Quad-core processors, 7200RPM hard drives, faster graphic solutions, and an increasing amount of technical doodads both internal and external all take their toll on a notebook's battery life. To combat this, Sony says it will spend about 40 billion yen (that's $371 million USD for us sitting stateside) toward strengthening its lithium ion battery production operations, representing the first phase of investment in lithium ion batteries the company will take as part of a three year effort to reinforce core areas of its component and semiconductor business.
The money will go towards both new production facilities and to enhance existing lines at Sony's Motomiya Technology Center and Tochiga Technology Center, both of which are used to produce lithium ion batteries. As a result, Sony hopes to almost double its monthly production capacity from the current level of 41 million cells per month to 74 million by fiscal 2010.
While the world still waits for notebooks built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform to hit the market in full force, the chipmaker is already looking forward to its next big release. If the latest rumors turn out to be true, Intel needn't look very far, either, as the company is said to be on schedule to launch it's next-generation notebook platform, Calpella, by the the third quarter of 2009.
Calpella parts are expected to be second generation Nehalem chips, and like first generation Nehalem processors, Calpella will deviate from current northbridge and southbridge chipset arrangements, instead integrating the memory controller onto the CPU itself. Citing un-named sources, DigiTimes reports a single integrated chipset codenamed Ibex Peak-M will handle the remaining duties.
Ibex Peak-M will also reportedly support Intel's next-generation Clarskfield and Auburndale CPUs, the latter of which will come with an integrated graphics core setting the stage for a showdown with AMD's upcoming Fusion.
Notebook hard drives have a ways to go before catching up to their desktop brethren in terms of storage capacity, and Samsung takes them one step closer. With the release of Samsung's new Spintpoint M6 500GB 2.5-inch hard drive, the company can lay claim to offering the world's highest capacity HDD for notebooks.
Samsung stuffed three 167GB platters into the 9.5mm high Spinpoint, and combined with the perpendicular magnetic recording technology, the company says its new drive can store 160,000 digital images, 125 hours of DVD movies, or 60 hours of high definition video images.
With a 5400RPM spindle speed and 8MB of cache, the new drive looks to focus more on storage space and reliability than all-out performance, though it does sport a 3.0Gbps SATA interface. Other performance specifications include
12ms average seek
5.6ms average latency
860 Mbits/s data transfer rate (to/from buffer)
300 MB/s data transfer rate (to/from host)
600,000 controlled ramp load/unload
At standby, Samsung says its new Spinpoint will sip just .25W, and typically 2.3W during read/write operations. MSRP has been set to $299.
What weighs 4 pounds and measures 12.1 inches? The answer has nothing to do with John Holmes and everything to do with Hewlett-Packard's upcoming "ultralight" business notebook line to be built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform.
Cost of entry for the HP-Compaq 2230 series will start at $999 and include an Intel Core 2 Duo T5670 (1.80GHz) processor, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB hard disk, 802.11n wireless, a DVD burner, and Intel's GMA 4500MHD graphics. Users looking for a bit more power have the option of moving up to an Intel T9400 (2.53GHz) processor, bringing the starting price up to $1,649. All models will also come equipped with three USB ports, an HDMI port, and a 4-cell lithium-ion battery.
No release date has been given for the new subnotebook line, but according to Cnet, they should start shipping later this month.
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.