HTC Magic to land, with what's expected to be a May 5th launch on Vodafone UK, this week has been all about alternative devices from the standard Android smartphone. We kicked off with a video demo of a hacked-together Android netbook, only to find the real thing - or at least the promise of it - in the shape of the Skytone Alpha 680 later. Based on an ARM11 processor, the Alpha 680's specs might have trouble blowing the skin off of custard, but it's enough to run Android "fairly well" including some YouTube viewing. In fact the only real disappointment could be the price: early rumors led us to believe that Skytone were aiming for $100 sticker, a figure new information from the company's co-founder has proved inaccurate. The Alpha 680 will actually come in at around $250, with Skytone's target audience being emerging markets. If you'd rather a more pocketable device, and don't mind giving up the QWERTY keyboard, then Routon's P730 and P760 might fill a niche. The compact MIDs are currently seeing distributors, with the promise of Android to sweeten the deal. Finally, what's tipped as Samsung's first Android handset, the I7500, has broken cover. Bearing an AMOLED touchscreen and the usual UMTS/GPS/WiFi connectivity of Android handsets we've seen already, the I7500 is apparently headed to O2 Germany in June.
early tipped price for the Skytone Alpha 680 Android netbook is one example. While initial predictions put the Alpha 680's sticker at the $100 mark, in actual fact the ARM-based netbook will come in at around $250 if Skytone's development goes to plan. According to Skytone co-founder Nixon Wu, the Alpha 680 will measure roughly 8.5 x 6.0 x 1.2 inches and tip the scales at 1.5lbs; that's smaller than the original ASUS Eee PC 701. Unlike the Eee, it will use a 533MHz ARM11 processor rather than an Intel chip, paired with a 7-inch 800 x 480 display, 128MB of RAM and 1GB of storage. Wu claims the minimal specs cope with Android "fairly well", with YouTube videos "playing fine". The promise of cross-platform applications will take some time to fulfill, however, as Wu admits that 20-percent of the software currently in the Android Market are incompatible with the Alpha 680. Wu has also confirmed that pre-installed software will be minimal, and that battery life from the compact 2-cell pack will suffice for 2-4hrs of surfing over WiFi. Skytone's expectation is that the cost of the Alpha 680 will drop as production ramps up, which will come as good news to the company's target audience. Developing countries and emerging markets are where Skytone expects to shift the most units, for whom "watching TV over the internet is not the most urgent thing" Wu highlighted. Already Skytone has received "300 inquiries from different countries", the executive claims. More Skytone Alpha 680 Android netbook images here.
Android-based MIDs to an Android netbook, the first budget ultraportable to adopt Google's open-source OS looks to be the Skytone Alpha 680. A convertible netbook with a 7-inch 800 x 480 display, ARM11 533MHz processor and mere 1GB of onboard storage, the Alpha 680's selling point looks set to be its price, suggested as just $100. For that you get a "capacitive touchpad", which we're assuming means the trackpad below the keyboard rather than the netbook's display itself. Other specs include WiFi, 128MB of DDR2 RAM (expandable to a heady 256MB) and two USB 2.0 ports. 3G is another option, but there's no telling whether it's integrated or merely plugs into one of those USB ports. The hardware won't blow anybody away, but if Skytone can bring the Alpha 680 to market then they'll likely find at least a few buyers. We'd wager this is a product in desperate search of a distributor, however, so don't hold your breath. [gallery] [via UMPC Fever]
netbooks running Android before, but they're still rare enough to prod our curiosity. Over at NetbookNews they've been playing with an i-Buddie netbook that's been loaded with Google's open-source OS, and the Atom N270-based ultraportable certainly runs Android. It can't exactly be said to run it smoothly, however, with numerous error messages popping up throughout the demo. It's unclear exactly whether this is of i-Buddie's doing or something the NetbookNews team have attempted themselves; we're thinking it's the latter. While the end result does look a little like a smartphone stretched to unwieldy lengths across a 10-inch display, don't underestimate Android's potential for netbooks. According to the latest rumors, ODM manufacturer Compal is already ramping up for Android netbook production this year, while Intel are preparing to support the OS with their mobile processors. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFnqwdIqEW0[/youtube]
preparing to develop Android-based netbooks, according to the latest reports in the Commercial Times. Compal, who were tipped to take over manufacturing of the Acer Aspire One, and are believed to be the ODM for the Dell range of Inspiron Mini netbooks, are supposedly in negotiations with several notebook vendors regarding the project. Details on the netbooks themselves are slim, with neither DigiTimes nor the Chinese-language paper suggesting what specifications Compal have in mind. One possibility is that the ODM will use the somewhat traditional Intel Atom platform; Android has already been shown to run successfully on the Atom N270-based ASUS Eee PC. Another possibility is that Compal could turn to ARM's chipset range, selecting either a more basic processor or something HD-capable such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon. Android-based Snapdragon devices are expected to launch this year, complete with 1080p support and high-speed WWAN connectivity.
