A smartbook is a class of mobile device that combines certain features of both a smartphone and netbook.Smartbooks deliver features including always on, all-day battery life, 3G and/or WiFi connectivity and GPS (all typically found in smartphones) in a laptop or tablet-style body with a screen size of 5 to 10 inches and a physical or soft touch screen keyboard.
Smartbooks are generally powered by ARM processors, which are more energy-efficient than traditional x86 processors that are typically found in desktop and laptop computers. The first smartbooks expected to hit the market will use variants of the Linux operating system, such as Google’s Android or Chrome OS. The ARM processor commonly used in smartbooks allows them to achieve longer battery life than many larger devices using x86 processors.
Smartbooks tend to be designed more for entertainment purposes than for productivity purposes and typically are targeted to work with online applications and may be also sold subsidized through mobile network operators, like mobile phones, along with a wireless data plan. Nokia’s N900 is on the cusp of smartphone and smartbook.
The smartbook concept was first published by Qualcomm in early 2009, with devices expected to hit the market later that year. Difficulties in adapting key software (in particular, Adobe’s proprietary Flash Player) to the ARM architecture delayed releases until the first quarter of 2010, during which about 20 devices are expected to be released.
A German company Smartbook AG sells laptops under the brand Smartbook. The company holds a trademark for the word Smartbook in a number of countries (not including some big markets like United States, China, Japan or India) and is at the moment acting to preempt others from using the term smartbook to describe their products.
According to ABI Research, 163 million smartbooks should ship in 2015.
Always Innovating Touch Book
Always Innovating is shipping units of the Touch Book. This device is based on the Texas Instruments OMAP3530 which implements the ARM Cortex-A8 architecture. It was originally developed from the Texas Instruments Beagle Board. It has a touchscreen and a novel detachable keyboard which contains a second battery. The device comes with a Linux operating system and the company offers to share their hardware designs with other “parties that show strong commitment to the open source movement”.
Sharp Electronics, introduced their PC-Z1 “Netwalker” device in August 2009 with a promised ship date of October 2009. This device features a 5.5″ touchscreen, runs Ubuntu on an ARM Cortex-A8 based Freescale i.MX515 and is packaged in a small clamshell design. Sharp reports that the device weighs less than 500 grams and will run 10 hours on one battery charge. The device is said to run 720p video, and have both 2D and 3D graphics acceleration. It comes with Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 installed.
Pegatron, an Asus company, showed a working prototype of a smartbook in August 2009. It consisted of an ARM Cortex-A8 based Freescale i.MX515 supports 2D/3D graphics as well as 720p HD video, 512MB DDR2 RAM, 1024×600 8.9″ LCD screen, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11g and run off a SD card. It also featured one USB and one micro USB port, a VGA port as well as a card reader. The smartbook ran Ubuntu Netbook 9.04 and contained a version of Adobe Flash Player which was out of date. The bill of material for the Pegatron smartbook prototype was $120.
In November 2009 Pegatron said it had received a large number of orders for smartbooks that will launch in early 2010. The devices should sell for about $200 when subsidized. Furthermore, Asus themselves announced plans to release their own smartbook in the first quarter of 2010. Asus later postponed the smartbook launch to the second quarter of 2010.
Lenovo Skylight (Discontinued)
Qualcomm was expected to announce a smartbook on November 12, 2009. Later it turned out a Lenovo device concept was meant and was really shown on that date, and will be reportedly officially announced on the CES 2010. The Lenovo device will be sold through AT&T carrier in the US. Later in November, a Quanta pre-production, Snapdragon powered sample smartbook device that ran Google Android OS was unveiled.A Lenovo device hit FCC earlier in October, which is rumored to be the smartbook in question.In early January 2010, it was announced that the Lenovo smartbook’s name will be “Skylight” and more detailed specifications were made public. The Skylight will cost $499 in US.
