It seems HP is finally starting to understand that ARM chips are not just “toy chips”, and they can use them in actual computers. I was disappointed to see them use a crippled Intel Celeron chip in their Chromebook earlier this year, when they could’ve used an ARM chip with about the same performance, but much better battery life.
Operating systems like Chrome OS and Android are architecture agnostic, so they are not tied to a certain chip architecture like Windows is. That means OEM’s are free to use whatever architecture with them, whether that’s ARM, MIPS or x86. They are free to make that decision based on what’s best for battery life, price or performance, instead of having to think about what’s the architecture that’s compatible with the apps on that specific operating system.
So now that HP is starting to understand this, they seem to be very aggressive about pushing ARM-based PC’s on the market. They recently announced the HP Slatebook X2, which is going to ship in a few weeks, and now they are also announcing a 21.5″ all-in-one PC, with our favored operating system – Android. The machine will also use Tegra 4, and the display will be IPS LCD with a 1080p resolution.
Ever since Microsoft announced the Surface tablets, and took HP by surprise, HP has also been very aggressive about pushing Android and Chrome OS devices, and I believe it’s only the beginning. They also intend to push Android in enterprise. With HP’s might in enterprise, that could be quite helpful for the Android ecosystem.
Now we have to ask ourselves, is Android fully ready to take on PC’s? Maybe not yet, but I have a feeling that Google is planning some major changes in this regard for Android 5.0. They need to make the interface more optimized for larger screens, and they also need to make the OS as a whole work a lot better “as a PC”.
That means better mouse and keyboard support, more advanced multi-tasking capabilities and even better performance, especially if OEM’s are going to use ARM chips a lot, for cheaper “Android PC’s”. Thanks to the inexpensive ARM chips and to a very fast Android for “low-end hardware”, Android PC’s that cost only several hundred dollars could “feel” as fast as Windows PC’s with Intel chips that cost twice as much.
That could give OEM’s who use Android a huge advantage in the PC market, and could help them gain a lot of market share and customers, especially in countries where people can’t afford to pay anywhere near $1,000 for a PC. HP seems to be one of the companies at the forefront of that, and hopefully others will follow them soon.