According to ARM CEO Warren East, the Netbook category is expected to explode to cover 90% of the laptop market over the next several years.
And that if Microsoft doesn’t want to provide a version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 for ARM Powered laptops, then that Linux based OSes will do just fine.
I’m hoping to see following specs in mass market ARM Powered laptops soon:
- ARM Cortex A8/A9
- All screen sizes from 4″ to 15″
- Android and Chrome OS combination, provide optimized Chrome browser yet still support Android notifications and applications
- HDMI output
- Pixel Qi 3Qi screen for outdoors readability and 50 hour battery runtime
- Capacitative touch-screen Tablet swivel form factor
- Less than 1kg weight
- Pricing: less than $200 unlocked without any contracts needed
I’m really looking forward to see more of these hopefully as soon as during the Mobile World Congress from February 15-18th in Barcelona, where I plan to go an film 50 videos to be posted here on http://ARMdevices.net, so please do subscribe to my RSS feed to keep up to date.
When the OLPC project’s XO laptops are used in schools, the results are transforming education around the world. It’s getting children excited about school. It’s getting attendance to increase by 100 percent, which it does in most places where OLPC has deployed laptops, where more girls go to school, where the truancy drops to zero, where children take laptops home and teach their parents how to use them.
The One Laptop Per Child engineers are working on an ARM Powered XO 1.75 laptop which is going to be released within a year from now. My guess is that they might be optimizing it for using the Marvell Armada 610 or 510 processor.
The OLPC’s official power consumption target is 2W of power consumption. Though I wonder, is 2W of power consumption really the goal? Not even lower?
For example, the Pixel Qi screen is supposed to consume only 0.1W when backlight is turned off, once Pixel Qi has optimized refresh rates and other details which they have said they will be able to do over the next few months. The whole ARM Processor System on Chip should not consume nearly any power at all when nothing is moving on the screen, when the student for example is just reading an e-book. Then how low really can the power consumption go? Shouldn’t 0.2W power consumption in offline e-reader mode be a realistic goal? Thus shouldn’t the child get 100 minutes of use for 1 minute of cranking?
Since most of the children served by laptops from the OLPC project live off the grid, and may not get electricity for many years, getting the power consumption down on the laptops is one of OLPC’s main engineering goals. This and lowering the cost of the laptops to below $100 per laptop are the main goals of the OLPC project.
I’d like to see all the major ARM Processor makers announce that they will support OLPC in that goal, so that the XO 1.75 may not only be based on the Marvell processor, but that other processors will be optimized for it as well. All ARM Powered laptops shall point towards the same goals in my opinion, also in terms of software optimizations. We need fast and smooth web browsers, have Google and everyone else focus on optimizing the web browsing speed using the Chrome browser. While having everyone focus on one OS for all ARM Powered laptops may be a good idea eventually, until we figure out which OS are the best for which use, having easy multi-boot menus work and utilizing a minimal of extra storage space to ship laptops with multiple choices of Linux OS such as shipping ARM Powered XO laptops with Fedora based Sugar OS, with a Gnome desktop alternative, and with eventually an alternative based on a combination of Android and Chrome OS may be the best solution.
Free wireless broadband is also a priority. Sure a combination of existing cellular, ADSL, Fiber and WiFi Mesh networks of the OLPC project can already achieve a lot. But perhaps the generalization of use of 700mhz spectrum for wireless broadband all around the world will help lower the cost of deploying ubiquituous wireless broadband, especially in countries that deploy the OLPC project without having pre-existing broadband infrastructures in place. The TV spectrum needs to be used for free wireless broadband for all.
Rich countries need to prioritize the OLPC project in deploying revolutionary education using computers and Internet technology all over the world.
Mary Lou Jepsen, Founder of Pixel Qi, provides the latest status of the Pixel Qi screens, tells us about their latest engineering and production ready designs, current power consumption and power consumption targets.
Notion Ink is the first example of awesome Pixel Qi screen integration in ARM Powered devices. This is the first example of the huge revolution that comes with ARM Cortex A9 Power and a Pixel Qi display. This is awesome.
I will be in Las Vegas to film up to 50 HD quality videos from January 4th to 11th of the best ARM Powered® devices to be shown at the tradeshow. I will try to film behind-the-scenes Interviews with Engineers, Product Managers and other experts in the ARM Powered® Tablets, Mobile Phones and Laptops that are going to be shown at CES and launched hopefully soon thereafter at attractive prices.
The big question for me will be to notice the actual performance level reached by those latest ARM Cortex A8 or ARM Cortex A9 processors to be embedded in those devices. The certain crucial performance levels that we need to see working smoothly and fine are following:
- The web browser needs to browse on websites fast and with multiple amounts of opened tabs.
- Flash 10.1 support needs to be just about as smooth and good on ARM Powered® devices as on Intel-based ones.
