Adobe has released the third beta version of Flash 10.1, and it comes with a nice treat for the early adopter on the move. Beta 3 finally adds GPU acceleration support for the Intel GMA 500 chipset. This is the graphics hardware found in the majority of netbooks. What does this mean in practical terms? Well, just 720p Flash video on a netbook, that’s all.
Over at Engadget they were able to coax a Dell Mini 10 to play back 1080p content as well. Both Youtube and CBS streaming appeared to work well enough with minor lag. Still, when any previous attempts to play this content brought a netbook to a grinding halt, you can’t be too picky.
The results are good for a beta. Sure, there’s still some jitter but it’s a vast improvement. Adobe has been racing to complete the update of the much maligned plug-in. The new beta gives us hope that the wait may be worth it. Get the beta 3 version of Flash right here and enjoy.
Both WiMAX and LTE are vying to be the successor to the current 3G mobile data standards. The first 4G LTE networks are going up around the world, but in the US they have yet to roll out. What we do see stateside is WiMAX 4G service beginning to crop up. Taking note of that, Dell has decided to offer a WiMAX option on the new version of the Mini 10.
The netbook has all the usual Wi-Fi 802.11 connectivity including the N standard. But that standard card can be replaced with a combo 802.11n/WiMAX card. This will give the system access to either Sprint 4G or Clearwire mobile broadband. The upgrade adds $60 to the price of the computer. If you want a new Mini 10 with all that 4G goodness, you can order now, but it won’t ship until early March.
An ARM-based netbook running Ubuntu could be in your future with the newest version of Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Much like Windows, the popular Linux distro did not previously have support for ARM processors. This meant you’d only see Ubuntu on Atom-based netbooks, a category dominated by Windows. With the anticipated flood of ARM packing “smartbooks” expected to materialize, the devs got to work rewriting Ubuntu.
According to Ubuntu’s Jamie Bennet, the problem was that Ubuntu Netbook Edition required 3D graphics drivers that didn’t exist for ARM chips. They got around this by employing 2D Enlightenment Foundation Libraries to fake a 3D interface. We’re hearing that you won’t be able to tell the difference in the interface. If true, that’s a big win for smartbooks and Ubuntu.
This may be the space that Ubuntu specifically, and Linux in general, can succeed in. Windows is completely locked out of the smartbook game until such time as Redmond gets around to adding ARM support. Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Is an Ubuntu smartbook something you’d buy?
The new Asus T101MT netbook tablet was spotted in an FCC filing back in December, but it’s now been made official. The systems comes with the familiar netbook internals including a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a 10.1-inch LED-backlit screen (with touchscreen capabilities), and 1-2GB of RAM depending on which version of Windows 7 the customer opts for. Consumers will also have a choice between a 160GB hard drive, or a 320GB hard drive with 500GB of Asus cloud storage free for a year.
Of course, the real trick here is the rotating screen that swivels around to put the computer into tablet mode. The system is not obscenely heavy at 2.9 lbs, and will offer a reported 6.5 hours of battery life. As an extra added bonus the SD card slot will be able to read the new SDXC cards up to 32GB in size. No specifics on price or availability were announced, but we’ll keep an eye out. Does this sort of form factor interest you at all?
The Plasma Workspace, an alternative to the Plasma Desktop, is “specifically designed for ergonomic use on netbooks and smaller notebooks.” It allows better use of the smaller space available on netbooks, and will be more suitable for touchscreen input. The Plasma Netbook shell has a full-screen application launcher, search interface, and a Newspaper for widgets to display content from the web and small utilities.
There’s also a Social Desktop feature which updates the Community widget. Says KDE: “The new Social News widget shows a livestream of what is going on in the social network of the user and the new Knowledge Base widget allows users to search for answers and questions from different providers including openDesktop.org's own knowledge base.”
A goodly list of other improvements will be found at KDE's web site, along with links for downloading the new version.
