I haven’t fully jumped on the Google Android for netbooks bandwagon. The operating system is designed for cellphones with low resolution displays and slow processors. And the number of applications available for Google Android pales in comparison to the huge variety of apps that you can run on Windows or Linux netbooks. But today I’m thinking that maybe there are some netbooks that would be right for Google Android. Because Asus Eee Hacks reports that Ingenic is porting Android to run on the Xburst CPU.

If you’re not familiar with the Xburst processor, it’s a low power, low performance MIPS based CPU that’s used in a number of dirt cheap mini-laptops including the 3K Razorbook 400 and Skytone Alpha 400. These processors often run at 400MHz and power netbooks with 7 inch displays, 256MB to 512MB of RAM, and 1GB to 4GB of flash-based storage. In other words, aside from the larger screen and keyboard, they’re a lot like cellphones, so maybe an operating system designed for cellphones isn’t out of the question.

Typically Xburst netbooks use custom Linux operating systems and run a handful of applications including a version of the Firefox web browser and Abiword word processor. But launching applications that run well on faster computers can take a little time and patience on these underpowered machines. So perhaps instead of running desktop apps like Firefox and Abiword, the solution is to modify a mobile operating system designed to offer a different kind of experience. Google Android might not look like a typical desktop operating system. After all, you can only have one window open at a time. But that might not be so bad on a netbook with a 400MHz processore and a 7 inch, 800 x 480 pixel display. Especially if you can pick up that netbook for $150 or less.

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7 replies on “Google Android port for Xburst CPUs on its way”

  1. I can see Google putting a bounty on quality apps for Android ARMbooks / MIPSbooks in the near future. Rechargeable AA batteries and modular design are great ideas. Hope someone out there is listening.

  2. We agree on the one of the real bottlenecks for this being what software will be available to do what with these things. You can change the resolution of things easily…but if you’ve got nothing to run it’s just a pretty desktop and maybe a browser and text editor, possibly a few simple games.

    Even for netbooks, that’s a use level that’s far too small.

  3. It’ll start at $100 for the ARM or MIPS powered Android laptops with 7″ screens. $150 is enough for the 10.2″ screen models. Soon enough, the full multi-tabs Google Chrome will be announced to work on Android for ARM and MIPS. Including full Flash and AJAX support, the browsing experience will feel just as good as on Intel.

    1. Multi-tabs… this sounds like they may try ultimately to go head to head with netbooks, joining in with the usual software-hardware escalation.

      Is this the case, or will they occupy a sub-netbook niche? For comparison, I think there’s plenty of software for CE/Windows Mobile devices but their ROM and RAM don’t allow people to use enough of it. But with flash measured in GB and concisely written software, this shoudn’t be a problem for Android devices, if they stay significantly smaller and cheaper than netbooks.

      If they stay smaller and cheaper, people will want one to take places where they wouldn’t take a full sized netbook.

      1. Yes, what will happen though I think, is that Android will also be in 8.9″ ($130), 10.2″ ($150), 11.6″ ($200), 13.3″ ($250) and 15.4″ ($300) laptop models.

        They are all going to cannibalize Intel.

        You will not only have a perfect Google Chrome experience for browsing on them. Even for HD video editing it’ll work using the cloud for processing, HD video playback is built-in on the Android laptops as a DSP chip. I am pretty sure that some clever Android applications will let you edit pictures as well eventually using the cloud for rendering. Video encoding can be done much faster online using grid computing as long as you have got a fast enough upload to upload all your source HD video files. The cheapest Android laptops can also come with pretty decent OpenGL 3D acceleration, also in a separate but still cheap and low power using dedicated 3D accelerator chip so you will be able to play advanced 3D games like Quake 3 on it, even N64 and Dreamcast emulation can be possible. And if you want more advanced 3D games, you will be able to use the cloud to stream you the 3D games contents using a clever client application for Android made to take into account the ping delays.

        And if you absolutely need some Windows applications to run, then virtualization should work great on Android as well simulating an X86 computer, which also can be streamed from the cloud or from another computer with the server software in your house as services.

    2. Running with AA cells as NorhTec gecko edubook must be the other priority.

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