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ARM Powered Linux laptops to dominate the world

Posted by Charbax – February 8, 2010
ARM Holdings
Image via Wikipedia

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.

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ARM Powered OLPC XO laptops coming within a year

Posted by Charbax – February 8, 2010

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.

Source: smartplanet.com

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Archos opens up Linux Tablets for developers

Posted by Charbax – February 5, 2010

Dozens of awesome open ARM Powered Linux Tablets coming to the market from MSI, Asus, ICD, Notion Ink, HP, Dell and others, most are based on Android and are likely to foster competition that can provide cheaper and better Tablets than Apple. Archos is the only manufacturer with powerful Android Tablets on the market since October 2009, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet (8GB) is now available for $249 in Radio Shack and (16GB) for $279 in Best Buy. Today, Archos is releasing the Special Edition Firmware that adds Ångström Linux as a dual-boot for their latest Archos 5 Internet Tablet generation so that developers can start developing powerful Linux solutions for the Archos Linux tablets and not only do Android stuff.

Read more and download the Special Edition Firmware: archos.com

You can discuss this in the ArchosFans.com forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=30431

Exclusive video review: First non-Nokia Maemo Tablet device, installing apps on the Optima OP5-E

Posted by Charbax – February 4, 2010

After my unboxing and review video and my video-interview from IFA, hyere's my third Optima OP5-E video where I test the installing of some of the .deb Maemo Linux applications (found at http://www.woojoy.com/repository/) from the File manager directly onto the Optima OP5-E.

This device is now being released with 3G access in China through China Mobile and is being integrated with HSDPA for release to the European market, if distributors or telecom service providers approach Optima for the release of this device. If you are a distributor, Optima has told me that they can be contacted directly about any enquiries on this device at Stephen Kwan's email address: shkwan@wtpacific.com or through their website: http://en.optima-china.com/

This is the first example of a Maemo Linux based device that is not manufactured by Nokia. I think this device might be sold below $300 unlocked while consider that the Nokia N900 costs over $600 unlocked.

My previous Optima OP5-E videos have had coverage on these sites among others:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/04/optimas-maemo-running-op5-e-mid-demoed-on-video-priced/
http://nexus404.com/Blog/2009/12/08/optima-op5-e-mid-reviewed-optimas-maemo-mid-comes-with-4-3-inch-screen-3-2-megapixel-camera-3g/
http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/optima-op5-e-runs-maemo-linux-just-like-nokia-n900
http://www.softsailor.com/news/13436-optima-op5-e-tablet-is-running-maemo-5soon-starting-from-300.html
http://www.jdmag.com/optima-op5-e-mid-the-first-non-nokia-maemo-device/
http://www.journaldugeek.com/2009/12/08/optima-op5-e-maemo/
and many more sites...

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Samsung launches SHW-M100S, 3.7″ AMOLED WVGA Android 2.1 phone

Posted by Charbax – February 4, 2010

3.7" AMOLED WVGA
800mhz, probably ARM Cortex A8
5megapixel
720p camcorder
T-DMB tuner
Android 2.1 with Google Marketplace and Samsung Touchwiz user interface stuff

Look forward to my video hands-on of this device at Mobile World Congress February 15-18th.

source: danawa.com
via: techmeme.com

Chromium and Firefox within Android

Posted by Charbax – February 3, 2010

The default Android web browser is really awesome in terms of speed, it even works amazingly fast on the ARM9 Powered web browser of the Hivision PWS700CA that I tested in my video-review a few days ago. Though for Laptop form factors, also known as ARM Powered Netbooks or Smartbooks, and for Android Tablets like the Archos 5 Internet Tablet that has a HDMI output and supports USB and Bluetooth keyboards and mice, the default Android web browser might not be enough.

This is why the support of the full desktop-like experience using Chrome and Firefox web browsers within Android are really going to be nice. Perhaps the June 2009 release of the Native Android SDK can help developers reach this goal.

The Mozilla team is showing this screenshot of Firefox running within Android (check also Mozilla's wiki entry on Android: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Android):

Since Google is now working on releasing the full Chrome OS for ARM Powered devices, perhaps it would make sense to take the source code of that Chrome web browser for ARM, and make it into an Android application. This way on a Pocketable Android tablets or phones the default Android web browser would still be used, but when in HDMI output mode to a HDTV and when using USB or Bluetooth keyboards and mice, the Chrome browser or Firefox would thus be the browser of choice.

