$250 Chromebook

$250 is a very good price point for a light laptop for basic email/web surfing/document editing.  It’s not a full feature laptop with a full OS, that is one reason the price point is the same as a 7″ Android tablet.  It’s fairly full featured hardware wise.  Web cam, USB ports, card reader and a 16GB Flash drive for storage.   This $250 laptop is a good second system.  I have a big desktop with a Drobo for storage, picture editing and other higher end functions.  For the cost of the Nexus 7, you can get a real keyboard and better monitor.  I’ve been using tablets, both iOS and Android for years, but I keep coming back to a device with a real keyboard for content creation.

For another $80, you can get a 3G version of this Chromebook, which is important if you are going to be using this device on the road.  It really does require Internet access to be entirely useful.

New toys

I recently got my nerdy paws a pair of Asus Eee PC netbooks. (Thanks John!)  These are the ones running LINUX off solid state drives.

I’ve got one updating, but the 4 Gig system drive on the other is full, and I’m going to have to find a way to clean that up.

Another entry into the Netbook OS market

Intel has their own custom blend of Linux for netbook computers, called Moblin.

Release 2.0 was just announced.  It’s got a slick UI and takes advange of special features of Intel’s Atom chip, which is found in a lot of netbook.

I don’t think it will sell as well as Windows 7 or Android, but it is interesting to see the competition in this market.

The netbook market

I hear that netbook sales have flattened. The pundits blame it on market saturation. I blame it on manufacturers missing the whole point.

I was at a large compute store the other day and all the “netbooks” they had were running full versions of XP and 120 Gig or larger spinning hard drives.  

The netbooks that sold like hotcakes were lean and fast running.  They booted LINUX of flash ROM and had Solid State drives.  Small, but then it’s a flipping netbook! If you need extra space it’s got SD and USB slots.

To summerize, the sale of small laptops is flat.  The netbook market may pick up again when units running Android hit the street.

Dell jumping on the Android Netbook bandwagon?

Microsoft is rushing to get Windows7 out the door. One reason is so they can push it into the netbook market.

Netbook manufacturers have been looking at alternate OS solutions, including Google’s Android (it’s not just for Cell Phones anymore).

The latest rumor is that Dell is working on an Android based netbook

If a major retailer like Dell starts shipping Android on systems, I’m betting that somebody in Microsoft OS sales is going to buying a lot of Malox ™.

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.

Apple Netbook rumors

A Mac blogger lists 10 items about a possible Apple netbook.

Not surprisingly, two of those items are about how it’s going to be at the top, and extend upwards, the cost range of netbooks.  Duh! It’s an Apple. 

The other interesting items are:

No keyboard, keeps costs down, and profit margins up. Think of a tablet/iPod touch cross.

It’s a shot across Google’s bow, pushing OS X as a netbook OS. This is in response to Android being ported to the netbook platform.

It will run apps, like the iPhone & iPod Touch. Keep the users locked to Apple via the iTunes interface.  This also keeps Apple in control of the device.