NorhTec is preparing to launch a new netbook that stands out from the crowd in a number of ways. First, the Gecko EduBook (PDF link) will feature a low power 1GHz Xcore86 CPU that can run Windows XP while using just 1.2 watts of power (although by default it will come with Ubuntu Netbook Remix). Second, this laptop doesn’t use a standard battery pack. Instead, it runs on 8 AA batteries, providing between 4 and 6 hours of run time with NiMH or Lithium Ion batteries. If you happen to run out of juice while you’re away from a charger, you can always just pop in some standard alkaline batteries off-the-shelf NiMH batteries.
The EduBook also features a modular design, with the CPU and RAM on a replaceable module that you can upgrade to give the computer new life — assuming Norhtec eventually releases an upgrade.
The netbook will have an 8.9 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display and use either a 2.5″ hard disk or an internal SD card for storage. The EduBook has an internal USB socket that wireless carriers (or hackers) can use to connect accessories including 3G modems, GPS, or Bluetooth modules. There are also 3 external USB ports and an SD card reader.
The laptop is available with 256MB, 512MB, or 1GB of RAM. NorhTec says the base configuration could start as low as $200.
I hadn’t thought of NorhTec for a while, until Engadget posted about the Geck EduBook this morning. The original NorhTec Gecko was one of the first netbooks to hit the market in early 2008, back when there was actually a little diversity in the netbook space. The original Gecko has a 7 inch, 800 480 pixel display, a 1GHz VIA C7-M CPU, and ran Linpus Linux Lite. It had just 256MB of RAM and 1GB of flash storage, which didn’t exactly make the machine a powerhouse.
You can watch a video overview of the new NorhTec Gecko EduBook after the break. You can also find more details in the Liliputing Product Database.
Of course the ‘smartest’ approach would be to lay strips of solar cells across the top of the cover so you could re-charge or trickle-charge the unit when you are in the sun or near some light source. This is smart because it no effort to yourself and light is everywhere except Seattle or Paris Hilton’s soul.
To be honest I always carry my charger, it’s tiny and the laptop is in a messenger bag anyway so the charger fits too. The only other fool-proof method is a dynamo because if your there you might as well be productive. Locked in a dark room you could at least crank your dynamo. I prefer the grip style dynamos because you can step on them which is easier for long periods of time…your foot had far more musculature then your hand.
The big problem is currently dynamos are DIY projects for charging a computer you’d need s few extra parts to charge your computer battery with what amounts to a dynamo made to charge something far smaller.
It looks like it should come with a “Hack Me” sticker –
And if it hits the $200 retail price point. . .
Waiting for replaceable Intel Atom CPUs…
I guess we can we assume that the power cord charges the batteries. Swapping batteries every four hours seems like a bit of a hassle, but with a smaller manufacturer like this it is good to have that versatility. If they go under, you can still get batteries anywhere.
I don’t think it’s as big and chunky as it looked in the video. The wide angle close-ups exaggerate that. I googled the measurements to be 243mm x 172mm x 29mm = 9.6″ x 6.8″ x 1.1″. I think that compares pretty well to the Asus 901 (8.9″ x 6.9″ x 1.5″)
I love the AA idea. This allows you the freedom to still take quick trips and never have to worry about dragging the charger just in case you’re out longer than expected.
I love the battery idea. I think I’d run linux on this thing, that processor doesn’t sound like it’d be a great fit with XP. I’d love to be proven wrong, however. If it actually launched at that $200 price tag? Expect it to be the new darling of geeks everywhere, especially with all that hardware hackability…
The battery idea is weird…but trapped in South America with a dead battery wouldn’t be an issue ever again. You can buy AA cell batteries anywhere even in a village in the Amazon rainforest.
… and find an access point 😉
Quite right though, and like the fact that it’s all modularly optional.
Yippie! Something other than a “ME TOO” netbook! I would like to see a detailed review and even better, some hands on time. Just wish it had built in wireless G. Gotta love the “AA” battery idea.
It is important for everyone to have netbook running with AA cells.
I’d guess that CPU is a 486 jacked up to insane clock speed but performance will suck anyway since a 486 just wasn’t designed around the issues that come at those speeds.
But I like it. It’s a new idea and it has potential, especially if they really meant that $200 as a MSRP like the ad copy said and that isn’t an FOB Hong Kong in quantity 1000 price. You get an 8.9 inch screen into stores at a $200 price point and you have kicked things up a notch. Even if the wireless module is an option.
Replying to myself…. after viewing the video and looking around a bit.
Ok, it’s a Pentium class system and the guy claims it is going to sell for $200 with WiFi, 4GB of flash and 512MB RAM. Well. And it has a regular HP style power plug on the rear, that is totally whacked!
And the company has been selling small cheap systems for a few years so they just might pull this off.
Not bad conceptually, but the modularity seems to come with a price, in terms of it looking rather bulky and not including netbook basics like wi-fi. Will certainly keep an eye out for anything else using the same processor though, although I suspect the video performance isn’t up to much.
Also, I suspect that even with USB wi-fi added, the reception will be poor – there’s almost certainly no antenna built in (most laptops have them round the screen these days) and no way to connect one to most USB sticks even if there was.
I definately like the idea of using AA batteries. That’s how I pick my DSLR…
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