the NYT, T-Mobile USA are planning both a home phone and a tablet computer that will run the Android OS. The former will have a recharging docking station, that handles data synchronization. As for the tablet, that apparently resembles a 7-inch netbook only without the keyboard section. The touchscreen is used to access internet-based data, such as weather reports, or "managing data across a variety of devices in the home", which makes it sound like an intelligent remote. T-Mobile USA themselves have declined to comment on specific rumors, but spokesperson Peter Dobrow did confirm that the carrier has plans for "several devices" based on the Google open-source platform. According to the leak source - "confidential documents obtained from one of the company's partners" - the home phone will launch early next year (2010) with the tablet coming shortly after.
latest rumor, apparently confirmed by an unnamed Android team member, who described the arrangement as an attempt by Google to avoid the IP aggression we've recently seen between Apple and Palm. While the G1's capacitive touchscreen certainly recognizes multitouch input - as recent hacks have demonstrated - and earlier builds of Android code included what's believed to be Google-written, but subsequently disabled, multitouch support, the functionality did not ship in the released device. At the time, this was generally put down to Google's ambitious launch schedule, promising an Android device by the end of 2008, and that lack of timing meaning that multitouch fell by the wayside. However it now looks as though its omission was purposeful, with Google prioritizing their good working relationship with Apple - and, some might say, common foe in Microsoft - over the handset's eventual capabilities. The unnamed source also confirmed the rumors that Intel is expending great efforts in supporting Android netbook development, suggesting that the chipset company is keen to be further involved in open-source budget ultraportable hardware. While Intel's specific plans are unknown, the Android team member revealed that there are many different Android-based netbooks - as well as other, non-phone and non-netbook hardware - in development at present.
iPod dock and speakers. Though this hack is not pretty and only somewhat useful, it is very interesting and really gives the iPod the good old one two. Open source developers who prefer using Python to Java can now rejoice as Damon over at damonkohler.com has managed to get it running on his G1. As most projects are in the first stages this is still a little rough, but it does show great promise with future development. More photos of the OpenMoko FreeRunner running Android have surfaced. Nothing new or exciting to report here. ShopSavvy needs your help to win the Crunchies 2008 Best Mobile App award. Voting only takes a few seconds and two clicks of the mouse. Please help Big In Japan win the award for creating such an amazing application. Google has sent out an email to those registered as developers informing them that paid applications will indeed be available in mid January. So grab the free applications while you can. HTC has a firm belief that the cupcake update will become legitimately available through Google in time. HTC has no say while Google and T-Mobile are in full control of what is included in the update. Right now Google and T-Mobile are declining to comment on such a statement. The guys over at VentureBeat have managed to get Android running on the Eee PC 1000 netbook. Though there are still a few issues with the port, they say that the process was fairly easy. There were a few other discoveries made while digging through the source code. The RC29 firmware has made its way to the Internet and now users who upgraded to the RC30 firmware and lost root access can now regain it. The process is fairly easy to do and has been confirmed to work. As with all firmware updates we advise you to proceed with caution.
VentureBeat have managed to get Android loaded up and running on an Eee PC 1000 netbook. While this is still not a very powerful notebook, this is certainly some major progress. Though it may look a bit odd on such a large screen, Android is now running on the ASUS netbook despite initial sound and networking issues. While digging through the source code they were able to locate not only the phone policy but also a MID (mobile internet device) policy suggesting that Google had already been planning for an Android-powered netbook in early builds of Android. Dima Zavin, one of Google’s own developers has ported Android over to another Intel-based netbook stating that there was no real technical issue there to prevent it. VentureBeat managed to find Czech, German, English (Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, United States), Spanish, Japanese, German and Dutch translation options suggesting that the launch of this platform in other countries may be next. [Via SlashGear] [gallery]