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New Web-Based Netbook From Litl — Based On Clutter, Uncluttered 109

cananian writes "The webbook company of Gnome's own Havoc Pennington (with a healthy dose of ex-Nokia and ex-OLPC engineers) finally shed its secrecy today, with a new web site and an article in the WSJ. Technical specs on the hardware were found by Engadget last week, and now comes a bit more information on the software behind the UI. Most of the client software is written in JavaScript with GTK/Clutter bindings, and the UI has some superficial similarities to Pentagram's designs for OLPC's Sugar."
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New Web-Based Netbook From Litl — Based On Clutter, Uncluttered

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  • Let me be the first to say that this thing's gonna be huge!
    • by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:35PM (#29986164)

      Really? Why?

      It looks like a regular Atom netbook... Why pay $700.00USD when you can get a netbook with similar specs for half that price...

      • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:03PM (#29986620) Homepage Journal

        Let me be the first to say that this thing's gonna be huge!

        Really? Why?

        It looks like a regular Atom netbook... Why pay $700.00USD when you can get a netbook with similar specs for half that price...

        Dude, it's a joke.

        Litl is going to be huge. Get it? Little? Huge! Ha. Haha.


        ...Okay, you're right. I totally get why you missed that.

        That wasn't so much 'whoosh' as 'wha-atever'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Why pay $700.00USD when you can get a netbook with significantly better specs for half that price...

        Sorry for the FTFY. Had to be done.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually it looks kind of lame to me. I already have a netbook, a laptop, a desktop, a TV, a Blackberry, and a Nintendo DS. I don't know which one of these devices litl is supposed to replace, nor, frankly, do I care. I give it points for versatility, but it will need to undergo further refinement if it wants to find a permanent spot in households.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wrong. It is going to get killed by Chrome OS netbooks.The product will launch, there will be some optimistic quotes from Havoc and his friends around on the open source websites about how cool this thing is, and a few unique features they are really proud of. Unfortunately, the general populace of non-geeks couldn't care less about these features, and all the geeks have their eyes fixed on all the awesome Chrome OS and Android devices coming out, so few even realize that Litl's product exist. Sales of the

  • ... ok, ok, so it's $699.

    Or $1398 for two. Not sure how that's a saving, except that you get two free remote controls ($19ea if bought separately).

    Couldn't readily find hardware details though...

    • by Itninja ( 937614 )
      Why buy one when you can have two at twice the price?
    • by hattig ( 47930 )

      1280x800 display, 1.86GHz Atom, 1GB RAM, 2GB storage.

      Yes, 2GB.

      All for $700. But you can use it as a digital photo frame, or output to a HDTV via HDMI.

      I'd prefer a slower, cheaper CPU and more storage for when you can't access "the cloud". Indeed I think that netbooks targetted at the cloud should be using ARM Cortex CPUs and be priced under $250.

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Did I miss something or does the thing lack both a touchscreen and a tablet/ebook mode?

      • I'd prefer a slower, cheaper CPU

        Wait, there are actually CPUs out there with worse performance per $ than the Atom ??? :)
        • by hattig ( 47930 )


          I meant a significantly cheaper, but slightly slower CPU.

          To be fair, an ARM Cortex A9 outperforms Atom on a per-clock basis allegedly, and A8 compares well. However they'll be in $40 SoCs that include everything in one chip that requires several chips in the Intel solution, costing a lot more.

  • $700? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BonquiquiShiquavius ( 1598579 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:32PM (#29986080) Journal
    Why would anyone spend $700 buy a device that is dependent on the web to function, when a netbook costs half and can access the web and still function when offline?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:34PM (#29986120)

    This product will be awesome for one simple reason:

    The founder is named Havoc Pennington []

    Seriously! That's a Bad-assed name. That's like halfway from what you might expect Duke Nukem to name his dog or child.

    I'll buy one, just so I can claim I have a Havoc machine.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Abreu ( 173023 )
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you're in Gnome development you'll see Pennington's name all over a dozen forums and readmes and all kinds of crap. He's a powerhouse behind GTKMM, the graphic apis, the list just goes on for ever. Even so, I'm not paying USD700 for a netbook. I just paid $330 for a very decent model with an 11.6" lcd (and Atom proc, of course.) That will do me just fine.

