Products such as the iPhone, which combine the basic functions of a phone with a computer’s utility and web access, are exemplary of our desire to fuse technology into newer and better forms. Companies worldwide are trying to keep with this optimization momentum and build towards even smaller, multi-function devices. The next step appears to be incorporation of the tablet form factor.
According to GoRumors.com, Qualcomm has submitted a patent for a device that will combine aspects of a netbook, phone, and tablet. The device is intended to provide different functions based on its folding. In its most expanded state it would function as a tablet, and in its most compact state a phone. There is expected be some kind of netbook-like capability in between. If people become enthralled with the iPad, then a product such as this will most likely be able to dominate the market. As of now, there is no guarantee that such a product will be produced, but the news that such an idea is in the works is still exciting.
A report in The New York Times has estimated that Apple’s new A4 chip was a $1 billion investment for the company. The report was profiling the rise of competitors to Intel such as Apple, Nvidia, and Qualcomm.
Intel has been trying to get companies to use its Atom processor for mobile devices, but Atom chips cost more and use more power than competing ARM chips, like Apple’s A4. The upcoming iPad will contain a 1 GHz Apple A4 processor. New laptops from HP and Lenovo will also contain ARM chips.
Apple first invested in chip-making when it bought P.A. Semi for $278 million. Of course, if the A4 really did cost $1 billion to build, then Apple’s investment went beyond the buying of P.A. Semi.
Apple has claimed that its chip is extremely power-efficient and will give users 10 hours of battery life on the iPad and up to a month on standby. Apple’s claims about battery life are always exaggerated, in my experience, so I would not expect the iPad to have that kind of battery life.
Via AppleInsider, image via AppleInsider.
HP’s Compaq Airlife 100, the company’s first smartbook that was announced on Friday, combines the portability and design of a netbook with the hardware and software often seen in smartphones. The Airlife has a battery life of up to 12 hours, longer than what most netbooks can offer. While the Airlife and iPad are very different in terms of design, they share many similar features such as simplified software interfaces, touch-screens, and ARM processors (most netbooks use Intel processors). The two devices also both make it easy to quickly access the Internet and browse online content.
Here is a quick comparison of the differences between the smartbook and tablet:
10.1 in touch screen
Wi-fi b/g (optional 3G wireless broadband connectivity)
Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (1 GHz)
16 GB internal storage
512 MB flash storage
HP is not distributing the Airlife in the US just yet, while the iPad is roughly 50 days away from becoming available worldwide. The company also has not yet released pricing information for the new device.
HP is joining Lenovo in the ranks of netbook makers delivering a Snapdragon-based machine. The new HP prototype breaks the trend of netbooks running the Intel Atom with the new Qualcomm chip that offers more efficiency and battery life.
The Snapdragon CPU can power some small computers for up to 24 hours. It has a lower clock speed than the new Pine Trail CPUs but, in conjunction with Linux or Google Android it could be a competitive combo.
Very little else is known about the upcoming Snapdragon HP netbook.
Via FierceCIO, image via HP.
The new smartbook will be more functional than a smartphone, but less functional than a netbook. The display will be similar in size to that on a netbook, but like a smartphone, the new smartbook won’t have to be turned off. No more details are currently available for the product, but it is rumored to be officially unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV in January 2010.
Image via XannyTech.
ASUS is planning on launching a smartbook in Q1 of 2010. This smartbook is described as a low-powered, 3G-enabled ultraportable laptop with an ARM-based processor. It’s rumored to have a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor as well as GPS, 3G, and Wi-Fi capabilities.
It’s currently uncertain what operating system ASUS’ new smartbook would run on, but the claim is that it will run on the Google Android OS. Pricing for the smartbook is rumored to be set around $180 each.
If Digitimes’ sources are correct, Qualcomm could face an equivalent fine of $358,000 or “arrest for contempt”. Smartbook AG CEO Dirk Pick thinks this is all in self defence:
“Internet sites of the German branch office Qualcomm CDMA GmbH, which refer to the US website of Qualcomm, have already been blocked for users with a German IP address… We are confronted with an almost absurd but at the same time bold attack against our brand name. It is Qualcomm who forced us to implement defensive measures.”
