Jun 6 2010

Inventec Releases Dr. Eye Mobile Internet Device

Essentially the combination of a smartphone and netbook, Inventec’s Dr. Eye mobile internet device (MID) is a great example of the next big thing in technology.

The Dr. Eye MID features a full QWERTY keyboard, as well as an 800×480 resistive touchscreen, which gives users the option of typing on the screen or on the keyboard.  The MID is powered by a 600MHz Marvell CPU and runs on the Android 2.1 operating system, and is equipped with a front-facing camera and a 3-hour battery.

Dr. Eye comes in three different models, which all have the same hardware but different connectivity options.  The N18 model has only Wi-Fi capabilities, while the N23 model has CPRS connectivity, and the N31 model has full 3G capabilities.  Pricing for the MIDs will range from around $350 for the N18 to just under $500 for the N31.

According to Inventec, they are not positioning Dr. Eye as an iPad competitor nor a consumer device necessarily.  Their main market, at least for now, is mainland China, where they are targeting the education market, selling the MIDs to Chinese students who want to do video calls with American teachers in the United States.  One of the company’s next steps might be to bring the device to the United States.  There are rumors that they’d be up for doing that, if they can find an appropriate distributor.

Via LaptopMag.

Mar 22 2010

Google.cn Is Officially Dead

Google, after months of rhetoric and final plans announced only a week ago, has officially stopped hosting a separate site for Google.cn.  All people going to the old domain name are being rerouted to the uncensored Hong Kong site.  This is the result of a long standing row between the world’s largest search engine and the world’s most populous country.  For those of you who forgot how it all started, in January Google complained of several Chinese hackers breaking into email accounts in what it called a “sophisticated cyber attack originating from China”.

Three months and several failed negotiations between the Chinese government and Google later, Google has refused to operate in China if it needs to conform with censorship laws.  The US government expressed disappointment that the issues could not have been worked out between the two superpowers.  Meanwhile, China chastised Google’s decision, saying Google had violated its written promise when coming to work in China, and that it was in league with the US government.

While many bystanders and bloggers have criticized the Google decision as rash and too idealistic, I believe this is a decision that was long overdue on the part of Google.  Google has today made a move that the most powerful democracies in the world have been too afraid to: snub China for its censorship and human rights record.  Google was simply being used as a puppet by the Chinese regime to deflect concerns of a non-open society.  Now the contradiction known as Google.cn is gone, and Google has a chance at re-attaining the “Do No Evil” motto they so dearly held to long ago.

Via BBC News

Mar 14 2010

Google Gets Ready to Say Goodbye to China

The announcement of Google’s ultimatum to China regarding Internet censorship generated much fanfare across the Web, about the purity of the values that Google fought for and represented.  Now it seems Google is backing its threat, and bidding a final farewell to the world’s most populated country.

The delay so far was due to negotiations between Google and China, to see if any sort of resolution could be developed to keep the controversial Google.cn up and running.  However, the Chinese government has publicly declared it would not revoke its current internet censorship policy simply for Google’s sake. This coupled with the apparent inability of talks to lead towards results has made Google adamant about leaving.

Google now says it is “99.9 percent” certain it will close down its main Chinese operations and Google.cn.  It wishes to maintain other projects it had there, before Google.cn’s conception, but it is now unlikely that Google will have a place in China at all.  Still, much of Google’s base in the Western world will have a sense of newfound pride in its search engine overlords.

Via Financial Times

Feb 8 2010

The Solid Steel Vigood U220 Netbook

WARNING: Sarcasm Alert!

Are you tired of having an old plastic netbook? Are you tired of having those flimsy plastic chassi break down on you just when you need them the most? Well worry not! Now you can get a Core Grid Vigood U220!

As a netbook it’s fully functional, and its capabilities include a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard drive, and a 10.2 inch display. Not enough you say? Well I’m not done just yet! It also has 802.11 b/g WiFi, a 1.3 MP webcam, 3 USB ports, VGA output, and a flash card reader!

BUT WAIT! I haven’t even gotten to the best part! That flimsy plastic chassis you hate? Well it’s all gone now. Instead, Vigood made it out of solid metal! You heard me, METAL! It’s not just a netbook, it can double as bookend! A table weight! A door stop! Use it however you would a normal metal block! That’s right, Vigood isn’t just giving you a netbook, it’s also giving you a metal block replacement! They’re saving you all that trouble of getting one for yourself! Vigood U220 going now for $350! Order now!

Note: Vigood is a brand that is relatively unknown outside of China, so we’re not just making this stuff up. Nor is the Core Grid Vigood U220 the only netbook with a metal chassis.

Via Liliputing.

Nov 10 2009

Netbook Sales Help Boost CPU Sales

Global CPU shipments have reached a record high of a 23% increase in Q3 of 2009, and this is largely a result of an increase in demand for netbooks.

While unit sales increased 23%, revenues only increased 14%, due to the low unit price of netbooks. According to Shane Rau, the director of semiconductor and personal computing research at IDC, “since PC processor shipments overall just slightly exceeded shipments in Q3 of 2008 – which was itself a record quarter at the time – we know the processor market is recovering.”

