New alternatives to netbooks (and pricey laptops)

New alternatives to netbooks (and pricey laptops)

Summary: 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.


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. That's bad news if you are, say, Dell. But it is good news for customers, who seem to be getting more choices at lower prices, as computer makers compete for fewer shoppers.

A couple examples from this week:

Yesterday, Dell began selling a thin-and-light laptop, the Studio 14z, with an interesting configuration. To reduce the size and weight, as well as the cost, Dell dumped the optical drive. The result is a budget laptop with a 14-inch 720p LED display that is only 0.8-1.2 inches thick and weighs 4.3 pounds. The Studio 14z starts at $649 with a 2.0GHz Pentium Dual Core T4200, 3GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics and a 250GB hard drive. The GeForce 9400M graphics explains why Nvidia issued a release on the Studio14z ("up to five times faster graphics performance than Centrino 2 notebooks"), rather than Dell. Like other Studio laptops, this model also has an attractive design and comes in several colors. I suspect many users won't miss the optical drive, but Dell does offer an external DVD for $90.

I haven't seen this model yet, but based solely on the specs and price, if I were buying a budget laptop, especially for a student, I would take a close look at the Studio 14z.

The other interesting laptop to ship this week is MSI's X-Slim X340, which MSI says is the first laptop to use a lower-priced version of Intel's low-voltage processors for ultraportables (MSI announced it last month, but it is only now becoming available.) In terms of portability and features, the X340 is similar to premium 13-inch laptops such as the Apple MacBook Air and Lenovo ThinkPad X301, but it costs less. The X340 is measures 0.8 inches thick and weighs only 2.9 pounds with a standard 4-cell battery. The base configuration includes 13.4-inch WXGA (1366x768) display, 1.40GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500, 2GB of memory, Intel integrated graphics, and a 320GB hard drive. In its release, MSI said it starts at $900, but at least one site is selling the X340 for $100 less.

In addition to the X340, MSI announced that it will be showing two new members of the X-Slim series, the 14-inch X400 and 15.6-inch X600, at Computex in Taiwan next week. I expect to see several affordable thin-and-lights based on Intel CULV processors at the show.

Both the Studio 14z and X-Slim X340 are examples of how computer makers are quickly filling in the gaps between netbooks and notebooks--in terms of both portability and price--with novel designs and configurations.

Topics: Laptops, Dell, Hardware, Intel, Lenovo, Processors

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  • How is a 14" notebook an alternative to a netbook

    $649 is an alternative to $299?
    14" is an alternative to 8.9"

    Honestly, you STILL don't get the appeal of netbooks, do you?
    • Yeah, a lot of people don't get that netbook isn't just a cheap notebook.

      It's all Asus'fault.

      They did introduce a totally innovative product that could change people's living habits. But they marketed it like it's a ripped-off notebook.
  • Ditto your comment!

    I think they missed the point...a 14" netbook?

    How about a better core for my P series? That's a netbook killer...
  • Staples and 15.4" or 14" HP for this price...

    with 4GB, DVD burner, dual core AMD, Vista Home premium, integrated 780G graphics....

    Why buy a cut down Dell Laptop, this is no Netbook, and have to deal with the worst tech support I have ever dealt with when you can get a fully loaded HP for the same price.
  • How about making a *REAL* LAPtop

    IOW make a laptop that you can put - in your lap. Do whatever it takes to vent hot air, etc. - and I don't care if it adds a bit of weight. Now THAT would be worth buying!
    Roger Ramjet
    • A real laptop in your lap....

      There is such a laptop. The Sony Vaio TT 290. Now THERE'S a NETBOOK. 11.1" 1366x768 screen, 1.6 MHz dual core cpu with VT Tech (for Win 7 XP Mode), TPM module for BitLocker encryption, built-in 3G broadband, Bluetooth and 802.11bgn, 320 Gig HD or dual 128 Gig RAID SSD, internal Blu-ray burner or standard DVDRW.

      Only flaw is integrated graphics. This baby needs the switchable integrated/NVIDIA setup the Vaio Z series has.

      Price? No, I'm not going there. Unless and until I succumb to buying one...then I'll cope.
  • RE: New alternatives to netbooks (and pricey laptops)

    These are laptops that the majority of consumers want. And lets face it, majority of consumers don't know jack about computers. People understand the concept of what computers do, but most people don't know HOW computers do what they do. And these computer companies are smart. They know what to do to get the most bang for their buck; hence, dressing the notebooks up and slicing its performance, and people wont even know the difference.

    I must say I like the x-slim. Maybe because I'm bias because I like the Wind series very much. I think for those who want the style and everyday functions while paying less, the x-slim is gold.
  • IBM computers vs modern Netbooks/laptops

    I personally think older reconditioned IBM laptops with upgraded Core 2 Duo 2.20ghz x2 3.00GB RAM 160GB HD that go for $180 to $250 on ebay are better alternatives to buying a new netbook which is gonna cost you around $400 and will have way slower precessing speed and RAM of around 1gb and no disc drive.

    Go on ebay and see for yourself.