There aren't a ton of affordable notebooks out there that come with a Blu-ray drive as a standard accessory. And if sources behind the scenes at makers of optical drives turn out to be true in their predictions, don't expect to see many Blu-ray based notebooks until the second half of 2010.
As has always been the case with Blu-ray, price is the prohibiting factor. According to DigiTimes, a slim-type Blu-ray drive costs about $100, while a slim DVD burner can be had for just $20, or five times less. It doesn't take a math or business major to crunch the numbers and see which one makes more sense.
By the second half of 2010, however, sources say Bu-ray drives are expected to drop. While they didn't say by how much, the general consensus is that you'll be seeing a lot more notebooks equipped with Blu-ray drives than you do today.
In the meantime, there's still the high-end sector, which now includes Intel's Core i7 processors. Toshiba, for example, recently announced the Qosmio X500 series, which sport both a Blu-ray drive and Intel's new mobile Core i7 parts.
Before now, if you wanted a Core i7-based laptop, you could have one, but it had to be of the desktop variety, which meant contending with higher temps, lower battery life, and bulky form factors.
Then came this year's IDF, in which Intel introduced its Nehalem architecture in mobile form. It didn't take long for Dell to announce refreshed Studio 15 and Studio 17 laptops outfitted with the new chips, and now Asus and Sager are joining in on the fun.
Asus just introduced its M60J, a 16-inch notebook that comes configurable with either Intel's 1.6GHz Core i7 720QM or 1.73GHz Core i7 820QM. It also comes with a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT240M GPU, up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 1TB of hard drive storage, optional Blu-ray, and more.
Sager, on the other hand, unveiled a 15.6-inch model (NP8690) built around the same processors, but ups the ante with a 1GB GeForce GTX 280M GPU, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 500GB hard drive, and a 1080p display.
No word yet on how much Asus' M60J will cost or when it will start shipping. Sager, meanwhile, will start shipping its NP8690 in October starting at $1,800.
Toshiba last Thursday unveiled a new line of performance-oriented 2.5-inch notebook drives that purport to offer the best of both worlds: Performance and capacity.
Available in 160GB, 250GB, 320GB, and 500GB capacities, Toshiba's new MKxx56GSY series promises "significant performance improvements" over the company's previous generation of 7200RPM drives. Just how much faster are they, you ask? Toshiba claims the new series offers a 23 percent boost in data transfer speeds at 1,255MB/s, while also raising energy efficiency by 28 percent.
The gains come courtesy of improved magnetic head and disk layer technology, which paved the way for an areal density of 395Gb per square inch. Other specs include a 16MB cache buffer, 25dB noise levels during both idle and seek, and 11-12ms average seek times.
Toshiba didn't announce any pricing info, but did say it plans to start mass producing the new drives in October, 2009.
Without much fanfare or ballyhooing, HP will begin shipping Linux on some of its new business laptops. Well, sort of. These aren't full fledged desktop distros, but instant-on Splashtop Linux that optionally loads before the main OS.
HP has long supported Linux on its servers, but this is the first time we're aware of that the OEM has gone open-source on one of its notebooks (excluding netbooks), even if it is a pre-boot environment. It will be made available on HP's upcoming ProBook 5310m laptop, which will also come with Windows 7 Starter Edition.
The ProBook and other Splashtop-based notebooks will support the full-featured Evolution email client and give users quick and easy access to Gmail or any other Web-based email service.
We're not sure whether to call it a netbook, ultra-portable, or just a notebook, but whatever it is, MSI's 12-inch Wind U210 mobile PC has blown into the U.S.
You won't find an Intel Atom processor inside, and instead the U210 comes equipped with AMD's Athlon NEO MV-40 chip. Driving the 12.1-inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display is AMD's ATI Radeon X1250 integrated graphics.
Other specs include 2GB of RAM, a comparatively spacious 250GB had drive, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, HDMI output, and Windows Vista Home Premium.
