We've long heard from manufacturers and chipmakers that 2010 in general and CES in particular was going to be the time when the fabled 'smartbook' would take off. You know what? They may just be right.
Chipmaker Qualcomm and PC maker Lenovo have jointly announced the 'Skylight' - not the first smartbook to ever be demoed, but certainly the most exciting.
Like many smartbooks we've heard about in 2009, the Skylight uses an ARM processor (the key differentiator between themselves and Intel based netbooks) and is based on the Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon chipset which can also be found inside smartphones. Where things get particularly interesting however are what the choice of the mobile platform allows the Skylight to achieve: namely an ulta-thin and light form factor (under 1kg, MacBook Air slim) and battery life that will top 10 hours.
Elsewhere you'll find a custom Linux OS (Microsoft doesn't support ARM processors for its own baffling reasons) and taking a leaf out of Chrome OS's books are preinstalled widgets for Amazon MP3, Facebook, Gmail and YouTube plus 2GB of Cloud storage. As for hardware, you'll get a 10.1in 1280 x 720 display, 20GB of solid state storage plus a memory card expansion slot (8GB provided), WiFi and integrated 3G - a key part of the smartbook mission statement. This will be AT&T Stateside, we await UK details.
"The web has become the window to the world for more and more people, helping them connect with friends and family across town or thousands of miles away," said Peter Gaucher, Lenovo executive director, Mobile Internet Product Management. "Skylight combines the long battery life and connectivity of a smartphone with the full web browsing and multimedia experience of a netbook to create one of the first devices in this developing smartbook category. Consumers want choices. They can now choose from a full portfolio of Lenovo mobile consumer devices including netbooks, smartbooks and laptops."
Yep, smartbooks suddenly do provide a compelling argument and the deal sealer could well be price. Smartbooks are expected to undercut netbooks substantially and with Lenovo confirming a $499 (£310) RRP for the Skylight and an April release (while netbooks are being quickly eaten up by CULV machines) I have to say first impressions of this new sector are extremely positive.