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Video Review of Hivision's $100 ARM-Based Android Laptop 220

Charbax writes "The Android laptops are coming. Thanks to cheap ARM-powered laptops made in China, and the latest, most optimized Android software, we can soon buy usable $100 laptops in all the supermarkets. In this video, I test the web browsing speed on the new Rockchip rk2808 ARM9-based PWS700CA laptop by Shenzhen-based Hivision Co Ltd. Web browsing on AJAX-heavy websites is surprisingly snappy, and could only be even faster if ARM11, ARM Cortex A8 or A9 processors were used and if it was configured with slightly more than 128MB RAM. How soon will Google release the $100 Google laptop?"
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Video Review of Hivision's $100 ARM-Based Android Laptop

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  • Other distros? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:43PM (#30958294) Homepage Journal

    If I can put ubuntu on it I will be interested.

  • Cheap Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:52PM (#30958356)
    My $350 netbook is still expensive enough for me to be somewhat protective of it it. At $100, it becomes something that is tossed somewhat casually into a backpack, or if it's small enough, a coat pocket. I'd buy a couple.
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:55PM (#30958378)

    Easy, through the VGA out port.

  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:56PM (#30958390) Journal

    We've been hearing about ARM laptops/netbooks/smartbooks for over a year now. They were demoed at CES 2009, and promised to be delivered during 2009. Nothing came. They were demoed at CES 2010, and promised to be delivered during 2010.

    I can't wait to slap down $200 to $300 for an ultralight, long-battery life, ARM-based netbook running Linux. But until they make it out of video reviews and trade shows and into stores or online for purchase, what good are they?

    Lenovo Skylight is pretty much the first firm offering we've seen, but it ain't cheap. The Touchbook seems to be a Beagleboard in a nice case, and isn't being mass-produced like other netbooks. Now that the iPad is out (with an ARM-based processor) and MSI et al. have ARM offerings in the pipeline, with manufacturers finally grow some balls, realize they can offer a non-Intel machine and still use Intel on their other machines, and offer us some cheap ARM netbooks?

  • Re:Other distros? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:56PM (#30958394)

    Other distros? Sure would be nice, but the fact that they're ARM means it probably won't be ready just yet. This, by the way, is fantastic news.

    The greatest thing about these laptops is, if they're as good as the article claims, the fact that they're ARM processors means that there won't be a version of Windows out for them for ages/ever.

    That means that Microsoft can't just use its market share to bury the Linux versions by heavily discounting the OS, while using their deals with retailers to make sure they only stock the Windows versions, all the while pressuring the laptop manufacturers to increase the specs on them so they can run Windows 7 instead of XP which they're selling for so cheap (to compete with 'free') they're not making any money off it.

  • by data2 ( 1382587 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:59PM (#30958408)

    Ok, so Android is pretty resource saving. It is pretty impressive that it can display 720p videos.
    But now to the problem. Android is optimised for a touch screen. So, just to give an example, as also shown in the video in the article: When scrolling while browsing, you have to grab the page and "throw" it upwards. Also, there are buttons for zooming in and out.

    So it will be interesting to see how some other minimal linuxes would fare.

    But anyway, for that price, it is probably still worth it.

  • Quite an interesting device. I might even want one myself, but only if it gets support for YouTube. I didn't see any mention of how much storage it comes with, but I would hope that it at least comes with a couple of USB ports and an SD card slot -- and isn't hampered by the limitations of built-in storage like the G1. I would also hope that it would support PDF (which might make it a reasonable e-book reader).

    The demo showed the virtual keyboard, which I thought was a bit of a waste, especially since it was not clear that the display was touch-sensitive.

    As for the hope that a company like WalMart would pick this up and sell it for $100 or less, I don't think that will happen. Most of the folks that shop at WalMart are not techies, and in its present form, this is a netbook only a techie would put up with. It's certainly not the iPad-killer, even though I personally would not buy an iPad (or Kindle, or any other platform that allows the vendor to "repossess" content).

  • by Dragoniz3r ( 992309 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:00PM (#30958422)
    ... but that doesn't change the fact that most websites suck when viewed on an 800x480 screen.
  • Milestone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:02PM (#30958428)
    I've always felt that $100 was the magic barrier for turning a netbook into an impulse buy, and that if the barrier was ever reached it would truly become a mass market phenomenon. What I want to see now is an attempt to make the screens a little larger and obviously specs a little faster over time, all while maintaining that same price point.
  • Re:Other distros? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:12PM (#30958484) Homepage Journal

    Maybe enlightenment. It runs well on my openmoko. I have run it on my eeepc as well. What I would like to see is a netbook with a keyboard and touchscreen, but no touchpad. Enlightenment works well with touch screens.

