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Print 19 comment(s) - last by nafhan.. on Jan 6 at 4:37 PM


  (Source: Lenovo)

Lenovo's Skylight, set to release in Spring of this year for $499 is the first Snapdragon (ARM) netbook. It will feature an impressive 10 hours of battery life and weigh less than 2 lb., about 2/3rds of the weight of a "hefty" Eee PC.  (Source: Lenovo via Gizmodo)
The x86 architecture may finally be getting a run for its money in the netbook world

The x86 central processing architecture, based on the Intel 8086 architecture (developed by Intel in 1978), has dominated virtually the entire desktop and notebook computer CPU market for the last two decades.

However, in another, far different, market the rival ARM architecture was plotting a comeback.  With an ARM processor in an estimated 98 percent of the over billion phones sold worldwide, the architecture used the mobile communications revolution to quietly gain a competitive position in total processing units worldwide.

Now ARM-based CPUs are preparing to storm the shores of the x86 architecture's most heavily fortified stronghold -- the personal computer.  There's a multitude of released or pending ARM-based entries, including the Freescale's i.MX, Marvell (formerly Intel) XScale, NVIDIA's Tegra, ST-Ericsson Nomadik, Qualcomm's Snapdragon, and the Texas Instruments OMAP product line.

Why are ARM platforms so promising?  Their mobile heritage has helped them develop ultra-low power envelopes.  Where as a Intel Atom N270 (the leading x86 netbook chip) plus 945GSM chipset has a TDP of 11.8 watts, the majority of current ARM system-on-a-chips (SOCs) consume under 2 watts at full load.

The Tegra is already powering the Zune HD's sweet graphics, and the Snapdragon (ARM Cortex A8) is expected to power the upcoming "Google Phone", set to be announced later today.  That same Qualcomm processor is also coming to the Lenovo Skylight, a just announced netbook, that may become the first ARM-based CPU netbook from a major manufacturer.

Set to lay the smackdown on Atom-based designs, the netbook features the Snapdragon 1 GHz chipset.  It boasts a 10 hour battery life, on par with the current best Atom-based netbooks (the current-gen. Asus Eee PC).  It also features an attractive "high-definition" 10.1" screen (exact resolution not yet specified).  The weight will reportedly be under 2 lb., quite nice when compared to "hefty" 2.8 lb. that the latest Eee PCs weigh in at.

The netbook also features a gadget interface for speedy and painless access to favorites like Gmail or Facebook.  It comes with integrated 3G and Wi-Fi, which are built into the Snapdragon chipset.  AT&T will be the primary service provider -- though it may be possible to connect to other providers with the laptop.

The netbook will go on sale in the Spring of this year for $499 -- you will have to purchase an AT&T service plan separately (though you may get a subsidy if you purchase with a plan -- specifics haven't yet been announced).

The 1 GHz Snapdragon is just a taste of the ARM goodness that's to come, though.  There's incoming ARM dual-core designs, including 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 45 nm variant, that reportedly use 0.5 watts or less (versus 8 watts on the comparable Intel Atom 330).  The aforementioned designs from other vendors are also expected to soon be competing against x86 designs in the netbook sector.

Intel's Atom processor, which helped to give birth to the netbook movement, is unlikely to go away completely, even in the face of vastly more efficient ARM-based designs.  At the very least, though, it will be forced to lower its power envelope greatly in order to continue to thrive.  And that's good news for consumers, who dream of one day having 15-hour, 20-hour, even, long battery life fully functional netbooks.


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$499 is too much
By nafhan on 1/5/2010 1:22:59 PM , Rating: 5
This needs to fall in the price range of the lower end netbooks (i.e. less than $300). With webapps and such, I'm willing to give up x86 compatibility if I can save some money, but at $499 you are in CULV territory. There are inexpensive CULV based notebooks that will blow this thing away and have similar battery life and size.




RE: $499 is too much
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 1:51:37 PM , Rating: 5
I agree. I just bought an Acer 1410 w/dual core 1.2G SU2300 for $360. As soon as I get all the crapware scrapped off it should last 6-8 hours and be way faster than this. It also has HDMI out which I doubt this netbook will have.

Much better deal than $500 for this.


RE: $499 is too much
By ImSpartacus on 1/5/2010 1:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
Where'd you get that beast for $360? Newegg was charging like $430 the last time I checked, but that was a few weeks ago. The MSRP is $399, right?

How's the build quality on the 1410? I wanted one so bad.


RE: $499 is too much
By bupkus on 1/5/2010 2:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
Check with Micro Center.


RE: $499 is too much
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 4:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
I got it from a place called Bernie's (http://www.bernies.com/). I basically set an alert on slickdeals.net and as soon the deal came up I jumped on it. It was $360 + $10 fedex.


