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Google Android Platform on Netbooks

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 2/23/2009

The idea of running Google's Android OS started as early as October 2008 right after the release of the first Google phone. Those who have seen the Android OS work are pretty convinced that netbooks can ably run the platform. Recently, Asus announced that an Android Eee PC is coming soon.

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    Introduction

    And just a couple of days ago, the anticipation heightened anew when Asus announced that it plans to release an Eee PC running Android. That ‘s great, but the question then becomes whether Android OS can handle the demands and intricacies of a mid-range computing machine such as a netbook. After all, Google’s Android OS was not designed for portable PCs, but for mobile phones. Is the difference between netbooks and mobile phones that thin? Or has the mobile phone OS become so powerful that it is able to scale up to the requirements of netbooks?

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    Google Android's Features

    Google's Android is an open source mobile platform that is adaptable to larger VGA screens and that supports 2D and 3D graphics library. It was based on a Linux Kernel and utilizes SQLite databases for storing data. It supports GSM/EDG. CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And being a mobile platform, it logically supports SMS and MMS messaging. Android also has a web browser based on the open-source “webkit” application framework. The platform supports audio/video/still media formats including MPEG-4, H.264, MP#, AAC, OGG, AMR, JPEG, PNG, and GIF. In short, Google Android is a powerful mobile OS that can handle basic and some advanced computing functions.

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    Basic Needs of Netbooks

    The netbooks of 2007 were basic computing machines that could efficiently handle mobile web browsing, basic word processing activities, instant messaging, and some multimedia functionality including viewing photos, listening to music, and watching some standard-resolution videos. If not for the tremendous increase of users' demands for a more powerful netbooks, the likes of the Eee PC 700, MSI Wind U100, and Acer Aspire One would have been enough to sustain the fate of the highly portable netbooks. But as user's demands grew stronger, netbooks needed to adapt. If they had remained in their original performance class, the first generation of netbook OS could very well have been handled by the Google Android phone OS.

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    Netbook Running on Google Android

    The first netbook to run Google Android OS was an Eee PC 700. It was a crude installation that erased all the netbook’s data, but the guy who ported Android over only took a couple of hours before it was successfully on his PC 700. Then two other guys from Venture Beat ported the Android platform to the Eee PC 1000H. Reportedly, the installation worked perfectly and most of the features of the Eee PC were supported. Even the webkit-based web browser was able to run well on the Asus.

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    Asus Plans to Release an Android Netbook

    Just a couple of days ago, Asus was reportedly experimenting on an Eee PC running Google Android. It was the first sort of official statement from Asus which finally put to rest the issue of whether Asus is coming up with an Android Eee PC. And yes, it is actually thinking about the idea.

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    Conclusion

    Whether the Android OS is capable of providing a computing platform for netbooks comparable with Windows XP or Linux OS remains to be seen. Yes, those experiments successfully proved that the Android can at least boot and run on netbooks. But the fact that they are experiments simply means that it is a long way to go. However, with Asustek assigning technical talent to investigate the question, it may not be so long before we see an Android netbook coming our way.