The Smartbook Race Is On, and China Is at the Starting Line With an XP-Capable Phone

Yesterday I wrote about the smartbook--a half smartphone, half netbook device that's being pushed as the future of mobile computing. And now it looks like a Chinese firm has beaten everyone, and released a cellphone that runs XP.

xpPhone

No kidding--it's a chunky QWERTY-slider that's fully XP-capable, and it's being called the first cellphone to run XP. The hardware is actually pretty impressive: a 120GB hard drive, custom AMD processor, Wi-fi, WiMax, GPS, and a seven-hour battery. Most impressively it's 4.8-inch LCD is a 800-by 480-pixel touchscreen.

It also retains full candybar phone functionality when the keyboard is shut--there are even receive/hang-up buttons on the face. Kudos to the Chinese company In Technology for knocking together such a Frankensteinian device. We don't know how much it'll cost, but we do know it's going on sale in China in about three months, and will be marketed worldwide shortly afterwards.

The xpPhone poses a number of questions, however. A full windows installation on a phone will please some users--but would you trust dodgy Windows security to keep your 120GB of data safe if you lose your phone? More importantly, when I wrote about smartbooks, I envisaged them being used as phones via a Bluetooth link--holding a 400-gram, 2.5cm-deep phone with a 4.8-inch screen and full keyboard to your ear simply can't be a comfortable experience. 

The biggest question is whether running a full operating system on a phone makes sense, at this point. Such a choice places enormous demands on the processor and battery of the device, and the power of both is in short supply in such a limited space. To me, it makes more sense to have a slimmer, skinnier operating system, like Android, on devices like this--given the hardware limitations. Of course, Apple is busy shaving the weight off its OS X with the upcoming Snow Leopard release--place your bets as to how long it'll take for someone to hack that onto the xpPhone.

[PCWorld via GizmoWatch

Related:
Meet the Smartbook: For Everything Your Smartphone and Netbook Can't Do
Is The Netbook Phenomenon Over? In a Way, Yes
Are BlackBerrys Better Than Netbooks? RIM's CEO Thinks So

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