In late 2009, Hewlett Packard is rumored to be launching netbooks that are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. Currently, Intel is the leading manufacturer of netbook processors, with their Intel Atom chipset.
Click on the following images to learn more about these netbook processors.
Word has it that Qualcomm and its partners are working on a new device set to throw the netbook industry a curveball – the ‘smartbook’, which manufacturers plan to market as a smartphone/laptop companion. The tactic has been used before unsuccessfully by such companies as Palm, but Qualcomm is sure that consumers will have room in their hearts (and their wallets) for a smartbook.
But that doesn’t mean they’re handicapped. The Snapdragon smartbooks will have 8-10 hour batteries, WWAN, Wi-Fi, GPS, HD vido encoding and Bluetooth. Resolutions are expected to run as high as 1280 x 768, which should beautifully display the 3D graphics the CPU is known for.
How about software? Engadget reports that Linux or a Linux derivative will be involved, with a UI based on some kind of quickboot functionality. If I had to guess, I’d push Moblin 2.0 as a possible candidate, but for now nobody knows for sure.
So why aren’t these just Snapdragon-based MIDs? You can’t quite tell by the photo, but these screens are expected at 10- to 12-inches. Their QWERTY keyboards won’t be full size, but will definitely be big.
“Acer, Compal, Samsung, ASUS, LG, Toshiba [and] Wistron” have been named as possible smartbook manufacturers, and the first devices are expected by the end of this year. Qualcomm was silent about price, but pricing will definitely determine the fate of the supposed new category.
It looks like TheRegister’s flowchart needs another node. Check back soon for more on the Qualcomm smartbook!
The first netbooks in 2007 were small, light, and cheap. As consumers’ tastes changed over the past couple of years, the average netbook size and price has increased slightly and netbooks have been equipped with faster processors.
Future netbooks are rumored to combine the best features of current netbooks and smartphones and will have new processors and operating systems as well. Here are some things to look out for:
1. Netbook processors: Netbook processors will be more powerful and have greater capabilities. Newer processors will use less power and thus allow netbooks to operate for longer periods of time. Some potential manufacturers for these newer processors include: Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Qualcomm. The Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm that only uses 500 milliwatts of power has acquired a good amount of attention and is something to watch out for in the future.
2. Netbook operating systems: Netbooks originally started out with Linux, but when Windows was available to be pre-installed, many more purchases of netbooks with the Windows operating software pre-installed were purchased. In the future, more netbooks will run on new(er) operating systems, such as Google’s Android.
3. Apple: There are still many rumors about if Apple plans on breaking into the netbook market. And then if it does, will it issue a netbook or some other related device? There’s always the chance that Apple could even come up with something to revolutionize the netbook market altogether. The company’s currently keeping mum about this, but we’ll keep you posted.
4. Other Developments: Netbooks will continue to evolve, and in general, will be cheaper and better performing in the future. Some things to look out for are the new Windows 7 operating system for netbooks and the development of Snapdragon-based netbooks.
5. Price: Pricing for netbooks is expected to drop in the future. There will also be more discount packages for these mobile devices. For example, in the future, ARM-based netbooks are predicted to be sold for roughly $200 and currently, cell phone companies such as AT&T sell subsidized netbooks for $50, with a two year monthly-data plan contract. (For now though, the latter is only in Philadelphia and Atlanta).
Despite all the signs of netbook evolution, some people are still skeptical about the future of these mobile computing devices. Any opinions?
While only a few months ago analysts were predicting the demise of netbooks, nowadays – with everyone from Bandai to Belinea slapping together its own model – the future of netbooks seems far more secure. However, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs sees even more gains in the near future, predicting that netbook sales will overcome notebooks’ quite soon.
Jacobs claims that his prophecy will be fulfilled “relatively quickly,” without specifying further.
