Netbooks have really taken off in the past few years, sporting Intel’s Atom processor and Windows XP or Linux and being sold cheaply to consumers. At the same time, smartphones are getting faster, being seen with processors capable of speeds up to 1GHz and running very capable operating systems. But what if a netbook’s too big for you? Is a smartphone too small for your needs? Then worry no more; 2010 is going to be the year of the smartbook!
So what exactly is a smartbook? To put it simply, it’s a smartphone in the body of a small netbook, running a smartphone OS such as Android or Windows Mobile. If you cast your mind back to the original Asus Eee netbook, it consisted of a 7” screen and the Atom processor was still on the drawing board.
Smartbooks will have similar sized screens to the original netbooks and run on the processors found in smartphones, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor reportedly found in Google’s Nexus One. Naturally, consisting of smartphone hardware, they will run a mobile OS rather than the versions of Linux or Windows found in today’s netbooks. This is all well and good, but why exactly would anyone need such a device? Smartphones and netbooks allow you to stay connected on the move without paying more money for a laptop.
Firstly, smartbooks would be cheaper than any netbook on the market – the Asus Eee target price was $199, but it ended up retailing at $299. Today, you can expect to pay up to £300 for a standard netbook (around $500), where as a smartbook is aimed at the $199 price target. As well as this, because smartbooks will be running less power demanding parts and have a bigger frame than smartphones, battery life would be substantially better than netbooks, some of which come with battery’s lasting around 6 hours in the real world. As far as I’m concerned, the more the battery life the better, but how functional would it be?
To make a smartbook a worthwhile purchase, manufactures will most probably be available through mobile phone networks. This means that you’ll probably be able to get the device itself for free if you pay a monthly fee which would allow you to connect to the provider’s network and surf the net wherever you are. Since the iPhone’s release back in 2007, mobile browsers have improved significantly – browsing the web with Safari on the iPhone is extremely fast and a rich experience, not to mention stable. If smartbook manufactures were to give the users a similar experience on a bigger screen then I may be tempted into buying one for myself.
If running the right software to accompany the powerful hardware available for smaller devices, I think that smartbooks could take off in 2010. Google’s Android OS has already been ported to many netbooks, and with Google Chrome OS on the way for free to consumers, prices could be kept low as manufactures wouldn’t have to charge more for Windows being pre-loaded on to the devices like many netbooks. Only time will tell, but if well executed we may be seeing a lot of coffee bars full of smartbooks by this time next year!
What do you think? Would you want to get yourself a smartbook?