  • Re:Milestone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by socz ( 1057222 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:30PM (#30958596) Journal
    i got a netbook recently for use in court and i am so impressed with it, I am LOOKING for other reasons to use it. The battery life is OUTSTANDING! It lasted all day all the while playing video and audio. Seriously, it can't get much better than this unless it has a touch screen! (and non stop inet acces). But if android comes along with a $100 price point, I'm in! Just for the "yeah i'll check it out" factor. But my samsung netbook is kickin ass right now.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) <> on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:51PM (#30958718) Homepage Journal

    Licensing for 3G and 2G and other cell phone chip hardware is expensive.

    Also, you have to add additional interfaces (SIM card interface, internal antenna, etc) that increase the cost of delivery and design.

  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Friday January 29, 2010 @11:44PM (#30959138) Homepage

    The iPad needs to be released, and be wildly successful, before we start talking about 'iPad-killers.'

  • by lpaul55 ( 137990 ) * on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:18AM (#30959316) Homepage Journal

    My prediction: when the $100 barrier is broken and laptops are in the supermarkets, the impact of this on the internet will be comparable to that of AOL.

  • Not a $100 laptop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:31AM (#30959388) Homepage Journal

    TFA uses a simplistic economic fallacy to argue that the price will be around $100:

    The price has not yet been announced officially... 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.

    He's assuming that any given tech drops in price by a huge percentage every year. If that were true, IBM would still be making 8088-based PCs and selling them for a few bucks. (Take the $2K 1981 price and divide by 2 about 15 times.) Instead, you can't buy a new 8088-based system for any price — it's not worth Intel's while to even manufacture the chip, never mind somebody else to build a system around it.

    There's always a certain minimum cost to any manufacturing process. Scaling up reduces costs, and so does Moore's law, but only to a point. You'll always have to pay for materials, factory space, workers, shipping, marketing, etc. Some of these things are cheaper outside the U.S., but again, only to a point.

    I'm not sure what the minimum cost for manufacturing a computer is, but I very much doubt that it's much below $100. When manufacturers reach that minimum, they can't keep cutting prices, no matter how much the electronics improve, bang-for-buck-wise. So instead, they find a good price point, and provide the best product they know how to for that price. The result: low end products don't get cheaper, they get better.

    I couldn't begin to guess how much these new ARM laptops will sell for. It will have to be a lot less than the competing Atom-based systems, or else no one will buy them. But I doubt if the retail price will ever go below $200, not if they're sold by anybody who's in it for the money.

    Of course, even a $200 laptop would be damned popular. And a couple years after they come out, you'll be able to buy used ones on eBay for a pittance.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:07AM (#30959564) Journal

    Put Firefox and Abiword on it and you have a cheap browser in a box that can also take notes in class. If I could score them so I can sell them for $175 and make $40 profit on them I could flip these things like flapjacks at the local college. I could just sit on a bench with a sign that said "surf and take notes for up to 8 hours at a time-$175" and I would have them lined around the block!

    That said, we have heard about these "cheap ARM netbooks" how many times on /. now? hell I've lost count. Most likely this will either never come out or will have some crazy $400-$500 price that will make them worthless. If it ain't able to run windows it had BETTER be under $200!

  • Zoom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:18AM (#30959636)

    The iPhone has far lower resolution that that and some folks seem to like it for browsing..

    It has lower actual resolution, but you are really viewing websites at more like 1024x768 or so scaled down, then zooming in on portions. But even in the zoomed out view, I can read pretty much everything on the Slashdot homepage.

    Without touch controls on the screen zooming is way too annoying on a laptop.

  • Re:A comment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by randallman ( 605329 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @03:18AM (#30960136)

    I think Windows Vista/7 has really warped peoples notion of useful memory size. There are many uses for a device like this that don't require gigabytes of RAM. The applications that run on a Nokia N800/N810 with 128Mb of RAM are a testament to that. I would certainly have a use for a sub-notebook sized device with the power and power consumption of my N800.

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @03:20AM (#30960142) Journal


    Much of that R&D, I bet?

