The explosion of mini-notes (netbooks) this past year has been a bitter-sweet pill for notebook manufacturers to swallow. On the one hand, PC makers will take revenue wherever they can get it, and the volume growth looks good to investors. But the profit margins aren't as attractive on low-cost netbooks as they are on pricier notebooks, and as netbook shipments grow, notebook revenue declines, according to a new report by DisplaySearch.
Netbook revenue surged 37 percent in in the third quarter, and a staggering 264 percent in year-on-year. But while consumers are gobbling up low powered, low price mini-notes, few buyers seem interested in larger notebooks anymore, a segment in which revenue was down in every quarter for the past year.
"Mini-notes have been a significant contributor to volume growth in the portable PC market as their very attractive price points make owning a secondary computer viable for many consumers. However, the lower ASPs of these devices are clearly having a negative impact on portable PC market revenue," said John F. Jacobs, Director of Notebook Market Research.
DisplaySearch said it expects this trend to continue well into next year, with mini-notes predicted to account for 21.5 percent of shipment volume but just 10.9 percent of total revenue for the portable PC market in 2010.
Sony is accepting pre-orders for its newest laptop, the Sony Vaio X Series. Though most would consider this a “netbook” solution due to its hardware, it might be one of the snazziest, albeit most expensive, looking netbooks on the market.
Sony managed to cram an 11.1” widescreen, up to 2GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD and a 2GHz Intel Atom processor into a half-inch body weighing 1.6 pounds. They piled up some extras too: internal Verizon Mobile Broadband, GPS, webcam, and memory card readers. Oh, did I forget to mention, you could get up to 14 hours of use out of the included, extended battery (up to 3.5 hours with the standard).
No doubt, the extended battery increases the size and weight of the book, but all-things-considered it may be worth it to be that long without a power cable.
The price tag is steep (starts at $1299) for netbook-grade performance. You can check out more pics and pre-order your own at the Sony Style site. Is the X Series too rich for your blood?
Just how thin is Dell's new Adamo XPS laptop? By the looks of things, you could drop one off a seven-story building, go grab lunch, pick up that gallon of milk you promised you'd bring home, and return in time to catch the laptop before it floats to the ground. Ever seen a notebook after it's been flattened by a steamroller? Neither have we, but we imagine it would look a lot like the Adamo. Think Nicole Richie post The Simple Life but pre-motherhood (actually, you're probably better off if you don't picture that).
Think we're exaggerating? We'd be skeptical too, if Gizmodo hadn't managed to snap a couple pics of Dell's upcoming ultrathin, which is supposed to be about half as thin as a MacBook Air.
Still no other details just yet, including finalized specs, pricing info, or a concrete release date.
In the mobile world, having your cake and eating it too means packing power and battery life into a lightweight laptop, and that's exactly what Toshiba claims to have done with its new Satellite T100 series.
Measuring just one inch thick and weighing in at 3.49 pounds, Toshiba says it didn't cut corners on its slim T100 series, which will be available in two screen sizes and various color options. The Satellite T135 will come with a 13.3 inch display and be offered in Nova Red, Nova Black, and Nova White, while the T115 sports an 11.6-inch display and offered in Nova Red and Nova Black.
On the hardware front, the T135 sports an Intel Pentium SU2700 processor, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a 6-cell battery. The T115 drops the processor down an Intel Celeron 743 processor and maximum RAM to 4GB, while keeping most other components the same. Both systems come with Windows 7 and claim up to 9 hours of run time on a single charge.
Both models will be available starting October 22, 2009, with the T135 carrying an MSRP of $600 and the T115 selling for $450.
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.