It’s hard to judge his claim for now, but it will definitely work out for Qualcomm if Jacobs is right. The much-touted Snapdragon processor is expected to increase Qualcomm’s presence in the industry by the second half of this year, setting the stage for vicious competition with Intel.
And Qualcomm isn’t the only one expecting big gains for the netbook industry. The IDC expects 20 million of the small computers to ship this year, and ABI Research places the number at an earthshaking 139 million sales by 2013.
It’s difficult to make accurate predictions at a time where the economy is so unreliable, so it would be wise to take Jacobs’ words with a grain of salt. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the writing on the wall. Will netbooks overtake notebooks? We’ll have to wait and see.
LG, whose netbooks we have seen in places as foreign as Korea or Barcelona, is deciding to bring its LG-X110 netbook to the states by July.
The netbook uses a 1.6 GHz Atom processor and best of all comes with 3G. The X110 is a worldly machine but hasn’t yet been sold on American shores.
It uses an 80 GB or 120 GB HDD and Windows XP. Also notable is that its newer model, the LG-X120, is going to be shipping in Europe this month. Hopefully we’ll be seeing that version in the States too.
LG may make use of its “strong relationships” with cellular providers like AT&T, whose broadband plans have invaded the netbook industry as well. Then again, considering AT&T’s relationship with some consumers, that might not be too great of an idea.
Two major chip manufacturers – Qualcomm and NVIDIA – have officially begun to support Windows 7 for when it comes to netbooks in the near future. Their goals are better graphics and continuous 3G, both of which should hopefully become standard for netbooks in the near future.
Take note: as we reported earlier, there will be no netbook-specific version of Windows 7. Netbooks will be using Windows 7 Ultimate, which is expected to be painfully expensive.
That hasn’t fazed Qualcomm though. They announced yesterday that they would be sampling chips in order to boost Windows 7 3G. NVIDIA made an announcement too, mentioning new beta drivers for netbooks that will deliver full HD video for netbooks with the new Microsoft OS.
The chip Qualcomm mentioned wasn’t Snapdragon but rather the Gobi2000 3G embedded chip, which should “let netbooks and laptops access multiple 3G networks like HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) or EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized).”
Gary Greenbaum of Microsoft spoke for Windows in reference to the Qualcomm announcement:
“We believe Gobi notebook and netbook customers will experience the long-sought desire for ubiquitous connectivity.”
NVIDIA’s new beta drivers will make the Ion platform compatiable with Windows 7. What does that mean? Full 1080p HD for netbooks, photo editing, and possibly gaming for netbooks. “We have released beta drivers for Windows 7 to our customers for them to begin design/development of Ion-based systems now,” said Ken Brown of NVIDIA.
Microsoft and NVIDIA demonstrated the Windows 7/Ion combo in a Taiwan event recently. They managed to run 1080p HD video while “simultaneously transcoding another HD video clip.”
The new boosts to netbook technology are going to close the gap between netbooks and notebooks. If consumers can get devices for as cheap as $250 or $300 that offer HD video and cheap 3G connectivity, laptops are going to look a whole lot less appealing.
Qualcomm intends to challenge the hold Intel has over the netbook world using the Snapdragon chipset to compete with the Intel Atom processor.
Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, thinks Intel wants to get into smartphones and MIDs at the same time the Snapdragon processor is released. Qualcomm’s prognosis is that 15 companies will launch MIDs and netbooks using the Qualcomm snapdragon in the first half of 2009. He’s confident Qualcomm will have a solid edge over Intel, knowing the capabilities of the Snapdragon. It’s hard to argue; the $350 million Snapdragon has some enticing specs, including quick-boot.
Qualcomm even demonstrated the Android platform by Google on its Snapdragon last week at CES in Vegas. An Android netbook has been a dubious idea for many, but the demonstration gives the concept a far more realistic edge.
The company says some manufacturers working with Qualcomm for Snapdragon devices include HTC, LG, and Samsung. Can you say smartphone?
All that time you spend watching a Windows load screen may soon be a thing of the past.
Quick-boot technology has been around, but rarely applied to real computing – luckily, with the rise of netbooks, it has found a place.