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @10:00AM (#30961814)

    At the 2008 CES dozens of ARM "netbooks" running Linux were displayed and a big hit at the show. They were produced on ARM and Linux because Intel didn't have Atom yet so no cheap x86 processor with any horsepower, and Microsoft charged $89 for XP.

    $89 as the wholesale price - the OEM price - for XP?

    Quoted for purchases of 10,000 units? 100,000? A million? To put this in perspective, the brand-name Win 7 netbook has already broken the $300 price point. HP Mini 210-1010NR 10.1-Inch Black Netbook []

    So you ask what killed the Arm Netbook?


    No one in big box retail fought longer and harder to make a go of Linux than WalMart.

    Nothing came of it. currently lists 111 laptops, 48 desktops, all Windows, and all but a bare handful running Win 7 Home Premium.

    What I find most surprising - and significant - is the disappearance of the netbook from WalMart's retail shelves.

    Down to a lone Dell Nickelodeon [] branded laptop for kids.

    It could just be that WalMart's customers are finding other products more compelling: Kodak Zi8 Aqua Pocket 1080p Video Camera [] $180.

  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @04:21PM (#30965100)

    > As a result MS priced windows for netbooks at $8..

    The lowest pricing I have ever heard from anyone halfway reliable is $15 but that isn't the whole story. If they ship Windows they also get to ship the bundleware which means they probably actually make a profit.

    > So you ask what killed the Arm Netbook?

    You forgot two other major players in killing the netbook. The OEMs and the retailers. So sit right down and I'll tell 'yall the rest of the story.

    Netbooks were originally imagined as inexpensive, small and oriented towards a network centric view of the world. EVERYONE wanted that idea dead. The original eeePC was supposed to start at $200, remember? Lets imagine someone hitting that target now, not a black friday dump, $200 MSRP for a useful netbook in the original definition, i.e. no need to run Photoshop (how did this become the one everyone whines about? ....anyway). What retailer wants to put that on the shelf beside units that can make them twice the money before considering the better odds of followon sales with a traditional laptop/modern netbook? Software, service contracts, crapware removal services, accessories, all are better sales opportunities with a notebook/modern netbook running Windows. The OEMs realized they were risking cannibalization of a huge chunk of their more profitable lines. Then Microsoft came unto the OEMs, who were already afraid and said, "So lemme help you guys out of this mess. Ship XP at little or no upcharge and customers will demand the upsized specs to run it well." So the 7 and 9 inch displays vanished along with the slow Celerons and by the time ASUS had their supply chain issues sorted out demand for anything that would have hit their original $200 target had gone away. The industry was saved.

    Let me now pronounce unto you what will be. Because Apple announced the iPad there will be a flurry of tablets, all intended to compete with it so price will be high, HD video will be the one spec on all of em (1080p so as to beat Apple) and they will all fail, Apple included. When that happens the interest in ARM and Android (beyond the smartphone space) will end with it. ARM+Linux and/or Android on inexpensive ARM netbooks will never really be tried. Today's product won't ever be seen in qualtity outside Asia any more than the dozen ARM/Mips units announced in the past or the dozens to be announced in the future will be. Last year I believed some Chinese OEM with no ties to the existing Intel/Microsoft/Notebook ecosystem existed and one of them would eventually get the idea to make an end run around the Walmart/BestBuy roadblock and distribute through non-traditional channels. Now I have studied the matter more and realized that won't likely happen.

    The problem is the $100 disposable netbook would represent a fundamental upheaval in the computing ecosystem. It could be done in a way to benefit the consumer but all the incentives are against it. There is zero upside for any of the established players though, nothing but pain and downsizing. It will happen eventually but they intend to put that day off as long as possible. What we will probably end up with is subsidized locked down crap eventually marginalizing traditional computing to the point computing as a mind lever is relegated to expensive specialty stuff while most stuff is glorified TV with carefully approved interraction. All government approved, child safe and perfectly non offensive. Do we really want to hasten that world or do we join Intel/Microsoft/Dell/BestBuy is pushing that nightmare off in the hope we can find a better solution?

    Or we fight like hell right now for the better more open future that is possible but won't happen if evolution takes its dismal course. If we can get a standard bootloader on those ARM netbooks so we can offer the OEMs the choice of expensive internal OS development and ongoing security patching vs offloading most of that to the community we have a shot at enough of the next generation of cheap hardwa

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