No one has seen much of the HP Slate until now. The ten seconds Steve Ballmer fumbled with it at CES 2010 don't really count as a debut, but someone at Conecti.ca has finally spent some real time with the device. Conecti.ca managed a quick hands-on and review. The verdict is a decidedly ambivalent one. Certainly not the response HP would have liked for their supposed iPad killer.
The HP Slate is a keyboardless touchscreen tablet with an 8.9-inch screen that rocks an Atom CPU. In every way that matters, it's a netbook without a keyboard. This is often cited as a strength, but the reviewers point out that it's also the Slate's biggest weakness. While it runs Flash and any Windows app you care to use, the touch interface on Windows 7 makes the device hard to use. HP has made a special finger-friendly graphical front-end, but much of the device's functionality is lost in it. The device also has a dock with HDMI, USB ports, and a kickstand.
It's unlikely this first salvo will sink the unicorn pad, and we're not sure it needs to be sunk. There's still a lot to learn about the new tablet market. Would you consider purchasing the HP Slate? If not, what would you need to see in a tablet to convince you?
It’s no secret that Intel’s Atom chips are a bit on the slow side. While we certainly like the battery efficiency, a bit more power would be great. It appears Intel is willing to appease us, and the announcement may come on Monday. Intel is expected to introduce the Pine Trail based Atom N470, which will be nearly the same as the N450, but clocked at 1.83GHz instead of 1.66GHz. We also heard a while back that the N470 netbooks would be allowed double the memory of the N450 units. We'll have to wait until Monday to see if that's still the case. It’s not a lot, but with Atom right at the edge of usability, every little bit helps.
Atom chips have been in high demand ever since netbooks took the PC market by storm. Atom offers lower power consumption than the previous low-power solution, the Core 2 ULV, but lags behind in processing power because of it. The N450 was released late last year, and quickly found its way into consumer products. Intel expects an equally speedy adoption of the N470. No word on if you will pay much of a premium for the new Pine Trail chip.
The Habey BIS-6620 is petite, and it certainly does offer options for connectivity and integration, but is it ready to compete with the big boys as a digital entertainment center?
Specs are reasonable. The BIS-6620 has an Intel Atom Z510 CPU running at 1.1GHZ, with a 400MHZ front-side bus, and an Intel US15W chipset with GMA500 graphics. It can hold up to 2GB of memory in a single DDR2 slot. Storage is whatever you can fit into a 1.8-inch internal HDD/SDD SATA II bay. Built-in is a hardware decoder that allows full hardware acceleration of H.264, MPEG2, MPEG4, VC1 and WMV up to 1080p. And it can be mounted to a TV or LCD with the included VESA mount kit.
Connectivity includes four USB 2.0 parts (two front, two rear), a PS/2 port (you never know), a Compact Flash and SD card slot, headphone and microphone jacks, 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet, an S-Video port, and a VGA port. (There’s a second version of the BIS-6620 which replaces the VGA port with an DVI port.) Wi-Fi is optional, via an internal USB connection.
Shortcomings? The BIS-6620 only supports Windows Embedded, Windows XP, Vista & Linux--but it doesn’t ship with any of the above. Nor does it come with a hard drive. And it might not come with RAM. Of course, if you plan to actually enjoy your 1080p output, wouldn’t HDMI make more sense than VGA?
An ARM-based netbook running Ubuntu could be in your future with the newest version of Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Much like Windows, the popular Linux distro did not previously have support for ARM processors. This meant you’d only see Ubuntu on Atom-based netbooks, a category dominated by Windows. With the anticipated flood of ARM packing “smartbooks” expected to materialize, the devs got to work rewriting Ubuntu.
According to Ubuntu’s Jamie Bennet, the problem was that Ubuntu Netbook Edition required 3D graphics drivers that didn’t exist for ARM chips. They got around this by employing 2D Enlightenment Foundation Libraries to fake a 3D interface. We’re hearing that you won’t be able to tell the difference in the interface. If true, that’s a big win for smartbooks and Ubuntu.
