Cheaper ultraportables meet more powerful netbooks

Cheaper ultraportables meet more powerful netbooks

Summary: There are two ways to address the limitations of netbooks: 1.) offer less-costly notebooks, or 2.

TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility

There are two ways to address the limitations of netbooks: 1.) offer less-costly notebooks, or 2.) give netbooks a little more muscle. Both are now happening.

The ultra-thin laptops based on Intel's ULV processors or AMD's Athlon Neo are an obvious alternative to netbooks, and they've already received lots of coverage. Dell took a different approach with the Vostro 1220, which it announced earlier this week. The Vostro 1220 is also based on a 12.1-inch display, but it uses standard Intel mobile processors. At 0.9-1.5 inches thick, it's not as thin as the HP Pavilion dv2, for example, but it is still highly portable weighing 3.4 pounds (with the 4-cell battery). Interestingly, Dell claims the 6-cell is good for 9 hours of battery life despite the fact that the Vostro 1220 does not use the ultra low-voltage chips.

The Vostro 1220 starts at $729 with a 2.2GHz Intel Celeron 900, 2GB of memory, Intel GMA 4500M HD integrated graphics, 160GB hard drive and Vista Home Basic. The 6-cell battery adds $60. That's more expensive than a 12-inch netbook--the Dell Mini 12 starts at $500 with Windows XP--but you also get more, including an internal DVD drive. There aren't many standard 12-inch business ultraportables in this price range, so Dell deserves some credit for trying this out. I haven't seen any full reviews yet, but it will be interesting to see how the Vostro 1220 stacks up.

Meanwhile plans to boost the performance of netbooks are in full force. Lenovo had already announced plans to offer a version of its IdeaPad S12 12-inch netbook with Nvidia's Ion chipset. Now Samsung has confirmed that it will release an 11.6-inch netbook, the N510, with Ion later this year. Nvidia's chipset promises to improve the performance of Atom-based PCs by replacing the integrated graphics with the GeForce 9400M GPU, but to date it has largely been confined to nettops such as the Acer AspireRevo, not netbooks. Samsung already sells a 12.1-inch netbook, the NC20, through for $510 with a 1.3GHz VIA Nano U2250, 1GB of memory, 150GB hard drive and Windows XP Home. I've also tested the Samsung N10 and N20 10-inch netbooks, which have received positive reviews.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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  • Good Start

    I'm excited about this class of notebook.

    What I want is a 2 ghz or faster processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a decent video card. I'm willing to sacrifice some battery life in exchange since my netbook is usually plugged in. (But it does get transported quite a bit.) And I want it all in a small form factor.

    Give me this and I'll pay.
    • But by the time you get these specs

      the OS will have new minimum requirements of 4 ghz and 4GB ram. If you need the horsepower of a desktop then get one, if you want portability then give up some features.

      Or... dump windows and load up Xubuntu or similar and that 1.5Ghz netbook will seem quite snappy (I run 500Mhz laptop with Xubuntu and Open Office fine).
  • RE: Cheaper ultraportables meet more powerful netbooks

    I just went to the Newegg site (from the link in the story) and found that the NC20 c0st $509.99 and not $150. Quite a difference.
  • My attempts at netbooks...

    I jumped in early on the 9" netbook craze. Loved the idea, loved the weight, loved the power (though lacking, it was still more than expected and worked well), yet hated the keyboard and screen size.

    So, then I moved to a 10.1" netbook. MUCH better keyboard, held out for 1280x768 screen so I do like the screen. But, still just too small for real work.

    I will eventually move to a 12" screen. Seems to me that after using a few 12" net/notebooks that this is the key size for a good yet very usable lightweight computer. As long as they can keep it under 4 lbs, and have at least 1280x800 resolution or similar, then that will be the best of all worlds of ultra-mobile computing.

    One area still lacking in all netbooks though, is graphical power. I'd like to see some improvement there. The ATI Neo platform seems like a good try, especially since it's also a 64-bit platform, BRAVO ATI on that one. And, the nVidia Ion platform also seems nice, but I've been bitten by nVidia notebook problems too many times. I'll go Intel or ATI on my next one. Eying the HP one very closely right now. If it weren't so shiny, I'd have one. I prefer a rugged portable, not a flashy one.

    • Another "area still lacking in all netbooks" -- legacy ports

      Alas, another "area still lacking in all netbooks" is legacy ports. By that I mean PCMCIA slots (for my cellular AirCard -- how'm I s'posed to get connectivity in the absence of a wi-fi or wired network connection?), fax/modem RJ-11 port (same rationale in the additional absence of a cellular data carrier), and legacy DB25 parallel printer ports (for connecting to my trusty old parallel printers, one of which (an old Diconix) I like to travel with). Also nice to have: DB9 serial, FireWire, SCSI. When?
      • Then you are talking about a laptop.

        Yes, all of these ports are helpful when in such a pinch but remember that all of these ports will add to size to netbook. The netbook is meant to be an ultraportable device with excellent network capabilities. Most laptops nowadays don't have that many ports to save on power and space. You can buy an USB adapter nowadays to adapt to DB9 serial, modem, parallel and other ports so you can those ports as needed.
        Netbooks are ultraportable devices between smartphones and laptops.
      • Have a home server and ssh into it

        so you can print or do other tasks. The reason for the netbook form-factor is portability and wifi or ethernet connectivity. If you have the connectivity then you have access to your other systems.

        You can probably find a neighbor with an old Pentium-2 desktop they are about to toss. Get that and install Linux (Xubuntu or Puppy or appliance like FreeNAS) and hook your printer etc to it.

        The netbook is your only computer? Then you've got to think your work-flow out better.

      • Another "area still lacking in all netbooks" -- legacy ports

        Then you can use a converter from USB to prefered legacy ports.
  • RE: Cheaper ultraportables meet more powerful netbooks

    "1.) offer less-costly notebooks,

    Did I miss something? I don't see anything under $500?
    My Asus refurb Eeepc was $149.95

    That's my def of less-costly
  • Cheaper ultraportables, with gusto... whe'r'ey?

    I am in the market for a touch-screen.
    And could not find a better one than HP-TX2Z (12"/2.3ghz/4mb/500mb/DDVRW). But HP's putting it at $1K, and is an'08 technology. I dono, but am aprehensive of old machines-I think maker has dropped it already.
    Has anybody heard of similar ones coming from the TouchScreen fair in China-June'09?