Despite all of the hype about ARM-based smartbook and Android netbooks, you had to look pretty hard to find them at Computex 2009 in Taiwan this week. Ultra-thin laptops based on Intel's new ULV processors, however, were all over the show floor.
Laptops & Desktops
John Morris and Sean Portnoy deliver straight talk about notebook and desktop computers.
Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.
<p>John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are disclaimed.</p>
AMD has many challenges, but lately its ATI graphics business has been on a roll. Now the company is trying to capitalize on the momentum.
Intel announced its latest ultra low-voltage (ULV) processors at the start of the Computex trade show in Taiwan this week. The announcement was no surprise: Intel and computer makers have been talking about the chips (previously known as CULV for "consumer") for months, and in April MSI even announced a laptop, the X-Slim series X340, supposedly based on one of the new ULV chips.
Intel thinks business may be starting to pick up, but computer makers aren't as optimistic. Sales are slow in all categories and even Intel now concedes that one bright spot, netbooks, is cutting into sales of higher-priced laptops to some degree.
The battle over the role of netbooks appears to be escalating. Computer makers, aided by Nvidia, are broadening the features and performance of netbooks--adding larger displays and more-capable graphics.
No one claims that netbooks can match the performance of laptops that cost hundreds or even thousands more. The real question is whether the performance of a netbook is good enough.
There is no denying the popularity of netbooks, but there's still much debate about who's buying them and for what purpose. Netbooks were conceived for emerging markets--along the lines of the OLPC's XO laptop and Intel's Classmate PC--but they turned out to be more popular in developed countries.
When Asus announced the first netbook back in June 2007, the company said it would sell for $199. That turned out to be too optimistic, but two years later prices are really starting to drop.
There are plenty of laptops that cost well under $1,000. And there are lots of ultraportables and thin-and-lights for frequent fliers.
Dell is now offering Mobile WiMax as an option on two laptops, the Studio 16 and Studio XPS 17. The Intel 5159 WiMax/802.
The official Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) is now available from both the Windows download site and Microsoft TechNet. Several bloggers have reported intermittent problems with the download servers, but they seem to be working now.
MSI is better-known for netbooks and nettops, but the Taiwan-based company announced two gaming laptops today. Both have the identical design and 15.4-inch widescreen display, but they have different components.
Two major netbook players appear set to release new models with larger displays that will further blur the lines with traditional laptops. Both Acer and Asustek plan to release netbooks based on 11.6-inch displays later this month.
AMD has made the eagerly-anticipated Radeon HD 4770 GPU official. Although it is based on some of the most advanced technology--it's the first GPU manufactured using a 40nm process and has nearly as many transistors as the flagship Radeon HD 4890--it is neither the company's fastest nor most costly GPU.
Rumors of netbooks using smartphone components rather than Intel chips and Microsoft Windows are nothing new. But we're finally getting a good idea of just what a PC based on an ARM processor and Linux will look like.