System76, the company that focuses on Ubuntu based computers, has just launched its first netbook model, the Starling.
At first glance this netbook offers the default features:
- 10.1" widescreen glossy screen with a 1024 x 576 resolution.
- Intel Atom N270 CPU.
- 1 Gb DDR2 RAM.
- 160 Gb SATA II hard disk.
- 802.11 b/g WiFi.
- VGA and 3 USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jack, SD cards reader.
- 6 cell lithium ion battery.
- Intel audio and 0.3 mp webcam.
Priced at US$ 359 the little gizmo comes with Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 pre-installed and System76 has written drivers to make sure all the hardware works correctly out of the box. I have no doubt the Starling seems like a good deal. I'm the happy owner of one of Systems76's laptop models, the Pangolin, and have had a great experience with the hardware and the company; hence, as soon as I knew about the Starling I wanted to know more and asked Carl Richell, System76's President, a few questions:
Alexis Bellido: How does the Starling compare to other netbooks in the market? Not including Windows is a great point. Many GNU/Linux users, like me, don't want to waste time removing it. What else does the Starling bring to the netbook arena?
Carl Richell: Above all, the Starling features Ubuntu Netbook Remix whereas many netbooks are pre-loaded with the 7 year old Windows XP operating system. Ubuntu Netbook Remix represents the latest technologies, is optimized for Intel's Atom platform, and features a user interface geared toward netbook devices.
System76 also supports its customers through email, forums, and over the phone. Buying an Acer or Asus product usually means the end of your interaction with those companies. Buying a System76 computer is the start. Quality support is fundamental to the successful introduction and the lasting usage of Ubuntu in the broader market.
AB: We, netbook users, are constantly on the move and battery life is a great issue. Asus promises 9 hours of baterry life for its Eee PC 1000HE. What does the Starling offer? Do you sell extra batteries and if so how much do they cost?
CR: The Starling runs about 6 hours on its 6 cell battery. This may be longer. Our 3 cell test models run about 4 hours. We will offer extra batteries once they're in stock. We don't have pricing available yet.
AB: How does you keyboard compare to those of other netbooks in the market? 92% of the standard size seems to be the norm these days.
CR: The keyboard is nearly full-size and very easy to type on. You can easily switch between your laptop and Starling netbook keyboards.
AB: Is the Starling upgrade friendly? How easy is to change the hard disk or upgrade to 2 Gb of RAM? I didn't notice an option for extra RAM in the order page.
CR: Not particularly. The netbook isn't designed to be opened up and memory is integrated onto the motherboard.
Thanks Carl, congratulations for the launch, I'm pretty sure the Starling will find its way to many Ubuntu users.