By: Gigaom
August 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM EDT
Say hello to “GoNote”, an Android laptop you won’t likely want
Taking two successful products and combining them has to make one even better product, right? Not necessarily. Case in point: The $234 GoNote available in the UK. It crams Android 4.0 into a very low-end laptop and suggests that it's just right for students. Not likely.

UK-based ErgoElectronics released a 10-inch Android notebook on Tuesday, calling it the creation of a “new product category.” That’s debatable because we’ve seen Android-based laptops in the past.

Called the GoNote, this one uses Google Android 4.0, a touchscreen and webcam, just like a traditional laptop. But for several reasons, this is a product category — and maybe even a product — that shouldn’t exist.

Here’s an overview of what £149 (US $234.76) buys you with the GoNote:

  • 10-inch 1024 x 600 resolution, resistive touch display
  • 1.2 GHz Rockchip RK2918 ARM processor
  • Support for 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 9000 mAh battery rated for 6 hours of web browsing
  • Access to the Google Play store but no support for movies or television shows from Google
  • 1.3 megapixel front facing webcam
  • 1 GB of RAM; 8 GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD card slot
  • 4 x USB ports and micro HDMI-out

If this sounds like a low-end or netbook-like set of specifications, it is; although a netbook would have more processing power. The GoNote is essentially an Android tablet in a netbook that likely won’t excel at either form-factor.

Obviously, at this low price, corners have to be cut in terms of hardware. But in 2012, the time for resistive touch screens is long gone, in favor of capacitive touch displays. Forget the fact that it’s not ergonomically efficient to reach out and touch a notebook screen, you don’t want one that relies on pressure to register touch; it simply is a terrible user experience. We call it “gorilla arm” and it’s not pleasant.

Using Android is another cost-conscious decision: ErgoElectronics doesn’t have to pay a licensing fee to use the platform. But it could have done the same with Linux or chosen another operating system that’s meant for the desktop experience. Android is designed as a touch-optimized environment; not for a keyboard and trackpad. There are some exceptions here, of course. The Asus Transformer has an optional dock with keyboard and trackpad that works well for certain applications. These are tablets first, however; the dock is an add-on, not the primary input method.

The GoNote is targeted towards students and perhaps some will buy this Android-powered laptop. I think they’d be better served by a different device however: Perhaps a Google Chromebook, low-priced Microsoft Windows netbook or the Asus Transformer tablet / dock combo. Even the $199 Nexus 7 with a Bluetooth keyboard could be a better option for some.

Nearly all of these are more expensive, yes, but it doesn’t matter how much money you save if a mobile device doesn’t do what you need it to do. That’s the reason these type of Android-powered notebooks don’t make any sales headway: Combining two great but unlike items doesn’t mean you’re creating a better device. In fact, the opposite is often the case and it surprises me that companies haven’t learned that by now.


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