Nov 29 2008

Intel, The Atom, And The Netbook Market

Intel has a special role in the netbook world, acting as the supplier of the most widely used chip in the market – the versatile 1.6 GHz Atom.  However, analysts at Intel seem to have some doubts about the fate of the very netbooks their company powers.

Intel

According to Intel VP of sales Stu Pann, Intel believes it’s miscalculated what markets would go for netbooks.”We originally thought Netbooks would be for emerging markets and younger kids… It turns out the bulk of the Netbooks sold today are Western Europe, North America, and for people who just want to grab and go with a notebook… We view the Netbook as mostly incremental to our total available market.”

Pann’s biggest criticisms were of the small screens, which he believes are “not something you’re going to use day in and day out.” He cites eye strain and general discomfort for this reasoning.

It makes sense, of course, for Intel to say netbooks will only add incrementally to its income – after all, Intel is a massive company. However, we should remind ourselves that earlier this year netbooks’ enormous sales surprised Intel, forcing the technology giant to crank out thousands of Atom chips it hadn’t anticipated making.

Intel Atom

The Atom chip is, for the moment, in almost every netbook around. It is easy to forget that the Atom is a mere six months old. Pann’s reluctance is sensible, in this light, but as for netbooks not being used by owners on a daily basis, I’m skeptical.  After all – are netbooks not the ultimate tools for commuters?

To expect an owner of a netbook to use it as a replacement for his main working machine is unrealistic – netbooks were never meant for that.  Mobile users will use netbooks for short amounts of time – in the train, while on break, waiting at a bus stop – which conforms well to Pann’s “fine for an hour” statement.

Acer Aspire One

While it’s been supposed that netbooks’ rise is due to the shortchanged economy and consumers’ need to save money, this analysis ignores several factors. Netbooks have been gaining luxurious new features to please those with some money to burn – consider the touchscreen Raon netbook or Hello Kitty netbook, about which we recently wrote. The market has proven that netbooks are not just cheaper, crappier laptops, and Intel should take heed of this.

It would be short-sighted and senseless for Intel to stop the experimentation with the new netbook market, considering the recent explosion of new netbook releases. In my opinion, the rise of netbooks is more than a trendy bump in the timeline of technology – it is indicative of a change in the market itself.

The fact of the matter is that shoppers are showing that they want a cheap, slim laptop-like device, no matter how knockoffy netbooks seem. They are buying netbooks, and skepticism can’t make much of an argument against that – at least for now.

Intel has the potential for far more profit in its hands, given the netbook community’s clear preference of the Atom, and would do well to let the market prove its sustainability.

Nov 28 2008

Netbook Update: Another New ASUS Eee PC

Asustek Computer is busting out new models. The 1002HA, which we covered in our November 24th article, is not the only new netbook release to grace the shelves of stores in the new future: ASUS has announced another frighteningly cheap netbook, sure to take a massive slice of the consumer pie in the near future.

The new Eee PC, which has been available in Taipei under the name ‘Surf’, should cost a slim $200. It will be available in the US in the first quarter of next year.

This low-cost version of the immensely popular Eee PC that started the netbook craze shows ASUS is going back to roots – not a bad idea, considering the buzz they got going early in the history of netbooks.

The ‘Surf’ netbook has a small 7-inch LCD screen, an Intel Celeron M processor, and ran an operating system from Linux. Other more expensive Eee PCs have perhaps overshadowed this little guy, but analysts expect US consumers to devour it with fervor.

Other Eee PCs with 9 or 10 inch screens running the Intel Atom are the norm these days, but cost far more – perhaps even doubling the cost of this cheap new netbook. While 7-inch netbooks are is a swiftly decreasing section of the market, hopes are high for the new Eee PC.

It is doubtful whether the International Consumer Electronics Show in LA will even feature the Eee PC, so for now all we’ve got is speculation. Come first quarter next year, however, all our questions will be answered.

Happy Black Friday and tune in here soon for daily netbook news.

Nov 27 2008

Netbook Deals For Black Friday: Get Pumped

Thanksgiving is here, though given the amount of crazy deals to be offered tomorrow, it might more properly be named ‘Black Friday’s Eve.’

