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Rumour: Nokia to launch ARM-based netbook

Rumour: Nokia to launch ARM-based netbook

Rumours point to a 2010 release for an as-yet unconfirmed ARM-based netbook from Nokia, but whether it'll be more than a souped-up N810 with a larger screen remains to be seen.

Rumour has it that the recently-unveiled Booklet 3G isn't the only netbook that mobile giant Nokia has planned, with pundits pointing toward the impending release of an ARM-based device.

According to unnamed industry sources quoted by DigiTimes, the company is looking at releasing the device - which is likely to be manufactured by either Compal or Foxconn and released to Original Design Manufacturers for rebranding - some time towards the middle of next year.

So far, details of the device are scant: almost certainly powered by an Qualcomm Snapdragon chip or an ARM Cortex A9 depending on how far Nokia is planning ahead, screen size is likely to be tending towards the portable rather than cinematic side. The use of a processor based on the ARM instruction set rather than the more common x86 means that it won't be running Windows - unless it's Windows Mobile, an operating system better suited to smartphones than netbooks. Likely operating systems are Linux - including the vague possibility it'll be an Android-based device - or something based on the company's own Symbian platform.

This device wouldn't be the first time the company has looked at creating a portable computing system based on ARM and running Linux: in 2005 the company launched its semi-popular Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which was one of the original MIDs featuring a 4.1" screen and 252MHz TI OMAP 1710 ARM-based processor. The N770 - which was replaced by the upgraded N800 in 2007, and then by the N810 in 2008 - runs a version of Linux developed specifically for mobile devices by Nokia called Maemo, which would certainly give Nokia the experience required to attempt a half-decent custom Linux distribution on a netbook.

Maemo is still actively developed by the company, with a successor to the N810 Internet Tablet due towards the end of the year and a top-end smartphone - developed as the company's answer to the ever-popular iPhone - running the OS due to be unveiled at the Nokia World event next week. The recently-revealed existence of the more traditional Nokia Booklet 3G netbook argues both ways for the veracity of the rumours: while the current push for Maemo and the existence of an x86 netbook means the company is capable of producing an ARM-based netbook, it's questionable whether Nokia would truly consider launching two similar but totally incompatible products so close together.

Would an ARM-based system running a Linux distribution - such as Android or Maemo - be the perfect netbook for you, or is it Windows or no sale? Should Nokia be concentrating on its more traditional x86 designs? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

7 Comments

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l3v1ck 27th August 2009, 10:41 Quote
Netbooks and laptops are the types of PC where I would use Linux. The manufacture would have to provide drivers for all the hardware. The lack of drivers for certain hardware is what stops me using Linux on my desktop PC. If I wanted a Netbook I would certainly consider Linux, but that would be lower down my requirements list than specification and looks.
interzen 27th August 2009, 13:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Netbooks and laptops are the types of PC where I would use Linux. The manufacture would have to provide drivers for all the hardware. The lack of drivers for certain hardware is what stops me using Linux on my desktop PC. If I wanted a Netbook I would certainly consider Linux, but that would be lower down my requirements list than specification and looks.

You'd use Linux on a laptop but not on a desktop due to driver issues? Methinks you've got that barse-ackwards somewhere. Granted, support for laptop componentry is better than it used to be, but is still lacking in a lot of areas (caveat: I've used Linux since 1991, so I sorta-kinda know what I'm taking about) - if anything, a desktop machine is a *safer* bet. Of course, a lot depends on what you mean by 'certain hardware' ... but that's by the by.

Whilst something like Maemo or even Debian (not sure if there's an ARM flavour of Ubuntu) would be good, if it ran Android then Nokia would have my cash quicker than you could say 'antidisestablishmentarianism', and that's even before things like battery life are taken into consideration.

Bring it on - providing Nokia don't try any half-arsed methods of crippling it, it could be a winner.
Shagbag 27th August 2009, 15:14 Quote
My money is on either Google's Chrome OS or Intel's Moblin OS, rather than Android or Meamo which are really just PDA OSes.

I can't see XPembedded being put on them either. Why would Nokia want to go with an OS that will be two generations old?
interzen 27th August 2009, 15:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagbag
I can't see XPembedded being put on them either. Why would Nokia want to go with an OS that will be two generations old?
Why would they bother with any version of Windows full stop?
OK, so the choice of Windows incarnations for the ARM architecture is limited, but even so ... the market is crowded with Windows-based netbooks, so if the Nokia *did* ship with Windows then it'd have to have something pretty darned special to differentiate it from the other 'me too' devices (ARM architecture alone is not a good USP).

For me, the ideal netbook would be something along the lines of my old 10" G4 iBook, that is:

- Small enough to stuff into the saddlebag of my bike if I'm cycle-touring, and therefore small enough to just drop it
into my rucksack for work use.
- Weight: not a major issue for me, but lighter is definitely good. The iBook was a bit of a porker though.
- 10" screen, ideally at 1024x768 *minimum* - more is better, obviously, but higher res 10" screens are still pricy.
Not bothered about touch-screens really. Less than 10"? No sale.
- A DECENT KEYBOARD! Cannot emphasise this enough ....
- Not so bothered storage-wise. My Dell Mini-10v has a 16Gb SSD, which is plenty for a machine that isn't going to
be used for 'hardcore' work. But really, the fewer internal moving parts the better. SDHC slot(s) a definite plus.
- Memory: 1Gb seems to be the baseline nowadays - that's OK. 2Gb better, obviously.
- Connectivity: Wireless-G is a must. Bluetooth is a waste of space, IMO, and I'm not bothered about built-in 3G modems and the like.
- OS: Some variant of Linux, be it Moblin, Maemo, Android, whatever ... the point about Android et.al. being PDA operating systems is well made, but the upside of this is that such an OS will have sensible power-saving measures which in turn will have a positive effect on battery life. The ARM architecture helps there, too (there's a bias here - I work as a Linux developer)
- Relatively cheap. The Eee-PC set the standard for Small Cheap Computers[tm] before the wheels fell off that particular wagon and the prices crept up to the degree that you were better off buying a 'proper' laptop.

My two-bobs worth - it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
aradreth 27th August 2009, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by interzen

Whilst something like Maemo or even Debian (not sure if there's an ARM flavour of Ubuntu) would be good, if it ran Android then Nokia would have my cash quicker than you could say 'antidisestablishmentarianism', and that's even before things like battery life are taken into consideration.
An ARM version of Ubuntu is available although I think Maemo would be more interesting.
l3v1ck 27th August 2009, 16:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by interzen
You'd use Linux on a laptop but not on a desktop due to driver issues? Methinks you've got that barse-ackwards somewhere.
How is that backwards? If someone wants to sell a laptop/netbook with Linux on it then they need to install the drivers for all the hardware on it. When you get it all the drivers will be there. If you build a desktop PC yourself, there's no guarantee you'll be able to get drivers for all the pieces of hardware you select, not to mention the amount of time you'll spend trying to find them. To me this is a perfect way to introduce people to open source OS's. It'll work from the word go, all they have to do is get used to it.
leviathan18 27th August 2009, 23:07 Quote
you guys are slow today

you got the rumour the day the actual launch was :S

http://maemo.nokia.com/n900/

a son from a top of the line mobile phone and tablet n810
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