While this currently seems to be a good situation for netbook and chip manufacturers, we still have to be on the lookout. Rau pointed out that a lot of Intel Atom processors are being sold into markets like China, which offer government incentives. “The Chinese market can be very opaque – there are lots of places where inventories can hide. We have to be on the lookout for when China decides it can’t consume more processors. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is still hamstrung by housing foreclosures and rising job losses.”

Via PCMag.

Image via Crunchgear.

Oct 13 2009

Transparent Sony Vaio X Netbook, Cool Stuff

Transparent editions of thin-and-light netbooks, who would’ve thought? Sony had a press release event in China recently, where it debuted the transparent edition of the Sony Vaio X netbook. It might or might not be released for public consumption, but it’s cool nonetheless and we wanted to show it to you.

Even if the netbook did go on sale, its price tag would probably be somewhere near the $1,300 range. Would you personally be willing to shell out that kind of money for one of these superthins? Here’s a picture to provide some food for thought.

Via Engadget.

Oct 12 2009

New Research Casts Doubt On Burgeoning Chinese Netbook Markets

Dublin research firm Research and Markets has recently announced an addition to their recent report, “China’s Netbook Market: Not as Big as It Looks”, which claimed, well, that the Chinese netbook market may be smaller than initially assumed.

The additional feature focuses on the disjoint many PC and CE vendors find between high profit margins and intense competition in the sector, making Chinese netbook markets tantalizing but impenetrable.

Furthermore, In-Stat interviewed a number of industry specialists – “operators, netbook vendors, chipset vendors, OEM vendors, and national agencies” – and organized a status report of the Chinese netbook market based on their findings. Furthermore, they discuss the influence of 3G services on the bustling market, breaking down the netbook value chain to see who’s a key player and who’s not.

Their conclusions remained skeptical, as noted by a quote by In-Stat analyst Ashley Liu:

“Future market trends for netbooks in China remain unclear… The result may be that the netbook ends up being a transitional product.”

If you’re interested in the report, more info can be found at ResearchandMarkets.com.

Aug 25 2009

ASUS Seeks Netbook Eminence In Chinese Markets

ASUS Logo

Asustek hasn’t seen as much star-studded success in the netbook market as competitors like HP and Acer, despite the fact that it delivers a wide variety of reliable machines to the industry. Its Eee PC 1008HA Seashell netbook even won an EISA award just days ago. However, declines in revenue and profit margins have been ushered in by an iffy economy and increased competition in North American and European markets, inspiring ASUS to fight the good fight in China more than ever before.

Chief executive Jerry Shen assured investors on Tuesday that ASUS had a plan to grow:

“We’re seeing a lot of growth momentum from China, and expect to grow our market share there for the rest of the year… Eastern Europe is also growing quite well, so things should improve from now on.”

A massive influx of new netbooks from no-names and franchisers haven’t helped the picture for Asustek, but if the Taiwanese company puts its eggs into Chinese baskets this year then perhaps it can regain its former glory.

Via WashingtonPost.

Image via MobileTopSoft.

Jul 22 2009

Chinese PC Maker Mass Produces Hackintosh Netbooks

We’ve seen some pretty clever Hackintosh netbooks before, but now a Chinese PC maker is actually mass-producing 8.9-inch netbooks with an Apple logo on the lid.

Hackintosh

However, the chances of Apple being connected to the machine are just about absolutely zero. It runs an ARM CPU and either Windows CE or Linux as an OS, and sells for around $200. It’s got a Windows key on the keyboard, as well as a tiny right-Shift by the up arrow.

The netbook could get up to 7 hours of battery life through the 3-cell battery, as ARM machines run on low power.

The new netbook is yet another comical reminder of Apple’s frustrating refusal to join the netbook market. Come on Steve, we know you’re just holding out on us to keep the suspense going!

Via Shanzai.

Jun 29 2009

Vivante Teams Up With Chinese ICT To Improve Netbooks

Vivante Corporation announced that it will be partnering with the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences with plans to integrate their GPU and CPU designs into a “cost-efficient, low-power SoC and advance the state-of-the-art in netbook technology for the next generation.” China has been a valuable space for netbooks thus far, and this relationship could be a harbinger of better things to come.

The ICT’s specialty is research in computer science and technology. The group was responsible for “China’s first general-purchase digital computer” and generally focuses on boosting the performance of low-power computers. That sounds like it would be helpful in the netbook industry.

Dr. Weiwu Hu, the chief architect of the ICT’s CPU division, elaborated on the goal of the partnership:

“As we look toward making netbooks both more capable and more accessible, we find Vivante GPUs to be the perfect solution for small size and low power while providing robust, fully featured graphics and fast performance.”

Wei-jin Dai, Vivante’s President and CEO, added to Hu’s explanation:

“Our ability to deliver the highest performing GPU per square millimeter and per milliwatt across the spectrum of mobile computing, handheld, and home entertainment device requirements is once again validated by ICT selecting a Vivante GPU design. The Vivante ScalarMorphic(TM) GPU architecture flexes and scales to address a wide range of price/performance requirements and silicon budgets. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with ICT, as we apply leading edge Vivante technology to power next generation wired and wireless embedded applications in new and interesting ways.”