Netbooks are going to be flying off the shelves this year, with some amazingly cheap offers on classic netbooks, as well as some new ones. With the slew of recent new netbook releases on everyone’s mind, tonight and tomorrow will be big for the industry. With no further ado, check out these amazing Black Friday netbook deals, coming to a retailer near you.

The Asus Eee PC 900a will be offered at Best Buy for $299, the cheapest it’s been since its original release. In case you’ve forgotten, the 8.9″ XP-running netbook hit stores at $550 back in the day. Though unconfirmed, some analysts (such as one on ComputerWorld Blogs) suspect the Asus Eee PC 1000 may also be going for about $399.

Eee PC 900

The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 will also be offered for a fantastically cheap $299, to feature 512 MB of RAM, an Ubuntu 8.04 memory card, and 4 GB SSD.
Dell Mini 9
The classic Acer Aspire One will also be offered for dirt cheap, with the XP Home version going as low as $349 and the Linpus Linux one for $300. It has an 8.9″ display and is known for its excellent keyboard. Expect a comparable 512 MB RAM but a massive 8 GB SSD.
Acer Aspire One
Finally, the MSI Wind 100 – with 10″, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD – will be measuring in at an easy $299. This netbook runs a SLED, or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.
MSI Wind U100
These deals are so good that we can definitely expect netbooks to be, as of tomorrow, creeping into the homes of consumers. We’ll be all over those developments as they come. For now, happy Thanksgiving and get up early because tomorrow is a big day. If there is a better day to get yourself a new netbook, we don’t know of it. Good luck!

Nov 27 2008

Indamixx Netbook Takes Industry In A New Direction

In a recent announcement of new netbook releases, Trinity Audio Group based Indamixx is delivering a device for the modern music lover.

Indamixx Laptop

The Indamixx ‘Laptop’ – though we know better, it’s a netbook – will run its own Linux-based OS named ‘Transmission’. It will ship with a bunch of new music software, useful for editing, producing, remixing, and listening to music.

This new step is yet again representative of the changes netbooks are making, as they are starting to be aimed at consumers other than the tech fanatics and industry analysts they were originally slated for.

Indamixx Laptop

While definitely not meant for the mainstream market, the new netbook is an interesting interpretation of the existing netbook movement. If we keep seeing new netbook releases as unique as this one, the industry should change quite a bit as time passes.The Indamixx Laptop seems likely to be used by DJs and others closely involved in the music world, entering the market at a palatable $500. The netbook will run the 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor.

They are now available for pre-order with a $99 down payment, and all orders placed by December 15th will arrive in time for Christmas.

Nov 25 2008

Two New Netbook Announcements To Get Excited About

As part of a new recent trend towards accessibility and efficiency, Dell has announced that its Inspiron Mini-9 will be available with 3G broadband.

Dell Mini 9

CEO Michael Dell confirmed the company’s intentions to sign up more wireless providers for its new netbooks, though he did not specify when.

For a mere $125, Mini-9 netbooks in the United States will be set up to feature WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network). However, that’s not the best part: AT&T is offering a $120 rebate on it if you sign a two-year contract!

While exciting, the new offer is only going to be available on the newer, XP-running versions of the Mini-9.

______________________________________

The new announcements aren’t only coming from Dell; Taiwanese computer company Acer has some things to say as well. Acer, producer of the well known Acer Aspire One A110, had a big role in getting the netbook ball rolling in the tech industry.

Acer Aspire One

Acer’s Scott Lin announced that the netbooks of the company are expected to get bigger and cheaper in 2009. The new Aspire One will take on a 10″ form around February or March of the coming year, a departure from the earlier Aspire One which only measured in at 8.9 inches. Analysts have suggested this is a move to try to take up more space in the market which, though in a sense started by Acer, is now owned by the Dell Mini netbooks, the Eee PC, and MSI’s Wind.

As Black Friday draws closer, new netbook announcements seem to be coming out at light speed. We’re definitely pumped to see what else is coming soon.

Nov 24 2008

Coming This January: New Packard Bell Dot Netbook

Packard Bell is joining the frenzy of new netbooks this season, coming to the fore with its new Dot to be released this January.

