We met with Lenovo this afternoon to talk about some of their upcoming products (to be revealed in the coming weeks and months), and they brought along a pre-production sample of their recently announced IdeaPad S10 netbook. We couldn’t help but resist getting some hands-on time with this tiny portable, including snapping up a dozen photos for you to enjoy. The S10 we saw was a red 9” version that will ship in international markets, while the US edition will offer a 10.2” glossy screen and come in 3 color options (red, white, or black). All variations of the S10 will run Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom processor (45nm, 533MHz FSB, 512k L2 Cache), though the best thing about the IdeaPad has to be its $399 price point.
Click through for all the high-res shots and more detailed specs.
Having already moved on to its 9-M series GPUs, Nvidia presumably has solved whatever problem led to an "abnormal failure rate" in the what the company still contends only affects a limited batch of previous generation GPU and MCP products. Exactly how limited that batch is might never be fully disclosed, but it appears the problem may be more widespread than consumers were led to believe.
Just over a week ago Dell made available a list of its notebooks that could possibly be affected by the GPUs believed to be suffering higher than expected failure rates and is recommending owners update their BIOS to reduce their risk of running into a problem. The updated BIOSes modify the fan profile to help regulate GPU temperature fluctuations, but as Dell notes, the new parameters won't help customers who are already suffering video-related issues.
Dell isn't alone, and now HP has also released a list of models that qualify for 'Warranty Service Enhancement' (curiously absent is the DV97xx series). And like Dell, HP is also recommending its owners update their BIOS as a preventive measure.
So are all G84 and G86 parts bad like The Inq surmised early in July? No one but Nvidia knows for sure, but looking over the list of affected models would seem to indicate the allegation could hold some merit.
Did Nvidia drop the ball harder than they're letting on?
Laptops built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform are on the verge of marching into the market place en masse, and MSI appears ready to go with a pair of new gaming notebooks. The top-tier motherboard maker has launched the GX620 (15.4" WSXGA+) and GX720 (17" WSXGA+) Centrino 2 notebooks with each one sporting Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT graphics with 512MB GDDR3. Other features include:
Intel PM45 Chipset
Up to 4GB DDR2
320GB SATA Hard Drive
Blu-ray DVD Player
Windows Vista Home Premium
Quick launch sensors above the keyboard will give gamers the ability to activate MSI's Turbo Drive Engine Technology, which "overclock the GX620/GX720, increasing the speed of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor by as much as 15 percent." Users can also utilize MSI's ECO Engine and alternate between 5 different operating modes -- Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Office, or Turbo Battery -- to optimize battery life.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but don't be surprised to see more paper Centrino 2 notebook launches in the coming days/weeks.
Homeland Security is once again drawing criticism, this time over a newly disclosed policy that has apparently existed for some time. According to the Washington Post, U.S. agents have (and have had) the authority to seize and retain laptops indefinitely, which as resulted in some travelers reporting not getting them back. And not just laptops, but all kinds of electronic devices, like cell phones, music players, portable hard drives, and more.
While the policy isn't new, it's only now being stated publicly and the contents of the DHS document has civil rights activists and lawmakers up in arms. Not only does it appear that government officials have the power to seize electronic devices, but according to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, customs agents are allowed to analyze the contents of laptops without any suspicion of wrongdoing.
"The policies that have been disclosed are truly alarming," Feingold wrote in a statement.
Low cost ultraportables are starting to veer out of their budget pricing tier, a trend that will soon include Asus and its Eee PCs, the netbooks many consider to be responsible for popularizing the recent trend.
According to Asus president Jerry Shen, the company will launch more Eee PCs designed to address different market segments, including the high-end. Helping them to do it will be Intel, who Shen said is expected to keep shipping Atom N270 CPUs through the first half of 2009. So much for the Atom shortage.
Adding to the existing lineup of 11 Eee PC models, Asus will introduce two new categories, Ultimate and Pro Fashion, for a 2008 release. Both new models will come equipped with dual-core Atom processors and either a 120GB hard drive or a 32GB SSD. Models equipped with a solid-state drive will also feature a 10.1 inch 16:9 LED backlit panel, 4-5 hours of battery life, and command between $700 and $900, making them the first Eee PCs targeted at the high-end market.
Can netbooks still hold their appeal when approaching the $1,000 mark?
