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Gecko EduBook: Netbook powered by eight AA batteries

The Gecko EduBook has a neat trick that makes it stand out from the netbook flood: the whole system is contained on one tiny chip

To think, a scant 18 months ago no one knew what a netbook was. Now there's so many of them piling up around us we're struggling to open doors. This Craver sleeps on a bed of netbooks and eats his dinner off a 75 per cent-sized keyboard -- and wonders what a netbook has to do to stand out these days. NohrTec reckons the answer is inside the 8.9-inch Gecko EduBook.

The EduBook pulls off the neat trick of putting a complete PC system -- including CPU, video, sound and networking -- on a single, teeny-tiny chip, which is quite an accomplishment. It's called the Xcore86 device-on-chip system, and it's small enough to fit in a handheld device, but capable of running Windows XP.

The tiny chip draws suitably diminutive levels of power. NohrTec reckons the Xcore86 is more energy-efficient than any other x86 CPU at comparable clock speeds, drawing 1.2W at 1GHz. The EduBook is the first device to use the Xcore86, and doesn't have a fan to keep the processor cool. Interestingly, NohrTec has opted to juice the EduBook on AA batteries, claiming eight AA NiMh batteries give you 4 hours of use.

We wonder what the performance will be like -- probably pretty slow -- but we'll reserve judgement until we've seen the EduBook in action.

The video below gives you a quick tour of the EduBook, showing how it's completely modular. The memory is simply an SD card rather than integrated flash memory. The basic spec, aimed at educational environments, perhaps in the developing world, costs well south of $150 (£100), although the souped-up consumer version will start closer to $200 (£130).

This sounds more like an interesting new approach to usability rather than a technological breakthrough. For developing countries -- and for anyone caught short power-wise while out and about -- trusty AAs can save the day when proprietary lithium-ion battery packs might be hard to come by.

Oh, and you can also stick a photo on the top to customise the lid. Perhaps you could whack a photo of Torchy the Battery Boy on there.