieved without much effort as long as the layout is one you are familiar with.

    • How do you misspell a word like Qwerty? Did you post to slashdot on your cellphone or something?
  • A guy walks into a bar with a tiny piano and a 7-inch Android...

  • It is more usefull an Asus Eee 900A that you can get it for 165 USD refurbished from ebay, including shipping.

      For more usefull I mean you can install Windows that runs shockwave... Why you might ask? My kids use online games that run on shockwave... unfortunatelly.

  • My ex-girl friend told me once that the 7" ones where difficult to find.

Counting in binary is just like counting in decimal -- if you are all thumbs. -- Glaser and Way