Chromebooks + Android-Powered Phones: An insight (Part 1)

Editor’s Note: Saheed Taiye Adepoju, Co-Founder of Encipher Group, a local tablet player in Nigeria, provided this piece, originally published in Encipher news,  and approved it for publication in Tekedia. It will run in two parts. To contact the author, please visit.

 

At the just concluded, Google I/O, something fascinating was unveiled, the Google Chromebook. According to their website, Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where we all already spend about 90% of our time. It would be available from June 15th from stores around the world.

 

It has been said that Chromebooks would destroy Windows powered laptops and change the way we do our computing, I couldn’t agree more but from an entirely different perspective.

 

It has also been said that Chromebooks might destroy the android ecosystem and its advances and ultimately the Android tablets, well at this point, I simply don’t agree. I don’t think a company as big as Google would allow products to kill each other or at least have seen that they might be a clash in the future of both innovative thinking.

First the products:

 

 

CHROMEBOOK

The following are specifications of the upcoming Chromebook built in conjunction with Acer and SAMSUNG specs:


  • 12.1? (1280×800) 300 nit Display
  • 3.26 lbs / 1.48 kg
  • 8.5 hours of continuous usage 1
  • Intel® AtomTM Dual-Core Processor
  • Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • Mini-VGA port
  • Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

 

ACER specs:

  • 11.6? HD Widescreen CineCrystalTM LED-backlit LCD
  • 3.19 lbs | 1.45 kg
  • 6 hours of continuous usage 1
  • Intel® AtomTM Dual-Core Processor
  • Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • High-Definition Audio Support
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • HDMI port
  • Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

 

The following are the features of the Chromebooks:

1)      Boots in about 8secs.

2)      Always connected via wifi or 3G connections.

3)      Same experience everywhere.

4)      Amazing web applications.

5)      Forever fresh.

6)      Inbuilt security.

For further information about Chromebooks and associated videos please visit: Click here

 

Android OS

Android OS accordingly to Wikipedia is a software stack for mobile devices which includes OS, middleware and key applications built by Google. The newest stable version of Android is called Gingerbread (Android 2.3) for mobile devices and Honeycomb(Android 3.0) for tablets.  For more information Click:

 

CHROME Vs Android

In one of such discussions that Chrome is going to kill android, it is said that Google may scale back its android development cause of Chrome.  Although this was way back in 2009, I still see that most industry expert still believe this to be the case. According to this post, experts still believe that end users still need to choose between both platforms.

 

Some of their insights are:

Netbook replacement

ChromeOS was a netbook replacement when netbooks were becoming hotcake due to their size and portability. However, Windows OS (Vista) running on this Netbooks was a nightmare on this platform. Apple introduced Macbook AIR also to rival Netbooks and were first to discard traditional hard drive storage for SSDs.

 

Native Development  Vs Web applications.

Industry expert see that native development on the android platform is a way to go rather than building web applications. With native applications developers are able to access the various hardware components within the android device via its SDK. While web applications might not have full access to the native device.

They also mention that Android OS already comes with a powerful built in browser built on the webkit ChromeOS runs. With the built-in webkit features of the Android browser, developers can make use of the opportunity to access native processes of the android device via the browser and combine with HTML-5 whilst with Chrome OS you are stuck with plain HTML-5.

 

CHROME OS + ANDROID = TRUE CLOUD COMPUTING.

However, this year’s Consumer Electronic show(CES 2011) gave rise to a seemingly interesting product which most industry experts may have missed. That product is: Motorola Atrix 4G.

The following are its specifications:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 (dual-core 1 GHz Cortex A9 + GeForce ULP)
  • HSPA+ at 14.4 Mbit/s down, 5.76 Mbit/s up where available
  • Android 2.2; 2.3 upgrade planned for later in 2011
  • 1 GB LP DDR2 RAM
  • 16 GB Internal memory, expandable by microSD 32 GB, total of 48 GB
  • 4-inch PenTile qHD display (540×960) with Gorilla Glass
  • 5.0 MP with dual LED flash, 4x digital zoom and autofocus, 720p video capture at 30 fps

(Full 1080p video capture will be supported via software upgrade post-launch)

  • VGA front-facing camera for video calls
  • TriColor LED notification light
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 1.93 Ah user-changeable battery
  • 117.75 × 63.50 × 10.95 millimetres (4.636 × 2.500 × 0.431 in)
  • 135 grams (4.8 oz)

From the specifications above, it feels seemingly decent but the real deal with the Motorola Atrix isn’t the phone but the Laptop dock accessory.  The specification for this dock is given as:

 

  • Display: 11.6inch, 1366×768
  • Port: 2-USB
  • CPU, memory, storage, OS: None.

The beauty about the dock is that it is powered by the Atrix’s Tegra-2 processor which is a dual-core 1Ghz processor. When docked, it charges the Motorola Atrix and launches a tiny kernel within the laptop Dock and this mode is called Webtop mode. It has generated a lot of buzz and interests amongst tech savvy geeks and also corporate executives who want a phone laptop combo without the risk of losing anything if both devices get missing.

 

MY INSIGHTS

From the above explanation, I am guessing that you already see my views on Chromebooks and Android powered devices. Google, I believe is going to build a combo just like the Motorola Atrix and its laptop dock. It would eventually be Android powered Chromedock devices.

 

ANDROID ICECREAM SANDWICH (ANDROID ICS: 2.4) + CHROMEDOCKS

Android 2.4( codename: Ice-cream Sandwich) is said to be the end of android fragmentation and the merging of tablet experience and the mobile experience.  Unifying it brings developers some relief as they would just end up coding once and the experience is shared across multiple devices. I believe this is simply the beginning of Google unveiling their ultimate product line up yet, the unification of Android Ice-cream sandwich and the Chromebook. For information click here

The Chromedock essentially would be no different from the Motorola laptop dock. Both are powered by a tiny Linux kernel, both run applications within a browser, Firefox for Motorola and ChromeOS for ChromeDock.

 

Proposed Specifications for ChromeDock:

  • Display: 11.6inch, 1366×768
  • Port: 2-USB
  • CPU: powered by Android mobile device( Tegra-3, QuadCore)
  • Memory: Powered by Android mobile device (2GB)
  • Storage: None.
  • OS: ChromeOS + Android-mode.
  • HDMI output.

 

So I believe the upcoming Tegra-3  chip (quad-core based) would be an interesting mix to the entire deal as I believe that future Chromebooks would spot a dock-like feature which would allow Android ICS be docked and access all your contacts, applications via the Chrome browser and allow a user switch between Android-mode & Chromebook mode. In the end, it would be beautiful to fully live in the cloud as described by Google.

 

Since Google already has a solid move in it ChromeOS venture and partnerships with ACER & SAMSUNG, I believe these partners can develop ChromeDocks for future Android-powered phones. In the end, ACER, SAMSUNG and others would release Android-powered phones to work respectively with their ChromeDocks stations. Even Encipher would jump on this bandwagon

 

…continues here.

 

 

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