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.
Intel has announced that they are moving ahead with reckless abandon to create an app store for netbooks. Their goal is to have the store preinstalled on all Atom based netbooks running both Windows and Mobiln. The apparent model for the store is suspiciously similar to that of the Apple App Store. Developers would get 70% of sales and the remaining 30% would go to Intel. Intel also plans to review apps in a manner similar to Apple, but hopefully Intel won’t be as fussy.
It’s an interesting idea, but few details are available. Intel simply claims the store will launch sometime in 2010. Developers can get the SDK now from the Intel site. Will anyone be able to create compelling enough paid apps to attract users? After all, most netbooks are Windows based and there are a plethora of applications that run just fine on them. Do you expect anything interesting to come of this, or is the idea of a closed netbook app store a non-starter?
Asus is about to make a big change to their Eee PC line of products. The netbook pioneer has announced that all their future Eee PCs will come equipped with Nvidia ION instead of the slower Intel solution most netbooks and nettops use now. Nvidia claims that ION is ten times faster than Intel’s integrated solution.
ION is famous for being capable of outputting 1080p video without using much power. The ION platform is also able to run Aero cleanly on Windows 7. “These PCs will run circles around most Atom-based systems, so they are an excellent solution,” said Industry analyst Jon Peddie. With the upcoming Flash 10.1 supporting video acceleration, you can expect smooth flash video at long last.
Three netbooks were tested: the Toshiba mini NB205, ASUS Eee PC 1008HA, and the HP Mini 311. On average, the computers ran down 47 minutes sooner with Windows 7 than with XP. Still, two of the units were running after nearly five hours, and the Toshiba made it nearly nine hours on Windows 7. It may not be the same as losing nearly an hour on a conventional laptop, but it is something to consider. If you plan to buy a netbook, will you be hunting for one running Windows XP?
If you’ve ever tried to get any amount of real work done on a netbook, you know how frustrating it can be. One of the biggest barriers to regular netbook use is the undersized low-resolution LCD they come equipped with. In a recent demo at CEATEC Japan, Kohjinsha showed off their prototype dual screen netbook. In what was probably the biggest shocker of the show, it actually looks good.
When closed, the Kohjinsha netbook looks like any 10.1 inch unit. It doesn’t even look terribly bulky. In the video we can see a smooth sliding mechanism at work that folds out the displays symmetrically. This little beauty sports an AMD Athlon NeoMV-40 CPU running at 1.6Ghz, 4GB of RAM, and Microsoft Windows 7. No word on how badly battery life suffers due to the dual displays.
No exact release date or pricing info was available, but Kohjinsha expects to be offering the dual screen netbook late this year for less than 100,000 Yen (slightly under $1100). If this were available, would you pay more than $1000 for it?
PC vender Acer is on quite the roll as of late. They’ve finally become number two in worldwide notebook sales, beating out Dell. Now they expect to be able to ship 40 million notebooks in 2010, and take the number one spot from market leader HP.
Earlier this year Acer was predicting only 33 to 37 million units shipped, but better than expected performance in the second half of the year caused them to raise expectations. One of Acer’s major problems is the ongoing shortage of hardware, including optical drives, LCD panels, hard drives, and graphics chips. Acer Chairman, JT Wang, indicated that even with possible shortages the company would likely reach its goal.
Acer has become a major player in the last few years. Their notebook shipments have more than doubled, mostly due to the success of netbooks marketed heavily to consumers. They plan to continue on this path into next year.
There’s very little to differentiate one netbook from another these days. Manufacturers are basically just putting different enclosures around the same hardware. That’s largely a result of restrictions placed on netbook specs by Intel and Microsoft. With the upcoming Atom N470 (Pineview), the spec requirements will be lifted a bit, but they’ll still be there.
Currently, netbooks are limited to 1GB of RAM in most instances. When the N470 is released around March 2010 that limit will be raised to 2GB. Manufacturers will also be able to include a 32GB solid state drive if they so choose. Intel boldly pointed out that they could totally put Intel’s Moblin OS on them too… no pressure though.