      • So when I use gnome and think or exclaim aloud "who's retarded idea was *that*?", it is usually Havoc's retarded idea?
        • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

          Yup. Havoc's crusade to remove all features from GNOME (if it does nothing, it is easy to use the features!) is why I switched to KDE.

    • As $YOUR_DIETY is my witness, I swear to name any illegitimate children I spawn (yeah, yeah, except it really COULD happen in my case) Havoc.

      (Winky, Smurfette, and Booger will be very jealous though)

    • You already have a havoc machine: The one that releases farts that cause havoc on the whole neighborhood. ^^

    • by wdef ( 1050680 )
      Allow me to correct one misconception: Havoc is not the founder of litl. The founder and CEO of litl is John Chuang.
  • They look like chicklet keys. I know this is a casual device and I'm not going to be typing my senior thesis on this thing, but I wonder if this is going to have the same fate as so many "Internet in your kitchen" devices of five years ago--which is to say, they mostly failed.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Apple only makes chicklet keyboards now. They're quite nice. I'm not sure at the moment whether I like my classic MBP keyboard or the chicklet ones better. And I did type my PhD thesis on my MBP keyboard.

    • by Jon_S ( 15368 )

      What I was thinking, too.

      Remember this? []

      I still have one running linux off its 16 MB flash drive (yes, the whole operating system and applications, including netscape, is in there). I use it to run an MP3 player from KDE 1.0 (kmp3 I think it's called). It's a nice no-moving-parts/silent streaming music player (using a USB network adapter) to sit on top of my stereo.

  • 1.6Ghz Atom. 1Gig of ram 2Gig of flash.
    Oh look! Facebook!

    • Your joke is doubly hilarious because that poor little atom is going to make a small crater if you try to load those flash games that are all over facebook. My 1.2GHz Athlon 64-based Lt3013u has enough trouble, but the Acer Aspire D250-1165 is sad.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      And no bluetooth!
      With bluetooth, it could have been an easy mobile web-book, using your 3G phone for internet, as the Nokia Internet Tablets do.
      Apple deliberately left that out of the iPod touch, because they also sold an iPhone. (And US phone networks restrict that kind of thing.)
      But why would these guys leave it out?

      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        Sadly, bluetooth is seen my most as only there for headsets. And similarly the headsets are seen as attempts at appearing important, rather then, say, practical.

        This i blame mostly on US operators, that love removing features like file transfer out of the phones they allow onto their networks, to force people sending their low rez phone photos via the mobile network rather then locally.

        I have had some fun tho, sitting at a public table with a N800 in front of me, a bluetooth keyboard unfolded on the table,

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:42PM (#29986318) Journal
    Cute; but I'm really not seeing ~$500 worth of improvement over a mini9 running Moblin. Or buying a netbook for normal use, a chumby for widgets, and booze with the rest.
    • My sons ipod touch does everything this device does, and more. It has a smaller screen, but it has a smaller footprint as well. We bought it for ~230 AUD.

    • by wdef ( 1050680 )
      Don't forget that you pay for cute because good industrial design costs money. Apple is cute, and you pay extra for Apple design as well - that has always been the case. This is a premium product aimed at the upper level of the market. Also, it has the best LCD for its size on the market. That also costs money.
  • $699 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harris s newman ( 714436 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:48PM (#29986386)
    For $699 I can get two eee 10" netbooks. Forget it!
    • To be fair, the Litl has some pretty cool hardware features that aren't available on standard netbooks. Take the Easel Mode for example: []. There also seems to be a lot of hardware that was customized, such as the keyboard.

      Also, this seems to be a pretty open source company and they managed to get the Z series atoms working with linux, so that's also pretty impressive. The money from the hardware purchase goes to subsidize open source community development.
    • by ignavus ( 213578 )

      For $699 I can get two eee 10" netbooks. Forget it!

      And then, even if the web goes down, you can have your own little network running.

      You'll be offline and online at the same time.

