By Evan Ackerman
We’re big big fans of rechargeable batteries, but they’re not usually something that you think of powering devices that suck up a lot of electricity over a long period of time. Something like, oh, I don’t know, a laptop. But it looks like netbooks are just barely low power enough to achieve a decent amount of on-time using a bunch of rechargeable AA batteries, and NorhTec has taken the first step with their Gecko Edubook, which uses eight integrated NiMH batteries for power. More info and specs, after the jump.
The specs on the Edubook are even more modest than the standard netbook configuration, since low power consumption is the priority. The Edubook has a 1 GHz processor, up to 1 gig of RAM, a 9″ 1024 x 600 LED display, either a standard or flash HD, 3 USB ports, a VGA port, Ethernet, and an SD slot. Rather than come with integrated WiFi, there’s an internal USB port that accepts whatever kind of wireless dongle you want. Interestingly, the CPU and RAM are completely modular, and there’s even a secondary internal SD slot, making the Edubook very easy to mod or upgrade.
You can expect up to 4 hours of battery life from NiMHs, or up to 6 from Lithium packs. I’m not sure what the actual amp-hours on the NiMH batteries NorhTec uses are, but I bet you can find ones with greater capacity. There are several advantages to using rechargeable AAs: they’re easy and cheap to buy, easy and cheap to replace, you can charge them externally, replace them if you start noticing a memory effect, and in a pinch, you can always use disposables. This convenience means that the laptop is going to be a bit bigger and heavier, of course, since the custom lithium batteries that generally power laptops have a much better power to size and weight ratio.
The best part about all this is the price: in base configuration, the NorhTec Gecko Edubook should cost under $200. Look for it this July.