Jan 31 2009

MSI Wind U120H Netbook Gets Some Press

Since its release at the beginning of January, the new MSI Wind U120H netbook has been getting a lot of attention. It’s a nice machine, that’s for sure, but it has some flaws to take note of.

MSI Wind U120

When we reviewed it a while back, we decided the netbook had some solid specs but was a little too expensive for its own good:

The real problem here is money. Sure, they added 3.5G, but they also added to the price tag. The netbook will stay alive for a good 3 hours, which is decent for standard use, but you end up paying for a 6-cell battery that should really be giving you two or three more hours of work time. Considering that the Wind U100 only costs $350 at Best Buy right now, I doubt it will be worth it to consumers to spend $250 more just for mobile connectivity.

Engadget seems to agree, noting that “the wide availability of similarly specced, strongly designed netbooks throws the Wind’s flaws into sharper relief.”

Regardless, the netbook does its job well and will be sure to please many-a-consumer whose tastes aren’t so viciously oriented as critics’.

Via Engadget.

Jan 31 2009

Amazon Opens Netbook Mini-Site

Anyone who says netbooks aren’t getting into the mainstream has lost all possible justification. Amazon, for whom the Acer Aspire One netbook made some serious cash this holiday season, has opened a new netbook section on their site. If that’s not proof of growing netbook popularity, what is?

The site has sub-sections for more info on Most Wanted, Bestselling, New Arrivals, Top Brands, and a few other relevant netbook-related categories. Their are also forumlike discussion sections around, so if you’re in the market for a netbook you’d best be checking those out.

Not eveything’s completed at the site. As Geek.com noted, a few of the netbook pages were non-functioning, so it looks like things are still being straightened out over there. Be sure to take a look!

Jan 31 2009

LB-F1500W Netbook Found in Osaka

The Mouse Computer LB-F1500W has been spotted in the real world.

Luv Book netbook

In case you haven’t heard about the new netbook, it has a 10.2-inch screen and an optical drive, a feature curiously absent from any other netbook models. It runs the Atom N270 processor, has 1 GB of RAM, and has 160 GB of storage. It also has a painfully high price tag at $729.

It is reported to manage a massive 5.2 hours of juice and has two USB ports, an unfortunate but standard quality.

In other news, apparently the LB in LB-F1500W stands for ‘Luv Book’. The name isn’t terribly classy, but if it’s delivering on the optical drive we’ve thirsted for, it may just get some love from consumers.

Be sure to check out the rest of the gallery at Slashgear.

Jan 31 2009

Dell Offers Mini-9 Netbook For $178

Time is short, so move quickly if you want in – an article by CNet found that Dell’s outlet store is hawking the Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook for an extremely cheap $178.

This isn’t the first time Dell has involved the Mini 9 netbook in some interesting deals, including the $99 AT&T netbook deal we covered on January 12th.

The model comes in Alpine White or Obsidian black. The machine runs a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, has 512 MB Ram, and comes with a 4 GB SSD drive. That isn’t huge, but at $178 you’re necessarily going to hit the low end. It runs Ubuntu Linux.

CNet’s instructions are concise and useful:

Once you land at the outlet store page, click Outlet Laptops, then Inspiron & Mini Laptops, and then Inspiron Mini. Under Inspiron Mini 9, click Continue, then Check Availability and Prices. In the ginormous list of recertified models that appears, click the Price column to sort low-to-high. You should see the aforementioned Mini 9 models for $209. Add the one you want to your cart, then apply coupon code $C$TXXP1CT3BLC to bring the price down to $177.65.

Amazingly, the refurbished netbook will get the year warranty that new models have.

There have already been reports of the coupon losing and regaining functionality, so get there fast and see what you can do. You may just end up with a super-cheap netbook!

Via CNet.

Jan 29 2009

Battery Makers To Ride Out Recession On Netbook Success

The economy is hurting just about everyone lately, unless they sell netbooks. Battery makers, interestingly enough, are intending to ride out the year on the massive sales on the successes of the netbook sector.