This is an exciting time for netbooks, and it is with great interest that we anticipate the products of this relationship. China Mobile‘s partnership with major netbook manufacturers has already yielded much for netbook 3G, and hopefully Vivante and the ICT can do the same with netbook GPUs.

Via PRNewsWire.

Jun 9 2009

China’s Netbook Problem

Q1 2009 was a rough time for the Chinese netbook market. Seven-inch and 8.9-inch netbooks, which were responsible for early booms in the industry, inexplicably showed plummeting sales in China. An 11.8% drop in netbook shipments brought figures to a mere 4.61 million units, though year-over-year the industry grew. Why?

MIC Industry Analyst Ya Wei Ku thinks the answer has to do with a point of much contention in the netbook industry – screen size.

“In the fourth quarter of 2008, 8.9-inch models were still the mainstream in netbook PC shipment. In the first quarter of 2009, however, 10-inch models quickly became the market leaders.”

The trend has already been seen with brands like ASUS, which dropped its 7-inch Eee PC in favor of the 10-inch version, and Acer which has recently focused on 11.6-inch netbooks. MIC says 8.9-inch netbook production will be miniscule in the coming months; 70 percent of the Chinese market was accounted for by 10-inch netbooks first quarter.

What else is new for Chinese netbook markets? Ku says that, while Europe was a major market for Chinese manufacturers in 2008, economic crisis has shifted China’s focus to North America.

“However, Western Europe has been heavily affected by the global financial crisis, and starting at the end of 2008 market demand became weak… In North America, major operators AT&T and Verizon started to promote bundled sales of mobile broadband and netbook PCs, while the North American retail market did not decline as much as was originally forecasted. As a result, the industry’s shipment share for North America increased slightly.”

Netbook sales are still growing in China, where responses were initially lukewarm. It’s likely that an upcoming rural home appliance subsidy program could stimulate the market further, and the distribution of 3G licenses could help as well.

Via TGDaily.

Apr 17 2009

Dell Releases Mini 10 Netbook With China Mobile’s 3G Internet

China Mobile’s recent partnership with 6 netbook manufacturers has already yielded results. Dell and the China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) just announced that the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook is now available with the CMCC’s integrated 3G wireless internet.

Dell Mini 10

Adding 3G will make the new netbook a more mobile device, increasing its potential for mobile entertainment along with its 720p screen.

Starting at RMB 3880 (around $495), the new Dell netbook features a 92%-of-full-size keyboard, multitouch capability in the touchpad, an edge-to-edge 16:9 LED display, and dell’s High-Definition Multimedia Interface for “entertainment connectivity.”

This latest development in the story of Chinese netbooks has clear ramifications for the rest of us, so be sure to read our previous articles on the matter for more info.

Via WWPI.

Apr 15 2009

China Mobile Plans 3G Netbooks With 6 Manufacturers

Intel’s recent push to enter the Chinese netbook market is looking like it’s inspiring more partnerships, but this time they’re coming from overseas.

China Mobile Ltd., a NY-listed telecom operator, announced yesterday that it’s going to team up with some PC manufacturers to make TD-SCDMA-enabled 3G netbooks. The manufacturers listed were Lenovo, Founder Technology, Tsinghua Tongfang, Haier Group, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell.

Aside from mobile broadband, nobody seems to know what other specs to anticipate from the partnership’s products. Lenovo, HP, and Dell are all already huge players in the netbook industry, and if they join forces with China Mobile the results could be spectacular.

Aside from that we’re all somewhat in the dark as to the group’s intentions, but it will be exciting to see what new netbooks are delivered along the way.

Via TradingMarkets.

Apr 15 2009

Intel Enters Chinese Netbook Markets With Atom CPU

Intel is making moves to expand its presence in Chinese PC markets, offering customized netbook designs for Chinese consumers.

Intel in China

Analysts are saying that Intel is milking the Atom CPU for all it’s worth, tapping into new markets where it thinks the processor will succeed. That doesn’t just mean the netbook – UMPCs and ultraportables will use the chip too.

The new program is called Hurdle, and is specifically dedicated towards offering “designs that meet specific price targets and the hardware and software requirements of Intel’s Chinese partners,” according to an Intel spokesman.

And it seems like Windows XP won’t be part of the picture – Intel is specifically intending the program for 8.9- to 10.2-inch Linux machines. Considering ARM’s recent partnership with Linux for the latest update to Ubuntu, it’s looking like Linux is set to gain eminence at home and abroad.

The custom netbooks will be as cheap as 1750 yuan (US $256), a better deal than many American consumers are getting from Intel. So why such attention to the Chinese market? Anand Chandrasekher, senior VP of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group, says netbooks are a “significant opportunity” in China. Many PC manufacturers look at Chinese markets as promising but unassailable, but Intel’s special efforts in pandering to Chinese netbook consumers may improve their presence in the nation.

Via PCWorld and CNet.

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