- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2009

TAIPEI, Taiwan | Small new “netbook” computers from Acer Inc. will come with Google Inc.’s Android operating system if buyers desire, instead of Windows from Microsoft Corp.

The move by Acer, the world’s third-largest PC maker, could raise Android’s chances of becoming a widely used alternative to Windows on mobile computers.

Because Android, originally designed for mobile phones, is freely distributed by Google, netbooks running the software would cost less, Acer Executive Jim Wong said last week at Computex, a huge computer show in Taiwan. He would not give a specific figure. Mr. Wong also praised Android’s fast boot-up time.

Netbooks, which are inexpensive little laptops primarily designed for using the Internet, originally were sold with another free operating system, Linux. Microsoft’s current operating system, Vista, was seen as too expensive and slow for those computers. But Microsoft regained control of the budding market by licensing the older Windows XP to manufacturers for a low price.

Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 7, is being geared for netbooks as well as larger computers. Several PC companies used the Computex show to highlight coming models based on Windows 7, including Taiwan’s AsusTek Computer Inc.

Also, ARM Holdings PLC, a chip-technology licensing company, said it would launch a new chip set to drive netbooks, taking on a domain dominated by Intel’s Atom microprocessors.

Power-sipping cell phone displays come closer

NEW YORK | The first factory dedicated to making a new type of power-thrifty cell phone display has started operations, Qualcomm Inc. said last week.

Phones or other gadgets using the displays from the factory in Taiwan could be on the market before the end of the year, said Jim Cathey, Qualcomm’s vice president of business development.

Qualcomm’s “mirasol” displays are different from regular color LCDs because they don’t shine with their own light. Instead, they reflect ambient light. Tiny mirrors move in the screens to manipulate light in much the same way that a peacock’s plumage gets its scintillating hues.

The mirrors consume power only when they’re moving, so mirasol screens can show a static image with very little battery drain. They share this ability with “electronic ink” displays used in e-book reader devices such as the Kindle from Amazon.com Inc. However, unlike e-ink displays, mirasol displays can quickly change from one image to the next and show video.

Small mirasol displays have already been used in a few Chinese and Korean phones, and in an MP3 player on the U.S. market. These were able to show two colors, but displays from the new factory will be in full color, Qualcomm said.

Their sizes can range up to 5 inches diagonally, and the prices should eventually be competitive with LCDs, Mr. Cathey said.

San Diego-based Qualcomm set up the factory in Taiwan with local partner Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co., also known as Foxlink. Previously, it has made smaller numbers of displays through a partnership with another Taiwanese firm, Prime View International.

Last Week, Prime View announced that it would buy Massachusetts-based E Ink Corp., the maker of the Kindle’s display, for $215 million.

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