Qualcomm unveils 'smartbook' Linux netbooks

Qualcomm has announced a major push into the netbook market — although the chipmaker is calling the devices 'smartbooks' in a bid to pitch them between smartphones and notebooks.Luis Pineda, senior vice president of marketing and product development at Qualcomm, announced the new device category on Thursday in a web conference.

Qualcomm has announced a major push into the netbook market — although the chipmaker is calling the devices 'smartbooks' in a bid to pitch them between smartphones and notebooks.

Luis Pineda, senior vice president of marketing and product development at Qualcomm, announced the new device category on Thursday in a web conference. He described a smartbook as having the "intuitive ease of a smartphone" and being "always on, always connected to 3G [and having]the long battery life and all day usage" of a smartphone.

Pineda said smartbooks would have battery lives of up to eight hours, based on active usage. The devices, which will be made by Qualcomm's partners, will have GPS and HD video playback, and will run on Linux with a smartphone-like user interface.

Screen sizes will go up to 12 inches, using a WXGA resolution of 1280x768 pixels.

Smartbooks will be based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipset, which we have already seen in handsets such as Toshiba's TG01 and, in what looked very much like a netbook, at Mobile World Congress.

Here is a slide from Pineda's presentation:

"What differentiates the smartbook from notebooks and netbooks is the user experience that we enjoy from smartphones into this larger display device," Pineda said. "It will be a complimentary, secondary device."

Pineda refused to be drawn on the identities of the manufacturers who will be making smartbooks based on Snapdragon, although he did list manufacturers who are making devices — smartphones or smartbooks — based on Snapdragon. They are: Acer, Compal, Inventec, Samsung, Asus, Foxconn, LG, Toshiba, C-motech, HTC, Quanta and Wistron.

He added that Qualcomm is "looking to expand more into consumer electronics [in] a number of different device categories".

Pricing and release dates have not yet been announced, although the first smartbooks are likely to appear by the end of this year.