[Arm-netbook] RK2918 1.2ghz Cortex A8 10.1in laptop "shows up in china"

Gordan Bobic gordan at bobich.net
Mon Aug 29 22:33:34 BST 2011

On 08/29/2011 09:00 PM, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
> http://liliputing.com/2011/04/android-netbook-with-rockchip-rk2918-cpu-shows-up-in-china.html
> hooraaaay, good for them.  still that god-awful soul-sucking 1024x600
> LCD but it's a start.  _eventually_ one of these guys will get with the
> picture, and start to realise that ARM processors actually can function
> as like, uhhnnn "real computers, y'knoww?"
> ok.  i say "start"... what i meant to say was: this device appears to be
> another reference platform demo unit, sold to multiple factories so far,
> multiple random demos created in the vague hope that some random sucker
> somewhere will place a large enough order to justify making them.
> sorry to be a cynic :)  i should be saying "wow amazing, let's contact
> them and ask them to a) comply with the GPL b) put on a decent screen".
> oh wait, that's cynical as well darn it to heck.
> anyone got any better ideas / approaches? :)

I still think it's a waste of time considering we have well supported, 
GPL compliant equivalents already available for >= $250. There is no 
point in competing on price at that level, only on quality/features/support.

AC100 has pretty good community support. Worthwhile support from Toshiba 
is limited to them having provided all the kernel sources as per GPL 
requirements, but that's irrelevant since the only support worth a damn 
is community support anyway. And by community support I am referring to 
using a real OS rather than Android.

Genesi have even better real OS support (it comes with a real OS out of 
the box!). The spec on the current model isn't quite up to the AC100, 
but arguably Freescale's Linux support is slightly (even if _really_ 
slightly) better than Nvidia's.

I've got one of each, and the main (only?) two ways I can see of 
improving on them are:

1) Put more RAM in. 1GB as a bare minimum, preferably 2GB or even 4GB if 
the SoC can handle it. Rumour has it that the next Genesi will come with 
at least 1GB of RAM.

2) Ship them with a higher res screen. Genesi can be upgrded in the 
field. Recent research shows that AC100 can as well, with some kernel 
hacks (I apologize Luke, I was wrong to question it when you said this 
about the AC100 - I'll try it just to make sure, though, next week when 
my new 1280x720 screen panel arrives. ;) ). I'm also told that the next 
Genesi will ship with 1280x800 as standard.

To summarise - you cannot sensibly compete in this arena on price by 
enough to make it the sole selling point. The price is such, at least 
for the Western world, that selling a cheaper product with corners cut 
isn't going to get you anywhere, IMO. A better product at a comparable 
price, however, does stand a good chance of being successful. And I 
really think that the "better product" can be achieved to the maximum 
extent required with more RAM and a higher res screen. Ideally I would 
like to see the screen res on 10in of 1366x768, but the only commonly 
available panel in that resolution has slightly weird dimensions and 
isn't generally directly swappable with usual 1024x600 panels.

You also have to remember that pushing purely the price aspect isn't 
going to make the product like this appear any sooner. A manufacturer is 
going to be motivated by the margin they can make. To see ARM hit this 
target market of powerful low-energy devices where x86 cannot compete 
due the the power envelope, a decent margin for those pioneering the 
market with a good product is a good thing, IMO.


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