Gateway jumps on the Intel Atom N450 bandwagon by introducing the LT21 series netbook. As with most netbooks rocking the newly minted Atom chip, battery life benefits the most, with Gateway claiming up to 10 hours of run time.
"Netbooks have been firmly embraced by consumers as an incredibly convenient, easy-to-use way to stay connected, be more productive, and stay in touch," said John Nguyen, product marketing manager for Gateway. "Gateway LT21 Series netbooks are designed to go anywhere for use by anyone, as their sleek form factor and intuitive design naturally fit into how people live and connect today."
The new netbooks check in at 2.76 pounds and measure about an inch thick thin. Hardware will vary by model, though Gateway did provide specs for one model, the LT2118u. In addition to the Atom N450, this 10.1-inch model will come with 1GB of DDR2-667 RAM, 250GB hard drive spinning at 5400RPM, Intel GMA 3150 graphics, multi-card reader, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, multi-gesture touchpad, webcam, 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Starter.
Gateway says the LT21 series will be available later this month starting at $300. The aforementioned LT2118u will run $350.
Purchased a netbook within the last six months or so? Brace yourself, because the sad reality is that your Atom N270/N280 netbook is now obsolete, old news, and playing second fiddle to the crop of Atom N450 models starting to pop up (don't worry though, these won't run Crysis either). The latest to litter the landscape with next-gen Atom-based netbooks is Samsung, who today launched four new models: Samsung N210, N220, N150, and NB30.
Hopping out in front are the N210 and N220, both of which claim "up to 12 hours of secure connected mobility." The NB30 comes close with a rated battery life of up to 11 hours, and the NB150 keeps things respectable with up to 8.5 hours, according to Samsung.
All four new models share the same 10.1-inch LED anti-reflective display which, when used with the integrated Easy Resolution Manager tool, allows end-users to quickly adjust the screen resolution when the need arises.
Other specs remain scarce, and pricing details non-existent, at least until the new models go on sale "early in January."
For as long as netbooks have existed, people have been buying more and more of them. More than 33.3 million netbooks will have shipped by year’s end, amounting to a 103 percent increase over last year. Revenue will be up about 72 percent indicating some price cuts. But according to DisplaySearch, as laptops with ultra low voltage (ULV) CPUs become cheaper, netbook sales will slow considerably.
They project netbook shipments to only grow by about 20 percent next year. Still, the situation can’t be bad when 20 percent growth is a big drop. As ULV laptops creep below $500, consumers will begin purchasing them in larger numbers. ULV computers have similarly good battery life, but better performance than netbooks running Atom chips.
The report also suggests that the uptick in ULV sales will likely mean manufacturers will take a revenue hit of only 1% or so. While netbooks will remain big sellers, they probably won’t have another year like 2009.
Intel earlier today announced its next-generation Atom platform, and no sooner had the press release hit the news waves, Dell followed suit by being the first to announce a refreshed Mini 10 netbook lineup sporting the newly minted Atom N450 CPU.
Other updates to the Mini 10 include a new design with a choice between "a broad range of optional colors or hundreds of optional custom artwork designs," as well as a smudge-resistant palm rest and sculpted keys, and longer battery life with up to 9.5 hours of run time (with optional 6-cell battery).
Other specs include a 10.1-inch display with standard (1024 x 600) or HD (1366 x 768) resolution, 1GB of memory, choice between 160GB or 250GB hard drive, and choice between Windows 7 Starter, Windows XP Home, or Ubuntu.
Dell says you can expect the redesigned Mini 10 to be available in early January starting out at $299.
It looks like the elves in Intel's workshop have been working overtime this holiday season, enough so that the chip maker today officially announced its next generation Atom platform, which includes the first Intel chips to integrate graphics and a memory controller in the CPU.
On the netbook side of things, the new Atom platform consists of an Atom N450 processor. It's a single-core part clocked at 1.66GHz with 512KB of L2 cache and a 7-watt total TDP. For entry-level desktops, there's the single-core D410 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 12-watt TDP) and dual-core D510 (1.66GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 15-watt TDP). Intel says both processors were designed from the ground up for small devices and low power usage, and both come built on the company's 45nm high-k metal gate manufacturing process. These chips will run in Intel's NM10 Express Chipset.
An industry first on x86 processors, the new Atom chips integrate both the memory controller and graphics into the CPU. By going this route, Intel reduces the number of chips from three (CPU, chipset, I/O controller hub) to two (CPU, chipset), which the company claims results in a lower TDP, and "substantial reductions in cost, overall footprint, and power."
