The first Android Netbook

Back in early November of last year, I predicted that Android would be running on Netbooks before Windows 7. Last month, it came out that Asus had Android running on one of their netbooks in a lab.

Now ComputerWorld is reporting that Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Technologies Co. Ltd, based in Communist China, will have their Alpha 680 netbook, running Android, for sale in Q309.  They already have prototypes out in the wild. Here are the known specs so far.

They weigh about 1.5 pounds and measure 8.5 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1.2 inches thick. A 7-inch LCD screen at 800 x 480 pixels, 128 MB of DDR2 RAM (expandable to 256 MB, a 1 GB solid-state disk drive (expandable to 4 GB).  The netbook will have a SD card reader aand two USB ports. It will also have built-in Wi-Fi, keyboard and touchpad. No mention of an Ethernet jack.  Bareboned, but that will put the retail price at about $250, or less than the retail price of your average smartphone.  Battery life is still an issue, with the prototypes running 2-4 hours with the WiFi active. 

This is just the first shot against Windows7 bow in the Netbook market.  I expect more models, more features, better battery life, and sub $250 prices in 2010.

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Yet another electric car.

The Aptera looks like it just rolled off a SciFi movie.  It’s three wheeled and streamlined to squeeze every last mile out its 13-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery. A hundred mile range is what they are guaranteeing, and that is with two adults and the AC running.  Even though it has front wheel drive, I wouldn’t want to drive this compact trike in any sort of snow or ice.  I’m probably not the first person to think this, because the initial roll out will in California, followed by Florida and Texas.   The list on this will probably run no less than $30-35K and probably be over $40K.

If it starts flirting with $45K, it will be close to the low end prices of the Tesla Type S, which is an electric luxury sedan. The Aptera is a compact with a big trunk.

PG&E to get electricity from space!

Pacific Gas & Electric is seeking approval from state regulators for an agreement to purchase power over a 15-year period from Solaren Corp., an 8-year-old company based in Manhattan Beach, CA. Their goal is start beaming down power in 2016.

Solaren Corp. wants to build big solar panels in orbit and then beam the energy down to the surface.  This isn’t new technology. The concept is decades old.  Science Fiction author Larry Niven mentioned it in his 1990 short story, The Return of William Proximire

One of the common objections against this clear source of electrical energy has been from environmental groups who claim the area the energy is received (typically in the microwave frequency range) would not be optimal for animal life.

New iPhone hardware

According to Fortune Magazine, Apple is building 5-6 million new iPhones at their Chinese factories.

The rumor is to expect two new models in either June or July.  One will be faster, with more memory and a better camera at least. The other would be a step backwards, a less powerful, but cheaper model.

Another issue facing Apple & iPhone users is AT&T’s 3G network. It seems AT&T is a bit nervous about millions of new 3G phones hitting it’s network this summer and is rushing to upgrade in order to handle the load.

Street Legal Production Electric Motorcycle

According to Wired, Zero Motocycles is getting read to release their street legal, all electric  Zero S motorcycle.  The bike weighs 225 pounds and has a 31 horsepower electric engine. The bike lists for just under $10,000 and is good for a federal 10% tax credit.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors has announced their Model S sedan. This is a four door vehicle with a price tag less than half of their electric Roadster. Availability is targeted for late 2011 and has several improvements over the Roadster besides the reduced price tag and two additional doors.

It has seats for five adults, a hatchback and additional trunk space under the hood.  The range depends on the battery pack installed. They come in  in 160-mile, 230-mile or 300-mile range models.  Using a standard 110-volt wall socket, expect recharge times in the four hour range, which all things considered isn’t too bad.  You can hook your charging outlet up to a timer and recharge during non-peak hours in the middle of the night.

Like it’s older Roadster brother, the Model S is capable of decent performance. Zero to Sixty in six seconds.   The first models will be rear wheel drive, with four wheel drive coming in later models.

If this isn’t geeky enough for you, toss in a 17″ touchscreen and 3G wireless.  Yes, you will be able to stream Pandora while crusing around in your performance electric sedan.  If Tesla tosses in a WiFi hotspot option, you can chat on Skype as well.

Skype on the iPhone

So that rumor was true.  I downloaded the Skype app from the iTunes store.  It only works over the WiFi connection, so AT&T continues to get its blood money/minutes.

One feature that is missing is support of Bluetooth headsets. I want to talk to my Skype friends hands free using my Jabra headset.  Hopefully the folks at Skype will have that fixed in the next version.