If you have, for some reason, been hankering for a smartbook, you may be a little disappointed. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs stated during a company event today that tablets have most likely killed the nascent smartbook market. With Qualcomm being one of the most ardent supporters of the smartbook concept, there's little hope for the category to continue.
The HP Airlife was the only device to be marketed as a smartbook. This Android-based device never really found its audience when it was released earlier this year. Still, Qualcomm will continue to make faster mobile chips, they're just more likely to be seen in tablets and smartphones than in light-weight computers.
If smartbooks had materialized sooner, they may have had a shot. But in the wake of the iPad, it's not hard to see how it ended up this way. Were you interested in the smartbook category? What will you do now?
Toshiba is now recalling thousands of T130 series laptops owing to overheating concerns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday. The models covered under the voluntary recall program are the Satellite T135, Satellite T135D and Satellite ProT130. The company issued the recall after being inundated with reports of the said “notebook computers overheating and deforming the plastic casing area around the AC adapter plug.” While Toshiba has received 129 complaints in all, there have been only two instances each of minor burns and minor property damage.
“The defective harness may, in some circumstances, overheat to the point of melting the computer's base at the location where the AC adaptor plugs into the unit. To date there have been no reports of serious injury, but the temperature is sufficient to pose a burn hazard if specific parts of the DC-In Jack or plug are touched when they are overheated,” reads a support bulletin on Toshiba's website.
Owners of the affected units (see full list of SKUs) are advised to update to the latest version of the BIOS either through the Toshiba Service Station Application installed on their computers or by downloading the appropriate version from the company's website. “Should the BIOS determine that a harness failure is occurring, external power will immediately be disabled eliminating the possibility of the over heating. You will then need to contact the Toshiba call center to set up a warranty repair.”
Researchers at Georgia Institute of technology have devised a new "bottom-up" self-assembly technique to overcome technical difficulties that had rendered more efficient silicon-based anodes impractical. The current crop of batteries only feature anodes made from graphite.
But the new technique uses “nanotechnology to fine-tune its materials properties,” allowing silicon-based anodes to be more stable inside the battery, and thereby paving the way for “a ten-fold capacity improvement over graphite.” Not only will the new technique improve the storage capacity of Li-ion batteries manifold, but such batteries will also last much longer.
"Development of a novel approach to producing hierarchical anode or cathode particles with controlled properties opens the door to many new directions for lithium-ion battery technology," said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "This is a significant step toward commercial production of silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries."
Nvidia has been talking up their new Optimus system as of late. An Optimus enabled notebook will be able to seamlessly switch between a low power integrated GPU to a higher power dedicated GPU. The power savings are said to be significant, nearly doubling rated battery life. Optimus can do this by completely powering off the GPU when using the on-board. To prove this, Nvidia went ahead a pulled the GPU from a running computer causing no interruption.
The real trick of Optimus is that the switch will happen automatically whenever the GPU is needed. For example, if you use the GPU acceleration in Flash 10.1 and open a Youtube video, the GPU would turn on to render the video. Close the Window, and the GPU powers down. This demo is meant to stress that when an Optimus system turns off the GPU, it is totally electrically off.
We’re excited about the possible energy savings this system could bring. Switchable graphics in notebooks have long been available, but poorly implemented. If Optimus is really as seamless as Nvidia makes it look, count us in.
Toshiba’s Portégé M700 line has been in need of a refresh for some time, and since it’s been raining mobile Core i7 CPUs lately, they decided to throw one of those in. The addition of the Core i7 620M makes the Portégé M780 a very desirable tablet machine. We don’t have all the details yet, but the specs seem solid.
In addition to the aforementioned Core i7 we will likely see 4GB of RAM, a 12.1in 1280x800 LED display, Intel HD graphics, 320GB 7200RPM hard drive, and 802.11n. The system should also have support for multitouch gestures and Wacom pen input. A cheaper Core i3 version should be available for $1279, while the speedier Core i7 model will go for $1799.
The convertible tablet form factor seems to be coming along nicely with the ThinkPad X201 already out. Is anyone in the market for one of these? Decided on which one yet?
