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Last week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini stated that touchscreen laptops could reach the $200 price point in the coming months, but he wasn’t very specific on which operating systems those machines would run. It seems we now have an answer. A CNET interview with Intel’s chief product office Dadi Perlmutter has revealed that these $200 touchscreen notebooks would mostly be running Android, and would utilize Intel’s low-power Atom processor.

There are some Android notebooks available today, but they mostly come from unknown brands and have terrible specs.
There are some Android notebooks available today, but they mostly come from unknown overseas brands and have terrible specs.

The revelation isn’t exactly a big surprise. The Android operating system is open-source and free for any manufacturer to use. Most of the cost of manufacturing an Android device comes from parts. For a device running Windows 8, however, a manufacturer must pay Microsoft a fee to license the operating system for each device.

That license usually costs $130, but was recently discounted to $30 for manufacturers building touchscreen notebooks.

Does Perlmutter believe that touchscreen Windows 8 notebooks can reach that $200 price point? He didn’t seem all that confident about it.

“We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point,” Perlmutter said. The price of Windows 8 laptops “depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point.”

I, for one, welcome the sudden interest in touchscreen Android notebooks. These devices approach the hybrid laptop/touch device dilemma a bit differently than Windows 8 machines. While Microsoft took a keyboard-and-mouse-based operating system and tried to add touch elements to it, Android has been all about touch since the day it was born.

Taking a good touch OS and adding traditional desktop computing elements to it seems less complicated. I’d rather have a great touchscreen device that functions as a basic laptop than a great laptop that tries to do too much, but that’s just me.

Can touchscreen Android notebooks get down to that $200 price point and be useful? We’ll have to wait a couple of months to find out.


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