Been admiring those sleek new netbooks, but you already sank your ready cash into a smartphone? If Microsoft's patent application is approved, you might already have half a netbook. As reported by The Register, Redmond has applied for a patent on a so-called "Smart Interface System for Mobile Communication Devices," which would transform your humble smartphone into the practical equivalent of a netbook. According to El Reg:
Although similar features have already been seen in existing cradles, Microsoft’s model would be equipped with a dedicated processor and memory. This would be used for storing and executing the on-board OS and an application for handling communication between the phone, peripherals and other connections, such as Wi-Fi.
Microsoft's patent application says that the device will use USB and "other suitable connector interfaces," and is designed to connect to TVs, monitors, mice, keyboards, printers, drives, and networks. There's a long way between a patent application and real hardware, but what would make you more (or less) likely to give a real-world version of this a careful look? Join us after the jump and sound off.
The latest in Asus’s ever-expanding line of Eee netbooks is a welcome addition to the fold, and much more to our liking than the 901 model we reviewed in December.
Eschewing the previous model’s unremarkable white plastic exterior for a brushed aluminum shell is a smart move on Asus’s part. This changed aesthetic adds legitimacy to the product: The 901’s finish made the device feel disposable, while the 1002HA feels like a real computer.
More importantly, the 1002HA Asus sent us forgoes the pair of low-performance, ultra-low-capacity solid-state drives that bumped up the Eee 901’s price while wreaking havoc with its Photoshop performance (owing to the poor write speeds of cheap MLC SSDs). Instead of SSDs, the 1002HA sports a much more generous 5400rpm 160GB standard hard drive. And it really pays off: The 1002HA breezed through out Photoshop benchmark in just 690 seconds—40 seconds faster than the Acer Aspire One, our prev-ious champion, and less than half the 1,530 seconds the Eee 901 took to accomplish the same task.
Thought Google's Android platform was only good for smartphones? No. 1 chipmaker Intel thinks differently, says VentureBeat. Apparently Intel, who already dominates the netbook scene with its Atom processor line, will begin mass producing Android-based netbooks, which could end up on the market as early as this year.
Like everyone in the tech industry, Intel ended 2008 with a whimper, at least in terms of revenue and profits. The chip maker's net income fell 88 percent to $234 million compared to a year prior, and sales for Q4 2008 were 23 percent lower than for the same quarter in 2007. But an exploding netbook market has helped Intel weather the storm, and netbook sales don't look to be slowing down any time soon.
While Linux has been gaining popularity on the desktop front, the open-source OS has fared better on netbooks. Android, which is based on Linux, could prove to be a viable alternative to both Windows and Linux thanks to its built-in functionality, and it only looks to get more popular as more handset manufacturers begin to implement the platform. By the time Intel is expected released Android-based netbooks (2010 is the most likely scenario), Google's Android could potentially have built up a following, potentially making it more attractive to netbook buyers than Linux and less expensive than Windows-based ultraportables.
Intel, who last year showed it was really serious about netbooks when it purchased the netbook.com domain (probably much to the chagrin of Psion), just got a little bit more serious. The chip maker is working on its own netbook OS called "Moblin," which reached its first alpha release earlier this week.
Based on Linux, Moblin's alpha code is available for free to test the core Linux OS, boot processo, a new "Fastboot" feature, connectivity and networking, and more. To run it, you'll need an Intel Atom or Core 2 CPU with SSE3 instructions, integrated Intel graphics (915/945/965 - GMA-500 not supported), and one of a specific set of wired/wireless network adapters. So far, Intel said it has tested Moblin on a handful of popular netbooks, including the Acer Aspire One, Dell Mini 9, and the ever popular Asus Eee 901.
Intel did say to expect a heavy does of cosmetic changes to the UI between now and the final release, so what you see is not necessarily what you'll get. The company also warned "3D performance is known to be slow."
Learn more details and grab your download here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think about Intel making its own netbook OS.
Super Talent this week released an SSD upgrade intended for the Asus S101 Eee PC. The flash storage comes embedded on a SATA mini-PCIe board and served up in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB capacities. All three models share the same read and write speeds -- up to 90MB/s and 55MB/s respectively -- offering modest performance.
"You can never have enough storage space," noted Joe James, Super Talent's director of marketing. "This is sure to be a popular upgrade for the S101."
