Maplin seem to have yet another curiosity up for grabs in their netbook department (Maplin are perhaps the UK’s only surviving equivalent of Tandy/Radio Shack. A curious mix of electronic items and components. Always selling solar power panels whenever I’ve caught sight of a store).
Anyway they are selling a netbook for £129 which has two distinguishing features. One the operating system installed is Windows CE which is a kind of cut down Windows often found on PDA’s and the internal architecture inside this 650g mini device is ARM based which is again more often found in mobile phones.
Compared to architectures like Intel’s atom processor the ARM architecture brings the advantage of being an even lower power consumer and offering a much extended battery life. One disadvantage is that you can’t just turn around and install Windows XP because XP is just not available to run on ARM processors.
You could at a pinch try installing the recently released Ubuntu Linux for ARM and though the 4GB internal solid state hard drive & 128MB might just accommodate (OK more memory would be better) you currently don’t have a lot of other options…yet.
Outside of the UK ARM based netbooks running Windows CE and Linux have been offered below $100 and over the next few months we’re likely to see many more ARM based devices on the market running Linux and especially Google’s Android OS which at present has only be available on a very small number of phones.
So whilst Microsoft’s Windows 7,due for release in October may finally be a viable netbook OS option it demands considerably more in terms of host hardware specifications and hence will push Win7 based netbook offerings up the pricing scale. We may see a fair amount of low cost netbooks and Internet browsing devices based on ARM becoming more readily available on-line and along the high street.
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