Can TouchBook Revitalize Linux Netbooks?

With a recent study confirming that 90 percent of netbooks purchased in the last three months are running Windows, it appears that the initial spike in Linux use in netbooks has begun to fizzle out. And, I guess, that's not surprising: right now, Linux and Windows netbooks are comparably priced and equipped, but Windows netbooks run the beloved Windows XP while the Linux ones run, well, Linux. Not that there's anything wrong with Linux--with a decent effort, you can dress a nice device. But, between little effort and decent effort, most people opt for the former.

To make a long story short, Windows is Windows and Linux is Linux, and the two probably aren't going to change that much all that soon. All things equal, users choose Windows. So, against those kinds of odds, what hope does Linux adoption on netbooks have?

It might have some hope after all, thanks to ARM processors. And I know, ARM processors have been talked about for awhile and little has come out of it, but this upcoming ARM device is pretty darn impressive.

Have you heard of the TouchBook? If not, let me give you the lowdown: this 2lb, 8.9" device promises 10-15 hours battery life (without an upgrade), has a touchscreen and detachable keyboard (to make for a handy tablet), and comes in at only $399 ($299 for just the tablet and no keyboard). And, while I don't have the numbers, I'm sure the ultra-low power consumption will save you at least a few cents a day on electricity. The TouchBook is expected to be out in May or June, but you can preorder one today if you're in the United States.

I'll admit: some of the open-source applications out there take some getting used to. But at $400 and near-zilch cost for power (and we know the software is free), how much do you need to be able to do to get your money's worth?

Last question: is the TouchBook compelling enough to make you consider a Linux on your next netbook? And if not, would the rumored $100 ARM netbooks (or, to be more pragmatic, $200) be enough, or is there nothing that can keep you from that beautiful XP (and soon Win 7)?

TouchBook photo gallery

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TAGS: Windows 8
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