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Chitech CT-PC89E

The CT-PC89E is a low-cost netbook with an 8.9in 1024x600 screen, weighing only 800 grammes (0.8kg). Its 667mhz Samsung S3C6410 embedded ARM CPU is on a factory-upgradeable SO-DIMM which also has, in the standard low-cost option, 256mb of RAM and 2gb of NAND Flash. The rest of the features are pretty much "standard" fare for a low-cost netbook: 2x USB2, stereo speakers, microphone, SD-Card slot, headphone and microphone sockets, and 802.11 WIFI. A built-in Webcam is available as an option. To further save on cost, there is a micro VGA output, but by default the IC to enable it is again optional. Also, the design has two internal USB2-capable (only) PCI-express slots, which can take 50x30mm PCI-e cards. One is occupied with the RALink RT2070 WIFI, whilst the other is designed to take a 3G or an EDGE modem: there is even a slot for a SIM card (next to the SD card slot).

As this machine is very new, only a few brave Debian-ARM souls have bought it so far, direct from the factory in China, in order to evaluate it and help re-engineer it. We're aware that one other U.S. customer has ordered a batch of them, thus guaranteeing its production over the next few months (as of Feb 2010). The nice surprise is that far from being truly dreadful, the embedded OS on the device, from http://mid-fun.com is actually pretty good: it's called MOS and the web site is here: http://mid-linux.org. As of yet, we've been unable to reach Mid-Fun to get them to provide the root password and the GPL source code of the OS, but that's okay because we've discovered three security flaws in two days, each of which gives full root access to the machine.

So, at this early stage, for more information please contact lkcl@lkcl.net, luke.leighton@gmail.com or Asia Sourcing http://www.asiasourcing.net/ and as soon as we find or hear from a retail outlet or a distributor brave enough to sell these systems we'll let you know.

Also worth noting: we're currently asking the factory for a price on engineering an SO-DIMM with 512mb of DDR2 RAM and an 833mhz Samsung ARM Cortex A8: the S5PC100, which is the same CPU as used in the iPhone 3G. This would ironically not only reduce the price of the system, because DDR1 RAM is actually more expensive than DDR2, but also give it a huge performance jump, without increasing power consumption (the S5PC100 is a 45nm part).

The mailing list is presently being kindly hosted by Alain Williams, at http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/mailman/listinfo/arm-netbook

There is a description of the system, and photos (internal and external), here: http://lkcl.net/arm_systems