I think it would be nice as well if it was possible to provide a full speed browser experience even on cheap ARM Powered Android devices that come with little RAM memory such as only 128MB or RAM, still enable the use of unlimited amounts of opened tabs by somehow perhaps saving the state of each tab into ROM memory and be able to quickly in few milliseconds be able to pull that back into RAM memory when the specific tab is selected.

On the other hand, I also think it would make sense to support all Android applications within Chrome OS, thus this might mean that eventually Android and Chrome OS will merge.

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Slashgear.com: hands-on with Texas Instruments OMAP4 development hardware

Posted by Charbax – February 3, 2010

Slashgear.com went to Texas Instrument's Dallas Texas headquarters to write an article about the OMAP4 dual-core ARM Cortex A9 1ghz development platforms which can decode 3 videos at the same time, with 1080p HDMI video output, a built-in pico-projector, significantly higher resolution support than WVGA 800x480 for the on board screen (1024x600? 1280x720?), 1080p 24/30fps video encoding, “universal decode” which they say means it will support playback of all video codecs (High Profile h264 MKV 1080p at up to 50mbit/s?).

Texas Instruments OMAP4 development platform

The chipset can simultaneously record 1080p and D1 (e.g. regular TV resolution) footage, as well as still images, giving you an HD copy for local playback and a smaller version for uploading. Meanwhile there’s enough processor grunt to spare for digital video stabilisation, both for recording and, potentially, for stabilising the pico-projector when you’re operating it handheld.

Wow, it will be nice to encode full quality 1080p at high bitrate for archiving and at the same time record D1 for uploading to the web. Although my favorite combination would be something like a combined 20mbit/s 1080p and a 720p 4mbit/s encoded with high encoding complexity to provide a good baseline 720p version to be uploaded to the web. Though it would also be nice to record decent 1080p which Youtube supports, and at the same time encode D1 at low bitrates to stream on 3G networks or to stream over WiFi to live video services like Qik or Ustream.

And in terms of how Texas Instrument OMAP4 compares with Nvidia Tegra2:

While production devices based on the Tegra 2 aren’t available yet, TI reckon there are several points at which they eclipse their rival. According to Marcelo O Vieria, general manager of the OMAP business group, the OMAP4 1080p video codec is stronger than that of the Tegra 2, in fact he reckons TI “have a better video engine than [NVIDIA] do”. OMAP4 also supports 20-megapixel or higher image processing, as well as three simultaneous displays, and it has significantly more memory bandwidth than Tegra 2 which means it’s better at multitasking. Worth remembering, too, is that OMAP4 is suited to smartphones, which is an area Tegra is yet to extend into.

This all just sounds very awesome, I look forward to see Texas Instruments demonstrate their new OMAP4 platform in Mobile Computing products and reference designs, hopefully as soon as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona between the 15-18th February, where I plan to film 50 new videos of the latest most awesome ARM Powered devices.

Be sure to check out the full article with pictures and video at Slashgear.com: http://www.slashgear.com/texas-instruments-omap4-hands-on-0172231/

Slashgear.com also filmed this video of Texas Instrument's e-ink development platform which the Texas Instruments representative clearly says could also run a Pixel Qi screen:

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Pricing and availability on Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB) leaked

Posted by Charbax – February 1, 2010

If the leaked pricing rumor of £149 for the Archos 7 Internet Tablet is correct, this may mean that it will be sold for only $199 in the USA. Consider that European retail pricing always includes around 20% VAT taxes which are not included in US retail pricing.

In September 2009, Archos did announce that they would upgrade to 1ghz processors, thus I expect it may be the new Texas Instruments OMAP3640 that is a 45nm process or a 1ghz version of the current OMAP3440 processor.

Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB)

The cheaper $199 Archos 7 Internet Tablet, means the Archos 5 Internet Tablet will probably also be available $50 to $100 cheaper. It is currently sold at $249 at Radio Shack. Thus by March, pricing for the Archos 5 Internet Tablet (8GB) may be lowered to around $179 (I am speculating here).

Archos 7 Internet Tablet (8GB) specifications

It'd be really nice to see Archos come during the next few months with more screen sizes from 4.3", 4.8", 7", 8.9" and even 10.1" Android Tablets. I speculate on what the overall pricing of those may be in this post: http://archosfans.com/2010/01/29/my-recommendations-on-archos-cheap-android-tablet-revolution/

Most importantly, if full Google Marketplace can officially be supported on larger screened Android Tablets, and if all bugs are fixed soon for very stable full Android and VOIP usage, I think this positions Archos and the whole Android Tablet segment as a really good value alternative to the $499-$829 Apple iPad.

