Hands-On with Freescale's Powered Wistron N900z Smartbook

We can safely say that there is no shortage of underpowered, ARM netbooks or "smartbooks" here at Computex 2009. After checking out Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Nvidia's Tegra platforms, we headed over to Freescale Semiconductors to check out some smartbooks running on its i.MX515 platform. On display at Freescale was a netbook made by Pegatron and another made by Wistron. We spent some time with the 10-inch Wistron N900z and got a good feel for the performance. As for the hardware, the Wistron N900z isn't going to win any design awards with its fairly basic look. However, we did like the island keyboard's rubberized keys, which are reminiscent of those on the OLPC XO. The touchpad on the netbook was almost unusable which is why an external mouse was hooked up to it. The Wistron N900z was running a 800MHz Freescale processor and had a 4GB SSD which booted into Ubuntu. OpenOffice Writer took close to 15 seconds to launch and we then opened Firefox (though we weren't connected to the Net). Running both programs didn't tax the system too heavily. However, when we ran a video clip it was sluggish to start with the other programs open. With them closed, the video clip played back smoothly. Check out the video playback experience in our video below. The Wistron N900z should get over 10 hours of battery life. Freescale didn't have any word on time to market, but they expect these types of smartbooks to be priced below $200.