The idea of this quick-book netbook technology is that netbook users could surf the web, view, images, or check their email without even loading Windows. Lenovo and Sony demonstrated quick-booting machines at CES this week.
Lenovo updated the Lenovo Ideapad S10 to have quick-boot capabilities with a Quick Start software based on the Linux OS of DeviceVM. Sony is now offering the Cross Media Bar navigation system to access multimedia instantly, something we should be seeing in the Vaio P Series.
According to the VP of Global Consumer Marketing at Lenovo, Craig Merrigan, netbooks are exactly where quick-boot should be used. “The netbook usage scenario is kind of a grab it, use it, put it back sort of situation. We believe it optimizes for that quick boot-type of environment,” he said.
Lenovo doesn’t plan to put quick-boot into mainstream notebooks. Machines with the power for content creation achieve that better with a full-fledged operating system.
“For mainstream notebooks when you are doing a greater variety of things… the quick-boot environment doesn’t support that all that well so we think that it’s better left to netbooks at this time,” said Merrigan.
The director of Phonex Technologies product management, Anand Nadathur, said the applications and drivers that slow down PC boot times aren’t what computer users want all the time. “When users start their PC in the morning, they are not looking for the full-fledged OS to come up and do some amazing things. They just look for a simple browser so they can check e-mail.” With this in mind, Phonex introduced a quick-boot environment called HyperSpace Dual at CES. HyperSpace Dual is meant for netbooks and laptops, and is downloadable at the Phoenix website for $39.95 for one year or $99.95 for three.
Freescale, who partnered with the post-ASUS Pegatron to deliver their own netbooks at CES 2009, talked about quick-boot plans with Qualcomm. They want netbooks starting as fast or faster than smartphones.
What could an Android-Qualcomm netbook add to the mix? Android runs on the T-Mobile G1, which is based on a 528 MHz processor: the MSM7201A ARM11. Qualcomm’s faster Snapdragon processor, which we recently covered, is combined with RedFlag Midinux. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be a big stretch for Google to put Android on the Snapdragon.
This would do a lot to help netbooks gain better connectivity. Other manufacturers like Dell and HP have embedded wireless broadband and similar options on their netbooks, but Snapdragon takes a different stance by offering 3G on HSPA networks. The solution puts it in a better position than Intel Atom netbooks because the method is in fact more efficient.
Google says it doesn’t want to limit the Android to mobile phones, so with the right specifications, some creativity, and some hard work we may just see Android netbooks on the horizon.
Qualcomm has big stakes in the netbook business. For four years it’s been feverishly working on a $350 million chip to be used in netbooks, which shall be based on the Snapdragon processor.
The prototype will be released next year and is expected to be a departure from the style of Intel’s Atom chip.
Manjit Gill of Qualcomm’s Connected and Consumer Products Group thinks the market is in the mood for more connectivity, not just processing power. “Our vision is that [the device is] always connected. Even when you shut it down, it’s still ‘on’.”
This ‘always on’ business means you can instantly get on a server and check your email as soon as you open up your netbook. This is the kind of thing Intel can’t do right now – Gill believes the “limitations in the [Intel] architecture” separates the Qualcomm chip from the Atom. On an Atom chip, leaving it on all the time would suck up all the battery.
To contrast, the Atom is a more agile device despite its lack of integration.
But Intel’s not Qualcomm’s biggest competitor, for the moment. ARM, whose processors are featured in most mobile devices today, has the model Qualcomm’s trying to imitate.
It got a license for ARM’s architecture, threw $350 million at it, and now we see the result: the Qualcomm QSD8672 dual-core Snapdragon. It has two CPUs which can manage 1.5GHz performance, download speeds of up to 28 MB/s, 1080p HD video, Wi-Fi, and HSPA+. The chip even has mobile TV and GPS.
Qualcomm will also use technology from ATI to power the graphics core of the chip. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will build the processor at 45 nm. Devices by ASUS, Acer, and Toshiba are already being planned with the Snapdragon in mind. Watch out, Intel!