The 3K RazorBook, with its 400MHz processor probably isn’t going to best the MSI Wind, Acer Aspire One, or Eee PC 901 in any speed contests. But the tiny laptop with its custom version of Linux and $299 price tag is certainly a viable alternative for someone who wants to do some light word processing and web surfing but doesn’t want to drop $400+ on a laptop.

And if Linux ain’t your thing, it looks like 3K will be slapping Windows CE on the Razorbook next month. The move shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Budget electronics maker BestLink announced in May that the company would bring a RazorBook clone to market sporting Windows CE. (Clone probably isn’t the best word to use here, since it’s likely that the two companies are getting their systems from the same OEM source).

Windows CE is basically the same operating system that powers Windows Mobile phones and PDAs. Back in the day (the day being the late 90s and early naughts), there were two classes of devices running Windows CE: handhelds and palmtops. The handheld devices had a clamshell layout and looked like tiny computers. The HP Jornada series and the NEC MobilePro Series were among the more popular handheld devices, but eventually handhelds went the way of the dodo and Microsoft focused on palmtops that evolved into today’s cellphones and PDAs.

While you can’t run full-fledged Windows applications on Windows CE, the operating system does have some advantages over Windows and even most Linux distributions. It’s extremely light weight, and can fit on devices with 64MB of storage space or less. It requires very little power, which means you can get a ton of juice out of a relatively low capacity battery. And it’s designed for instant-on, instant-off functionality.

A 3K RazorBook with a 4GB solid state disk, 400MHz processor and 512MB of RAM would be able to run Windows CE beautifully. Most phones running the OS have storage capacities measured in megabytes, not gigs. And the RAM is usually 128MB or less. And a 400MHz CPU should be plenty.

On the other hand, you’re not going to be able to run OpenOffice.org, Pidgin, or Firefox on Windows CE, (at least not until Firefox mobile comes out later this year). And it’s not even clear that you’ll be able to run Opera Mobile and other software designed for Windows Mobile, since most applications are designed for touchscreen devices with smaller displays.

What do you think? Would you rather buy a RazorBook 400 running Windows CE or Linux?

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7 replies on “3K RazorBook 400 to come in Linux or Windows CE flavors”

  1. As a proud owner of a Razorbook / Alpha 400 / Trendtac, i’m not unhappy with the linux OS since i installed a patch to get me some Root. The Dutch Trendtac has a growing userbase of people porting software for the little laptop and it seems there will be a WinCE install / recovery procedure available soon. So i’ll try WinCE and choose my favourite.

  2. CE Is reliable, has been for years…. I own a Sigmarion 3 and Smartbook G138 and can say without doubt I can go months without a crash.

    They are instant on and perfect if you need somthing very portable that you can grab and take notes without having to boot the machine or wait for anything. Opera shoudln’t be a problem as it can be made to run on CE .net 4.2, there is also firefox mobile and a new version of Netfront coming out. But even then ce .net 4.2’s Pocket IE runs very fast on Smartbook and handles almost all sites (esspecially as I have flash 7 and Java plugins working).

    The fact they also have a linux version is good as if they had any sense you would be able to change the OS if you wanted.

    You often find people running down CE have never actually used a Core CE device and are basing it on WM phones or similar.

    There is also a lot of very good software available on CE (which I am sure if this device is a success will appear in MIPS versions). Softmaker Office (2008 due out with very powerfull word, excel and powerpoint compatible applications), Skype, Qmail3 (html and secure mail compatible mail software), TCPMP (very good media player with plugins for all sorts of formats – DIVX, XVID, MP3, AC3, MPEG2, MPEG4 etc.. etc..)

    TBH when it comes to software there are not all that many gaps (and what is missing usually requires a bigger screen to use productively).

    It is also very usefull to be able to have/use PIM software that can easilly sync with a desktop machine (not as easy on a laptop).

    If I had 10 min in starbucks to take some notes or quickly look up a website over wi-fi I would much rather have my Smartbook than a full laptop. The benefit of instant on/off and longer battery life is a boon for reporters and anyone else needing somthing to write on with no easy access to power points. It also means I can go out and about for a day or two and not even worry about taking an AC adapter.

    Yeah laptops are better at lots of things but a lot of people miss the things where HPC (Handhelp PC) type devices bring to the table.

    1. I agree. I’m old enough to remember the old hpc’s and I miss an instant on device, that can easily be carried around. In fact until very recently I was considering whether a sigmarion 3 would fit the bill till something else came out. This would be great for carrying around in general. I’m not trying to replace my laptop and do everything on it.

      1. The Sig3 is great for that. It will even fit in inside coat pockets and some suit pockets and is a lot lighter than the J720… The Sig3’s screen is a little cramped but is great for grabbing quite notes etc.

        The smartbook G138 is superb (I guess about the same size as the razorbook) and is without doubt the fastest HPC class device for browsing etc. (though not as good as Sig3 for video – due to sig having an imageon 4200 GPU).

        There should be no problems with any apps designed for CE running wihtout a touch screen. The smartbook as a pointer with buttons and a touch screen. Also NEC 900C and Sigmarion 3 have USB host and can be used with USB mouse (all apps work just the same with mouse as they do with touch screen).

        I am looking forward for this device. Just hope some software companies do MIPS versions of their software.

        John

  3. Since Windows CE is the world’s most unreliable OS, I wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole. If it’s not running XP or Linux (and my preference would be for Linux) I am not interested.

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