This may be the space that Ubuntu specifically, and Linux in general, can succeed in. Windows is completely locked out of the smartbook game until such time as Redmond gets around to adding ARM support. Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Is an Ubuntu smartbook something you’d buy?
The new Asus T101MT netbook tablet was spotted in an FCC filing back in December, but it’s now been made official. The systems comes with the familiar netbook internals including a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a 10.1-inch LED-backlit screen (with touchscreen capabilities), and 1-2GB of RAM depending on which version of Windows 7 the customer opts for. Consumers will also have a choice between a 160GB hard drive, or a 320GB hard drive with 500GB of Asus cloud storage free for a year.
Of course, the real trick here is the rotating screen that swivels around to put the computer into tablet mode. The system is not obscenely heavy at 2.9 lbs, and will offer a reported 6.5 hours of battery life. As an extra added bonus the SD card slot will be able to read the new SDXC cards up to 32GB in size. No specifics on price or availability were announced, but we’ll keep an eye out. Does this sort of form factor interest you at all?
Asus is apparently making plans to release their first Pine Trail powered all-in-one PC. The Eee Top ET1610PT will come equipped with the fairly new Intel Atom D410 single core CPU, and of course, Intel integrated graphics. The PC will have a 15.6 inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1600x900. It will also come equipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi, which is a nice feature on a low end machine.
Strangely, this new PC will come with Windows XP preinstalled. You read that right, no Windows 7 on this bad boy. The presence of that touchscreen display makes the decision to go with XP just that much more baffling. The machine is expected to go for 400 Euros when is ships.
We’re finally starting to see some Pinetrail netbooks hit the market, and that’s what makes the new SVE600 of note. FIC has just announced the new netbook, which will have the Atom N450 CPU clocked at 1.66GHz. It comes with the customary 1GB of RAM and 10.1 inch screen. Storage is nice though, with up to a 500GB hard drive, or 32GB SSD.
It also packs lots of connectivity options. There’s Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, WiMax and HSDPA. The computer can be purchased with either Windows 7 or Linux for the more adventurous. On a more superficial note, it’s a pretty nice looking netbook, right? No pricing has been announced.
Mobile CPU shipments grew 35.7 percent in 3Q09 to bail the industry out from what is now a receding crisis. The Intel Atom processor merits a special mention as it led the industry's comeback during the quarter. But the low average selling price of Atom processors meant that the record growth in shipments did not quite translate into record revenue.
"While Atom processors led the PC processor market to reach record unit shipments, on the revenue side, their low average selling price led to notable price erosion, more than 7 percent." said Shane Rau, director of semiconductors for personal computing research at IDC.
"The market's growth has been due to shipments of inexpensive Atom processors being sold into markets like China, which is being stimulated by government incentives there," said Rau.
If you’re in the market for a completely silent PC that also happens to be tiny, this is your lucky day. The Stealth LPC-395F, or “Little PC”, is a small fanless Atom-based nettop system with a front facing 2.5-inch hard drive bay.
The entire chassis measures 6.54 x 6.18 x 1.89 inches. The system comes with the Atom N270 at 1.6Ghz, up to 2GB of RAM, dual Ethernet, a Compact Flash slot, and optional WiFi (for $50). The Little PC is able to run on 12-19V DC so it can even be used in a car. The Stealth LPC-395F is available to order now for $795. Supply your own hard drive.
There’s very little to differentiate one netbook from another these days. Manufacturers are basically just putting different enclosures around the same hardware. That’s largely a result of restrictions placed on netbook specs by Intel and Microsoft. With the upcoming Atom N470 (Pineview), the spec requirements will be lifted a bit, but they’ll still be there.
Currently, netbooks are limited to 1GB of RAM in most instances. When the N470 is released around March 2010 that limit will be raised to 2GB. Manufacturers will also be able to include a 32GB solid state drive if they so choose. Intel boldly pointed out that they could totally put Intel’s Moblin OS on them too… no pressure though.
While it’s nice to see some movement here, is it anywhere near enough? Don’t most users that want more RAM just add it anyway? So, good news, or just plain depressing?