As in the case of the Epson Endeavor, which we covered in our November 19th article, the new Packard Bell netbook seems aimed at competing in terms of cost and nothing else.

Packard Bell Dot Netbook

The Dot netbook will feature – as if we need to tell you – the 1.6GHz Intel Atom chip, 160 GB of storage, 1 GB RAM, Windows XP, and Wi-Fi. Mildly notable is its five-in-one card reader, and the fact that a 3G version should be forthcoming in the near future.

Packard Bell is not particularly well-known for avant-garde ideas but is certainly a competitor in nearly every market it joins. However, that hasn’t stopped netbook review sites from criticizing the Dot’s almost completely standard hardware and capabilities. Gizmodo, mocking the trend that netbooks have taken towards the mainstream, joked that in the future we should “look for netbooks to be fashioned from straw, beads, puff paints and other craft materials as they are hand-manufactured to raise money for local soccer teams.”

We can’t really say they’re wrong – at one point, netbooks only ran Linux, which is notoriously unfriendly to the consumer of average technological competence. Now XP is standard, with toys such as webcams and touchscreens becoming the norm. When the ASUS netbook, Wind netbook, and Mini-9 came to the market with similar statistics as the new Dot they were carving out a new market – however, by technological standards, Packard Bell is late in the game. We should be expecting better things at this point.

Regardless, there remains the possibility that the Dot will be very cheap, a factor that may be its only boon when it hits the market. We’ve got no complaints about that!

Check out Gizmodo’s review here.

Nov 24 2008

A Glimpse Of The New ASUS Eee PC 1002HA

ASUS is back at it with a brand new netbook release on the way: the aesthetically pleasing ASUS Eee 1002HA.

ASUS Eee PC 1002HA

Remember when, in our November 22nd article, we wondered if ASUS would be releasing anything to compete with MSI’s new Wind U120? The answer has been delivered in full force, the way ASUS likes to do it.

Don’t freak out yet  – this is just a pre-production model. However, ASUS has recently been giving tech blogs and magazines a taste of the new machine, just to whet our appetites. The 1002HA is a solid 10-inches, featuring what looks like the trackpad of the Eee PC S101 as well as the keyboard of the 100H.

Seen by many as a kind of hybrid of the two laptops, it looks to put the best of both worlds onto one new machine sure to please consumers once it’s released.

ASUS Eee PC 1002HA

It should run the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom with 1GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. Interestingly, however, the battery is a mere two cell – though ASUS assures skeptics that it should offer a full five hours of life. This claim sounds a little suspicious, but we’ll believe it for now; ASUS has impressed the tech world before when it, along with rival MSI, started the netbook boom earlier this year with the original Eee PC.

Unfortunately, the ASUS 1002HA won’t be out in time for Black Friday, but it will hit stores on December 1st for $499. Get pumped – we sure are.

Nov 23 2008

Check Out The New… Hello Kitty Netbook?

In an unexpected turn of events, Onkyo from Japan has released what we here at Netbook Boards think is surely the cutest netbook to date.

Hello Kitty Netbook

All humor aside, the Sotec Hello Kitty C1 has basic features and, aside from its appearance, does not vary much from the standard netbook on the market. It has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, a 120GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and a 10.1-inch display. It also features two USB ports, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam, and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. It runs XP as as well.

The most important feature, however, has not gone unnoticed – its laughably high price tag. At a pocket-emptying $890, you can expect to spend 3-500 dollars more for this thing than you would for a Dell Inspiron minus the decal.

Unfortunately for Sotec, only the most die-hard Hello Kitty fans or those uneducated about the market will waste money on this netbook.

______________________________________________________

In other news, check out ZDNet’s commentary on Apple’s refusal to enter the netbook market here.

Nov 22 2008

Netbook Giant MSI Releases Improved Wind U120

Yes, you heard right – the tremendously successful MSI Wind has gotten a facelift and some new features to boot.

With a new, snazzy black-and-white exterior and some improvements to its hardware, the new Wind should boost sales for the company and netbooks in general.

