back to article Notebook makers turn to Android in face of Windows woes

Dissatisfied with sales of Windows 8 notebook and tablets, major PC vendors have reportedly joined Intel in a new push to launch convertible fondleslabs based on Google's Android OS. So sayeth the supply-chain sleuths at Taiwanese tech news site DigiTimes, which cites anonymous sources inside the notebook vendors. Chinese …

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  1. M Gale

    Android + Splashtop Gamepad THD

    An awesome combination, and a good use for an Android laptop. The only problem I've had on the Transformer Prime is the Splashtop app currently refusing to send apostrophes and sending hash symbols instead, but for games and video playing that's a minor issue.

    You get all of your tabletty phone-like fun from the Play Store. Meanwhile, videos and games and anything else from your home PC can be served via a streaming video link that's a hell of a lot more reliable than VNC or RDP for this kind of purpose.

    It's sort of like having your own OnLive server, and the streamer is available for WIndows, Mac and Linux.

  2. Kev99 Bronze badge
    Thumb Down

    New fondleslabs

    For years the pundits were going ga-ga over units that had bigger screens and more powerful cpus. Now they're going ga-ga over units with smaller screens and less power. Just think netbooks and this is where these fondleslabs will go. Too small & weak to do real work but too big to be cool to the semiliterate geeks..

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Linux

    Re: New fondleslabs

    The 'pundits' are still going Ga-Ga over devices with bigger screens. Have you not seen the latest Samsung Mobile Phones with a screen so large that many people (mainly women sadly) have to use both hands to pick it up?

    My colleagues call them Poser-phones. If you are old enough, you can remember the 1970/80's Medallion man. We all thing they are the 2010's version of them. Lots of bling, available in Pink (for those who like it) and actually naff all use for making calls.

    Personally, anything over 4in is a bit large even for my large sized hands but other people will have different needs to me and the 6in monsters seem to be selling well so there ain't no accounting for choice...

    {Typed on a 4yr old 13in Macbook running CentOS}

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  5. Katie Saucey
    Windows

    Yeah right 500$ from an Android laptop!?

    Sooo.. Why would I want a glorified Angry Birds device, for 500$ when a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge is only 530$ (with far better spec) that runs (a real OS) Windows 7. Win 7 (I predict anyway) will most likely have the same long life as XP. Also, what's the problem of installing linux on a budget machine, it will have infinitely more value with a "full featured" OS than a locked down "apps" machine, that you might or might not be able to get Skype working on if the need for a phone call arises.

  6. Katie Saucey
    Coat

    Re: Yeah right 500$ from an Android laptop!?

    Sorry, in my rant I completely forgot about extra costs involved with touchscreen, so yeah fuck touchscreen.

  7. David Simpson 1
    Devil

    Re: Yeah right 500$ from an Android laptop!?

    Microsoft have stopped sales of Windows 7, once Lenovo runs out of OEM copies you are stuck with 8.

    You sound like you have never used Android if you think it is a "locked down apps machine".

  8. David Simpson 1
    FAIL

    Re: Yeah right 500$ from an Android laptop!?

    Android doesn't NEED a touchscreen it has worked with a keyboard and mouse since version 3.0

  9. Adair
    Devil

    "Intel has pinned the "sweet spot" for Android notebook pricing at around $500... Intel has specified that they should accommodate detachable keyboards, allowing them to work as either notebooks or tablets."

    Roll up, suckers. You too can have your very own bit of cynical marketing driven fail. No doubt Intel has done extensive research finding out what people out here in 'the real world' actually want/need from their lightweight power stingy laptop devices---or, are they just taking a punt that the great unwashed will buy whatever shiny is put in front of their ignorant faces as long as it has the magic word 'Android' stuck on it?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, at least it'll be secure!

    Lets take a Linux kernel and build an OS made out of Java on top. What could possibly go wrong?

  11. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: Well, at least it'll be secure!

    Mind you, web browsers are practically an OS now anyway and routinely compromised.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elephant in the room?

    If Android (or another Windows alternative not tied to x86) were to suddenly become widely acceptable as an OS for kit other than phoney things and tablety things, why would anybody want to base their product on x86? Why would Intel, the x86 company, be supporting something that will accelerate the market's move away from x86 ?

    I mean, it's a great idea to move away from Windows 8, but I don't see what's in it for Intel. Not yet anyway.

    Unless... no, they wouldn't, surely? That would be immoral, and quite possibly illegal in some major jurisdirctions. Blackmailing your customers to not use competitors chips? Intel would surely never do that. Well, surely not after the last time they got caught (bribing Dell to stay away from AMD).