The list of manufactures not offering a netbook keeps dwindling and will get even smaller by September, DigiTimes says. Citing un-named sources (as they often do), the news site reports Lenovo will make the jump into ultraportable territory joining the ranks of Asus, Acer, MSI, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and, well, maybe it'd be easier to list who's not offering a netbook these days.
DigiTimes surmises Lenovo may turn to Compal Electronics, Wistron,or Pegatron Technology to manufacture its upcoming netbook, all three of which have existing relationships with the OEM. Compal shipped roughly 1.1 million mainstream notebooks to Lenovo in Q2 of this year, with Wistron supplying over 500,000 X-series ultraportables and Pegatron accounting for 200,000 IdeaPads.
Adding to the rumor, DigiTimes claims Lenovo Taiwan's general manager Ken Wong confirmed the company wants to launch a netbook for both consumer and enterprise markets, though no official word has yet been stated.
Solid state drives continue to make headway into the marketplace and Buffalo appears to be readying a herd of 32GB (SHD-EP9M32G) and 64GB (SHD-EP9M64G) SSDs for the Asus Eee PC 900 and 901 ultraportables. Not much else can be discerned from the translated press release, but according to PC Watch (and Google Translate), Buffalo will price the 32GB and 64GB at 16,800 and 33,600 yen, or $150 and $300 USD respectively.
Japan will get first crack at the new SSDs come mid to late September, but if you simply can't wait for Buffalo's drives to migrate stateside, at least one company is already selling the units with worldwide shipping.
We thought maybe Jointech's $99 mini laptop would be the first sub $100 notebook to make it big in the market, but Gartner analysts say that the prices of mini-notebooks are unlikely to drop to that magical price range for at least another three years. Analysts warn, though, that the focus of breaking the $100 barrier should be shifted to other issues related to mini-notebooks such as determining relevant hardware specifications and power requirements.
Annette Jump, research director at Gartner, believes that the declining prices of hardware along with the increased demand for the devices could potentially reduce prices by 10 to 15 percent in the next two to three years. Will this decline in prices be enough to break the $100 barrier? Jump believes that in order for mini-notebooks to be successful in the consumer and business realm, they should not be considered a computing device but rather a device to explore the Internet and a way for people to work, play, and communicate.
“We expect to see increased product innovation in the PC market during the next few years,” said Ms. Jump. “Mini-notebooks will create opportunities to reach many buyers across all regions, both in mature markets as additional devices, and in emerging markets as PCs.”
Much has been made over Intel's Atom processor, the 45nm wonder-chip finding its way into more netbooks than production can seemingly keep up with. But lest the world forget, VIA also has a low power chip of its own, one the company claims delivers "truly optimized performance for the most demanding computing, entertainment, and connectivity applications."
VIA's 65nm Nano processor saw an official launch a full two months ago, but it's Intel's Atom that keeps getting the attention. Is it justified? A pair of review sites looked to answer that question by pitting an Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) against a VIA Nano L2100 (1.8GHz), and both sites came to the same conclusion: VIA's Nano is the faster processor.
Clocked 12.5 percent faster the Atom chip, it should come as no surprise to see the Nano L2100 churn out better performance numbers, but it's the margin of victory that might turn a few heads. In some cases, the Nano chip outpaced the Atom by a margin of 15 to 20 percent, showing it deserves more attention than just as an also-ran.
Of course, it's all for naught if VIA can't win the one contest that matters most: Vendor support.
An "abnormal failure rate" among Nvidia's 8M series GPUs hasn't stopped the graphics chip maker from moving forward; the Santa Clara company expanded its lineup last week with the GeForce 9800M and 9700M parts for notebooks. If you've been waiting for these parts to reach the market place, you can now whip out the credit card and place your order.
Best Buy already stocks Toshiba's sexy Qosmio X305-Q701, which comes equipped with Nvidia's 9700M GTS GPU sporting 512MB GDDR3 memory. According to DigiTimes, over 20 other notebook vendors are expected to soon follow suit, including other top tier vendors. Gaming notebooks have also been announced from the likes of Sager, CyberSystem, Infinity, Pioneer Computers Australia, and other regional PC companies.
If Toshiba's Qusmio isn't your style, look forward to a flurry of other 9M based notebooks to make their debut as Intel's Centrino 2 platform emerges full force.