For the first time in the history of the industry (unless you've been keeping count), there have been more notebook shipments in the U.S. than desktops, according to IDC's U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker. The mobile milestone comes in the third quarter of 2008, in which notebooks grabbed 55.2 percent of the market.
Helping notebooks whiz by desktops was a record volume of shipments to the tune of 9.5 million units, an 18 percent growth over last year. The numbers come as vendors put increased focus on notebooks over their desktop offerings. Toshiba, for example, has put all its efforts into its notebook business, whereas companies like Sony, Acer, and Lenovo each exceeded the 65 percent notebook ratio, according to IDC.
"The consumer market continued to be the top driving factor in the notebook offensive but the commercial sector played a critical role too" says David Daoud, research manager, U.S. Quarterly PC Tracker and Personal Systems at IDC. "The consumer market has long favored notebooks, with mobile ratios exceeding the 70% mark. So it is clear that the small and mid-markets, as well as the enterprise and public sector buyers, are seeing good value in mobility."
What IDC didn't touch on was what effect the booming netbook market has had on notebooks surpassing desktop shipments. It was reported earlier this month that 80.6 million netbooks had been shipped in Q3, a 15 percent jump from one year ago. And the demand for low cost laptops doesn't look to be diminishing anytime soon (just ask Intel, who recently purchased the Netbook.com domain). According to Mika Kitagawa, prinicpal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group, netbooks are actually benefitting from the economic crunch.
The decision to go with a 64-bit version of Vista over its 32-bit counterpart remains a dubious one, but not so as far as netbook vendors are concerned. Most new laptops are now shipping with a 64-bit OS. Take Best Buy's newest shipment of HP laptops, for example, who shows 11 models listed as "new arrivals." All but three come with Vista 64-bit, with the remaining models sporting Windows Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro, also in 64-bit form.
Falling memory prices could be one reason for the sudden push into 64-bit territory. Of the 9 laptops outfitted with Vista, all of them come spec'd with 4GB of RAM. But is a 64-bit OS truly necessary to take advantage of 4GB or more?
"The 64-bit versions of Windows can utilize more memory than 32-bit versions of Windows," Microsofts writes in its FAQ. "This helps minimize the time spent swapping processes in and out of memory by storing more of those processes in Random access memory (RAM) rather than on the hard disk. This, in turn, can increase overall program performance."
Running 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS isn't a complete waste, but because most systems will only show around 3.25GB as being installed, it's easy to see why notebook vendors would opt for a 64-bit OS to avoid customer confusion. Throw into the mix that hardware and peripheral support in Vista 64-bit is very good and it becomes a low risk option.
Hit the jump and tell us what flavor of Vista you'd prefer to have on your notebook: 32-bit or 64-bit?
As far as Nvidia is concerned, any problems that may have plagued its previous mobile GPUs are a thing of the past. Bill Henry, director of notebook marketing at Nvidia, recently stated that the graphics chip maker has "updated the materials" used to manufacture the company's chips. Nvidia was successful in getting that message across to Apple, who chose to use Nvidia's 9400M GPU it its refreshed MacBook line, but Apple's not the only one who's convinced.
According to news outlet DigiTimes, several global top-tier notebook vendors are jumping on board Nvidia's 9400M bandwagon. Some of these include heavy hitters Asus, Acer, HP, and Dell, all of which plan to launch MCP79-based (9400M) laptops by the end of the year. Speculation among notebook vendors suggest that Nvidia's new chipset could end up with a 20 percent market share of Intel-based notebook platforms.
If true (and according to Ujesh Desai, Nvidia's GM of GeForce products, more than 10 MCP79-based notebooks will have been released by the beginning of next year), Nvidia's fortunes could take a much needed turn for the better, both in public perception and investor confidence, the latter of which has watched the company's stock price plummet compared to not even one year ago, before the market went haywire.
Is Nvidia on the up and up? Hit the jump and give us your take.
No sooner do you fill up your credit card purchasing the latest components, new technology emerges rendering your parts obsolete. Welcome to the world of computers. This fact of computing isn't limited to just the desktop sector, and even though Intel's Centrino 2 platform has just recently manifested in the market place, the company offered onlookers a glimpse of its next generation mobile platform at this year's Intel Developer Forum in Taiwan.
The new platform, currently code-named "Calpella," will include processors based on Intel's upcoming Nehalem architecture, due out in desktop form next month. As with every subsequent generation of notebooks, part of the focus on Calpella will be on preserving battery life and you can expect a number of new features aimed towards this goal. These include power switches capable of shutting down individual processing cores, and independent voltage for memory and I/O.
"It's a very different platform than anything they've done to date," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at research firm Insight 64. "When Calpella shows up, everything inside that laptop will be brand new."
No specific release date has yet been set, but rumblings point to sometime in Q3 2009.
It doesn't matter that most power users would rather use a desktop replacement notebook in place of a lower cost (and much longer lasting, in terms of battery life) netbook, demand is hot and Asus has plans to stoke the coals. Asus Chairman Jonney Shih sees his company shipping 20 million laptops in 2009, which would mean increasing its output by 77 percent.