      "Hey I just found a website with heaps of free pron on it! ...Oh, it's the webserver on my other eee-book. ... Well, at least I am getting great bandwidth from it."

  • by hey ( 83763 )

    I can see a place for this.
    Handy for people who want their computer to "just work"... like my parents.

  • by Croakus ( 663556 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @05:57PM (#29986522)
    This is a classic example of what happens when a bunch of engineers get together and they're all so dead on convinced that they've got the next great idea that they don't stop for 15 minutes to look at the market, learn what their potential customers actually want, or even write up a business plan. No one is going to pay $700 for one of these. It's just not going to work. How is a salesman at Best Buy supposed to talk me into buying a device that has no hard drive, a tiny screen, stores all of my data out on the Internet, and doesn't run Microsoft Office when there's a cool looking 15" laptop siting right beside it for the same price? It's just not going to happen. Mark my words. This will all end in tears.
    • Actually, the screen isn't really tiny - 12.1". Problem is, it's a bit heavy for an ultraportable, especially considering the lack of storage.

      That said, laptops with small screens DO have their place in the marketplace, just as 15"-ones.

    • Even worse, you can get an EEE for far cheaper with better specs. If I'm going to get a netbook the things I'm going to look at are A) Price B) Specs C) Portability and D) Drivers for non-default OSes. Lets see here, 2 gigs of flash, even my $350 almost 2 years old EEE PC 701 had more than that. Intel Atom is generic, the screen size is meh, the keyboard is crap, etc. etc. Would I buy it for $150? In a heartbeat, would I buy it for $200? Possibly. But for $700?!? No way. For $700 I can get a "real" laptop w
      • If I'm going to get a netbook the things I'm going to look at are A) Price B) Specs C) Portability and D) Drivers for non-default OSes.

        agree. Even Dell is having a hard time competing on that, at least with me: I was given some leeway for a business expense purchase, so I decided to get myself a little netbook of my own. Decided on Ubuntu, checked out the Dell Mini 10 (for $350), and then started configuring. Hmm... worth upgrading the hard drive from 160GB to 250GB (you hear that, Litl? 160GB!). Also

        • by hitmark ( 640295 )

          i am sure that if you checked the win7 dell, it would have the upgraded linux specs, but at the acer price point.

          i swear, microsoft is hinding some dirty tricks behind nda in relation to this...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eil ( 82413 )

      In the late 90's, hundreds of companies[1] thought that Network Appliances were going to be the next big thing. Turns out, almost nobody wants a device which is 100% paperweight as soon as the network goes away. Until we have wireless broadband that is ubiquitous, robust, and (most importantly) cheap, network appliances are going nowhere.

      1. Sun was the biggest of these, see their "The network is the computer" marketing slogan

      • Until we have wireless broadband that is ubiquitous, robust, and (most importantly) cheap, network appliances are going nowhere.

        We do. Its the cellular network. iPhones and kindles are network appliances. Unfortunately this device doesn't have a cellular modem. And its architecture is too hungry for bandwidth anyway.

        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          The cellular network is not ubiquitous (ubiquitous means it's everywhere), and not cheap (IMO). Robust, maybe. I haven't used data services much so can't comment on that.

        • by Eil ( 82413 )

          We do. Its the cellular network.

          Cellular networks are ubiquitous but are neither robust nor cheap.

          iPhones and kindles are network appliances.

          The iPhone's intended core functionality is greatly reduced in the absence of a network, but it's still a general-purpose computer. You can play games, music, video, and run a variety of other applications offline. The Kindle is still perfectly useful when the network goes away, as long as you don't need to buy a new book that very moment.

      • The one point they missed then and now is, that the network coverage is carp (not too much change there, crap also meaning expensive, no unlimited tires that relate to offline). For the same reason it will fail now, and for some years in the future, sadly.

        ps. Oh, and there were no specs that would competitively make any sense of that price. Just too damn expensive for the mass market.

        • The one point they missed then and now is, that the network coverage is carp...

          I knew I smelled something fishy.

