Like The Little Engine That Could, the worldwide PC market kept chugging onward against all economic odds, pushed in large part by an emerging netbook market that seemingly popped up overnight. But the ultraportable PCs could only do so much to stave off the inevitable, and according to market research firm iSuppli, the global PC market will suffer its first decline in 2009 since the Dot-Com bust of 2001.
"An annual decline in unit shipments is highly unusual in the PC market," observed Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms for iSuppli. "Even in weak years, PC unit shipments typically rise by single-digit percentages. The last decline -- in 2001 -- was a 5.1 decrease in unit shipments due to the extraordinary impact of the Dot-Com bust, which caused inflated IT spending levels from the previous years to collapse."
The market research firm predicts global PC shipments to dip to 287.3 million units in 2009, marking a 4 percent drop from the 299.2 million shipments in 2008. Ironically enough, a growing notebook market -- which we assume also includes netbooks -- might be part of the reason for the overall drop in PC shipments. While notebook PC shipments will rise by 11.7 percent, desktop PC shipments, including entry-level servers, is expected to plummet 18.1 percent and is being cited as the "primary factor driving the decline of the PC market in 2009," according to iSupply.
The wild popularity of netbooks comes as a double-edged sword for Intel and OEMs alike. On one hand, the worldwide PC market continues to grow on the strength of netbooks, most of which sport an Intel Atom chip inside. But on the other hand, it's long been feared that netbooks would cannibalize traditional notebook sales with higher profit margins, and at least one firm says it's already happening.
According to DisplaySearch, netbook shipments will reach 33 million units in 2009, penetrating into existing notebooks by 20 percent.
"Penetration of mini-notes is one of the primary factors behind DisplaySearch’s expectations of flat Y/Y demand for notebook PCs. The other factor is a dramatic reduction in demand from enterprise customers," DisplaySearch said in a press release.
As has been talked about before, DisplaySearch said that the launch of Windows 7 in late October, if combined with economic recovery, could turn things around and lead to a "rapid recovery" in the enterprise notebook market. However, the market firm also said it doesn't anticipate this happening until sometime in 2010.
You can already order Core i7-based notebooks from OEM outfilts like CyberPower and Eurocom, but doing so means settling for a desktop chip crammed into a laptop chassis, power management be damned. If you've been holding off for Intel to release mobile versions of the popular desktop chip, you might not have to wait much longer.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Intel has updated its launch schedule for three laptop Clarksfield CPUs -- a trio of mobile chips built on the Nehalem architecture that will most likely carry the Core i7 brand -- for a late September or early October release.
The upcoming Clarksfield chips include the Core 2 Extreme XE (2GHz), Core 2 Quad P2 (1.73GHz), and Core 2 Quad P1 (1.6GHz).
In addition to the Clarksfield CPUs, Intel also plans to announce Celeron SU2300 and Celeron 743 processors for ultra-thin notebooks around the same time.
At $2,300, CyberPower’s Extreme M1 17-inch gaming notebook is the antithesis of the budget Gateway P-7811 FX we’ve been raving about for months. The most obvious extravagance you get for the higher price is dual-GPU graphics in the form of two ATI Radeon HD 3870 cards in CrossFireX. The Extreme M1’s 2.53GHz T9400 Core 2 Duo CPU is also 270MHz faster and features twice the cache as the Gateway’s proc, its 320GB hard drive is more than 50 percent bigger, and its optical drive supports Blu-ray playback.
The question is, how do these extras translate in performance? Compared with our zero-point notebook, the Extreme M1 excelled in all the benchmarks to varying degrees—not surprising, given the zero-point’s age. Against the Gateway P-7811 FX, there was a little more give and take. For example, in the ProShow Producer and MainConcept benchmarks, CyberPower’s rig had gains hovering around 10 percent, which is proportionate to the M1’s clock-speed advantage over the Gateway’s 2.26GHz CPU. But in our Photoshop benchmark, the Extreme M1 was actually around 7 percent slower than Gateway’s P-7811 FX.
Asus has fleshed out its notebook line with a number of new models with screen sizes ranging from 15.6 inches to 17.3 inches. The notebook maker didn't play favorites, either, as both AMD and Intel are represented in the new units.
