Nvidia steps into Netbooks with it’s Tegra Platform – Chrome OS ?

Tegra is a huge strength for portable gadgets like the upcoming Zune HD, and series of other portable gadgets demoed last year. But in a full-sized Netbook, it’ll have a hard time running media or multitasking. OS is a problem too—does anybody actually like Windows CE? Running Windows 7 or XP won’t be possible since they don’t have ARM distros.

What would have made more sense would be a Linux distro or Chrome OS, but even that’s kind of limiting the scope of the platform.

Anyways, Let’s look at what Nvidia has to offer with their powerful Smartphone Platform:

The Size: The “computer” itself is the size of a DIMM memory module and the Idea: Use powerful handheld technology to drive a Netbook experience. The Result: Ultra-thin form factors and an uber-long battery life expressed in days, rather than hours.

Overview of What you would get:

  • HD movie playback
  • Ultra Small computer platform
  • Utra-low power
  • Runs on Windows CE (Android is on the horizon)
  • Full support for Internet Graphics

“Days of battery life”?

Yes, NVIDIA claims that its Tegra platform can play an audio file continuously for 600 hours (25 days!) assuming that the display is turned off.

Other smartphone-based platforms like Snap Dragon from Qualcomm would last only 60 hours, says NVIDIA.

The current proposed model is 13.3″, but expecting smaller in future won’t not wrong.

The Purpose: (Why Smartphone Platform on Netbook?)

Imagine things like real Instant-ON computers, just like you would get from a phone. That would work because the computer is never actually off. It consumes so little power that you can leave it in standby mode for a very long time. The whole computer system consumes 1W (cpu, graphics, motherboard), which is really small compared to even Netbooks, more of a comparable to gadgets like iPhone(if you include LCD too).

Of course, most of you would not expect to experience the same level of performance than you would from more familiar computers. It’s partly true. From what we’ve seen, application can load slower and overall, the early prototype seemed slower than a Netbook, but in some ways, the Tegra platform is more powerful than Netbooks.

The graphics sub-system is capable of playing 720p and 1080p movies at full speed a feature that only another NVIDIA powered Netbook can do. Most importantly, this graphics muscle is used to accelerate Adobe Flash, which is a critical component of a good web experience.

The only bad part, it runs Windows CE, which is arguably no one’s first choice, rather the last one. Because you cannot install Windows apps, NVIDIA presents Tegra and Windows CE as a web-apps friendly platform. Android and Android market might alleviate this situation later, but that’s far away (Android does not support high-resolutions like 1280×720).The prototype that I have seen runs Firefox with full Adobe Flash support. I have not had time to test some apps, but at the moment, I will assume that this version of Firefox can handle it.

If you rely on many desktop apps, this will be a serious issue.

NVIDIA is betting that the “low-power” value will outweigh the inconvenience of not having a “first choice” OS like Windows XP or OS X (Linux Netbooks have staggering customer return rate).

To help overcome this, the price will be very low: $199 range.

Questions: We will see how this will behave in the real world, where the display consumes many times the power than Tegra. How long will the battery life really be when tested in the field? Is the speed good enough? Is the experience good enough? Can we live with Windows CE?

Chrome OS: May be this is the best combination with Chrome OS. First developer test versions of Chrome OS will land around October end, just around the launch date of Tegra netbooks. If Chrome OS runs on Tegra ARM, it would be a remarkable success. When you get the best grpahics, Multimedia architecture for Chrome OS, the combination could be a Other-Netbook-killer.

Currently as per the Facts we know about Chrome OS, we don’t know if there be any support for ARM, specially Tegra ARM. But I heard that Nvidia would partner with Google for Chrome OS for Netbooks, we can’t really say what the plan is, but atleast Nvidia will get it running on their Tegra, after all Google is serious on getting the popularity that was once just hyped 🙂

Some Blogs like Gizmodo totally rejected the idea, quoting:

“Hey, Nvidia, just keep the Tegra in the industry where it suits the best, smartphones! “

But I would rather be positive, as the platform is promising. Chrome OS could make it a GO.

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