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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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!