- I’d really like to see the first demos of fast and smooth Google Chromium OS demos running on ARM Powered® Laptops and Tablets. The full Google Chrome browser optimized to use hardware acceleration of the ARM Powered® Laptops and Tablets is crucial for the success of the platform. That is, it would be surely great to see Firefox and Opera browsers also working fast and smooth for all those advanced things.
- Some level of advanced 3D hardware acceleration for 3D game platforms such as the Unreal Engine, Quake3 demos, even N64 emulators demonstrated to work on all the latest ARM Cortex based technologies would be really great and would add a certain level of confidence in ARM Powered® devices from the bunch of 3D gamer geeks that do represent a large part of the blogosphere.
- In general, it would be extremely great to see working implementations of full hardware acceleration in Android and Chrome OS, as well as in Ubuntu 9.10 and any other Linux ARM based OS that can really be used well to optimize the use of hardware acceleration.
The $200 ARM Powered® Laptop and the promise of $100 ones for consumers to buy totally unlocked and without contracts, that is where the biggest opportunity lies with ARM Powered® devices in my opinion. By bring the PC/Laptop industry to a lower cost level, could also mean that 1 Billion or more people around the world will be able to afford to have full access to the web. And if all those devices can add the Pixel Qi low power sunlight readable screen and even function in Tablet mode, run 20-40 hours on a low cost and light battery, then all the greatest. It would be really nice to see actual product announcements at CES in just a few days.
Imagine an ARM Powered Tablet computer with the 10.1″ Pixel Qi screen, where the screen uses plastics instead of glass to be very resistive. Imagine low enough battery usage in transflective mode to power the device for 40 hours even though the less than 1cm in thickness of the Tablet does not allow for much space for the batteries. Imagine a fully optimized use of the Pixel Qi screens reflective abilities where the screen only needs to refresh at the speed of 1hz when in e-reader mode when nothing moves on the screen, with the processor and motherboard also completely shut off and standby to save power when they are not required. But where screen refresh rate and the processor and motherboard can instantly be turned on as soon as they are needed again.
Imagine wireless data technologies based on White Spaces, for free unlimited wireless broadband on the 700mhz spectrum, WiFi Mesh networking and maybe even low power Bluetooth built-in.
Imagine a touch screen technology which would allow for very responsive touchscreen interfaces to accommodate reading, web browsing, typing and playing of games. Yet where the touch screen functions on a plastic screen that is scratch resistant.
Here is the worlds first announcement of a Tablet with the revolutionary Pixel Qi screen (that I filmed at Computex1, 2, 3, 4), on top of that as a 10.1″ touch screen tablet, using the NVIDIA Tegra T20 chipset supporting 1080p Full HD video, with WiFi, Bluetooth, HSDPA, in a 1.5cm thickness and 771 grams. Notion Ink will show this cool looking ARM Powered tablet at CES, I will try to film hands on video there. This ARM Powered tablet form factor with Pixel Qi screen, as well as the swivel tablet Laptop form factor, is the form factor that I think will revolutionize the Laptop, Tablet and E-reader industry and I really look forward to seeing these demonstrated for the first time at CES from January 7th to 10th, look forward to my full video coverage here on http://armdevices.net
Since I filmed such a great video of it at IFA, OPTIMA TECHNOLOGY(SHENZHEN)CO.,LTD sent me a review sample of their new Optima OP5-E for me to publish an exclusive hands-on video-review. The new Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux based MID is now being released by http://www.chinaoptima.com/ and China Telecom on the Chinese market and they are now looking for global distributors (if many people demand it, there may be a distributor bringing this device to your local 3G telecoms market or sell it unlocked). (contact email@example.com if you might be interested in ordering 300 units or more).
Maemo is the biggest potential alternative to Android Linux OS for embedded devices, mobile internet devices, pocket computers or phones, however you want to call them. This Optima OP5-E is the worlds first Maemo device that is not manufactured by Nokia. This makes the Optima OP5-E a product to check out for people who want to see how Maemo could make a commercial impact outside of Nokia in the open-source embedded device market.
It has a 4.3″ 800×480 resistive touch screen (capacitative at that size and price does not yet exist), 806mhz Marvell PXA310+ ARM processor, 128MB RAM, built-in 3G CDMA sim card reader (HSDPA version coming next month), built-in GPS, built-in Bluetooth, a high capacity exchangeable 2600mAh battery. All that comes for around $500 unlocked and could be sold at $300 or lower subsidized with a subscription plan from the carrier. It can support either VOIP and IM or regular voice and sms, that is up to the carrier how they want to integrate that feature.
The really cool things about this product are following:
- It has a built-in 3G CDMA modem with sim card reader.