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/26/after_the_dell_settlement/

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    Er, Android x86

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    Android x86 is fine (well, at least as fine as mainstream Android) from a purely software point of view.

    But Android x86 does not fix (1) wide choice of SoCs at various points of price and functionality from various vendors (2) low SoC heat dissipation (3) long battery life

    Choosing ARM fixes those.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    "Choosing ARM fixes those."

    Of course it does, but the original question is what's in it for Intel. Intel are obviously aiming for x86 Android with this - they are also fully capable of generating Atom SoC

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    Or Intel could just licence ARM

  17. P. Lee Silver badge

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    > Choosing ARM fixes those.

    Yes, but not the need for speed.

    How about ARM and x86 on the same silicon, both running dalvik with some power management, freeze/thaw code and a very high-speed virtual network between them to allow process migration?

    I think I might go for that kind of convertible.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Elephant in the room?

    "How about ARM and x86 on the same silicon, both running dalvik with some power management, freeze/thaw code and a very high-speed virtual network between them to allow process migration?"

    How about a big fast hot ARM core (or several) and a slower cooler less power hungry ARM core on the same SoC doing much as you describe except no need for two sets of memory and thus no need for a fast interconnect. Just one set of cores running the same OS and apps from the same memory, the little one being used most of the time when the thing is near idle and the bigger one(s) being used when something genuinely compute-intensive is needed.

    How about ARM's big.LITTLE concept, which already does exactly that? The technology was announced in 2011, and a few days ago (but afaict still unreported by El Reg) there were more announcements including a change in licencing arrangements to make it easier for chip builders to test the waters without betting the whole product range.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/20/details_on_big_little_processing/

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2035552/arm-wins-more-biglittle-licensees.html

    This being ARM, other ARM partners are able to implement similar functionality in different ways if they wish, just as Nvidia and TI have done.

  19. Gil Grissum
    Thumb Down

    Pricing Stupidity

    One would think that Android tablet makers would get a clue. They tried pricing their Tablets at or above Apple prices and failed. Attempting to sell convertible tablets at iPad prices won't work because consumers will look at the iPad mini, buy it, get a bluetooth keyboard, and call it a day. Why the Android Tablet makers can't figure this out is beyond me. This is why Windows RT and Surface Tablets aren't selling. PRICE. Drop the price to $299 and $399 and they will fly off shelves like nothing else on the market. Same thing with Ultrabooks. No one is going to buy them at the prices these clowns want to sell them. Consumers won't pay premium prices for any product that isn't Apple.

  20. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re: Pricing Stupidity

    Make that " Most Consumers won't pay premium prices for any product that isn't premium"

  21. Adair

    The problem with Android...

    ...is that it's lumbered with hundreds of 'apps' that do something trivial, but still doesn't really have a core of applications that do something substantial. As a productivity OS Android still doesn't really have much to boast about and as long as that remains the case spending $500+ on hardware is simply giving a generous donation to needy hardware retailers and manufacturers <cough>.

    Anyone needing to get work done and willing to pony up is better off dumping Android and getting a full-fat Linux on board.

  22. mmeier

    Re: The problem with Android...

    The problems with Android (and in some cases Linux):

    Most programs are not tablet optimized. This ranges from not using all of the screen to wildly switching between protrait and landscape modes. MS shares one UI between phone and pc but programs are written for either WP8 or Win8, Android is one OS for both and the developer either has extra work (often not honored by customers money wise) or develops for the far more common phone platform

    The ARM CPU is nice for mobiles and media devices but too slow for more demanding tasks. The N80x0 struggles with Handwriting Recognition and forces the user to change recognition mode between character, number and special signs among other deficits. And Speech recognition, something an Atom can do offline, needs the GMail-Man and a running Internet connection. Android/x86 would fix some of that by using more pwerful CPU but why?

    A useable device is more than an OS. And the whole software infrastructure for penables under Android (and Linux) is massively lacking. HWR is around what Windows had 2003, the Journaling software is unstable (SNote) or Cloud-Only (EverNote - leagal problems for EU companies!), Speech is "online only", Drawing software is not even up to ole ArtRage2 and so on

    Printing under Android is a nightmare! A 25€ "printserver" works fine for all the printers (Ink and laser) and Windows boxes (XP-8) we have. It does not for Android. That either needs "Internet" (a no go in various situations) or works only with selected printers and a special app (And strangely - the cheap ones, even WLAN ones, are not supported) or needs a full sizes CUPS system

    Office under Android is not up to OO let alone MS Office. "Can basically show the Powerpoint" is often not enough

    For 500€ I can get a Atom-based tablet pc with a mature, stable OS that simply works and has all the software and the seamless integration that 92+ percent of PC networks need and use

  23. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    About damn time.