At 17.3 inches, the K70AB-TY002C and TY001C are the biggest of the bunch, both of which sport AMD chips inside. The 2C uses an AMD Turion 64 X2 RM 74 (2.2GHz) processor, while the 1C steps to the plate with a Turion 64 X2 Ultra ZM-84 (2.3GHz). Different processors aside, both machines come with 4GB of DDR2 memory and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 with a 512MB frame buffer.
Of the 15.6-inch models, the U50VG-XX060C comes equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 (2.1GHz), 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce G 105M graphics with a 512MB frame buffer, 250GB hard drive, HDMI port, and a 1.3MP webcam.
Another Intel machine, the F52Q-SX071E sports a dual-core T3200 processor (2GHz), 2GB of RAM, and the GL40 chipset. This one's aimed at business users.
Lastly, the K50AB (AMD Turion 6 4X2 Ultra ZM-84) and KB0IJ (Intel Pentium dual-core T4200) both come with 4GB of RAM, with the former sporting an ATI Mobile Radeon HD 4570 and the latter outfitted with Intel GMA X4500HD graphics with shared memory.
We've seen some cool looking Xbox mods, but Ben Heckendorn's portable Xbox 360 creation stands apart from them all, and his latest is the sexiest one yet.
Now in revision 5, Heckendorn again gutted the same Gateway 1775W laptop with a 17-inch 1280x720 screen as he done in the past, but this time has added a bevy of new features. His portable Xbox 360 now comes with a built-in Ethernet port, WiFi, a digital push-button volume control, flush-mounted DVD door and side panels, remote IR sensor, two USB ports, a bunch more air holes, and the latest Jasper motherboard.
If you like what you see (and we certainly do), Gizmodo has a heaping handful of other Heckendorn-mods worth checking out right here.
Dell's Vostro family just keeps growing, this time adding the Vostro 1220, a 12.1-inch ultraportable designed for business travelers more than anyone else.
"Today's globe-trotting entrepreneurs need a laptop that is power and lont-lasting," said Sam Burd, global vice president of Dell Small and Medium Business, in a statement. "That used to mean carrying around an ungainly device. The Vostro 1220 combines performance, built-in security, and long battery life."
A base package, starting at $799, includes an Intel Celeron 900 processor (2.2GHz, 1MB of L2 cache, 800MHz frontside bus), 2GB of DDR2-800 memory, 160GB hard drive, integrated Intel GMA 4500M graphics, 8X DVD burner, and Windows Vista. Throw an extra Benjamin into the mix and you can upgrade to an Intel Core 2 Duo T6670 processor (2.1GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz bus), 3GB of DDR2-800 memory, and a 250GB hard drive spinning at 7200RPM instead of 5400RPM. All in a lightweight 3.36-pound package.
Taiwan-based Shuttle Inc. is mulling an entry into the notebook market, if the grapevine is to be believed. The rumor gained currency after Elitegroup Computer Systems' (ECS') ex-president of notebook business moved to Shuttle as its new president. However, the company has tried to downplay the rumor by contending that it is a bit farfetched to jump to conclusions based on the professional background of its new president. Shuttle is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of motherboards. Its product portfolio also boasts an assortment of small form factor computers and barebones.
We've long heard that good things come in small packages, and that appears to have been Cooler Master's inspiration for its SNA 95, a compact 95W power adapter for laptops. In fact, it's the "smallest 95W adapter in the world," Cooler Master claims, measuring just 2.9 x 0.7 x 5.7 inches.
The late Billy Mays (may he rest in peace) would have a field day with this one, as not only is the SNA 95 the tiniest 95W adapter you can get, but it also sports a few extras, like a USB charging port, cable management base, and nine power tips so you can use it with your iPod, smartphone, PDA, GPS, and other mobile gadgets. It also comes with a smart LED indicator.
So far, we've only spotted the SNA 95 at Sundial Micro for $70 (currently out of stock), but expect to see more retailers carrying the device in the coming weeks.
AMD hopes it will be able to wrest a sizable chunk of the global notebook market from Intel with the help of its new Tigris notebook platform, which is due out in September. According to a Digitimes report, quoting sources at notebook vendors, the company expects to gain back 15% share of the notebook market. Some of the major notebook vendors, HP, Toshiba, Acer and Asus, are said to have already placed orders for AMD’s upcoming Tigris notebook platform.