- It has a pretty long battery life with a high capacity removable battery (I got a second battery to swap just in case I need more than 8 hours or more battery life for video playback)
- This type of device could function as a VOIP phone on 3G and WiFi networks (if the carriers agree to it and don’t apply packet shaping mechanisms to block VOIP usage on the 3G networks)
- Maemo may have quite a lot of dedicated open-source programmers already hanging out in the http://maemo.org/community/maemo-developers/ and who may have developed some pretty interesting Maemo based applications already (which I am going to check out and publish another video when I have found out which would be the best applications that work on this device and how much porting may be required to eventually adapt software that is already developed for the Nokia Maemo Linux tablets).
- It comes with a larger touch screen than on the existing range of Smartphones, significantly larger than the Nokia N900 screen, yet this product can be sold cheaper than all those smaller smartphones. I think that a larger 800×480 medium density screen is very valuable and I think that all those 3.5″ smartphones on the market have too small of a screen for Internet browsing and video playback use.
Things that I think Optima and eventually the open-source developers may improve on this device (based on my initial tests):
- The whole Maemo Linux user interfaces I think could use some optimizations and fine tuning, this device does support firmware updates, I don’t know how often Optima may release firmware updates for it to improve on all these things.
- The Firefox Fennec browser that is included, might not be as smooth and fast as the Webkit based browser that one can find on Android, the Palm Pre and the iPhone. Though, my guess is that it should be possible to port a version of a Webkit based browser to Maemo (if it hasn’t been done already), and I am sure this browser could be optimized and improved in firmware updates.
- Obviously, I would like to have HSDPA instead of CDMA 3G modem in this, to have i work here in Europe, Optima has told me that the HSDPA version will be released in about a month from now (maybe a bit later, I guess it may depend how soon interested importers from Europe and other HSDPA markets demand for it to be made available)
- I can’t seem to be able to connect my Bluetooth foldable Stowaway keyboard, I don’t know if Bluetooth headsets may be supported. I am sure, this could be fixed or improved in firmware updates. I don’t know if it supports Bluetooth tethering to access the Internet through a mobile phone that has that functionality. My guess is Bluetooth tethering is not supported yet since the 3G modem is integrated.
- It does not seem to have a TV output (unless somehow that functionality exists within the mini-jack output, but I guess it’s not there). Too bad, cause I enjoy watching DivX videos outputted from such a device onto a TV. Though, most existing smartphones on the market such as blackberry, palm pre and the iphone don’t have that feature either.
Here is the cheapest laptop in the world. It can run Android since it is based on a Samsung ARM926EJ-S3C2450 processor, but for now this review unit that I am reviewing in this video only runs Windows CE 5.0. Check back hopefully within a month for another video when Menq may have sent me a firmware upgrade to use Android instead of Windows CE.
As I filmed the Menq Easypc E760 last year at IFA, Menq is a chinese company interested in providing the worlds cheapest laptop designs. Last year, they were using a 480×320 resolution 7-inch screen to reach the $89 price point for laptops, now they are able to include a 800×480 resolution 7-inch screen. Find more information about this Menq EasyPC E790 at http://www.menqgroup.com/products/pro/E790.asp
Web Browsing is all that most people need, with clever HTML5 enabled Chrome browser running on any type of Embedded OS, be it Android or Ubuntu, even offline application could be run reliably from within the browser engine. Anything most people really need will work.
As you can see in my video review, this Menq EasyPC E790 is kind of slow since it is based on the ARM9 processor technology. For not much more cost, though, the Chinese laptop manufacturers could soon be using the ARM Cortex A8 processor technology, which should provide for a 5-10 times faster web browsing experience, and even faster if using an upcoming ARM optimized Chrome browser.
This laptop, I think, is giving us a taste of the future of laptops. Soon all laptops will cost $80 or less, run 10 hours or more on a small and cheap 3-cell battery, even over 20 hour battery life if using the Pixel Qi screen technology. It is also providing a sensation for the what we can expect from the next generation OLPC One Laptop Per Child XO-1.75 to be released by OLPC with ARM processor technology inside instead of X86.
If using ARM9, OLPC could definitely sell laptops at below $80, but maybe ARM Cortex A8 will be preferable at around $10-$20 extra in manufacturing costs, and the innovative new Pixel Qi screen, WiFi meshing, more RAM and storage, could bring the next ARM based OLPC XO-1.75 laptop coser to $125 per laptop, to reach below $100 with mass production. In any ways, I am really looking forward to see the upcoming releases of the ARM Cortex A8 based laptops, yet still, this ARM9 based laptop is very interesting, and if you want your local supermarket to start selling them, I suggest you phone your local supermarket headquarters, and ask them to contact Menq and order for example 5000 pieces or more so they can get them at the price of $80 per unit and sell it to you for probably below $100 in supermarkets.