Intel said it will announce pricing information when the platform ships in the first week of January.
Yesterday we posted a blurb referencing comments Nvidia made to news and rumor site Fudzilla, in which the graphics chip maker talked up its upcoming Ion 2 platform as being a faster solution than an Atom platform built around Intel's upcoming Pine Trail architecture. So does that mean you should hold off on buying a netbook?
Not at all, Nivida's Ken Brown says, who got in touch with us to clarify a few points. Regarding the performance benefits of Ion 2 over Pine Trail, Brown said all of that is correct, but that "is also true for current generation Ion-based PCs. Pine Trail will not deliver a significantly better experience than current-generation Atom-based PCs (link). Ion based systems which are available today will provide a much better experience than Pine Trail for HD video, games, media conversion, and other applications that people want to run."
In addition, Brown stated that first-generation Ion parts will also deliver anywhere from 5-10x faster graphics performance than Pine Trail, so for anyone who needs a graphically-charged netbook today, waiting isn't necessary.
News and rumor site Fudzilla claims to have had an "interesting chat with key people involved in Nvidia's Ion project," all of which sounded pretty confident about the company's next generation Ion, or Ion 2.
As previously reported, the new Ion chip will act like a discrete GPU, a necessary transition because of how Intel has designed Pinetrail. It will also support Windows 7, boast over 5 hours of battery life, and according to Nvidia, has the potential to run 5 to 10 times faster than Atom with Pine Trail graphics. And while Pinetrail will only be able to play Flash content in SD, Ion 2 will support both SD and HD playback, according to Fudzilla's chit-chat. On top of it all, Ion 2 will support Blu-ray and 1080p, as well as mainstream gaming.
So what's the caveat? Put simply, Ion 2 will cost more than an Atom platform built around Pine Trail. That doesn't seem to bother Nvidia a whole lot, who says that its customers will put a higher value on HD, Blu-ray, transcoding, video editing, and casual gaming capabilities.
It doesn't matter how good you've been all year, Santa won't be placing an Atom N450-based netbook under the Christmas tree this year. But on the bright side, you may not have to wait long. According to reports, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and MSI, all of which originally planned on launching Atom N450-based netbooks this month, will release the units on January 11, 2010.
The decision to hold off until then complies with their agreement with Intel to only launch the products after January 10. There will be three versions of Atom N450-based netbooks using different OSes, the most popular (and expensive) expected to be Windows 7 Starter. The other two include Moblin Linux and Windows XP Home.
Intel recently announced it was fast tracking the release of its Pine Trail platform, which we expect to see sooner rather than later in 2010. We now have a little more info to share on this Atom platform replacement.
According to Fudzilla, Pine Trail will be significantly smaller when compared to Intel's current netbook platform, largely the result of moving from a three-chip design containing the CPU, Northbridge, and Southbridge, to a two-chip part with just the CPU and Southbridge. The end result is a 64-percent smaller package footprint.
Pine Trail will be designed on a four layer PCB, Fudzilla says, which will cut back on manufacturing costs. However, this doesn't mean that netbooks will become any cheaper in 2010, though you can probably expect vendors to squeeze in more features.
Finally, the Pine Trail platform will consume less power, about 20 percent less than Intel's Atom platform, which will pave the way for even longer battery life.
In what's turning out to be a game of cat and mouse, Apple last week disabled support for Intel's Atom processor through a Snow Leopard update, a tactic the Hackintosh community insisted would present only a temporary setback. They were right, thanks to a Russian hacker known as "teateam," who says he has restored support for Atom-based Hackintoshes running Snow Leopard 10.6.2.
"The problem originates in a revision to the kernel in 10.6.2. The changes Apple made to the latest mach_kernel removes support for [Atom] processors, leaving updated netbooks in a useless state," InsanelyMac member "blkhockypro19" explained in a forum post.
TeaTeam's hack appears to address the issue, though Jeff Porten of MacWorld warned that performing the crack is not something to be taken lightly.
"You'll need to roll up your Terminal sleeves for a few simple steps here," said Porten. "And, of course, replace the kernel of your operating system -- the fundamental code that underlies everything else in Mac OS X -- with a file you've downloaded from the Internet."
Not only that, but it's only a matter of time until Apple releases another update that, in all likelihood, breaks support again. Apple hasn't been sympathetic to the Hackinstosh community, and even went so far as to serve Wired.com a cease and desist order after the tech site posted a video with instructions on how to hack a netbook to run Mac OS X.