A little about the device … it is 10.1 “netbook” powered by two cell battery and an ARM Cortex-A8 running about 800MHz. They are extremely light and are made thin because they don’t generate much heat. These are not production units and are considered engineer samples; cases are “soft tooled” so the fit is not solid like production units but it gives a good a feeling on where the products are going. Electronics wise the device is close to full function complete, but from software prospective more work is needed … but too not much. What’s missing is from the software side includes power management, 2D/3D driver optimization, and some video codecs.
That said, this device rocks and I can definitely see a bright future. The installed OS is Canonical’s Ubuntu 9.04. WiFi and Bluetooth are working; I was able to get on my home and work networks using Mozilla Firefox 3.0 for the browser. A level of Adobe Flash was working so Youtube worked, but without the video acceleration it was not as smooth as it can be. Drivers should be here in the next two weeks … I will just have to wait. Power management should be ready soon too … it is doing well without it though. Getting about 4 ½ hours on a 2 cell battery with the screen at full brightness and WiFi powered on, that already beats anything else out there. I expect much better battery life when the power management software is implemented. The semiconductor company said, they are getting 8 – 10 hrs on the design with the power management working … that should be ballpark ;-)
The press tour is two weeks long so I should learn a lot during that time. I’ve already learned a bunch preparing for the trip. My requirement was PowerPoint and video running on the device along with respectable web surfing performance. I was able to do that, the OpenOffice support for PowerPoint was good and video was OK … I can’t wait for the High Definition drivers for the video and the power management to push the run time out. WiFi connects worked well and connected to home … let’s see about the local coffee shop ;-)
When I got to New York City I was able to get two key performance updates … Firefox to 3.5 which include all the ARM specific enhancements and performance improvements, mostly around action script (6X performance improvement). Got a high performance SD Card, right now the OS runs off the SD Card instead of the internal SDD, moved from a 5MB/s to a 40MB/s which really improved the application load time performance. By the end of the day I was easily browsing the internet and doing my corporate and personal email … at the same performance as my work PC … too not bad. Oh and the WiFi worked in multiple coffee shops and hotel lobbies.
Finishing up in NYC today and heading to West Coast … I will start putting more of my life on the device to see how it holds up, but so far so good …
Bob Morris, Director of Mobile Computing, ARM, is fascinated with the rapid changes that are shaking the mobile and computing worlds. After missing grabbing the golden computing ring with PowerPC and Mac-clones, Bob is glad to have a front row seat in what is shaping up as the first major change in the computing industry in 30 yrs.
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