And it probably will be, given that the interface should work with any netbok offering mini-PCIe storage expansion. Super Talent says all three models are shipping now, with the 64GB model retailing for approximately $169.
Acer, who made good on its promise to outship the competition in the netbook market despite only offering a single netbook model, will soon add to its Aspire One line with a new D150 series.
Engadget reports the Aspire One D150-0B will first debut in France in early February, with the D150-1B slated for a March release. Both models are expected to ship with the Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz) CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a 10.1-inch 1024x600 display. The only difference between the two is that the 0B ships with a 3-cell battery, versus a 6-cell battery on the 1B, Endgadget says.
Also in March, a D150-2BG model will make its debut. Specs include an Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz) CPU, integrated 3G quandband UMTS/HSDPA mobile broadband, and a 6-cell battery.
The Aspire One D150-0B, D150-1B, and D150-2B are expected to sell for €329 ($425), €349 ($450), and €449 ($575) respectively. Prices will likely be lower in the U.S., but no word yet on U.S. availability.
Despite a struggling economy, the worldwide PC market continues to grow, which is largely the result of mini-notebooks. The immense popularity in low-cost netbooks has also favored Intel, whose Atom CPUs contributed to record growth in the processor market in Q3 2008. But are consumers truly happy buying underpowered ultraportable PCs? According to a study by Biz360, an information-services company, customer satisfaction is falling short of the sales growth.
"The results of the analysis indicate that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement across the board for Netbook products," Biz360 concludes. "Netbook manufacturers also face a significant challenge with consumers whose expectations are based on years of desktop pc usage."
Surprisingly, Biz360 found that Acer ranks lowest in Net Advocacy (Biz360's proprietary metric that factors the positive and negative sentiment of individual comments), despite being the top seller in Q4 2008. Acer's Aspire one series had a 34 percent lower Net Advocacy than the average for all laptop brands.
Not so suprisingly, the number one complaint against netbooks has to do with performance, in which Biz360 found opinions to be "predominately negative."
Earlier this month HP launched its Ubuntu'd Mini 1000 Mi, and even more recently, several 1100-series netbooks starting appearing on the company's website, but there weren't any details to speak of. While these new netbooks remain unannounced, HP has apparently been busy updating its product specifications page for the 1133CL, 1135NR, 1140NR, and 1141NR.
Despite the different model numbers, only the lack of Bluetooth on the 1133CL and 1141NR seem to be a differentiating factor. All four netbooks are listed as having an Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz) processor, 1GB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, 10.1-inch display, 802.11b/g, HD audio, 2-in-1 media card reader, and an ExpressCard/54 slot.
Apple had a good year in notebook sales in 2008, but according to Forbes, Steve Jobs' health is just one of the troubles Apple will face in 2009. Like everyone else, the economy has taken its toll, sending Apple's share price down by more than 50 percent in the past six months from $171.81 to $82.33. But it's the emerging netbook market that could ultimately bite into Apple's revenue.
Despite Apple's success in the mobile PC market, average notebook prices are far below what you can expect to pay for a MacBook, and prices will only go lower as the economy continues to struggle. Acer's Aspire one, which sells for around $320, became the best selling netbook in 2008 putting Acer in fourth place in the PC market and ahead of Apple. And with Intel's next-gen Atom processor promising lower cost netbooks, Apple may find itself struggling to compete, whose lowest price notebook sells for $1,000.
Catch Forbes' full analysis here, then tell us what you think below.
Citing un-named notebook makers, DigiTimes says Intel will launch its next generation Atom processor, currently codenamed Pineview, in the second half of 2009. The new chip will come in both single- and dual-core flavors, although the dual-core variant will only be used in nettops, DigiTimes says.
The new chip will be built using a 45nm manufacturing process with built-in Northbridge functions, such as an integrated memory controller and graphics. Intel is expected to pair the new chip with its upcoming Tiger Point Southbridge to create a new, lower cost netbook platform currently codenamed Pine Trail-M.
But not only will future netbooks cost less as a result of Pineview, but they might be smaller too. By integrating the Northbridge with the CPU, Pineview requires significantly less motherboard space by up to 60 percent, bringing the total down from 2,174mm squared (Atom N270 + 945GC) to 773mm squared. The new platform will also cut back the amount of PCB layers from six to four, while also reducing maximum TDP from 8W to 7W.
In other words, look for tomorrow's netbooks to be smaller, faster, consume less power, and easier on the wallet.