The Topology Research Institute and Consumer Electronics Association both announced similar numbers, saying notebooks – a category that includes netbooks – would see massive growth this year – 17.9% up to 32.6%,. The researchers think worldwide shipments of 1.5 billion and 1.28 billion units respectively, with netbooks ranking in 32 million.

Netbook Battery

These recent announcements are similar to recent projections by ABI and the IDC, both of which expect massive netbook sales in the near future.

However, according to battery makers, “first-quarter notebook shipments could drop by between 10 percent and 20 percent as vendors clear out inventory”.

Raymond Sung of Simplo thinks February until the middle of March are a crucial period, one in which manufacturers will be able to tell what buyers’ reactions to netbook new netbook launches will be. If things are good, the 5-10% increase in notebook and netbook growth would be a huge help to battery makers like Simplo.

Other companies intending to ride the wave are DynaPack and Celxpert, who intend to “focus on supplying to netbook vendors to boost sales this year.”

Steadily growing orders from HP and ASUStek, both of whom are leaders in the netbook world, will bring up Celxpert’s sales by a massive 20-30% this year.

MSI, the creator of the massively successful Wind netbooks, has recently rolled in big revenues from its netbook battery business.

Via the Taipei Times.

Jan 29 2009

1.86GHz Vaio P Netbook In America? You Wish

As it seems is always the case with technology, Japan’s got it better than we do over here at the moment. This tendency exists in the netbook world too, as we’ve found out in the recent case of the Sony Vaio P.

Sony Vaio P netbook

At CES 2009, Sony said it would shift the Lifestyle PC with an 1.33 GHz Atom processor. Apparently this isn’t the complete story, as Engadget saw something shocking on Sony’s Japanese site: Japan’s getting 1.6 GHz and 1.83 GHz chip options as well!

What!? Sony followed up with this e-mailed statement:

“We do not comment on future product roadmaps…. The P Series is the ideal companion PC, allowing users to take it with them anywhere and everywhere for the ultimate computing on-the-go experience. We wanted to make sure the balance between price and performance was fair and after rigorous testing the Intel 1.33Ghz processor seemed to be the ideal candidate.”

However, one spokesman at CES said the Lifestyle had a smaller CPU to address heating issues. Either he was mistaken, or something isn’t as it seems. For now, Sony doesn’t seem to keen to explain, so we can only hope that we don’t have to wait too long for the Vaio P netbook to get some more options for us netbookers over in the States.

Via Engadget.

Jan 29 2009

NVIDIA Talks Smack About Intel Netbook Chip

The competition in the netbook chipset world is heating up, as more and more manufacturers are taking shots at their competitors’ products. The latest in the line of companies waiting to rip on others is NVIDIA, which claims its Ion platform – when combined with AMD’s Neo CPU – will “crush” the Intel Atom.

If you put the NVIDIA Ion platform in a netbook combined with an Intel Atom CPU and NVIDIA GPU, the device comes in at about $399. Jen-Hsung Huang says this will give consumers not the “inferior” performance of current devices, but rather the “full PC experience” they crave. Huang says the netbook standard nowadays is “a low-cost PC that doesn’t work that well.” Ouch!

Huang doesn’t say when his Ion netbook combo will come out, but “almost every single OEM in the world is exploring” the possibility. He thinks that any netbook with the NVIDIA Ion in the hatch will beat out any netbook running just the Atom. He went so far as to say that “Atom by itself with Intel integrated graphics would get crushed.” Why? Apparently, Huang thinks the Atom just sucks. He even puts the Athlon Neo and VIA Nano “architecturally one generation beyond Atom,” rationalizing VIA’s current lack of sales by saying it hasn’t software resources to complement its chips.

He also made some comments about the Tegra pletform, an HD-capable mobile chipset by NVIDIA. He expects that, with the Tegra in place, netbooks could bust out an unheard of 2-3 days runtime on a single charge. $199 MIDs with full keyboards are on the way as well.

