Everex is refreshing its Cloudbook line of ultraportable, Linux-based notebooks with redesigned models that may eventually include low-power Intel Diamondville processors, bigger screens and more storage.
Plans to include the Intel processor are "very tentative" and for now the company will continue to use Via Technologies' low-power processors in Cloudbook laptops, said Paul Kim, director of marketing at Everex.
Cloudbooks are based on the reference design of Via's ultramobile Nanobook laptop. The reference design calls for Via's C7-M processor, which Cloudbook uses. Priced at US$399, the Cloudbook competes with inexpensive ultraportable computers like Asus' Eee PC. It was launched last month.
The new Cloudbook models may bump storage up to 120G bytes, quadrupling the storage available on the current Cloudbook model, Kim said. The refreshed Cloudbooks may also include 8.9-inch screens and improved touchpads under the keyboard, Kim said. The current Cloudbook model has a 7-inch screen and the mousepad is placed over the keyboard.
"In regards to the refresh, a touch-sensitive screen -- with higher screen resolution -- and moving the touchpad down underneath the space bar are the big items under consideration," Kim said. The company has said it is developing a Cloudbook with a touch-screen interface that it plans to make available worldwide by the end of the year, priced at US$499.
Everex also said it plans to include solid-state flash drives when those prices fall.
Everex's parent company, First International Computer, showed a Diamondville-based ultraportable PC model that could operate at up to 1.6GHz, at Cebit in Hanover, Germany, this week. The CW060 includes a 7-inch screen, wireless and wired networking and up to 120G bytes of internal storage. Another ultraportable laptop model running on a Via processor included an 8.9-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen.
It is normal business strategy for companies to improve products and keep multiple suppliers in the mix, said Dean McCarron, principal at Mercury Research. The possible of Diamondville in Cloudbook computers could intensify the anticipated slugfest between Intel and Via, which is releasing a competing processor code-named Isaiah later this year. "It's going to get worse as time progresses," McCarron said.
Unlike Eee PC, Cloudbook hasn't yet proven itself, so adding Intel will help hedge against any chip-supply issues and give users a suite of products to choose from, McCarron said. "This is a situation where you need to have your bases covered." McCarron said.
The proposed designs are based on feedback and have yet to be finalized as they could lead to a slight increase in Cloudbook prices, Kim said. If a new product is offered it "would most likely be added upstream into the lineup rather than replace the existing unit," Kim said. The current generation CloudBook should continue, Kim said.
The company is working on software-side improvements as well.
"We're discussing with [Linux-based] gOS to better the power management features, wireless configuration and window sizing," Kim said.
Earlier this year Everex said it hopes to enlist the open-source community to help it create touch-screen applications for the product. It said it plans to sell about 2,000 touch-screen Cloudbooks to developers at the end of March for this purpose.