October 15, 2009, 5:16 PM — Acer announced this week its Acer Aspire One AOD250, which dual-boots into either Windows or Android. Nice! But what is it?
[ See also: What kind of digital nomad are you? ]
By definition (admittedly my own), a netbook is a very small laptop that runs a desktop operating system, such as Windows or Linux. A smartbook, on the other hand, is a mobile laptop-like computer that runs a cell phone operating system, such as Android, iPhone OS, Web OS or Windows Mobile.
The Aspire One is both a floor wax and a dessert topping; both a netbook and a smartbook; both a good thing and a bad thing.
It's a good thing because if the Android platform ever enjoys a raft of compelling applications, users will be able to run them, as well as their Windows applications. But it's a bad thing because the key benefit of smartbooks is that hardware is optimized for low power consumption, which this device isn't.
Hardware-wise, the Aspire One is a garden-variety netbook. It starts at $350, is powered by a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor, sports a 160 GB flash hard drive, a meg of RAM, a 10.1-inch LED-backlit display, weighs 2.79 pounds, and is 10.2 by 8.4 by 1 inch in size.
The question is: Will the dual-book netbook/smartbook become a trend? Will we see a whole bunch of dual-boot systems like this, or is it something of a stop-gap novelty until more Android devices become available.
I think it's the latter, and hope so, too. The smartbooks are going to be great only if they're optimized for super long battery life and cell phone operating systems. But time will tell.