Gone are the Atom processor’s days of monopolizing the low-cost mobile-computing market. This should come as welcome news to folks who want the price and portability benefits of a netbook but more robust performance.
Take Toshiba’s Satellite T115 as an example. To say that it has an 11.6-inch diagonal screen, weighs 3.6 pounds, and is coated in a high-gloss black finish inlaid with a subtle geometric pattern is to describe any number of netbooks on the market today. The fact that the T115 costs $480 only drives home the similarity.
And yet, the T115 is different from netbooks in one very significant way. It houses a traditional notebook processor. It’s just a single-core, single-threaded, 45mn, 1.3GHz Pentium M, but that proved plenty sufficient for making mincemeat of our zero-point netbook’s benchmark scores. That machine’s Atom N270 is clocked 23 percent higher at 1.6GHz, but the Pentium beat it by massive margins—from 27.4 percent in MainConcept all the way up to 128.7 percent in 3DMark 03.
To say that netbooks have historically been hobbled by Intel’s integrated graphics is to unfairly ignore their slow single-core CPUs, 1GB RAM maximum, miniscule keyboards, and awkward screen resolutions. It’s an unfair assertion, of course—netbooks came into existence to be cheap, portable, low-powered machines. But the definition of netbook has been stretched, to the point where HP’s new Mini 311, while still considered a netbook, has an 11.6-inch 1366x768 screen, Nvidia integrated graphics, a large keyboard, and can support up to 3GB of DDR3 RAM, for less than $500.
At first, the Mini 311 looks a lot like any other 11.6-inch netbook on the market: Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 3 USB ports, and a somewhat squashed keyboard. But the RAM is DDR3/1333, not the typical DDR2/667, and it’s soldered to the mainboard, leaving a SODIMM slot free for an additional 2GB of RAM. The screen has a maximum resolution of 1366x768, significantly better than the standard 1024x600—for one thing, websites and programs built for 1024x768 won’t break. And thanks to the Ion platform, the Mini 311 can display 720p HD video, and output 1080p over the HDMI port—that’s right, a netbook with an HDMI port.
If you were a kid, or had a kid, at any point in the last 20 years, you’re probably familiar with “Guess Who”. This classic game from Milton Bradley taught many of us that it isn’t okay to be different, because you’ll just lose right away. In a slightly nerdier take, the fellows behind the WOMWorld/Nokia site found themselves with 40 Nokia Booklet 3Gs. So of course, they used them to play “Guess Who”.
Instead of picking from a series of faces, each computer had a different mobile phone website on it. This is the sort of extravagance you rarely see, so drink it in. As to why they have 40 of these pricey netbooks, your guess is as good as ours. If you were wondering, at the going rate that’s about $24,000 worth of mobile computing goodness. Hit the jump for the video.
For as long as netbooks have existed, people have been buying more and more of them. More than 33.3 million netbooks will have shipped by year’s end, amounting to a 103 percent increase over last year. Revenue will be up about 72 percent indicating some price cuts. But according to DisplaySearch, as laptops with ultra low voltage (ULV) CPUs become cheaper, netbook sales will slow considerably.
They project netbook shipments to only grow by about 20 percent next year. Still, the situation can’t be bad when 20 percent growth is a big drop. As ULV laptops creep below $500, consumers will begin purchasing them in larger numbers. ULV computers have similarly good battery life, but better performance than netbooks running Atom chips.
The report also suggests that the uptick in ULV sales will likely mean manufacturers will take a revenue hit of only 1% or so. While netbooks will remain big sellers, they probably won’t have another year like 2009.
This holiday, you pull the wraps off a brand new laptop and open the lid to your shiny new mobile companion. The first thought you might have is to consider which apps you should install first and what's the fastest way to load the up the hard disk with music and movies. Of course, you inevitably have to think about your old laptop, and what price you can sell it for on Craigslist. But before you dump an old laptop or retire it to the den of forgotten gadgets, here are eight practical ideas on how you can extend its life.