AMD Neo, HP dv2 take on both netbooks and notebooks

AMD Neo, HP dv2 take on both netbooks and notebooks

Summary: Plugging a hole in its laptop portfolio, AMD has announced a new processor platform for very thin and lightweight notebooks. HP was the first to announce a new laptop, the Pavilion dv2, based on AMD's Athlon Neo chip.

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HP Pavilion dv2Plugging a hole in its laptop portfolio, AMD has announced a new processor platform for very thin and lightweight notebooks. HP was the first to announce a new laptop, the Pavilion dv2, based on AMD's Athlon Neo chip.

The platform, previously code-named Yukon, includes the Neo chip and ATI Mobility Radeon graphics. Though it has been described as AMD's netbook solution, Yukon and laptops based on it are really traditional notebooks in terms of features and performance. But because it should allow PC manufacturers to build ultraportables that are thinner and less costly--HP's dv2 will start at $699--it is certain to further blur the already muddied lines between netbooks and notebooks. In effect, it should provide some real competition for both netbooks at the high-end and ultraportables at the low-end.

The first Neo is 1.6GHz single-core processor manufactured at 65nm. (Intel manufactures its desktop and mobile processors using a more advanced 45nm process.) Neo has an average power rating of 15 watts, which makes it suitable for ultraportable notebooks. By comparison, an AMD Turion X2 Ultra has a power rating of 35 watts, which is most AMD-based laptops that you see on Best Buy shelves are bulkier. The Yukon platform also includes either Radeon X1250 integrated graphics or Radeon HD 3410 discrete graphics. In press presentations, AMD said Yukon-based ultraportables will deliver overall performance that is significantly better than Intel Atom-based netbooks but not as powerful as laptops with Intel Core 2 Duo chips and Intel integrated graphics. With a Radeon HD 3410 discrete GPU, a Yukon laptop should be capable of 1080p HD playback and decent 3D gaming.

The Pavilion dv2 has a 12.1-inch LED-backlit display and nearly a full-size keyboard, but is "just under" one-inch thick, and weighs 3.8 pounds, according to the company. It won't be available until April so there are no details on the configuration, but in addition to the 1.6GHz Neo chip, it will include discrete graphics, up to 500GB of storage and the "full range of connectivity options" including wireless WAN. (That last line may be a crack at Apple's MacBook Air, which starts at more than twice the price of the dv2 but is missing some basics such as an Ethernet jack.) Though the dv2 has no internal optical drive, HP will offer an optional external Blu-ray drive.

Despite all the hype about AMD netbooks, products like the dv2 aren't likely to be confused with smaller netbooks with 8.9-inch displays. But Yukon-based ultraportables do make it harder to justify super-sized netbooks with 12-inch displays such as the rumored Asus S121, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 or Samsung NC20 when you can pick up the more-capable Pavilion dv2 for a bit more. And depending on the performance of Yukon, they could also put a big dent in sales of much-pricier ultraportables that use low-voltage and ultra low-voltage Intel dual-core processors.

Though it was nearly lost in the shuffle, HP announced a second new ultraportable earlier today--this one based on existing AMD Turion X2 processors. The Pavilion dv3 has a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display and weighs 4.4 pounds. The larger frame gives it enough elbow-room for internal DVD drive. The dv3 is available immediately and starts at $800 with a 2.0GHz Athlon X2, 2GB of memory, ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics, a 160GB hard drive and the internal DVD drive. Options on the higher-end configurations include faster processors, more memory, SSDs, a slot-loading DVD, 802.11n and Verizon wireless WAN, and backlit keyboard. For the price, the dv3 stacks up very well to existing 13.3-inch ultraportables.

[Read the AMD press release.]

[Read the HP press release.]

Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Laptops, Mobility, Processors

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  • Tablet PCs

    I hope this and Windows 7 will help usher in a new, more successful era of Tablet PCs / UMPCs. I think one design flaw which [b]signficantly[/b] hampered the adoption of Tablet PCs (particularly the slate model), was the fact that the onscreen keyboard was not resizable and could not be touch typed on directly with a user?s fingers. An onscreen, (finger) touch keyboard would allow a user to remain in tablet mode, while easily switching between keyboard and pen input. I hope the keyboard will be able to be switched between landscape and portrait modes, and its translucency level will be able to be adjusted. I therefore hope all Tablet PCs will include both touch and pen inputs with the advent of Windows 7.

    I think MS should have a Tablet / Touch task force whose main purpose is to propagate Tablet features into the broad PC market, until it reaches critical mass. The task force should include designers, developers, OEM liaisons, marketers, etc. Tablet / touch features should be propagated onto laptops, desktop monitors, surface / table top PCs, large vertical displays, etc. People should be able to swivel their desktop monitors; touch type on it; use electronic ink when they take notes, etc; do collaborative work; and also do creative work they have never been able to do before. Designers should study what it would take for people to impulsively choose tablets over pen and paper. Maybe tablets need to default to standby or hibernation mode when they are switched on and off? Maybe if they are distributed by carriers they need to be able to wake up like smartphones, and act as a super communication device? Maybe there should be an application that makes it dead easy to take notes (like a telephone message), and send it off to the appropriate person?

    In addition to above, marketers and financial people on the task force could look at financing and leasing programs to put tablets into the hands of all school / college kids.

    Tablet PC features have great potential, but I don?t really see much happening until a concentrated effort is made to ensure this takes place. Hopefully with the development of the AMD chips mentioned in the above article, Tablet PCs will become more and more affordable (along with laptops) - speeding along adoption.
    P. Douglas
  • RE: AMD Neo, HP dv2 take on both netbooks and notebooks

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