          But in all seriousness, yah, this Litl sure won't fly with me -- not least as I live in the boonies. Wi-Max? Fuhgeddaboudit. Even cell phone coverage only happens when the weather's right and my wife doesn't open the fridge or turn on the microwave. Just before dinner while we're cooking is really a bad time to call me -- which at least helps weed out a lot of telemarketers. :)


      • The slogan had to do with the fact that Sun made very easy to implement a server or client for any protocols on any machine.

        When you got a Solaris system back then, the restrictions and differences between a basic system and a high end monster were minimal.

  • []

    The design, IMHO, is nice.

    But an underpowered CPU combined with only 2 GB of SSD storage and a single USB port make this a slightly unattractive proposition.

  • Now *this* explains the somewhat surprising move of pushing Javascript (that everybody hates) for Gnome shell. I think HP was one of the guys promoting this move.

    I figure it's not that bad in the end, javascript is becoming a viable scripting language (whether we like or not). Too bad the development tools (and ecosystem, and culture) for Javascript suck badly. Hopefully this will change soon, as the community is gradually accepting the fact that Javascript just won't die, and we are better of biting the bu

    • by Dwedit ( 232252 )

      I liked Javascript better when Flash used it and called it Actionscript. Actionscript is compiled to stack machine bytecode which can be decompiled back to AS code. That takes out the lexical interpretation step.

    • by cananian ( 73735 )
      Actually, I think you've got cause and effect backwards. Other GNOME guys have been hearing about big-shell's use of JavaScript informally from Havoc, and decided to adopt it for gnome-shell since it's worked so well for litl. If you look at the commit history of gjs [] you'll see it's about evenly divided between litl people and gnome-shell people now.
  • by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:03PM (#29986626) Homepage

    $700?! And it doesn't even come with the stupid remote? I don't think so.

    Apple gets away with this because they have an established brand and reputation.

    I can't believe they don't even have a video of the UI they are hyping. Show, don't tell.

    Wow. This is just ridiculous. Is the Internet being punked?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are videos of the UI here: []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tony ( 765 )

      Apple doesn't try to get away with this: when you spend $700 on an Apple computer, you get a real computer, not just a web device; or, you get a teeny-tiny portable computer that doubles as a phone.

      While I like the idea of the litl, the price tag is a little hefty. I'm really not considering getting one, and I buy *everything.* (I have an Openmoko phone, an iPhone, and a Google dev phone. I'm a sucker for new tech.)

  • by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:10PM (#29986730) Homepage
    This is going to be more awesome than WebTV! Because old people REALLY DO want to use computers... despite not being able to use a cell phone.

    I foresee a not so Litl flop on the horizon.
    • Old people don't want a netbook for the exact same reason they don't want a touchscreen phone -- we can't see the f'ing screen! (The prediction that the iPhone will become the new vehicle for reading e-books continues to astound me.)
  • WSJ article (Score:3, Informative)

    by cananian ( 73735 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:15PM (#29986802) Homepage
    The WSJ article was not linked, but it's at []
  • by tknd ( 979052 )
    Finally someone that gets it. Connecting computers to HDTVs and other displays via HDMI is a great experience. The video and sound automatically go through, the plug isn't giant, and it only goes in one way. If you have a 1080P display, your TV instantly becomes a giant screen. This is great for presentations and home media and internet activities. In fact if everyone would bother, it would make connecting to a "workstation area" that much easier. Now if only there were some USB connections bundled into the
  • If there's one thing GNOME isn't designed for, it's underpowered hardware.

    Could still be entirely useful, though. Scrub the existing OS, and put either Damn Small Linux or NetBSD on it, with blackbox/ratpoison, screen, vim, and cplay/xine for multimedia. It'd make a nice upgrade to my current laptop, actually.

    Good for email, web browsing, office work, a bit of shell scripting, note taking and the usual laptop stuff, and low end multimedia. Depending on the video card, 1.8 Ghz will also play WoW, if somew

    • by cananian ( 73735 )
      It's not running GNOME. It's running a custom shell based on X11/Clutter, with a few GTK widgets to avoid having to reimplement a textbox for the 1337th time.
  • Netbook? (Score:3, Funny)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @06:36PM (#29987078) Journal

    With that weight, it's more of a netbrick than a netbook.

