The netbook scene is hotting up right now, with Android worming its way slowly onto systems, nVidia pushing Ion ever more, Intel Atom's successor - Pine Trail - just around the corner and, of course, ARM showing its hand. And speaking of ARM the sneaky folks over at Crave managed to get their paws on a prototype system built by Asus-subsidiary Pegatron - sadly it doesn't transform into a robot.
What Pagatron's prototype does do, however, is rock a Freescale iMX515 CPU, which itself includes the same ARM Cortex-A8 chip seen inside the Palm Pre, of all things. Inside Pegatron's system the chip runs at 1GHz (versus 600MHz in the Pre) and as a result is said to be quite capable of playing 720p video and even run the odd 3D game.
The system demoed was running Ubuntu Linux, as installed on a number of Atom-based netbooks. It seems likely, also, that ARM-based systems running Android will be available once such systems launch en force. Either way, ARM-based systems are going to end up appealing to a slightly more tech savvy buyer than your average Windows-running, Atom-based netbook.
Battery life will apparently sit between four and a half and eight hours depending on use from a 2-cel battery. That sounds like quite a stretch so take such claims with a pinch of salt until real world testing is possible, but hopefully such claims ARM CPU-based netbooks will compete with the better Atom-based rivals' operating durations.
Of course Pegatron's prototype isn't necessarily an indication of what a retail ARM-powered netbook will look like, being as it is a technical demo rather than a retail sample. Nonetheless, it's interesting to see what Intel-rivalling netbooks might look like.