His words are powerful, but there’s only so long that Jen-Hsung Huang can talk smack until NVIDIA’s products hit netbooks and do the talking for him. Will AMD’s tentativeness about netbook technology temper the ability of the Ion to take control of the market? Hopefully, the new NVIDIA chipset will back Huang as strongly as he’s backed it.

Via SlashGear.

Jan 29 2009

Netbook Sales To Conquer Ultraportables

Not only are netbook sales set to explode in 2009 and beyond – they’re also supposed to brush aside ultraportable laptops in the eyes of consumers.

According to the International Data Corp, 20.6 million netbooks will be shipped this year – twice as many as ultraportables. Ultraportables are a size up from netbooks, coming in at about 11-13.3 inch display sizes and 2-4 founds. They have made up about 8-10% of the notebook market, said one IDC analyst.

As of 2009, however, their piece of the consumer pie will drop to a mere 5.7%. To contrast, netbooks will crank it up all the way to 12.3%. O’Donnel of the IDC summarized it succinctly: “Mininotebooks — which is what we prefer to call them because ‘netbook’ is an Intel marketing term — are having a big impact on ultraportables.”

UMPCs were factored in as well, and are expected to sell barely a million devices this year. This is three times the number in 2008, but little compared to netbook sales. Their sales may grow in 2010 as well – “They’re enjoying a very slow climb, but they’re too small and too underpowered,” said Kevin Burden of ABI.

The only portable sector not yet outsold by the netbook category are, of course, laptops. IDC puts their sales at a 15% increase over 2008, raising them to a solid 137 million.

Via PCWorld.

Jan 28 2009

$169 SuperTalent SSDs Offer 64 GB Netbook Flash Storage

Super

For that big of a netbook upgrade, the cost isn’t horrible. It’s intended for use with the ASUS Eee PC S101 but any machine with mini-PCle add-ons can handle it.

They aren’t the fastest out there, managing about 90 MB/s read and 55 MB/s write. The S101 netbook only has a 16 GB drive to start with, so make the new SuperTalent netbook SSD a serious consideration.

The netbook SSD will come in your choice of MLC or SLC.

Via JKOnTheRun.

Jan 28 2009

139 Million Netbook Sales By 2013? Holy Crap

Netbooks have been riding high despite the rough economy, and for now, they aren’t set to stop. In fact, netbook sales are flying upwards, according to a report by ABI Research.

Their report on netbooks forecasted that their sales would ramp up to 35 million this year. Not only will netbook sales boom,  however – they’ll also stay up there and ride all the way to 139 million by 2013 – a tripling of sales within four years.

ABI says the connection is due to a “confluence of social and technological factors” creating a “perfect storm” for the netbook world. The estimate of the boom is also related to some similarities between netbooks and PDA’s. Kevin Burden of ABI elaborated on this connection:

“PDA’s began our reliance on instant accessible data while traveling. When PDA functionality converged with cellular voice, smartphones became the new darling of mobile professional technology that many expected to evolve into the hub for all data and communication needs for traveling professionals… Today, with a better understanding for what a smartphone is, is not, and may never be, along with a reality check on the usefulness of UMPCs, the market remains open for new device types.”

UMPCs are Ultra Mobile PCs, a smaller and newer segment of computers whose prices are cranked higher than notebooks – kind of the opposite of the netbook category, which lies below.

Of course, not everyone’s as positive as ABI. Endpoint Technologies Associates’ Roger Kay said he’d “seen some forecasts of 40 million netbook sales in 2012,” far below the ABI netbook estimate.

The question on everyone’s mind is – why?

The netbook category is often ill-defined, but their sales growth can’t be doubted. This ambiguity may be a clue to their success, as the mainstreaming of netbooks has led to more and more consumers buying them as either a main computer or sidekick to their desktop. Unlike smartphones, which are dedicated to one role, a netbook can be just about anything depending on who’s using it.

