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Hercules eCAFE ARM Cortex A8 Netbooks running Linux

Hercules, a subsidiary of Guillemot Corporation,  announced two new eCAFÉ netbooks based on Freescale i.MX515 @ 800 Mhz (ARM Cortex A8)  that run a custom Linux distribution and feature a dipswitch for flipping to other user-loaded Linux or Android operating systems:

  • eCAFÉ Slim HD – 229 USD:
    • ARM Cortex A8 Freescale i.MX515 NetbookLED screen: 10.1 inch, 1024*600, high brightness
    • Storage: 8Gb Flash (iNAND), extensible up to 72Gb
    • ARM CortexTM A8 FreescaleTM i.MX515 @ 800 MHz processor
    • RAM: 512 Mb
    • WiFi N technology
    • Battery: 2400 mAh (7.4V) for 4.5 hours’ battery life
    • Comfortable “chiclet” keyboard with flat, separate keys – 88% of a standard keyboard
    • 0.3MP webcam with built-in microphone
    • Connections: 3x USB, 1x Headset, 1x Microphone, 1x LAN RJ45, 1x DC-in 12V, 1x External card reader: SD/MMC/SDHC, 1x Internal card reader: SD/SDHC
    • DIP Switch
    • Weight: 1.9lbs / 0.86 kg
  • eCAFÉ EX HD – 269 USD:
    • Freescale i.MX515 Netbook with 13 hour batteryLED screen: 10.1 inch, 1024*600, high brightness
    • Storage: 16Gb extensible to 72Gb: 8Go Flash (iNAND) + 8Gb SDHC card
    • ARM CortexTM A8 FreescaleTM i.MX515 @ 800 MHz processor
    • RAM: 512 Mb
    • HDMI output
    • WiFi N technology
    • Battery: 6800 mAh (7.4V) for 13 hours + Comfortable “chiclet” keyboard with flat, separate keys – 88% of a standard keyboard
    • 0.3MP webcam with built-in microphone
    • Connections: 3x USB, 1x Headset, 1x Microphone, 1x LAN RJ45, 1x DC-in 12V, 1x External card reader: SD/MMC/SDHC, 1x Internal card reader: SD/SDHC
    • DIP Switch
    • Weight: 2.4lbs / 1.08 kg

Both devices are virtually identical, except the eCAFE EX HD features a larger battery allowing 13-hour usage versus 4.5 hours for the slim HD.

Both the Slim HD and EX HD run Linux-based Hercules eCafe Netbook Edition OS which has all features as a on a standard desktop computer, the company says. Hercules also supplies a hacker-friendly dipswitch that lets one switch to another user-loaded ARM Linux operating system, such has Android which is also support by i.MX515 target, although there is no touchscreen in the devices.

The software included the in the netbooks:

  • Hercules eCAFÉTM Sync : to transfer and manage your files simply between the eCAFE and your computer
    • Transfer your files (music, videos, photos, documents, Internet favourites, etc.) between the eCAFÉTM (SDHC memory extension card) and your computer (PC or MAC).
    • Nothing could be simpler: use the USB cable supplied to connect the eCAFÉTM to your computer
    • Note: The eCAFETM Sync software may be downloaded from the www.ecafe.hercules.com site and is available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, MAC OS X and Linux
  • Comprehensive OpenOffice.org desktop suite (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) – compatible with Microsoft Office
  • The Empathy instant messaging application compatible with Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, AIM and Google Talk
  • The Gwibber application covers all social networks: for permanent connection to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Identi.ca, Frienfeed, Digg, Google Buzz, Jaiku, etc.
  • The Totem video player, compatible with essential formats (AVI, DIVX, MPEG2, MPEG4, Xvid, H.264, MKV, MOV, 3GP, MP4, etc.)
  • Minitube (Youtube player): Create playlists, search for videos, download videos from the application
  • Rhythmbox audio player and music management: compatible with essential audio formats (MP3, ogg, aac, wave); manages playlists, podcasts, webradio, iPod compatible, tag management, Internet information recovery (album covers, lyrics, etc.)
  • Other applications for daily requirements: games, multimedia, communication, Internet browser (Firefox), etc.

The company also claims as dedicated online portal with forum, developers section, etc… It is not available for now, but a “community” section is reserved on http://ecafe.hercules.com for this purpose.

Although the processor runs at 800Mhz only, the devices are able to play 720p videos and (supposely) offer good multimedia performance thanks to the OpenGL 2D/3D graphics and the video accelerator of  i.MX515 processor.

The netbooks will be available for sale later this month in some countries.

Watch the teaser video below.

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