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HP ponders Android netbooks

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Hewlett-Packard is pondering using Google's Android mobile OS for its small, cheap computers.

HP is testing the Linux-based OS on future lines of netbooks,although the company hasn't yet decided if such devices will see the light of day, HP's PC division veep Satjiv Chachil The Wall Street Journal.

"We want to assess the capability Android may have for the computer and communications industries, so we are studying it," he said.

PC vendors like Asustek are also reportedly considering Android for netbooks and their low-cost ilk. (Rumor is that Asus is working on an Android netbook for release at the end of this year or early 2010). Dell has confirmed it's fiddling with Android for "smaller-screen devices" — likely a smartphone.

The mobile OS is presently only available on T-Mobile's G1 phone, although more Android-based handsets from a variety of manufacturers are forthcoming.

Developers have often said that Android works just as well with low-cost PCs as it does for mobile devices. And just last week, market watcher Ovum predicted Android-powered netbooks will begin appearing later this year.

Ovum argues that netbook buyers would rather pony-up the extra cash for a Windows license now rather than risk an unfamiliar OS using a relatively unknown distro of Linux. Android will change that by offering a more tightly controlled user environment along with the brand-name comfort only a technology mega-conglom can provide.

With world+dog rumbling for an Android netbook, clearly it's only a matter of time before someone out there puts one on the market. ®

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