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Update on my wishlist for my next HD camcorder

Posted by Charbax – January 31, 2010

Here's an update on my August 2nd 2008 wish-list for features of my next HD Camcorder:

Since the beginning of 2008, I have been using my Sanyo HD1000 camcorder to post about 1000 videos in 9mbit/s 720p HD quality (h264 baseline Sanyo recordings) to Youtube and before mid-2008 using 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p HD to my server when I posted all my technology videos at http://techvideoblog.com. In 2005-2007, I was using my old Sony HDR-HC1 for my 1080i HDV recordings to video-blog in 3.5mbit/s DivX 720p and Google Video.

I consider myself to be a professional video-blogger, thus I really would like to see the HD camcorder industry to include video-blogger features in next generation camcorders.

I would like to see Sanyo release a compact pocketable HD3000 model in the next couple of months, with following features:

- built-in WiFi upload to Youtube HD, like the Eye-Fi but WiFi uploads should be fast at full WiFi speed with resume of uploads supported and very easy to use user interface in the camera to manage uploads and automatic-uploads.
- built-in Android touch screen interface (for editing titles/descriptions), with USB-host or Bluetooth for keyboard text input to edit titles/descriptions
- faster/better H264 encoding quality per bitrate with more lower bitrate options such as 4mbit/s 720p (which should be at least as good quality as 9mbit/s encoding on the older Sanyo HD1000) for quicker upload to Youtube.
- Wireless microphone using Bluetooth or RF built-in would be nice as well.
- Live WiFi streaming with overlay chat API for Qik/Ustream would be nice as well while it also records HD versions.
- If possible, it should record both 4mbit/s 720p or 1080p 8mbit/s for Youtube and 20mbit/s 1080p for archiving.
- It should support automatic editing of intro/outros in all videos. Thus I could record a new intro/outro for each new event and it should just automatically edit that in.
- Let me pause recordings to thus edit videos while I film and let me join/cut videos within the camcorder faster than on HD1000
- It should let me point to a transparent PNG file to use as Watermark in all videos by default, the Watermark should be applied while filming thus not loosing any quality in re-encoding later.
- Version with built-in SIM card slot for HSDPA features would be nice, constant overlay live IRC chat would be nice to receive live questions and suggestions from live viewers
- 4.3" or 4.8" screen would be nice as viewfinder compared to the 2.7" of the HD1000.
- Built-in 2.5" or 1.8" hard drive compartment would be nice for adding built-in storage upwards 500GB.
- Otherwise a second built-in SDHC card slot would be nice.
- Some clever system to swap battery while filming without having to interrupt the filming would be impressive.
- Built-in wide-angle, I film everything in wide-angle so I'd rather not have to buy an add-on wide-angle lense. Yet it's ok if Sanyo make the lense look wide an cool by default (small lenses don't look as professional).

Dear Camcorder industry, if you want to differentiate your HD Camcorder with good optics (better than a basic Flip camcorder), and not let Smartphones get HD camcorder functions built-in before we see some of these things. These features are it! Once you have got these features integrated, you can start aiming towards Quad-HD resolution recording for cheap if the HDTV LCD industry can follow as well, instead of making those ridiculous 3D HDTV.

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Android Laptop Review: Hivision PWS700CA

Posted by Charbax – January 29, 2010

This is the world's first video-review of the Hivision PWS700CA ARM9 Powered Android Laptop, find more info at Hivision's website. (Hivision, which I previously video-Interviewed about cheap Laptops from the trade shows at CES 2010 and IFA 2008)

Hivision Android Laptop

The Hivision PWS700CA is based on a Rockchip RK2808 600mhz ARM926 processor, 128SDRAM, 7" 800x480 screen, 720p Video playback support, WiFi, Ethernet, audio input/output and weights only 650grams.

The price has not yet been announced officially because Hivision is looking for worldwide distributors who will then decide how much it will be sold for to end consumers. But you can understand that if Hivision was able to sell those types of laptops for $98 to distributors more than a year ago (when I filmed my popular video from IFA 2008), then surely the mass manufacturing price has not gone up since then. My expectation is that if a giant consumer electronics reseller such as Walmart or Best Buy approaches Hivision today to order huge quantities of this laptop, it could be sold below $100 to end users.

I've seen those kinds of cheap laptops running Windows CE or some less optimized Linux distribution at Buy.com (2), at Amazon.com, at Kmart.com and plenty other places for even cheaper. The point of this video is to show that Android can make all these cheap laptops much more usable when it comes to browsing the web. The Android browser is much better than the one in Windows CE or the Mozilla-based ones used in other Linux distributions. More usable web browsing means more people will want to buy it, which means even cheaper prices.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full sized pictures at Picasa:

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