While sales are definitely going up, netbook prices could be changing in the near future – and nobody knows quite how this will affect the sector. When Microsoft releases Windows 7 in the near future, the netbook version will definitely cost more than XP or Linux.

Kay, remained hopeful. “My suspicion is Microsoft will charge a bit more, maybe $10 to $20 more, but not too much… They don’t want to lose that market.”

He’s right that keeping the price of netbooks low is the smart thing to do, but manufacturers have been fools before. For now, however, the bullish future of the netbook industry will be putting some smiles on manufacturers’ faces. Let’s see how that translates for consumers.

Jan 28 2009

New Photos of Dual-Touchpad OLPC Netbook Released

We’ve got your first glance of the latest netbook on the market – the OLPC netbook, which may or may not ever come to market.

Dual-touchpad OLPC netbook

Tariq Krim, the man behind Jolicloud, saw the new netbook at Davos today.

The OLPC netbook has dual touchscreens, an awesome concept, and will replace an older model.

Thus far, of course, we still don’t know if anyone’s making it. We can hope though.

Jan 27 2009

HP Mini 1000 6-Cell Netbook Battery

A new product recently appeared in the annals of the HP Parts Store, and the quick eyes of PortableMonkey caught it for what it was: a new 6-cell netbook battery for the HP Mini 1000.

The battery hasn’t been officially announced yet, but it turns out its specs are 2.4Ah and 53 Wh. It’s in stock and available for order at an immense $153.90, plus shipping and handling. Yikes.

hp_mini_1000_6-cell_battery-480x220

It may not be cheap, considering that the HP Mini 1000 netbook group starts at just over $300. Of course, double the battery life is an enticing prospect. If you’ve got the cash, it’s worth it.

Of course we also aren’t figuring in the bulk the battery might add – consider the hilariously massive 10-cell battery for the ASUS Eee PC.

You can’t get the product directly from the products page, however. If you seriously want this for your netbook, go here, choose where you’re from, and search for product code 517581-001.

Also, if you really like the HP Mini-1000 netbook, be sure to check out the mobile broadband netbook deal we covered a while back.

Nice find!

Via PortableMonkey.

Jan 27 2009

Linux-Based Moblin 2.0 Alpha Geared Towards Netbooks

The Moblin Project is a project by Intel, designed to produce a Linux-based toolkit for mobile devices. The projuct recently released an alpha version of its second-generation “Moblin V2”, and it’s targetting not MIDs but – you guessed it – netbooks.

Moblin.org says the Moblin V2 Core Alpha for Netbooks is available for testing now, and we’re as excited as ever. While the MID version of the Moblin toolkit will take until 2010 for release, the netbook plan will move into beta in April.

Moblin 2.0 netbook tool

The focus of the Linux-based mobile stack isn’t MIDs, as before. Intel wants to put Moblin in a netbook, demonstrating the growing role of the mobile devices.

LinuxDevices.com mentioned multiple-level testing of several new and awesome features in the alpha version of Moblin 2.0, which we lifted right from their page:

  • Core Linux OS, boot process, inter-process, and package interactions
  • New “Fastboot” feature of Moblin, which fundamentally improves boot time
  • Connectivity and networking, using the new ConnMan connectivity manager.
  • Kernel 2.6.29-rc2.
  • Moblin Core Components (first look), including Clutter and all other UI development tools (see video below)
  • Xserver 1.6 (with DRI2)
  • New Moblin Image Creator (MIC2) and installation tool

Netbook fastboot/quick-boot sounds awesome, and it’s something we’ve heard will be featured in the up-and-coming Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset.

Linux has had a huge role in netbook technology since the beginning, being the first OS to be featured on netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind. Moblin should augment netbooks in the future, and be an excellent tool for netbook users everywhere.

Be sure to check out this video we found ot Moblin’s ‘Clutter’ UI, a touch-capable feature that could mean big things for netbooks:

Via LinuxDevices.

