For many of us, the idea of building your own laptop seems pretty farfetched. But OCZ is looking to change all of that with a recently announced15” DIY gaming notebook. The notebook will be based on Intel’s Centrino 2 processor and ATI’s Radeon HD3650 integrated graphics. According to OCZ, these will “provide a premium gaming experience that lets gamers power through all of today's most advanced and graphic-intensive games and applications with DirectX 10.1 compatibility.”
“At OCZ, empowering the enthusiast end-user in the mobile gaming space is an exciting opportunity for us, and with the powerful technology found in our latest Intel Centrino 2 based notebook we are again at the forefront of this growing market,” states Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management, in OCZ’s the press release. “With OCZ DIY notebooks, end-users have complete control of the cost/performance ratio of key components, giving consumers the opportunity to personalize a true gaming and multi-tasking powerhouse notebook by using a validated component list and our easy to follow step-by-step manual included with every DIY package.”
While the notebook isn’t one that you’ll be building from the ground up, there are plenty of great options to give it a DIY feel. In the box you’ll get the case of the machine, which features a 15” screen, optical drive, and motherboard while the HDD (or SSD), memory and processor are your call. Thanks to some conveniently placed covers, all it takes to install the components is a screwdriver a little bit of know-how. OCZ even provides a catalog of components that work in each slot, so you’ll have a short list of parts to choose from when deliberating on what to use.
For true DIY’ers, this isn’t much to concern yourself with. But if you’re someone looking for a way to get your feet wet in the DIY scene (and it truly is the place to be), this isn’t a bad place to start. Follow the simple instructions and the fundamentals of building a PC are all yours.
In a first for Alienware, the company has introduced a CrossFireX-capable gaming notebook for mobile gamers looking to pack some added heat (figuratively, though likely literally as well) in time for the holiday gaming season. Wealthy fraggers can outfit the new M17 with a pair of ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 3870 videocards for plenty of pixel-pushing power on the notebook's 17-inch WXGA+ or optional WUXGA widescreen display.
"By incorporating the all-out performance of CrossFireX graphics and quad-core processing into Alienware's award-winning notebook lineup," says Frank Azor, executive vice-president for Alienware's Product and Marketing Group, "the M17 delivers an impressive feature set at a price point that doesn't break the bank."
Gamers can also double up on storage with up to 640GB of hard drive space in a RAID 0 array (2x320GB), or up to 1TB in RAID 0 for those willing to drop down to a 5400RPM spindle speed (2x500GB), enough to hold 250,000 songs according to Alienware. Other specs and options include Intel Core 2 Duo, Quad, and Extreme processor support, PM45 chipset, up to 4GB of DDR3 memory, RAID 1 support, ATSC HDTV tuner, Blu-ray optical drive, three USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, WiFi, and other goodies.
The hardware comes wrapped in a "Stealh Black" soft matte finish bearing Alienware's logo and trademark aesthetic flair. But the real surprise is in the price. A base configuration starts at a comparatively modest $1,400, with less than a $2,000 investment required for a configuration consisting of a Core 2 Duo processor, dual-videocards, and 3GB of DDR3 memory on a 1920x1200 HD display.
It seems there's always a notebook battery recall taking place, and the latest round comes from a handful of PC manufacturers using Sony-manufactured batteries. Potentially affected units stands at 100,000 worldwide, with 35,000 of those in the U.S.
The affected lithium-ion batteries were manufactured by Sony Energy Devices Corporation of Japan. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says the batteries could overheat and pose a fire hazard, a likely result given the complaints that have trickled in so far. According to the CPSC, there have already been 19 reports of overheating batteries, and all but 2 of those reports also indicated flames or fire. Two consumers report suffering minor burns, and 10 have complained of property damage.
No OEM has been more affected by the latest recall than HP. Out of the 35,000 batteries recalled in the U.S., 32,000 are being used in HP systems. These include the HP Pavilion dv1000, dv8000, and zd8000 sold from December 2004 to June 2006.
Other popular vendors include Toshiba and it's Satellite A70/75, P30/35, M30X/M35X, and M50/55 notebooks, as well as Tecra A3, A5, and S2 systems sold from April 2005 to October 2005 (3000 in all), and about 150 Dell Latitude 110L, Inspiron 1100, 1150, 5100, 5150, and 5160 notebooks sold between November 2004 to November 2005.
Notebook owners sporting one of the potentially affected units are advised to remove the battery and head over to CPSC's website for more information on how to contact the manufacturer to obtain a free replacement.
Edited 10/31/08 for clarification on the number of units affected and to include CPSC information.
While Microsoft ponders the future of instant-on technology, notebook vendors aren't waiting for a Windows-based solution. The newest entry is Lenovo who, in a joint collaboration with DeviceFM, has started shipping IdeaPad S10e netbooks with the quick starting Splashtop instant-on OS.
"We are thrilled to partner with Lenovo to bring instant-on capabilities to netbook users," says Mark Lee, CEO and co-founder of DeviceVM. "Netbook users want an instant-on, instant-off, efficient and secure way to get online, and Splashtop is the perfect solution."
Splashtop isn't a new concept and can already be found on several motherboards, desktops, and notebooks, but this marks the first time the instant-on OS will make an appearance on an ultraportable netbook. With the Splashtop OS, users can access applications like Firefox, Skype, and Picasa in just a few seconds rather than waiting for Windows to load.
For the first time in the history of the industry (unless you've been keeping count), there have been more notebook shipments in the U.S. than desktops, according to IDC's U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker. The mobile milestone comes in the third quarter of 2008, in which notebooks grabbed 55.2 percent of the market.