    My transformer is looking to be replaced in a year or two. Nice to know it will have a direct replacement. Keep Windows where it belongs: in a VM and away from children and the internet.

  24. MrXavia

    Why go for android? surely linux is the best option out there, android is not really designed to work on laptops....

    Although I DO like the idea of permissions that Android has, (needs tweaks but its a good start)

  25. David Simpson 1
    Holmes

    It has been running on my EeePC perfectly fine, Android has had support for keyboard and mouse since 3.0.

    With a few extra tweaks Windows could be running scared.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The REAL elephant in the room

    There's something everyone seems to be missing here. Now I'm not the biggest fan of Ubuntu, but the whole reason they developed Unity was to make the OS more tablet friendly.

    So here we have an easy to use, stable, popular, well supported OS that can be mouse/keyboard or touch screen driven and with Libre Office (which I personally consider to be the world's best office suite) ready to go on all these devices. Shuttleworth is foaming at the mouth at the thought of this, so there

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The REAL elephant in the room

    There's something everyone seems to be missing here. Now I'm not the biggest fan of Ubuntu, but the whole reason they developed Unity was to make the OS more tablet friendly.

    So here we have an easy to use, stable, popular, well supported OS that can be mouse/keyboard or touch screen driven and with Libre Office (which I personally consider to be the world's best office suite) ready to go on all these devices.

    Shuttleworth is foaming at the mouth at the thought of this and has been pushing it for a long time so there are no barriers and it should be cheaper than the alternatives for the consumer.

  28. IGnatius T Foobar

    The one bug in Android that must be fixed...

    The one bug in Android that *must* be fixed is the Microsoft Tax being levied upon many devices. Google needs to step up and demand that Microsoft show its hand. These patents are bogus and Microsoft knows it.

    By the way, Mike Godwin told me that it's ok to say that Bill Gates is Hitler. It's true.

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  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    How about a good OS?

    These guys really should be sticking Ubuntu on (with the "traditional" interface pre-installed, instead of a downloadable option, since Unity is awful). It wouldn't even matter if it was ARM or not then.

    Those who say the Linux desktop rquires excessive command prompt use, firstly it's simply not true -- the GUI covers most uses. Secondly, take a real look at Windows -- a command prompt, powershell, config in various text files as well as a registry (regedit is technically a GUI, but come on....) Here's the thing....

    There's really 3 ways to go about this:

    1) Have everything doable via GUI. This would end up with a lot of menus, submenus, and tabs, with huge amounts of buttons, checkboxes, knobs, and so on. If you consider regedit to be a GUI it may fit in this category. But really I have seen no system that uses this, and I don't think it'd work well.

    2) Have everything doable via GUI, Apple style. Apple style means "if it's not in the GUI, you can't do it." I'm aware of the unix base of OSX, but I'm also aware that much of OSX's GUI doesn't really have any extra configurability sitting underneath it.

    3) Everybody else. Windows and Linux *both* have extensive options not available via GUI (and face it, regedit is technically a GUI but not really friendly by any stretch.) They both cover typical options without the necessity of a GUI. They both have people that falsely claim that people have to constantly fiddle around outside the GUI to get basic every day tasks done.

  31. WatAWorld

    I will be hugely surprised if the switch makes any difference

    Apple was already making non-Windows foddle slabs and they weren't selling in huge numbers.

    The problem is market saturation. People have the computers they want, and they're not going to waste money upgrading for no good reason.

    April 2014 will provide a good reason, so a jump in sales when Windows XP support ends.

    Smart phones, phablets, there technology is still progressing fairly rapidly, plus they wear out quickly, so they'll continue to sell well. No market saturation for them, yet.

  32. Sentient

    Looking for an easy solution? Blame it on somebody else

    I doubt it's really all about Windows 8. Take a look at the hardware and see what's on offer for a given price point. And then I am not even mentioning all those dissapointing 1.366 x 768 notebooks. I doubt people will buy those with android or no android.

  33. David Simpson 1
    Devil

    Re: Looking for an easy solution? Blame it on somebody else

    Yes, but the OEM cost of Windows could buy a higher res screen instead ;-)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope this will fly at least for a while

    Alas Microsoft will not allow this, just wait and see after the next behind closed doors OEM Windows discount negotiations.

  35. David Simpson 1
    Holmes

    All Android devices have been touch based ?

    Any Android device whether tablet, netbook or phone will work with a usb/bluetooth keyboard and mouse, once a mouse is plugged in a cursor will appear on screen. Android has had this capability since 3.0, work really well too.

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