Ruslan Kogan has been talking up his upcoming netbook for a few months now. I just had a quick hands on with a couple of prototype units, and I can happily say that the other laptop manufacturers should be very scared right now.First thing worth noting is that the netbook will be a part of the Agora family. Ruslan firmly believes in his products being open source (Agora itself means “open forum” in Greek), and so his first netbook will run the gOS Linux operating system.
There will be two models available – both will come with a 10-inch screen, Atom processor (N270), and Wi-Fi. The difference is that the cheaper option (which costs $499 – the only 10-inch netbook with an RRP under $500) only comes with a 3 cell battery and 1GB RAM. The Pro model has 2GB RAM, and a 6 cell battery.
Bluetooth isn’t built in to the netbook itself – Ruslan said that their research showed that everybody wanted Bluetooth but rarely used it. Instead, in an effort to save battery life, Bluetooth comes in the form of a tiny USB dongle, which comes included with the Pro unit, or an extra $10 for the basic model.
The netbook will come in black, although the design on the lid will be slightly modified. We also saw a white version, although there aren’t any plans to release that at present.
Typing on the keyboard, in the brief time I had, was actually really comfortable, even though the keys looked a little small. The keyboard’s design reminded me of a Lenovo Thinkpad, without the red nipple sticking out in the middle. And right next to the power button is a Wi-Fi toggle switch to switch Wi-Fi on and off.
The Agora netbook will come with a whole raft of free apps including Open Office, and because of the gOS operating system, getting more programs and widgets is incredibly simple. And Kogan plans on being extremely flexible with the OS as well – even though the Agora netbook will come with gOS installed, they’re also planning to provide support for anyone wishing to install a different operating system, although they won’t go so far as to actually provide the software.
We’ve booked in to get a proper hands on, to see if this is the laptop to take us to Netbook Nirvana at the end of the month. In the meantime, enjoy the eye candy of the prototype version.