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Freescale's Chip Shot: The $200 Netbook

Think netbooks are already a great deal? Just wait a few months.
Think netbooks are already a great deal? Just wait a few months.A recent Wired News article put the spotlight on Freescale, an upstart chipmaker with big plans for the netbook market. Last month, Freescale announced that one of its processors, based on a core design from Intel rival ARM, could appear in netbooks from third-party hardware OEMs by year's end.

Freescale says netbooks using its processor will sell for less than $200 -- about half the price of a typical netbook today -- and will deliver up to eight hours of battery life. At least some Freescale-powered netbooks will run Google's Linux-based Android OS; others will feature mainstream Linux distros including Ubuntu and Xandros.

It isn't surprising to see any of these names linked to Freescale's plans. Whatever you think of Linux as a desktop OS, its modest hardware requirements are a huge advantage -- and one that Windows 7 won't change anytime soon, no matter how good it turns out to be.

As for Android, rumors have long circulated that Google could make the jump from cell phones to netbooks and even laptop PCs. So this would be a logical first step for Android to take into the netbook market. (And you can bet it won't be the last.)

Freescale isn't the only vendor pushing netbook prices to rock bottom. Earlier this year, Asus discussed plans to roll out a $200 version of its flagship EeePC. One thing that seems certain, however, is that netbook prices will finish the year a lot lower than they started it.