We’ve been waiting a long time for this. We first heard about Nvidia’s next-generation Ion chip way back in the first months of 2010. They were supposed to ship with Nvidia’s Optimus graphics-switching technology back in April. Okay, June. July at the latest. It didn’t quite happen—those few next-gen Ion netbooks that did launch earlier this year did so without Optimus. At long last, however, Asus’ next-gen Ion netbook—with Optimus and a dual-core netbook Atom chip—has hit American shores, just one day before September.
The Eee 1215N, one of Asus’ innumerable Eee PC Seashell netbooks, is the first netbook we’ve seen with Intel’s new mobile dual-core Atom chips—it ships with the 1.8GHz Atom D525, 2GB of DDR3/800 RAM, and most importantly, Nvidia’s next-generation Ion graphics chipset and Optimus technology, which enables Ion when required and switches to Intel’s integrated UMA graphics when Ion isn’t necessary.
What differentiates one netbook model from any other of the same size? There are only a few flavors, after all: last-gen netbooks, with Atom N270 or N280 processors and Windows XP; current-gen netbooks, with Pine Trail Atom processors and Windows 7; and Ion-based netbooks, with Nvidia mobile graphics and middlin’ battery life. Well, you could wait for second-gen Ion netbooks, which promise excellent gaming power and 10-hour battery life. Or you could go for the Asus Eee 1201N, which offers first-gen Ion performance and—get this—a friggin’ dual-core processor.
The 12-inch 1201N is the first netbook we’ve tested with an honest-to-goodness dual-core processor inside—Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom N330, which you may remember from bare-bones Ion boards and nettops. Paired with the N330 is Nvidia’s first-gen Ion platform, which turns a 12-inch netbook into something approaching a gaming platform (if 7-year-old titles fit your idea of games). The last Ion device we reviewed, the HP Mini 311 (February 2010), used a single-core N280, while upcoming second-gen Ion netbooks will use single-core Atom N450s. So is there a niche for a dual-core Atom netbook with Ion?
If you're a fan of Asus' Eee 1005PE netbook, then you're going to love the 1005PE-H model, the company's latest model built around Intel's Pine Trail platform.
Like the original Eee 1005PE, the H variant sports the same 45nm Pineview Atom N450 processor (1.66GHz, 512K cache). But unlike its predecessor, the Eee 1005PE-H boasts twice the amount of RAM at 2GB versus 1GB. It also comes with a bigger 320GB hard drive, compared to the original's 250GB.
The rest of the spec sheet includes a 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 screen, Windows 7, and a 6-cell battery Asus claims will keep the netbook running for 11 hours.
No word yet on price or availability, at least not here in the States. So far, this one's only been spotted in France.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Asus plans to keep busy this fall launching a number of new products. Among them are an Nvidia Ion-based Eee Box, Eee Top all-in-one PC, and two ultra-thin notebooks under its U/UX series.
The 20-inch Eee Top will come with an Intel dual-core Atom 330 processor and cost around $670. Details on the Ion-based rig remain sparse, though it will reportedly sell for a little over $300. Both of these -- along with the ultra-thin notebooks -- will launch in September.
A month later, Asus plans to launch the Eee Keyboard for somewhere between $400 and $500. The Eee Keyboard will work as a fully-functional PC and sport a wireless connection hub.
This morning Asus showed off one of their newest gaming related products, the Eee Stick, which is intended to get more people into gaming. The Eee Stick will come in many different colors, and oh yeah, they look and act exactly like a Wiimote.
There’s no word yet on what crowds Asus hopes to get with their Eee Sticks, but it is clear that they’re looking to make their own stake in the casual gaming crowd.
Currently there’s no word on pricing or availability.
A little while back Asus was toying with the idea of fitting a home theater PC inside a keyboard, and now we can happily say that this product is finally on its way.
The Eee Keyboard will come with wireless HDMI and a small touchscreen, and is expected to arrive in May or June, costing only $400-$600. Jerry Shen, Asus’ CEO, says that there are two models being worked on, a wired and a wireless version. It’s reported that the wireless capability is the difference between the $400 and $600 machines.
Underneath the hood it will have a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB RAM, a 16 or 32GB SSD, WiFi and Bluetooth built in. It will also feature wireless HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI and audio in/out ports.
Asus is typically good about tossing out press releases when they drop a new product, but this time around they’ve just put up their latest netbook up for pre-order, hoping that we’d catch on. Well, as you might have guessed by now we did, and without further adieu, let me introduce to you the Asus Eee PC 1000HE (E is for extended!).
The new little beastie will feature a 10-inch LED screen, a 160GB HDD, a 1.66GHz Atom N280 processor, and built in 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 2.0. It’ll all come wrapped in a very modest $399 (and an additional $25 off if you’re in the Facebook group), and will run for up to 9.5 hours using Asus’ Super Hybrid Engine battery technology.
If you’re looking to pre-order, be sure to check this out.
Over at PCmag.com, they bring up an interesting point about Asus’ new ROM boot chip and "Express Gate"; how it will affect users psychologically. We are not talking about power users, but just regular end users and how they feel about Linux.
For power users, there just isn’t much draw on Express Gate. So it lets you boot into a basic OS with a web browser and Skype in five seconds. Not really a big deal since most power users keep their machines on 24/7, or maybe let them sleep/hibernate. They also may have a dual boot system to a full featured Linux OS as well. This leaves power users scratching their heads asking why. Had Asus decided to make use of this Linux on ROM to provide things like diagnostics, data recovery, BIOS configuration/updating, or hardware systems monitoring, they would have had us at “hello”.
End users on the other hand, are more likely to power their systems on and off. For these folks having the option to boot quickly to use a web browser for a few minutes before rushing off someplace makes sense. More importantly it gets them using Linux without being obvious about it. I am sure Asus likes this idea as it will warm users up to their Eee line using the Linux OS. This could spool up to be a big deal if other manufacturers pick up on the idea and start serving up their own Splashtop Linux ROM chips on their motherboards.
The effect becomes that there will be more users comfortable using Linux and that could eat into Microsoft’s market share. If this takes off, Microsoft has little choice but to make it’s OS capable of going instant on, or creating a super light and cheap version of Windows that can do the same thing (like Windows CE, but better).
Do you think this might take off? Can we expect Microsoft to follow suit and do their own instant on OS? Let me know!
Anyone that has used a smart phone for browsing the internet knows that those little screens are just too small to be really comfortable to use. We also know that we don’t like to tote a notebook PC around on the chance that we need to use the internet for something.
The industry has known we needed something between a notebook PC and a smartphone sized device. It has taken several stabs at it, but nothing has quite stuck until a new breed of device has started to hit the market, called netbooks. These power sipping, devices are made primarily for checking email and surfing the internet at a low cost, some selling for $300. The PC industry is set to sell tens of millions of these devices. Good deal for the PC industry, right?
Maybe not. The NYTimes.com reports that industry analysts say that the emergence of this new class of low-cost, cloud-centric machines could threaten big market companies like Microsoft, Intel, HP, or Dell. “When I talk to PC vendors, the No. 1 question I get is, how do I compete with these netbooks when what we really want to do is sell PCs that cost a lot more money?” said J. P. Gownder, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Why are these tiny PCs a threat? Make the jump to find out!