RE: $499 is too much
By nafhan on 1/6/2010 4:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's the exact laptop I was thinking of when I posted. I'll have to check out the alerts thing on Slickdeals. I bought most of my Christmas gifts by checking the site on a regular basis during October and November.


Ugh
By umop apisdn on 1/5/2010 1:11:31 PM , Rating: 5
AT&T? No thanks.




Meh
By Suntan on 1/5/2010 1:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
10 hours of battery is not worth $500 imo.

I think long battery life is a little overblown. 2 hours is not enough, but 10 hours seems excessive if it results in an additional $100 to $200 in product cost.

ymmv.

-Suntan




RE: Meh
By Keeir on 1/5/2010 4:35:17 PM , Rating: 3
I think to be considered is the hit that WiFi or 3G place on the device. Although 10 hours is probably reached (or maybe even exceeded) at minimum power draw, adding 3g probably reduces the run time to 3-4 hours.

I used to think the same things about battery life, then I got a Acer 1810T netbook, which I now keep in the car permanently only needing to recharge it 1-2 times a week depending on usage (I'd perfer not to burn gasoline to make power). If the Acer had ~3 hours maximum battery life, I would likely need to rechard the ACER every time I used it for more than 30 minutes with WiFi. Luckly the Acer is closer to 9 hours at minimum settings and 6 with WiFi on...

I'd buy it to replace the mobile internet functions of my iphone and the portable PC functions of the Acer... and consider it cheap at the price to replace a 500 dollar phone down to a 200 dollar phone and a 400 dollar netbook. Enough to stomach the decrease in computer power (provided it can play MPEG2 and MPEG4 video at native resolution for screen, it would be okay)


Snapdragon rocks.
By Chiisuchianu on 1/5/2010 1:04:44 PM , Rating: 2
Ugly laptop, amazing hardware.




RE: Snapdragon rocks.
By SilthDraeth on 1/5/2010 1:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
Why oh why didn't they make this one look like the ThinkPad X100e?

They should also make it have a matte finish.


I'm impressed
By Soulkeeper on 1/6/2010 12:44:16 AM , Rating: 3
maybe i'm the only one to like this news, but I think it's good to see something other than atoms/intel dominating the market.
nice to see a different architecture too.
Very promising technology in that thing.




There's a term for that
By TMV192 on 1/5/2010 1:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
netbook form factor + ARM CPU ?
it's called a Smartbook




What OS?
By spacemonkey211 on 1/5/2010 4:52:09 PM , Rating: 2
Now the real question is what OS is this thing running? Seeing that it is an ARM processor it can't be Windows, so it is likely a Linux variant.

If it is sold with a mobile plan then this might not be such a bad thing since people wont be expecting Windows on it. If it is sold as a regular notebook then there are going to be a lot of people that will be lost without their Windows.

There is also the possibility that this will be a locked down OS much like smartphones have and be relegated to web surfing and doc editing... then the $500 price tag doesn't make sense.




no
By Visual on 1/6/2010 3:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
What reason would anyone have to buy a phone's hardware and performance in a netbook form factor? And get even less features than the phone versions, namely no phone calls, no touchscreen, no gps, no good camera, no common sense, no nothing. No thanks.

It needs to have something more than the upcoming snapdragon phones to even be considered by anyone with a clue. It needs to be quite faster, last an order of magnitude longer on a charge or some other benefit, else I don't see a point.

Well, I am pretty sure there is something to it, but so far I've no idea what it is. How are they making use of the extra space and weight besides with a bigger screen and keyboard?




By bandstand124 on 1/6/2010 7:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, and I know I am dreaming, I like to see a phone with a 4.3" 720p touchscreen, with a powerful ARM processor in it (Tegra or whatever), bluetooth etc etc but also comes with a smartbook type of thing that is really nothing but a screen, keyboard and battery.

You plug in your phone to the screen, all the work is done on the phone but you get a nice big screen and keyboard.

The OS on the phone would have two UI, one smartphone and the other desktop. The phone battery would last longer because it doesn't have to drive the screen.




By heulenwolf on 1/6/2010 2:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
What about the other promises of Smartbooks:
1) Instant on
2) Fast access to web content (what browser?)
3) Video playback (flash?)

Most of those answers depend on the OS, which is unspecified, I know. But I have to agree with the last poster, it took 5 paragraphs of "context" to get to the point and then many of the most important details of the system were not included. What can this thing do?




5 Paragraphs
By GTVic on 1/5/2010 1:22:11 PM , Rating: 1
This is getting excessive, having to wade through 5 paragraphs before getting to the actual topic at hand.




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