Jan 27 2009

Dell Mini 9 Netbook Display Beats MacBook’s

Rob Galbraith is a photographer and camera reviewer, and according to Wired, he recently compared the Dell Mini 9 netbook to the 15″ MacBook Pro.

The big news? The Mini 9 beat the MacBook for color accuracy!

It wasn’t an all-out win, however. The Dell Mini 9 netbook had poorer viewing angles than the MacBook.

Dell netbook, Lenovo Thinkpad

Galbraith’s problem was with the glossy glass screens Apple puts on its notebooks.

“For the longest time, Apple laptop displays ruled the roost around here. With very few exceptions, going back to the days of the PowerBook G4, portable Macs were considerably more colour accurate than any of the dozens and dozens of PC laptops we’d profiled […] Macs are no longer at the top of the laptop display heap in our minds.”

This is truly a victory for netbooks everywhere, or rather, a loss for Apple. The test also compared the ThinkPad T60 and ThinkPad W700, both notebooks by Lenovo. The ThinkPads alternated between first and second when compared for color accuracy and angle of view.

Apple machines are popular among photographers for image manipulation and other tasks, so a netbook beating it out is a humiliating loss.

Via Wired.

Jan 26 2009

Tri-Fold Apple Concept Netbook Released

In case you think the Apple netbook rumors have all burned out, you have another thing coming. Apple hasn’t said ‘never’ but rather ‘not soon’ to a netbook. We’ve seen netbook rumors of all sorts, but nothing close to a real prototype or announcement. Regardless, we stumbled upon some intriguing ideas through MobileMag.com, labeled merely “Isamu Sanada” in the corner. These leaked images are not even close to official, but they’re seriously cool anyway.

Apple Netbook

We can see in the concept device a unique tri-fold design, most likely optimized for portability and thinness. The thing looks fragile and perhaps a bit too thin for reality, but who knows – in the near future, anything could be possible for netbooks.

The tri-sections of the netbook include a 10-inch display, a keyboard in the middle, and a multi-touch trackpad on the third.

Apparently you can rely on just the trackpad if you don’t need the keyboard for your surfing. This makes almost no sense at all – who types nothing at all when on the internet? Or could this mean stylus writing on the third section?  Regardless, it seems like the trackpad-only style for this netbook could work using Jolicloud, whose large icons optimized to your favorite websites might decrease the need for the keyboard for quick excursions on the web.

We could rant all day about why Apple needs a netbook, but so far we’ve got nothing. If an Apple netbook ever does come out, you can expect netbookers to see it as the dawning of a new era. This Holy Grail of gadgetry may not be on the way anytime soon, but hey – we can dream!

Via MobileMag.

Jan 26 2009

Optical Drive On A Netbook? We Aren’t Kidding

Mouse Computer is a Japanese PC firm with a new product in its sights. You guessed it – it’s a netbook.

This new netbook will be the first ever featuring a built-in optical drive. It’s called the LB-F1500W netbook, but aside from the optical drive you don’t need to stress about the specs – it uses the formula we’ve gotten to know quite well. The LB-F1500W will use a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, have a 160 GB HDD, 1 GB of RAM, and have a pretty standard 10.2-inch 1024×600 pixel display. The OS is Windows XP, so this is pretty much your run-of-the-mill netbook… except for the optical drive.

Mous LB-F1500W

Finding a netbook with an optical drive is an especially big deal considering the number of netbook returns made due to consumers mistaking it for a miniature DVD player. I guess when they pick up the LB-F1500W, they’ll be pleased to find a computer in their device!

The new netbook will be out at the end of this month. The unfortunate news is that the optical drive has bumped up the price of the netbook. That along with a high exchange rate for the yen puts this netbook at about $729 USD.

Via CNet.

Jan 26 2009

10″ Aspire One Netbook Looks… Red?