Once again turning to the the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom, MSI has made some welcome improvements to its netbook. The new display is a brilliant 10-inch 1024×600 LCD. It’s gotten a bit heavier, weighing in at 3 pounds, but the upside – a new 6-cell battery – is well worth the minor increase.

MSI Wind U120

Another addition is the new Intel WiMAX Technology or 3.5G Solution, which while uncommon is proving to be easily connectable and wide-ranging. The hard drive is a 160GB SATA. Using devices will be easier this time around, with three USB ports and a 4-in-1 card reader.

This is an exciting move from MSI, showing how far major companies are going with the netbook market. The Wind U120 is one of the only sequels we’ve seen so far but should be a big competitor in the weeks to come. We’ll have to see if ASUS has anything upcoming to match this progress. Check out the full specs:

  • Intel® Atom™ Processor 1.6GHZ
  • 945GSE + ICH7-M Chipset
  • Intel GMA950 Graphics
  • DDR2 6673 MHz 1G On Board Memory
  • 10” (1024 x 600) LCD Display, LED Back-lit saving
  • 160 GB (2.5” SATA) HDD
  • 4 in 1 Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/XD)
  • I/O: D-Sub x1, USB 2.0 x 3, Mic In, Headphone, RJ45
  • Battery: 6-Cell
  • 8.02.11 b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth V2.0EDR Intel® WiMAX Technology / 3.5G (HSDPA) Solution
  • Webcam: 1.3 M
  • 10.23” x 7.08” x 0.38” ~ 1.29”
  • 3 lbs (w / 6-Cell Battery)

Nov 20 2008

Raon’s Everrun Note a Change of Pace

Korean manufacturer Raon Digital’s recently released Everrun Note is a bringer of new things indeed. The dual-core CPU of the new netbook will run AMD’s 1.2 GHz Turion X2 in favor of the all-too-common Atom, the Intel chip that has all but owned the market thus far.

Weighing in at 1.6 pounds with a 7-inch display, the new Raon computer is one of the tiniest on the market. The display, however, is an exceptional 1024 x 600, the same as by similar netbooks with even 10-inch screens. To compare, the 7-inch ASUS Eee PC displays a mere 800×480 pixels.

Raon Everrun Netbook

And the best part? The display is a touchscreen. This feature, until now unheard of on netbooks, is a fun addition to the miniscule device. An optical nub acts as a mouse with two buttons to the side for navigation.

The usefulness of the dual core in such a tiny machine is somewhat questionable, but by no means unwelcome. I imagine prospective users will want to plan exactly what they’ll use the added power for, that they not waste their money.

Raon Everrun Netbook

The only downside here (you knew it was coming) is of course the price. An Everrun Note configured with the Turion X2, a 60GB HD, and no OS costs a whopping $799. It’s another 50 bucks for Windows XP Home Edition. If you move up to the 24 GB SSD and XP Pro the price goes all the way up to $999, far beyond the range of most netbooks on the market.

Another option is the entry level model featuring a Sempron chip, 16 GB SSD, and Ubuntu Linux. This version is $659, closer to a standard price but still high-end.

Despite the exorbitance of the price, I’m still interested by the tiny machine. While sacrificing some of the affordability that has until now defined the netbook category, the Everrun pushes the boundaries of what is possible with a netbook by giving it some fancy features and excellent capacity.

Nov 19 2008

Epson of Japan Launches Endeavor Na01 Netbook

Described as “slightly frumpy” by Engadget and “not the sexiest looking mini-lappy” by UK tech blog Electricpig, the Endeavor has been turning heads – if not in the best way possible. Judge for yourself:

Epson Endeavor

The Japanese company has started its foray into netbooks in a very uncontroversial way. Largely known for its printers and projectors, Epson’s simple contribution will offer little in the way of novelty, but will take the role of being one more netbook up for purchase.

Running the common 1.6 GHz Intel Atom, the Endeavor is no record breaker. It has 1 GB of memory, a 160 GB hard drive, and Wi-Fi. It features USB 2.0 and a 10.2 inch 1024 x 600 LCD screen.

