Hands-On with Freescale's Powered Wistron N900z Smartbook

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freescaleleadWe 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.


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  • ethana2 Says:

    They could get more out of that ARM core if they used the back of the screen as a convection heatsink..

  • stenliq Says:

    It's sold with Ubuntu and therefore it has Win-key? :))

  • Tim Says:

    Pretty interesting, glad that you shared some videos and pictures because these devices are definitely of interest in my books. I've read a few comments on other sites and have noticed that not a lot of people are favoring these devices, unfortunately in my opinion that will be their loss. I came across a place which keeps track of all the news, so if your interested check out http://www.smartbook.asia

  • anechoic Says:

    will someone teach her how to pronounce Ubuntu correctly?

  • Glen Burchers Says:

    Meghan, sorry I missed you today. Good writeup and video. This unit and the Pegatron unit are still early examples and were just finished for Computex. While they have some obvious merits (fanless, thinner, lower cost) vs x86 netbooks, they still need SW optimization to improve performance before they are released for production later this year. That's the process we are engaged in now with several OEMs and with multiple OSs including Ubuntu, Xandros, Phoenix Hyperspace and Google Andriod. We'll get you a unit to test more thoroughly when these optimizations are complete. I'm sure you'll see snappier performance then. I am also excited for some other form factor smartbooks to be released (touchpads etc) that help remove the PC comparison expectation. I'm convinced that these smartbooks are going to find popularity with the younger generation as an internet-centric device - not as a replacement for notebooks. Glen Burchers with Freescale.

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