New pics are out of the latest Acer netbook: the 10″ Acer Aspire One, and it looks as hot as everyone’s been mentioning. Check it out:

Acer Aspire One netbook

Most notable is the red version of the netbook. Acer has had some cool-looking netbooks before, including the 8.9″ Sapphire Blue Aspire One netbook. Here’s a closer look:

Red Acer Aspire One netbook

Red is a new bold look for the netbook. While older netbooks were often bland looking, like the older MSI Wind U100, it seems newer machines are getting snazzier. Note the ASUS Eee PC 1002HA netbook or HP Mini 2140 netbook, for example.

If you’re in the market, be sure to check out our review of the Acer Aspire One before you buy one.

Via Arstechnica and OSNews.

Jan 25 2009

New Acer Ultraportable Won’t Be A Netbook

Despite its successes, Acer – whose name everyone knows and whose exploits we have chronicled well – is interested in changing the way it does business in the near future. The clues to this pronouncement? The US Patent Office.

Acer MID? Not a netbook

Tech companies aren’t exactly conservative when it comes to filing patents, but Gizmodo found one that could mean some interesting things for the netbook maker.

Apparently Electronic Pulp knows more than we do:

“Arif Maskatia is the person listed as its inventor, which I take as to mean that he was the one who designed this MID. I can’t tell you what features this Acer MID will have exactly, but from what has been revealed in the design, it has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a pretty sizable screen (that I think supports touch), and a dock connector.”

So, where could this be going? A large smartphone? A new kind of mobile internet device (MID)? This patent is a vague hint, but we should definitely keep our eyes out for a new device from Acer.

Via Gizmodo.

Jan 25 2009

Why Netbooks Are Changing The World Of PCs

The poor performance of the PC industry is old news by now. Everyone’s bemoaning the losses in major sectors due to the economic slowdown, but one thing is starting to become clear – netbooks are still a shining spot in the business.

According to analyists at the Gartner research company, netbook shipments rose to a massive 4.4 million in the third quarter of 2008 (compared to 500,000 netbook sales in the first quarter last year. Despite the recession, analysts say netbook sales could double this year.

Acer knew this before anyone. The Taiwanese company’s business rose 55%, obtaining the #3 spot previously owned by Apple. It is worth noting that Apple makes no netbook, while the top three – Dell, HP, and Acer – all do.

Apple’s sales dropped 31% from the same time a year ago. These numbers are all huge, confirming some massive changes to the industry as a whole. While this year was depressing for PC sales, it was contentious nonetheless.

According to Charles King, an analyst from Hayward CA, vocalized the situation quite well. “The day of the Rolls-Royce laptop and the high-end computer may not be totally over… But certainly the audience for that type of product is getting smaller and smaller.”

So, there you have it. The netbook is a strange device, whose success has primarily ridden on its ability to show consumers that they don’t really need what high-end PCs give them – tremendous power. They are the pre-humans of the tech world, whose ingenuity and deftness have allowed them to outsmart the powerful yet clumsy mammoths of their time – PCs. The new game is speed and portability, and netbooks have both.

How long will this trend last? 2009 is still beginning, so we’ll need to wait at least until the end of the quarter to find out. Check back soon for more on netbooks, netbook news, and the future of the industry.

The people are netbooks.

Via The New York Times.

Jan 24 2009

Indamixx Netbook: New Video Footage

The Indamixx netbook of last November has been featured in a video by SonicState. Ron Stewart of Indamixx was at the Gem Sound stand at WNAMM09, and was caught on tape featuring the new machine. The Indamixx netbook has already raked in the Remix Technology Most Innovative New Product award for 2009.

Indamixx Laptop

In case you’ve forgotten, the Indamixx netbook is a Linux-powered music machine that ships with all kinds of DJ-specific software. It has a VST host and multitrack DAW, among other neat features. Check out the video below, as well as our earlier article featuring the netbook.

You can find the Indamixx netbook on Amazon for $499.

Via SonicState.

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