Epson Endeavor

To be fair, it should be a competent competitor for the ASUS Eee and MSI Wind, if an undistinguished one. The Na01 is somewhat compact at 1.5 inches thick and weighs 2.82 lbs. The price at the moment is a solid $484 (46,800 JP), a certainly comparable price.

The uninteresting but capable Endeavor will run XP, and seems a valid option for new buyers in the market. For now, it’s only available in Japan, so we’ll have to wait to see how it performs in the States. Stay tuned.

Nov 19 2008

Toshiba NB100 Netbook

The new Toshiba NB100 netbook has hit the market, boasting a few enticing features to differentiate it from the competition.

Toshiba NB100

The Toshiba features the same Atom processor used by the Eee PC, MSI Wind, and Mini-9. At a standard 1.6 GHz with Wi-Fi, bluetooth, Ethernet, USB ports and a memory card slot, the NB100 seems somewhat basic in most areas. There is one aspect to the netbook, however, that I think is something to be excited about.

The most fascinating thing is that the USB connectors on Toshiba’s first netbook are designated ‘sleep-and-charge’. What this means is your USB-connected devices (cell phones, MP3 players, etc.) can be charged through the netbook without you needing to even turn on the machine. This step seems to be part of a new wave of efforts (that we noted in yesterday’s article) towards improving the efficiency of these devices. With business travelers and college kids not needing to carry around as many power adapters, this feature will definitely make the NB100 all the more attractive to the netbook market.
Sleep and charge
The flip side here is that the keyboard of the Toshiba NB100 is sadly somewhat imperfect. While it may not be an issue for the more enduring among us, typing for long periods may become uncomfortable and difficult. Instead of being appropriate for the 8.9-inch size of the thing, the keyboard seems as though it were built for a 7-inch netbook. While netbooks like the Dell Mini-12 (which we covered a few days ago) have shown a trend towards improved keyboard usability on smaller devices, the Toshiba NB100 is somewhat substandard in this respect.

Personally, the sleep-and-charge feature sounds interesting and intelligent, but not worth the small keyboard. However, with its first netbook certainly up to par in other areas, Toshiba looks to be willing to experiment with the netbook market. We should expect some promising things in the future.

Nov 17 2008

ARM Netbooks To Feature Ubuntu Linux OS

The UK-based mobile phone chip designer ARM recently announced that it will feature Ubuntu, the open-source Linux operating system, on its upcoming netbooks.

Noting that ARM is known for the long battery life of its mobile phones, analysts believe the joined forces will produce something ideal – efficient, light-weight, cheap netbooks. Increased battery life is enticing for buyers, for whom netbooks’ compatiability with their busy schedules is a main concern.

ARM Logo

ARM’s Vice President of Marketing Ian Drew said the aspect of mobile devices that is most quickly growing is “the always-on experience.” Increased battery life will be a necessity in the coming months as the emphasis on this feature continues to grow.

“The release of a full Ubuntu desktop distribution supporting latest ARM technology will enable rapid growth, with internet everywhere, connected ultra portable devices,” Drew continued, emphasizing the positive prospects of the partnership.

The ARMv7 architecture, including ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processor-based systems, are expected to be the aspects utilized by the Ubuntu Desktop OS.

Ubuntu Logo

The COO of Canonical, Ubuntu’s commercial sponsor, focused on the varied choices this partnership will give consumers, stating that “[ensuring] that a fully-functional, optimised Ubuntu distribution is available to the ARM ecosystem” will offer “wider choice for consumers looking for the best operating system for their digital lifestyles.”

“This is a natural development for Ubuntu, driven by the demand from manufacturers for an ARM technology-based version.”

It is likely that this partnership will create even more competition with Intel’s Atom, especially given the recent announcement from AMD.

According to Rob Coombs, Director of Mobile Marketing at ARM, the first devices should be seen around the time of the June Computex show next year. We’ll keep an eye out.

Nov 16 2008

Dell Releases New Mini 12 Netbook In US

It’s turning out to be quite the week for new netbook releases! The Dell Inspiron Mini 12, which has been available in Japan for some time now, has become available in the USA.

The Mini 12 sports a massive 12 inch display, one of the largest screens seen in netbooks so far. It starts at a moderately pricey $549.