Lenovo has introduced three new value systems rocking AMD CPUs and graphics. The C315 is a stylish little all-in-one set up, and the G445 and G555 are laptops. Lenovo is making no mistake about the message here. “Our new G series notebooks and C series all-in-one desktop are designed for users who want a simple but powerful computing experience without any headaches,” said Lenovo’s Dion Weisler.
The C315 will have a fairly large 20 inch widescreen display with touchscreen technology built in. It will have an Athlon dual-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and ATI Radeon Mobility graphics. At $649, this isn’t a bad deal at all. It’s sort of a budget HP TouchSmart machine.
The laptops look like nice values as well. Both will have 16:9 widescreen displays and Turion II dual-core CPUs. Radeon HD graphics are, of course, also on board. Lenovo did not detail what specs would differentiate the two units, which makes us curious as they both have the same MSRP of $449. Keep an eye on this if you're looking for a deal on a system and power isn't tops on your list.
The Intel Core 2 ULV processors have seen widespread usage in the “thin and light” category, but their days may be numbered. According to an unconfirmed report, Intel will be releasing a faster low voltage dual core version of the Core i7 this summer. This makes it clear that Intel is continuing to move past Core 2, even at the low end. The model number of the new CPU is expected to be 660UM, and it should run at 1.33GHz.
This chip will replace the 1.2 GHz 640UM. Both chips support 800MHz DDR3 memory, and consume only 18W of total power. This is largely thanks to the integrated graphics which are capable of stepping down to a 166MHz clock speed when not needed. The chip will still have hyperthreading allowing it to run up to four processes. No exact release date is known.
If you’re anything like us, you’re hankering for some SuperSpeed USB, also known as USB 3.0. Adoption slowed after Intel’s decision to hold off on 3.0 until 2011, but now we’re hearing about the first Dell laptop to ship with the fabled ports. The Dell Precision M6500 will have USB 3.0 as well as new Core i5 CPU options, some of them dual-core.
The professional level notebook was previously only available with USB 2.0 ports and a Core i7. The machines will also come equipped with a 3.2-megapixel webcam and 64GB SSD mini card support. This means the M6500 will be able to run in a three hard drive configuration. A 3G modem, 17in screen, and Nvidia Quadro graphics round out the package.
The previous version was going for nearly $2800. No word yet on pricing for this model. Does this mean machine interest you at all?
It may have taken a long while for Apple to finally introduce the iPad, but now that it has, expect every other tech company to try and cash in on the tablet mania. Everyone except Acer, that is.
According to Acer Taiwan president Scott Lin, the always confident and frequently outspoken OEM isn't planning on tossing its hat into the tablet ring and going toe-to-toe with the iPad. Instead, Acer is content to focus on ultra-thin notebooks in 2010.
It's not that Acer couldn't build a tablet, says Lin, The issue, he says, is that such a product doesn't have a place in Acer's business model. Not only that, but Acer appears to have little interest in designing an online store similar to Apple's iTunes ecosystem to support a tablet device.
The big question then becomes, 'What kind of impact will the iPad and similar devices have on the ultra-thin notebook and netbook markets?' And the answer, according to Lin, is not very much, since they each target different consumer groups. Whether or not that's really the case, we'll find out as 2010 marches on.
The new Core i5 and Core i7 mobile CPUs are already finding their way into some products. Panasonic has announced that the Japanese version of the Toughbook laptops, known there as Lets Note, will be getting some speedy new Nehalem-based processors. The new rugged (and a little ugly) offerings will come in four flavors.
The S9, N9, and F9 will have a Core i5-520M CPU. Screen sizes range from 12.1 inches (S9 and F9) up to the 14.1 inch screen on the F9. This screen will probably look quite nice with a resolution of 1440 x 900. The real gem here is the R9 model which will have a Core i7-620M, 250GB HDD, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM crammed into a chassis the size of a netbook. A 10.1 inch screen with that kind of power makes for a desirable ultraportable computer.
A Japanese launch is scheduled for February 17th. No word on if these PCs will find their way here. If you were able to get one of these, what would you pay for it?