Currently, there’s a lot of hype around Android on ARM-based netbooks, a type of netbook arriving later this year. However, despite the obvious choice for Android and other Linux systems, NVIDIA has openly stated their preference for… Windows CE. ARM and Asus are also quite sceptical about Android on ARM netbooks.
Starting with NVIDIA first, Mike Rayfield, the company’s general manager for the mobile business unit, has stated that NVIDIA prefers Windows CE over Android because CE is more mature. Windows CE “is a rock-solid operating system that has been shipped billions of times.” Windows CE also has a “low memory footprint and a good collection of apps.” NVIDIA is working closely with Microsoft to improve Windows CE’s performance on Tegra, NVIDIA’s ARM platform. Windows Mobile is also being worked on.
Android, on the other hand, lags behind Windows CE in almost all areas, according to NVIDIA. The interface is rough and not at all ready for larger displays, and all video and graphics rendering is currently done by Android’s Java code, which is simply too slow for HD video – something the Tegra platform handles just fine on Windows CE.
“There’s no hardware acceleration. It’s all software,” Rayfield explained, “Everyone’s talking about Android for cell phones, but the reality doesn’t exist for the larger displays [of a smartbook].” NVIDIA is working with Google to improve Android for Tegra, but an acceptable state is at least one year away.
And what about more general Linux systems, such as Ubuntu and Moblin? NVIDIA has even less enthusiasm for them. “The world soundly rejected the first netbooks that came out with Linux,” Rayfield said, “Printers didn’t work, and devices didn’t get recognized. The whole thing was a mess.”
NVIDIA’s Tegra platform is a promising new ARM-based platform with a large number of specific processors, that delivers amazing functionality while giving exceptional battery life: 25 days of music or 10-hours of 1080p video playback on a single charge. That’s pretty amazing.