By our own admission, MacBooks aren't half bad. In Maximum PC'sApple's Notebooks Take On the PC Competition, Apple's MacBook walked away as best-in-class in the professional segment, much to the dismay of the PC faithful. But that doesn't mean we're willing to squeeze our wallet dry to own one.
On average, you can expect to pay twice as much on an Apple PC versus a Vista computer. And people are doing just that. Windows PCs still dominate the lion's share of the market at 80 percent, but Apple continues to cling to a respectable 20 percent slice of the pie. Making its piece even more savory, Apple's making over 35 percent of the revenue share. Think about that. Despite claiming one-fifth of the market, Apple's cashing in on over a third of the revenue.
These numbers come courtesy of the latest NPD sales information, but some feel that Apple has done as well as it ever will at the current price point. Joe Wilcox from eWeek writes, "What's next? I predict that Apple's grab for dollars has gone about as far as it can, without price cuts. Apple's higher prices buck industry trends."
That may be the case, but can trendy hipsters be expected to buck the trend of overpaying?
Dell last week said it planned to make a major push in outfitting all of its notebooks with LED backlighting by the end of 2011, which not only represents a step towards being green, but will have customers saving green to the tune of $20 million based on a 220 million kilowatt-hour reduction. That's good news for all involved, and it gets even better if other OEMs jump on board, and it appears they are.
Citing "market watchers," DigiTimes reports that LED backlighting will make headway anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the notebook market in 2009. Overall penetration for 2008 has been much less at 10 percent, but Dell and other big name notebook vendors have put an increased emphasis on LED-backlight models resulting in a strong 15 percent penetration in the fourth quarter. Momentum is expected to carry over to next year and beyond.
S3 Graphics, now a joint venture with VIA Technologies, will look to capitalize on the mini-notebook frenzy with a triple play of low wattage videocards under its Chrome 400 Ultra Low Power (ULP) mobile GPU series. The Chrome 430 ULP, 435 ULP, and 440 ULP all support DirectX 10.1, potentially making them competitive alternatives to ATI's line of GPUs. The company's ChromotionHD technology also comes as part of the package, allowing for high definition playback without stressing the CPU. S3 also says its new GPUs will process sophisticated algorithms and power control mechanisms to extend battery life.
On the lowest end, the 430 ULP sips less than 7 watts. While specifics weren't given for the two higher models, S3 claims the 435 ULP and 440 ULP will outperform competitor products by over 40 and 60 percent respectively.
S3 says its mobile graphics are available now, but didn't mention any notebook OEM customers other than Fujitsu.
We've seen a major push in the past 12 months towards going green, and Dell apparently wants to lead the charge. Last month the OEM became the first major computer maker to announce it had achieved its goal of becoming carbon neutral, but Dell isn't finished focusing on the environment, saying that all of its notebook displays will see a transition to LED in the next 12 months. This latest move is part of an attempt to become the 'greenest' technology company worldwide.
Starting December 15, 2008, a full two-thirds of Dell Latitude and E-Family notebooks will boast mercury-free LED backlighting, as well as coming standard on the Dell Precision M2400 and M4400 mobile workstations. Benefiting more than just the environment, Dell says its move will result in a combined customer savings of about $20 million and 220 million kilowatt-hours in 2010 and 2011.
If you were raised on Far Cry, Athlon 64s, and Britney Spears, you probably never heard of Packard Bell. But for the slightly more ripened generation, we can remember PB as a prominent OEM up until it packed its bags and skipped out of the U.S. market nearly a decade ago.
But the company didn't disappear, and instead has maintained a presence in Europe. And like everyone else that manufacturers PCs, Packard Bell is prepping a jump onto the increasingly crowded netbook bandwagon. PB's calling its entry the "dot," which will be an 8.9-inch ultraportable with a full install of XP.
At its core, the dot comes built around an Intel Atom processor. Storage duties will be handled by a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of memory. Optional add-ons include a 6-cell battery, webcam, and a 3G module. After plugging in the exchange rate, the dot looks to sell for $584 USD in Europe this November.
Any guesses as to who will be next to offer up a netbook?