Compaq Airlife 100
In late January 2010 a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) listing featured a device from HP that was referred as smartbook, while a prototype of the same device was already shown earlier. In beginning February on Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HP announced it will bring this device to market. The specifications will most likely be following:
- CPU: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
- OS: Google Android
- Display: 10.1 inch touchscreen
- Storage: 16GB SSD
- Networking: 3G and WiFi
- Battery: Up to 12 hours (10 days in standby mode)
In the end of March 2010 the smartbook made an appearance at FCC again, this time listing its 3G capabilities. According to FCC, the device will support GSM 850 and 1900, as well as WCDMA II and V bands. These WCDMA bands may indicate the usage in AT&T network in the United States. Details of the product is now available on the HP website.
In June 2010 a smartbook device from Toshiba was announced. It will feature Nvidia Tegra processor and should be able to remain in stand-by mode for up to 7 days. The device is officially available now at the Toshiba UK site.
A Freescale i.MX515 powered device.
In September 2009, Foxconn announced it is working on smartbook development. Beginning December, Acer announced it wants to be the first to launch a Chrome OS netbook, but it is believed it will be a smartbook actually since Chrome OS as a Linux flavour can run on ARM too. In late December, a Google Chrome OS netbook specifications with ARM processor reportedly leaked. It is rumored that Samsung is working on a Google Chrome OS-based netbook that will be powered by ARM chip (Snapdragon).
As of April 2010, Dell and Samsung may be working on their own smartbooks.
The SMARTBOOK AG in Cologne announces as first global manufacturer the launch of a Tablet PC in Germany, which is based on the operation system Android™ 2.1. The Tablet that carries the label SMARTBOOK SURFER is available on the German market since beginning of August. It is not only impressive due to the operation system, but also because of the high-resolution touch-screen and other technical features. Based on the Telechip TTC8902 processor and the OS Android™ v. 2.1, the 7″-model SMARTBOOK SURFER is the first Tablet that uses Android™ 2.1. The SMARTBOOK SURFER is not only handy with its dimensions 186mm x 115mm x 14.6mm, but also very user-friendly in considering its high-resolution touch-screen (800 x 480) and its 1,400mAh lithium-polymer battery. The user can choose from a variety of options to save and modify programs and data by providing DDR2 RAM of 256 MB, a NAND flash memory of 2 GB, which can be extended via a USB HDD, a USB 2.0 interface as well as a MicroSD slot. The SMARTBOOK SURFER includes also WIFI/WLAN 802.11 b/g; webcam, speakers and a microphone. In using a 1080P HDMI interface, a full HD play in current video formats is possible, but also all common music formats such as WMA, MP3, WAV, OOG, AAC or EAAC and photo formats such as JPG, GIF, BMP und PNG are compatible with the SMARTBOOK SURFER. The Tablet can be purchased for EUR 199.00 (RRP) and includes a warranty for a 24-months ‘bring-in service’ as well as 6-months warranty for the battery.
The word Smartbook is a trademark for laptop since 2004 from Smartbook AG, Germany. Products had been reportedly sold since 2001. Examples of the company’s Smartbook product line include following models: i-1100Z (2006), i-1500C (2006), i-2500V (2006), i-3900Y (2006), i-7500N (2007), PREDATOR (2008), Heaven XTC (2008), ZENiD (2008), Hornet (2008), ZENiD GC CRYSTAL & HEAVEN PURO (2009),[SK] SARAH KERN CRYSTAL (2010). New mobile internet devices (MID) are the PICO(2010). and the SURFER (2010) tablet.
In Germany, Austria, Australia, Benelux, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sweden, Singapore, Turkey and Ukraine the word Smartbook is a trademark registered by Smartbook AG. Therefore, in these countries the word may not be used in the sense described in this article. In accordance to German court ruling, Qualcomm has to block access from Germany to all its webpages containing the word Smartbook unless Smartbook AG is mentioned. The company has announced it will protect its trademark.