While it’s nice to see some movement here, is it anywhere near enough? Don’t most users that want more RAM just add it anyway? So, good news, or just plain depressing?
Michael Dell had some harsh words for netbooks in a recent speech. He claimed that a user might like a netbook just fine, until they’ve used it. “About 36 hours later, they're saying 'The screen's gonna have to go. Give me my 15-inch screen back,’” said Dell. He claimed that consumers really prefer higher end machines in the long run.
Of Windows 7 Dell said, “Performance is kind of coming back.” This may have been a well masked condemnation of Vista’s inability to run acceptably on netbooks. Clearly, he would prefer you buy a more expensive computer, but according to Dell’s CEO, 80% of their business doesn’t come from individual consumers anyway. He pointed out that this dynamic meant Dell could bounce back from the slowdown quickly.
The next time you’re about to buy that cheap netbook, just take a second. Think about what Michael Dell would like you to do: spend more money. He’s probably just saying it because he’s concerned for your user experience, right?
These days, netbooks have become a very popular alternative to conventional notebooks for mobile computing. Netbooks are lightweight, have great battery life, and are relatively inexpensive compared to full-sized notebooks. This makes them ideal for students or people on a budget. Of course, the lower cost and extended battery life does not come without a trade-off—many netbooks have lower system specs as well, which means that they are not designed for heavy-computing applications.
Although many netbooks now run Windows XP because of Microsoft's hurried entry into that market, many earlier models were built to run Linux. (For instance, the Asus Eee 700 Series ran Xandros, and the current models are offered with either Linux or Windows) And although most current netbooks are x86-based (running the Intel Atom CPU), the usage of ARM-based CPU chips is likely to increase in the future since ARM offers far superior energy efficiency over x86 and battery life has always been a major factor in mobile computing. ARM chips have been used successfully for some time in smartphones and music players, including the newest Zune HD. Since ARM is a different CPU architecture than x86, Windows will not work on ARM. Earlier this year, Microsoft's Steve Guggenheim said that the company currently has no plans to port Windows 7 to the ARM architecture. Therefore, any new wave of ARM-based netbooks will run Linux once again. Unlike Windows, most Linux distros can be compiled for ARM if you have the requisite skills for doing so.
Linux is an ideal choice for netbooks for multiple reasons in addition to CPU architecture. Netbooks generally have lower specs than most full-size notebooks (not to mention desktops) so they are ideal for lightweight applications like web browsing, document preparation, etc. Linux does these tasks very well without the bloat that Windows systems have to deal with from anti-malware utilities. This primer will help you set up and optimize Linux for your netbook.
Steve Ballmer recently sat down with Techcrunch to wax philosophical about browsers and their connection to the operating system. Ballmer was asked about the legal disputes over Internet Explorer bundling. Without missing a beat, he called the notion that operating systems can be independent of internet access “not a sensible concept”.
Ballmer went on to take a few swings at the upcoming Chrome OS, saying, “If you remember, [Marc Andreessen] said something like, Windows will just be a poorly debugged set of device drivers running Netscape… Now, that’s kind of basically the attitude expressed in Chrome Browser, Chrome OS.” He also called Chrome’s browser market share a “rounding error”, but noted that Firefox is having a real impact. Ouch for Chrome.
When asked about how Microsoft will fare against the continued onslaught of competitors, he answered like he’d been thinking about it a lot. Ballmer explained that Macs attack from the top of the market, and PC sales have gained a bit on Macs in the last year as people shied away from more expensive options. He went on to say that Netbooks were going to continue to be a big part of the Windows strategy.
Ballmer clearly lays out a world in which competitors are sometimes operating systems, sometimes browsers, and in the future may even be both. Even with all these new threats, he seems pretty sure Microsoft will stay on top. What do you think?