Smartbooks Entering The Fray To Take On Netbooks

Things are about to get a lot more cluttered in the netbook/smartphone/MID/UMPC space. As if that area wasn't jam-packed enough, right? This past week, both Qualcomm and Freescale announced news that they would be supporting a new breed of devices entitled "smartbooks," which would be positioned as smartphone complements and priced between the average handset and a netbook. So, why should you consider one of these "smartbooks" over a netbook?

For starters, we're told that these units -- which will be shaped a lot like Sony's VAIO P and will be thinner and lighter than the typical netbook -- will have the battery life we always hoped a netbook would have. On average, 8 to 10 hours. Of course, we expect that estimate to translate into 6 to 7 hours in the real world, but that's still far better than what most netbooks offer today. Also, these will all arrive with 3G WWAN connectivity built in. Again, some netbooks have this, but not all. In essence, smartbook manufacturers are looking to provide a smartphone-esque experience on a larger form factor. Most of these will also be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon or a Freescale chip -- nothing from Intel or AMD, so far.

Software wise, the books will run on a unique build of Linux, providing an almost "Instant-On OS" type environment. Nothing too fancy or heavy, just quick access to the basics such as web browsing, email, photo viewing, etc. Exact pricing and release information has yet to be revealed, but we're expecting the first of these smartbooks to emerge by the end of this year, and likely show up at trade shows beforehand.