Probably the cheapest you'll find it online is at Amazon, who's calling it a netbook and selling the black version for $430 shipped ($474 for the white chassis). That's about in line with a higher end netbook, and combined with the advertised 5-hour battery life, MSI may have a winner on its hands.
Someone's feeling ambitious, and that someone is Asus. According to company president Jerry Shen, the multifaceted manufacturer expects to ship 600,000 ultra-thin notebooks by the end of the year and could ship as many as one million units.
The mobile platform has been good to Asus, which further expects that its combined notebook shipments will reach 7.35 billion units in the first three quarters of 2009, and a respectable12 million units by the end of 2009. Driving those shipments is Asus' uber popular Eee PC line, with netbooks accounting for about 40 percent of the total shipments, Shen said.
Looking forward, Shen added that ultra-thins will likely account for 30 percent of the company's total notebook shipments in 2010. And in terms of competition, Shen said he believes Asus will reach its goal of becoming a top-three global vendor by 2011.
VIA on Thursday unveiled the eNote Turnkey Solution , an 11.6-inch ultra-thin notebook boasting both WiMAX and Wi-Fi connectivity. The company said it plans to demo the unit during 4G World in Chicago from September 15-18.
"The VIA eNote Turnkey Solution is one of the most advanced mobile notebooks in the world," said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. "It incorporates all the features one would expect in a state-of-the-art ultra mobile product, plus all the connectivity options that users need to experience truly high speed connectivity anywhere they go."
In addition to WiMAX and Wi-Fi, the new eNote will come configured with a VIA Nano processor clocked at 1.3GHz on the VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset, integrated VIA Chrome9 graphics, up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, video acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, VC1, and DiVX, three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, 4-in-1 card reader, 2MB webcam, Windows XP, and a 4-cell battery for up to three hours of run time.
Western Digital today said it has commenced volume shipments of its 2.5-inch WD Scorpio Blue 640GB hard drives designed for notebooks.
The tiny drives pack 640GB into a single unit by way of 320GB per platter technology, making them the highest capacity 2.5-inch hard drives in the industry standard 9.5mm, 2-disk form factor yet available. On the energy efficiency front, WD claims its capacious Scropio Blue drive consumes 30 percent less power than previous generation WD Scorpio Blue models.
Other features include WD's WhisperDrive technology, which the company describes as a "state-of-the-art seeking algorithm" to reduce drive noise, ShockGuard technology for better shock tolerance should you drop or otherwise jostle your notebook, and IntelliSeek technology, which dynamically adjusts seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration.
The Scorpio Blue 640GB is shipping now through select distributors and resellers with an MSRP set at $149.
The recession may be coming to an end, but desktop PC sales may never get back to where they were, according to Ray Chen of Compal Electronics. The company expects to see a 20 percent and 10 percent rise in PC shipments, in the third and fourth quarters respectively. Notebook sales remained strong throughout the recession. This may mean that notebook sales will only continue to grow, as desktop sales remain comparatively stagnant.
Even Apple, whose sales have remained strong, saw a 20 percent decline in desktop sales volume. Some questions remain as businesses may have been holding off on new PC orders during the recession. The corporate world has traditionally chosen desktops over laptops. However, Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for iSuppli, contends that businesses will choose mobility over performance as they place new orders.
We haven't seen a product more aptly named since the PushUp, the tasty treat (not the exercise) from our childhood years. Now that we're all grown up, we prefer to spend our ducats on computer parts than ice cream, and that's where Philips' CushionSpeaker laptop stand comes in.
The name leaves little room for further description, but suffice to say, the CushionSpeaker is exactly what it sounds like. It's a cushion for resting your laptop on your lap and a speaker for blaring out your groovy music, all in one.
What's not so evident from the product's title is that the CushionSpeaker is made from heat resistant material, and the speaker is powered by your laptop via USB. We suppose that's because CushionSpeaker sounds a lot better than HeatResistantUSBPoweredCushionLaptopSpeaker.