Dell Mini 12

This new release is yet another example of Dell’s willingness to gamble on the new netbook market and take hold early. This attitude is a stark contrast to those of companies such as Apple, whose conservatism may save them a lot of money or lose them just as much.

Dell had previously taken strides into the netbook market with its Mini 9 last September, which was a cheap $349 but had only  4 GB of disk storage and lacked bluetooth. The Mini 9 also only came with Linux’s Ubuntu, charging an extra $50 for XP. Its 9 inch screen was a more standard size for netbooks.

Inspiron Mini 12

The new Mini 12, to contrast, has bluetooth and will run Vista Home Edition. Its operating system has been criticized as a poor choice for netbooks, with detractors citing its resource demand and lack of features to compensate. There is unfortunately no option to get the Mini 12 loaded with XP, which puts the new netbook in some danger. Otherwise, it is exceptional for its laptop-like screen size and good looks and its netbook features.

It will come in both white and black.

Some specs:

  • Intel Atom 1.33 GHz, 533 MHz bus, 512k cache
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • 12.1 inch screen @ 1280×800
  • 1GB RAM @ 533MHz
  • 40GB hard drive @ 4200 RPM
  • No optical drive
  • Wireless 802.11g
  • Integrated webcam
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • VGA video connector
  • Audio in/out
  • 3-in-1 media card reader
  • Megabit Ethernet
  • 0.92″ thick
  • 2.72 lbs

Nov 16 2008

New Dual-Core Atom Only A Slight Improvement

PC Pro’s recent test of the new dual-core Intel Atom chip showed it to be only a marginal improvement over the previous single-core model. While it gained much hype at its announcement last August, the new test may temper much of the enthusiasm about it.

Called the Intel Atom 330, it has a 533MHz FSB but runs at the same 1.6 GHz as previous iterations of the chip. While clearly faster than the now-standard Atom N270, it has not met expectations completely.

The results of the test showed the chip to be a mere 16% faster than the previous one.

Intel Atom 330

It is important to note that the device tested was only a desktop version, not a netbook-ready version. As such it is as of yet impossible to determine how battery life wil be affected by the 330. Energy efficiency is obviously a crucial for netbooks, so if the 330 turns out to weigh down on the battery, manufacturers and consumers will be likely to pass it on.

Read more about the test here.

________________________________

In other news, check out Larry Digman of ZDNet’s article concerning recent confusion over AMD’s announcement about the netbook market (which we covered in our November 13 article):

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=10862

Nov 15 2008

ASUS N10 Hits Taiwan

Asustek’s new N10 hit stores in Taipei today.

ASUS N10

It’s pretty, that’s for sure. Its hefty $724.21 (NT $23,900) price tag may appear to be a turn-off for more cost-conscious consumers, but the new netbook offers a range of customizations (software, DRAM, storage, etc.) that could shift the price a few hundred dollars in either direction. 3, 6, and 9 cell batteries will be available as well as 160 GB, 250 GB, and 360 GB hard disk drives.

Other features include an embedded 1.3 megapixel camera, a GeForce 9300M Nvidia graphics card, and an external multi-optical drive for recording and playing DVDs and CDs. This is quite a step, for most netbooks lack the optical drive and have only standard graphics cards and cameras.

Another interesting new feature is the magnifying software installed on the device. You tap a button, and a window covering about one fourth of the screen magnifies any text you are looking. There are options for double, triple, or quadruple magnification, though the latter makes text somewhat large and blurry.

N10 Magnifyer

It seems likely to rival HP’s Mini-Note, with a similarly metallic case and placement on the price spectrum. The case is only “metal-like” according to Asustek, however, not true aluminum like the Mini-Note.

Many have enjoyed its bigger keyboard so far, and contended that the larger track pad (with left and right click buttons at the bottom, rather than the sides) made the netbook feel far less cramped, increasing its usability. Most netbooks’ track pads are half the size of the N10’s, and most feature smaller keyboards as well. The N10’s keyboard is closer to the size of a notebook than that of a standard netbook, which leaves it feeling far more easy to use.

