MeeGo for laptops hands-on

Intel has shown off a MeeGo powered netbook, showing that it is planning on taking on Google and its Chrome OS when the new operating system from Google launches in the summer - hopefully.

The new operating system shows what netbook and laptop users could expect if they opt to go Nokia and Intel for their software when the new OS eventually launches on a laptop (You can get MeeGo on the WeTab, however it's a very different user experience). Here at Pocket-lint we couldn't resist having a quick fumble when we found the netbook powered by MeeGo, at CES in Las Vegas.

For those interested the MeeGo OS was running on a MSI U160DX netbook launched last year. While the laptop isn’t really important here (we are focusing on the OS) it’s interesting nonetheless that the OS was fast and zippy, even though the netbook isn’t really that much of a powerhouse.

Specs of the U160 test machine include an Intel Atom N550 chip, 10-inch WSVGA screen, 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive and 802.11n wireless capability (which wasn’t actually on).

First announced in February 2010, the MeeGo operating system sees users working with a number of “zones” for different work and play elements of their life.

Those zones are: Applications, Status, People, Internet, Music, Devices, and Network with a MyZone area allowing you to bookmark favourite elements from all the previous.

We aren't going to class this as a review as that would be pointless. You see, while the operating system was fully operational, Intel wasn’t giving it any connectivity to the wider world when it showed it off at its booth at CES in Las Vegas at the beginning of the month. We asked why, but were told that it was a general problem on the stand (there are too many devices trying to connect) all week. 

Still, Internet or no Internet, what we could garner from our fumble is that like Chrome this will be a very “online” centric-experience, with those zones acting like portals to your relevant areas of interest.

It’s an interesting concept and one that we expect to work fairly well. If you want to talk to people, go to the people zone. If you want to load an app, go to the app zone. If you want to listen to music... you get the idea.

Compared against what we’ve seen from Google and its Chrome OS, you’ll certainly feel like you’re getting more of an OS, and compared to Windows 7, which the MSI U160 normally runs, it’s a bit more “tablet” friendly with the UI giving you quick access to stuff rather than just a series of icons or a desktop with zero pointers.

As we’ve said, the system, which didn’t seem to have much on it, was zippy and responsive, and we were able to dash between tabs with speed.

Of course the real question will be whether MeeGo, which has yet to gain any real traction in the 11 months it's been announced, will interest anyone enough outside a niche developer community to take on Google and its Chrome offering.

Combine that against Android (Honeycomb and beyond) and MeeGo, regardless of what it offers, has a tough job ahead.

All it needs to do now is start convincing people it’s ready and able. From what we’ve seen the software looks like it might just have the power to persuade, if it can get the eyeballs ready to be persuaded.

Unfortunately, there’s no word on when Intel and Nokia plan to launch a MeeGo netbook. 



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