The case for running Android -- an OS developed for smartphones -- on cheap, ultra-portable laptops has yet to be made. However, that hasn't stopped manufacturers from tinkering with the idea as demonstrated by the broad range of Android "smartbooks" running on ARM-based (be it Snapdragon, Tegra, or Freescale) architectures at Computex. Now Gartner, the guiding force for many corporate CIOs, has issued a research note that puts Atom-based netbooks running Windows 7 on notice while giving credence to the emerging smartbook category of ultra-portables. Analysts Christian Heidarson and Ben Lee said the following in Gartner's Semiconductor DQ Monday Report:
When Android did work, we found that the user interface was very snappy on relatively low-performance ARM processors, more so than Windows 7 on Atom.
Of course, Windows 7 scales much better than Vista and as a full-blown desktop OS gives users a lot of flexibility as long as the netbook's chipset is up to the task. Then again, if you're looking for a purpose-built, fanless 10-inch ultra-portable with integrated WWAN data and FireFox browser that costs less than $200 and plays 25 days of music or 10-hours of 1080p video off a single charge, well then a smartbook might be the device for you. We'll see which carrier is brave enough to sell 'em come October.