  • The support videos at [] give a good idea of how the UI works -- and they also feature Annie, litl's friendly customer care rep!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the official site (

    First of all, it’s light—as light as 3 pounds of feathers

    Wow, and that's how much pounds of plastic?

  • by lennier ( 44736 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:11PM (#29987664) Homepage

    especially the "stores data in the cloud" bit - hasn't the Danger fiasco told us that's a bad idea jeans? But gjs [] looks cool.

    • Gmail is in the cloud. Its pretty popular. And not particularly reliable.

      • by Abreu ( 173023 )

        Gmail is in the cloud. Its pretty popular. And not particularly reliable.

        My Gmail account is worth every penny I spent in it

        • I actually did pay for a Gmail invite, in the brief period of time when the only reliable way you could get one was to win it on Ebay. My Gmail service is far more reliable than say, my Internet or cell services. While Gmail has had high-profile outages, I don't think the reliability has been anything near as bad as you've seen with some other online services.

          Having said that, unlike the litl, at least Gmail lets you download your content.

          I'm just not seeing a market for this thing. While a netbook
  • the folks from Litl started setting up their demo table. I glanced over and saw that they had a small gadget that looked like a laptop (appeared to be the size of of a Macbook Air) with a flip screen. As I was reading an interesting article, I overheard some explanation of what the machine did and I was tempted to get up and check it out as I am always open to new gadgets. However, that temptation quickly went away when I overheard the price being quoted after the explanation of what it did. For a good fi
  • my 5 cents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Device666 ( 901563 ) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @07:19PM (#29987798)
    Sell what you think you can build, instead of building what you think you can sell. If not you'll get a solution to a non-existing need resulting in zero business.
  • It's the new OLPC project with new management and a new brandname...
  • CRAP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is insane crap- the problem with this is that for 300 bucks more you can buy a mac and get the warm fuzzies that the litle is trying to sell you.

    when looking thru the website and seeing the specs I thought wow maybe 150-250 bucks I would get one. then I found out its 700 bucks and all my personal photos, etc will be combed thru by the NSA, google and whoever else cause in america you dont need a warrant anymore. fuck that. they should pay me for putting my shit on the cloud. and when they go under I ha

  • Chumby (Score:2, Interesting)

    Anyone else reminded of the chumby? []
  • If this was ARM based, I would probably jump on it (and it would probably be a little cheaper) but it is just the standard netbook with a fancy interface. There is plenty of fancy interfaces around so I don't know how this Litl plans to compete.
    There is a lack of good ARM based netbooks! Always Innovating has the only half decent one.
    • by wdef ( 1050680 )
      Can you elaborate on that a bit? Do you like ARM because of low power consumption or ...?
      • Low power consumption and HD video processing on the CPU.The new cortex A9s look pretty awesome. It's not just the CPU, but the other parts that go with it. On many Atom motherboards the north bridge consumes more power than the processor!
  • []

    How does litl make navigating easy and fun?

    litl replaces the keyboard, touchscreen, mouse, and touchpad with one simple WHEEL []

  • ...a netbook with a screen that can be folded with a wider angle than others, and a simplified (read: oversimplified so far it's strongly limited (read: retard fostering) instead of efficient) UI... with a price tag of $700.

    I guess their motto must be: Offer less, pay double, and make the world a worse (=dumber) place.

    Yeah... "great" idea... Oh and that wider angle is sooo "genius". Nobody could have ever come up with that one!

  • I would've bought a couple of these in a heartbeat (even with the ridiculously lofty price) if I could have easily had access to my own local content. Watching Hulu or youtube is fine for previewing a show or movie, but not being able to watch content that hasn't been compressed and pushed into the "cloud" is ludicrous.

    I just spoke with their tech support and had this confirmed.

    • by wdef ( 1050680 )
      Ask them if you can type file:/// in the browser and browse to a usb stick containing media. Media can be played in the browser.
  • 700 bucks for a functionally really slimmed down notebook? Ouch. Take a look at the young company that's probably going to go bankrupt soon.

The absent ones are always at fault.