N10 Tracking Pad

A standard N10 running Windows XP Home features a 3-cell battery, a 160 GB Harddrive, and 1 GB DRAM. It had built-in Bluetooth as well. For now it has an iffy 40-45 second load time running XP, but Asustek has assured it will also be adding Express Gate, a Linux-embedded OS, that should reduce the load time to around 8 seconds. Vista is also offered for the netbook, though this makes me a bit uneasy; Vista raised the startup time on Mini-Notes to a sluggish 60 seconds. It has yet to be seen how smoothly 2 GB of DRAM will run the operating system.

There are cheaper netbooks with similar screen sizes and capabilities, but for those willing to shell out an extra few hundred for the customizations, keyboard, and tracking pad the N10 is an excellent choice.

Nov 13 2008

AMD to Enter Netbook Market by 2009

It was Financial Analyst Day at AMD. The rustling rumors had abounded for quite some time, with nothing to show to confirm or repudiate them. Speculation reigned where information was scant, but now the announcement has been made. Via webcast in Sunnyvale, California:

By 2009 Advanced Micro Devices will have entered the realm of netbook processors.

AMD

The processors introduced over the next few years will support DDR3 memory have two cores. The first to be released in 2009, a slim 45 nm chip which should support a cache of 1 MB, has been codenamed Conesus. A 2 MB chip, Geneva, is due to be released in 2010.

For those with a less technological bent, this means the new processors will be able power more than a basic “Web experience,” according to the senior VP of AMD’s Computing Solutions group Randy Allen. This is a bit vague for my tastes but we’ll see what comes up in the near future.

AMD client roadmap

The announcement has brushed aside rumors that AMD’s efforts at a low-power processor had been abandoned. Last year AMD had announced a chip called the Bobcat, “designed for maximum energy efficiency and performance-per-watt for next-generation mobile devices, scaling as low as 1 watt.” The Bobcat’s development had been alternatively confirmed and denied by officials at different stages, leading many observers to attempt a connecting of the dots between AMD’s consecutive quarterly losses and the Bobcat’s possible abandonment.

Though AMD calls it the “mini-notebook” market (as seen in the top picture), there is no doubt about whom it wishes to compete with. The netbook market is for the moment dominated by Intel’s versatile Atom processor, and AMD hopes its entrance into the market will provide some stiff competition. The Atom is currently available in the Asus Eee PC, among others, so it will certainly be a tight game from here on out.

We’ll keep you updated.


Nov 12 2008

Finally, an Apple Netbook? Not Quite

Take a look at this…

Had me convinced...

… But don’t let your eyes deceive you! Whether you see it as an ode of enthusiasm or an infringement on intellectual property, there’s no doubt it looks like the real thing. Christened a ‘Macbook Nano’ by its tinkering inventors (and a ‘Hackentosh’ by others!), beneath the familiar exterior is not Apple technology but the MSI Wind of earlier this year.

While the craftsmanship of the imitation is interesting enough in itself, more intriguing is what it has to say about the market for netbook users. If this isn’t an indication of a thirsty population of Apple users, I don’t know what is!

However, Apple execs seem unexcited at those prospects. According to Stephen Baker of NPD, the weak reception of the 2005 Mac Mini is dimming the enthusiasm of the company towards making small, cheap alternatives to current models. The novelty of the netbook market is also a factor: during a keynote at an October conference Steve Jobs offered only a lukewarm “we’ll see how it goes” to the netbook question.

One can’t help but imagine that with HP and Dell still outperforming Apple in total units shipped, a new netbook might offer Apple an entrance to that market. Jobs still has time to reverse his decision, but it seems Apple-users will have to wait for now… unless they’ve got the skills to make their own!

You can see the astounding transformation on Flickr here and here.

Nov 6 2008

Best Buy drops price of MSI’s 10-inch Wind U100 to $349

In what appears to be an effort to clear shelf space for the up and coming $200 Eee PC, local retailers such as Best Buy as chopped $50 off of MSI’s 10-inch Wind U100,  which clocks in as a Q2 MSI Wind Netbook with Intel® Atom™ Processor N270. Let the phase out begin!

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