Perhaps the death knell for Blu-ray among sub 17-inch notebooks isn't yet ringing, even if Asus and Acer are reluctant to keep forging ahead. Or maybe Sony is intent on not letting Blu-ray drives fade from the mobile scene anytime soon. But whatever the state of the high-definition format, expect to see it in Sony's new wicked thin VAIO TT series of notebooks.
As is becoming trend of late, the VAIO TT sports a sleek looking carbon-fiber shell, underneath which sits a modest 11.1-inch XBRITE-DuraView screen capable of a 1366x768 resolution. The small stature and ultra thin frame helps the new notebook boast a manageable 2.87 pounds and a thickness of just 1 inch.
The new notebook will be based around Intel's Centrino 2 platform, with a Core 2 Duo SU9400 clocked at 1.4GHz and 4GB of DDR3-800 RAM providing the horsepower. For home theater buffs, the VAIO TT can be outfitted with an optional Blu-ray drive, and then beamed to an HDTV via an integrated HDMI port. Also erring on the higher end, Sony says users can stuff dual 128GB SSDs in RAID-0 array - oh my!
Pricing starts at $2,000, though the cost of entry jumps to $2,700 for the model touting a Blu-ray player.
We're not sure how Sony envisioned the Blu-ray revolution once HD-DVD was taken out of the game, but the reality has to be different than what was perceived. With the high price of players, consumers continue to show a lukewarm response to the victorious high definition format, even with inflated figures courtesy of Playstation 3 console sales.
In response to how things have shaped up, DigiTimes reports notebook vendors are beginning to change their strategies and kick Blu-ray to the curb. Citing un-named sources, the tech news site claims Asus originally panned to put a Blu-ray drive in its upcoming N80 and N50 laptops, but now only plans to do so with the N50 model. Going forward, Asus will focus it's Blu-ray offerings on large size (and more expensive) notebooks in 2009.
But while Asus has left the door open, Acer looks to be completely abandoning the format with no plans to launch any new Blu-ray notebooks for the remainder of this year.
If the old adage 'size matters' holds any merit, Dell has nothing to worry about. The OEM's 17-inch Precision mobile workstation promises a no compromise approach, and at least on paper, that's exactly what users will get.
16GB of RAM
1GB graphics memory
Up to 1TB of storage in a RAID array
The 16GB of memory will be the first thing to jump out when glossing over the system specs, which will come as a boon to anyone into heavy content creation. Dell also says its new mobile line will be able to accommodate up to two 30-inch displays, and a jog wheel gives the Precision a unique twist in the notebook market.
Dell says the new Precision mobile workstations will be available soon, but hasn't committed to a specific release date or official pricing yet.
Back in June, we reported Intel's dual-core Atom processor had been postponed until September, and since that time, the company's single-core variant has enjoyed widespread success in the nettop world. Demand has been so high that there was speculation of an Atom chip shortage, ultimately prompting a response from Intel.
September has arrived, and as predicted, Intel has now officially begun shipping its 45nm dual-core Atom processor. Intel says the Atom 330 has been designed specifically for nettops. The new chip cranks out 1.6GHz per core supplemented by a very modest 1MB of L2 cache. The 8W TDP chip supports DDR2-667 and is being made available as an integrated package validated with Intel's 945GC Express Chipset.
Is this the chip you've been waiting for before picking up an ultraportable?
Lenovo's X200 tablet appears to bring the whole package. The sex appeal becomes evident at first glance, and it's hard not to want to run your fingers down all 12.1 inches of its touchscreen (damn you, Freud!). But not all the beauty is on the outside, and the X200 sports some pretty respectable specs.
At just 3.5 pounds, the customizable tablet accepts Core 2 Duo processors up to 1.86GHz with up to 4GB of RAM. Optional upgrades include a 128GB SSD, WiMax, integrated webcam, noise canceling mic, and thumbprint reader. Throw the tablet on the optional UltraBase port and the integrated Intel GMA4500 will output 1080P HD content through the DisplayPort.
Lenovo claims just over 4 hours with the standard 4-cell battery, or 10 hours with the 8-cell upgrade.