Helping notebooks whiz by desktops was a record volume of shipments to the tune of 9.5 million units, an 18 percent growth over last year. The numbers come as vendors put increased focus on notebooks over their desktop offerings. Toshiba, for example, has put all its efforts into its notebook business, whereas companies like Sony, Acer, and Lenovo each exceeded the 65 percent notebook ratio, according to IDC.
"The consumer market continued to be the top driving factor in the notebook offensive but the commercial sector played a critical role too" says David Daoud, research manager, U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker and Personal Systems at IDC. "The consumer market has long favored notebooks, with mobile ratios exceeding the 70% mark. So it is clear that the small and mid-markets, as well as the enterprise and public sector buyers, are seeing good value in mobility."
What IDC didn't touch on was what effect the booming netbook market has had on notebooks surpassing desktop shipments. It was reported earlier this month that 80.6 million netbooks had been shipped in Q3, a 15 percent jump from one year ago. And the demand for low cost laptops doesn't look to be diminishing anytime soon (just ask Intel, who recently purchased the Netbook.com domain). According to Mika Kitagawa, prinicpal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group, netbooks are actually benefitting from the economic crunch.
The decision to go with a 64-bit version of Vista over its 32-bit counterpart remains a dubious one, but not so as far as netbook vendors are concerned. Most new laptops are now shipping with a 64-bit OS. Take Best Buy's newest shipment of HP laptops, for example, who shows 11 models listed as "new arrivals." All but three come with Vista 64-bit, with the remaining models sporting Windows Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro, also in 64-bit form.
Falling memory prices could be one reason for the sudden push into 64-bit territory. Of the 9 laptops outfitted with Vista, all of them come spec'd with 4GB of RAM. But is a 64-bit OS truly necessary to take advantage of 4GB or more?
"The 64-bit versions of Windows can utilize more memory than 32-bit versions of Windows," Microsofts writes in its FAQ. "This helps minimize the time spent swapping processes in and out of memory by storing more of those processes in Random access memory (RAM) rather than on the hard disk. This, in turn, can increase overall program performance."
Running 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS isn't a complete waste, but because most systems will only show around 3.25GB as being installed, it's easy to see why notebook vendors would opt for a 64-bit OS to avoid customer confusion. Throw into the mix that hardware and peripheral support in Vista 64-bit is very good and it becomes a low risk option.
Hit the jump and tell us what flavor of Vista you'd prefer to have on your notebook: 32-bit or 64-bit?
As far as Nvidia is concerned, any problems that may have plagued its previous mobile GPUs are a thing of the past. Bill Henry, director of notebook marketing at Nvidia, recently stated that the graphics chip maker has "updated the materials" used to manufacture the company's chips. Nvidia was successful in getting that message across to Apple, who chose to use Nvidia's 9400M GPU it its refreshed MacBook line, but Apple's not the only one who's convinced.
According to news outlet DigiTimes, several global top-tier notebook vendors are jumping on board Nvidia's 9400M bandwagon. Some of these include heavy hitters Asus, Acer, HP, and Dell, all of which plan to launch MCP79-based (9400M) laptops by the end of the year. Speculation among notebook vendors suggest that Nvidia's new chipset could end up with a 20 percent market share of Intel-based notebook platforms.
If true (and according to Ujesh Desai, Nvidia's GM of GeForce products, more than 10 MCP79-based notebooks will have been released by the beginning of next year), Nvidia's fortunes could take a much needed turn for the better, both in public perception and investor confidence, the latter of which has watched the company's stock price plummet compared to not even one year ago, before the market went haywire.
Is Nvidia on the up and up? Hit the jump and give us your take.
No sooner do you fill up your credit card purchasing the latest components, new technology emerges rendering your parts obsolete. Welcome to the world of computers. This fact of computing isn't limited to just the desktop sector, and even though Intel's Centrino 2 platform has just recently manifested in the market place, the company offered onlookers a glimpse of its next generation mobile platform at this year's Intel Developer Forum in Taiwan.
The new platform, currently code-named "Calpella," will include processors based on Intel's upcoming Nehalem architecture, due out in desktop form next month. As with every subsequent generation of notebooks, part of the focus on Calpella will be on preserving battery life and you can expect a number of new features aimed towards this goal. These include power switches capable of shutting down individual processing cores, and independent voltage for memory and I/O.
"It's a very different platform than anything they've done to date," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at research firm Insight 64. "When Calpella shows up, everything inside that laptop will be brand new."
No specific release date has yet been set, but rumblings point to sometime in Q3 2009.
The instant-on system will let users access key applications and data without actually booting the machine. If Jeff Clarke, senior vice president and general manager of Dell Product Group, is to be believed the technology will also be energy-efficient as it will provide limited access to the system without engaging the CPU.
It doesn't matter that most power users would rather use a desktop replacement notebook in place of a lower cost (and much longer lasting, in terms of battery life) netbook, demand is hot and Asus has plans to stoke the coals. Asus Chairman Jonney Shih sees his company shipping 20 million laptops in 2009, which would mean increasing its output by 77 percent.
Should Asus meet its lofty goal, it would become one of the world's top four laptop makers. Not all of the laptops Asus sells are low-cost units or ultraportables, but many of them are and the market for netbooks doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. According to iSupply, the global notebook PC market will grow 20 percent next year, with the netbook segment twice as active with a 55 percent growth rate. That puts Asus in good position, who's Eee PC line can be argued sports a name brand recognition advantage over its competition.