SPOTTED: Linux notebooks with ARM CPUs

The PC industry really has three categories today; we have the desktop the notebook and the netbook computer. According to Freescale and Qualcomm a new term is needed to describe some of the Linux-based machines that use ARM hardware shown at Computex.

The term that the duo is using for its ARM/Linux portables are Smartbooks. Compared to a netbook the smartbook will be cheaper smaller and have a longer battery life than the netbooks so popular with consumers today. Some of the machines spotted at Computex were running Linux-based Google Android.

Above: The remarkably unergonomic-looking Smartbook concept

There will be other key differences between a smartbook and a netbook as well. The typical smartbook will reportedly be about 20mm thick compared to 30mm thick netbooks. Smartbooks also promise to run an entire day on a single charge. Some netbooks can hit the magic 9-hour number already. The ARM-based smartbooks will also be cheaper than the average netbook with some models selling for as little as $US199.

EETimes reports that over a dozen companies are expecting to ship smartbooks by the fall using chips from Freescale TI and Qualcomm. With the much higher return rate of netbooks running Linux compared to netbooks running Windows it’s hard to see a huge market for smartbooks. Analyst firm Forward Concepts thinks otherwise predicting that the smartbook market will be 40 million units annually by 2013.