Should Asus meet its lofty goal, it would become one of the world's top four laptop makers. Not all of the laptops Asus sells are low-cost units or ultraportables, but many of them are and the market for netbooks doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. According to iSupply, the global notebook PC market will grow 20 percent next year, with the netbook segment twice as active with a 55 percent growth rate. That puts Asus in good position, who's Eee PC line can be argued sports a name brand recognition advantage over its competition.
With all the hoopla surrounding Intel's Centrino 2 platform, it might be easy to forget that AMD is also a player in the mobile market. But who hasn't forgotten is MSI, who just released a pair of new gaming notebooks to the U.S. market with CPU support for AMD's Turion X2 Ultra dual-core mobile processors.
On the lighter end of the spec sheet, MSI's 15.4" GX630 utilizes Nvidia's MCP77 chipset with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. Gaming duties are handled by Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT with a 512MB frame buffer, and two speakers tackle audio chores.
Depsite its Nvidia-centric name, the 17" GT735 runs on AMD's RX781+SB700 chipset, also with support for up to 4GB of DDR2-800 RAM. That also means an ATI based videocard, specifically the Mobility Radeon HD3850 along with 512MB of GDDR3. Audio gets an upgrade as well with four speakers plus a subwoofer.
Both notebooks boast a 320GB SATA hard drive, DVD burner (optional Blu-ray), 802.11b/g/n, webcam, an HDMI port, a 4-in-1 card reader, eSATA, and two (GX630) or three (GT735) USB 2.0 ports. But while the specs may seem standard fare, both machines will come with the option to overclock by way of a button, which MSI claims will increase the speed of the CPU by as much as 15 percent.
The new notebooks are available now from several online e-tailers, including Amazon.com, Buy.com, ZipZoomFly, and Mwave for between $1050 to $1115 (GX630) and $1230 to $1300 (GT735).
Rumor has it that Intel will finally launch its Core i7 platform on November 17, just under a month from now, with a handful of processors clocked from 2.66GHz (Core i7-920) on up to 3.2GHz (Core i7-965XE). That date can't come quick enough for enthusiasts who have patiently put off building a new PC or upgrading an existing one. But if you're also waiting for a mobile version of Intel's new architecture, get cozy because it might be awhile.
Codenamed Clarksfield, Intel says the mobile version won't even go into production until the second half of 2009, and it's anyone's guess as to how long after that the chips will be made available commercially. The news doesn't come as a total surprise, however, as Clarksfield will be a main component in the next version of Intel's Centrino platform, keeping in mind that Centrino 2 is barely out of the silicon womb.
By now everyone is familiar with the problems Nvidia has had with its notebook GPUs, which resulted in an "abnormal failure rate" for what remains an unspecified number of graphics chips. But throughout all the speculation, including accusations that whatever problem has been plaguing the chip maker might also be affecting desktop units as well, Nvidia has avoided speaking out on the issue at any length. Until now, thanks to some prodding by AMD.
Earlier this week AMD's Packaging and Interconnect Director, Neil McLellan, went on the semi-offensive and said Nvidia not only uses inferior materials for its chip package design, but that the company just doesn't care as much about packaging technologies as AMD does, according to The Tech Report. Ouch. Those comments didn't sit well with Nvidia, who fired back in a letter in defense of its position.
"In his recent commentary on chip packaging, Mr. McLellan makes a number of speculative assertions about NVIDIA's people, products and philosophy," Nvidia wrote. "In his interview McLellan asserts that High lead bumps are more prone to fatigue. What he fails to note is that AMD currently uses High lead bumps on their CPU line -- a device well known to undergo high thermal stress, and also go through lots of power cycling."
Nvidia went on to talk about High Lead bumps being used in "10s of billions of semiconductor devices" and a whole lot more, but stopped short of saying what exactly caused earlier problems with its 8M series.
November's shaping up to be a busy month, and it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. On the desktop front, Intel's Core i7 platform is rumored to launch on November 17th, and in the mobile sector, MSI looks to launch its Wind U120 with built-in 3.5G before December rolls around, according to DigiTimes.
The new netbook will feature the usual assortment of components - Atom N270 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and Windows XP - tucked underneath your choice of a white or black shell and will run about $550. MSI has been working with Taiwan-based telco Vibo Telecom to implement 3.5G functionality in the U120 and will look to do the same with local telecom providers in Europe.
What you won't find on the new netbook is a touchscreen. Asus is rumored to be readying a touchscreen version of its Eee PC line, but MSI cites high costs as a prohibiting factor for its Wind. Bummer.
Early batches of Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 notebooks had customers scratching their heads over what appeared to be a case of paying for a larger size solid state drive but receiving a smaller one instead. How else would you explain paying for a 16GB SSD only to find 4GB of usable space in the default shipping state?
The answer, says Dell, is a partitioning SNAFU. The confusion stemmed from Dell using a 4GB Ubuntu image for new installs regardless of the SSD size, causing some customers to "freak out" before discovering the unused and unpartitioned remaining space. The problem has since been addressed, but if you own an early model with the incorrect partition scheme, running the included system restore DVD partitions the entire drive and makes the world right again.