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Summary:

We’ve argued for some time that one of the broad appeals of a netbook is the low price for what you can do with such a device. Most netbooks range in the $300 to $500 area and the vast majority of these capable little notebooks are […]

freescale-mx515We’ve argued for some time that one of the broad appeals of a netbook is the low price for what you can do with such a device. Most netbooks range in the $300 to $500 area and the vast majority of these capable little notebooks are powered by Intel’s Atom. Freescale figures that their i.MX515 ARM processor can also meet most computing needs, but at a lower cost. The company plans to power a $199 netbook by the end of 2009 and will be showing just such a device made by Pegatron at CES this week.

The chip runs at a more modest 1GHz clock cycle as compared to Intel’s Atom which generally runs at 1.6GHz on most netbooks. But netbooks aren’t all about processing power; they offer the ability to compute while mobile at a low price for several hours. That brings up a point I made last month when musing of an Android netbook running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU: the ARM chips might sacrifice some processing horsepower, but they can offer a longer run-time on a single charge due to lower power consumption over the Atom. Freescale says eight hours is to be expected.

I suspect this is the first of several ARM-based netbook product announcements we’ll see this week because the smaller ARM players can seriously compete with Intel on this front. Freescale doesn’t mention what operating system we’ll see on the demonstration device. It certainly won’t be Windows as that would require x86 support. Any guesses as to what OS we’ll see?

  1. Android!

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  2. Please please please please! Do NOT compare disparate processor architectures based on CPU speed. This is a completely useless comparison for performance characteristics. It is only useful in a marketing sense that uneducated consumers equate more MHz with better (or more megapixels with better). Certainly readers of this blog would know the difference.

    In fact, the lower clock may well be an advantage for the Freescale, as clock speed directly relates to power consumption regardless of architecture, so assuming the FS proc provides the desired performance envelope, it is an advantage to do so with a lower clock rate.

    Patrick

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  3. if im going to be stuck with a mobile OS it certainly wouldnt be on a device as large as a laptop.

    after people start buying these… then they sit down with their “laptop” & start using such a simplified OS it wont take long to see how silly they feel & how nonproductive the whole experience really is.

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  4. There is something that bothers me, what about flash support? the free alternatives are not mature enough and nowadays flash it is a must for any web browsing experience.

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  5. @Brodi

    How are you going to feel unproductive, if it does what you need it to do? You seem to be generalizing for a more advanced user. If all a person needs to do is browse the web and check their email, an OS like Android would be perfect.

    I am a technical user, but I DEFINITELY plan to get an Android-powered netbook, if they ever become available. It is likely to be small & lightweight, fast (especially on x86), long battery life, lots of downloadable apps, capable of making cell phone calls and won’t require any of the typical Windows maintenance.

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  6. I think you are right on with your speculation about Android and Snapdragon. Qualcomm has been making quite a bit of noise about their efforts in the netbook arena and the only way this makes sense is if they have an OS that consumers will recognize and developers will support. Red Flag Linux isnt it.

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