While our CES 2010 roundup concluded that the show wasn't as exciting as previous years, one notable - and surprising - highlight we could all agree on was the potential of smartbooks. While not cheap enough in their first generation, the Lenovo Skylight led the way and Mobile World Congress further suggests they won't be a flash in the pan.
While briefly teased at CES, Hewlett Packard has now used MWC to announce its first entry into the smartbook space: the 'Compaq AirLife 100'. Like the Skylight, it preaches the smartbook vision of a slim, lightweight device with all day battery life and always connected Internet experience. This means a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, 10.1in LED backlit display, 16GB SSD coupled with SD card slot, WiFi and integrated 3G.
Furthermore, HP has thrown in a curve ball revealing the AirLife 100 has both a touchscreen panel and GPS. On the other hand, HP has also picked Android rather than a custom Linux build or Windows CE as we've seen previously. As a result HP is preaching excellent battery life (12 hours) and up to 10 days on standby with near instant resumption. On the downside, by installing Android you really are getting an oversized smartphone rather than the smartphone/netbook halfway house smartbooks are seen by many to be.
Further underlining its smartphone roots, HP will also be selling the AirLife 100 exclusively through Telefonica (O2 in the UK) meaning handsome subsidies, though no option for those either unimpressed by the network's recent performance or unhappy with long term deals.
Personally speaking, the Lenovo Skylight still appeals more - but then again, that is the beauty of the smartbook sector: it continues the vision of the original Eee PC 701 and over time there should be options to suit everyone over time. Just get that price under £200...