First Android netbook to cost $250

Chicago (IL) – Skytone’s Alpha 680, the first netbook running Google’s Android OS, is expected to hit store shelves within the next three months. Price: $250.

Skytone co-founder Nixon White told Computerworld that the device is currently undergoing final testing at Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Technologies. The company hopes to launch the final prototype in June.

Integrating a 533MHz ARM 11 CPU, which is the same chip used by Apple in the iPhone, and touting a 7-inch LCD screen, touchpad, keyboard, and built-in WiFi, the device’s batter will last from two to four hours when surfing the web, the manufacturer claims. The device weighs 1.5 lbs, which is significantly lighter than the now popular Eee 701 netbook – or any other netbook, which typically weigh between 2.5 and 3 pounds.
Android is Google’s Linux-based operating system, which was first designed for use in wireless phones. However, the open-source OS will soon begin to hit many other devices, according to analysts. Among others, T-Mobile already confirmed that it will launch more Android devices other than just cellphones in 2009 and 2010.

Reportedly, Dell and HP are both considering use of the Google Android OS in upcoming netbooks and smartphones.

If Android can prove to be a reliable operating system for notebooks, it could have a significant impact on the netbook market. As system manufacturer are trying to move netbooks up-market, there is room for a sub-$200 class of content viewing devices. For example, Samsung recently announced its Windows XP-based N110 and N120 netbooks, which come with 10.3” and 10.8” screens and sell for MSRPs of $459 and $469.

Those consumers who simply may want to have another web browsing device in the home may not want to spend close $500, especially if that money can buy a regular, much more capable notebook.