Following reports for the past few months that various PC manufacturers, including heavyweights Hewlett-Packard (HP), have been looking at Android as a viable alternative to Windows and Linux for the netbook, Chinese firm Skytone has revealed its Alpha 680, the first-known Android-powered netbook.
Google’s Android operating system (OS) is for mobile devices all across the board, but, up until now, it has been the reserve of smart phones including the T-Mobile G1.
The mobile OS has the capabilities and is ideally situated to run an ultra-mobile netbook, but will it take a slice out of the current computer OS market?
While Microsoft’s Windows Vista has been sidelined in favour of its less resource hungry and older brother XP, the company’s next OS – Windows 7 – looks to be an updated and potential alternative choice for the netbook.
Right now, although Linux is also an option, it has recently been dropped by HP from its line of netbooks for the European market, suggesting a lack of demand in favour of the Windows-based alternative.
If Android is to make inroads into this market, it must not only stand up to Microsoft, but must also stand out in its suitability.
Skytone’s Alpha, as would be expected, has modest specs, with a 1GB Nand Flash hard drive and a 128MB DDR2 memory, along with a 7-inch TFT LCD screen.
However, it is low-priced at around US$250 and is a fully functioning PC, albeit in mini form.
It can be used as a touchscreen tablet, as well as a netbook, and is due out this summer.
The questions surrounding an Android OS netbook will no doubt concern driver support, software compatibility and networking capabilities.
By Marie Boran