LG’s X170 Netbook Announced, Features “SmartPOP”

LG [NYSE:LPL] has just released a new netbook that goes by the name of X170. It is your normal netbook fare with an Intel Atom processor and average memory and storage. But it has a new feature that distinguishes it from all other netbooks in the market. This feature is what LG calls the “SmartPOP” feature. It allows you to access your phone from your netbook in ways that you wouldn’t expect.

Continue reading LG’s X170 Netbook Announced, Features “SmartPOP”

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition Brings Unity Interface And Multitouch For Netbooks

The world is finally moving to a touch-based, small screen world. Ubuntu’s latest edition — Ubuntu 10.10 ‘Meerkat’ — features a brand new interface on the Netbook Edition called the Unity interface. What is essentially fixes is what netbook users have always complained about — the lack of screen space on such a small screen. This interface completely does away with the whole bar at the bottom of the screen, thus increasing vertical space. The most frequently used apps are featured permanently on the left side of the screen. This has of course been inspired by how smartphone UI’s are laid out. On the whole, it is a close marriage between the two worlds. And there is more.

The new netbook edition comes fully equipped with touch gestures. Given that Ubuntu is very late to the multitouch party, it is doing quite well for itself. Especially considering the fact that it is a community driven project that produces a very good OS that is completely free to use. And given that they have a biannual release cycle, it is a great thing that they have accomplished.

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition comes with support for both multitouch and touch gestures for getting work done. Basic things like zooming, panning, widening, etc. have been implemented. The UI is littered with nice and large buttons that would be great for a multitouch tablet PC. Although it has been done well on 10.10, Canonical says that it will be even better in 11.04. That might actually translate into some cheap tablet devices that will be running the Ubuntu Netbook Edition.

In the video below, you will see that the navigation scheme has become much more integrated and is very spaced out to allow easy touch access. It also acts as you would expect a touch interface to act with the dragging to scroll. These and several other small touches show that a lot of thought has gone in to this UI.

Acer Planning Dual Boot For All Dual Core Netbook Models

Rumor has it that Acer is planning to make dual boot a standard feature on all of their dual core netbook models. And that dual boot includes a Windows 7 install sitting beside an Android install of all things. If it was some other distro of Linux like MeeGO, Jolicloud, Ubuntu Netbook or even the newly releases SmeeGol, — then things could’ve been slightly different.

Continue reading Acer Planning Dual Boot For All Dual Core Netbook Models

System76 Continues Linnux Netbook Line With Second-Gen Starling

A little gem from the System76 has just been released as the second generation Starling netbook. As far as specs go, System76 keeps on with the norm. They have the Atom, the 10″ screen size and the almost typical memory and storage size. However, they do have something that sets them apart. They offer their products — netbooks, laptops, desktops, et al — with appropriate versions of Ubuntu Linux pre-installed.

When netbooks originally started, it was hard to get one without Linux. That was before Windows finally adapted and took over the entire game. Now the situation is in reverse and it is hard to find a netbook without some form of Windows pre-installed. But System76 is still offering Linux systems and the latest Starling is a nice little treat for netbook lovers.

Finished with rubber exteriors, this netbook comes in two color options — Obsidian Black and Coral Red. The rubberized finish gives it quite the look and you are going to be happy to parade it around.

As far as specs go, it is pretty updated. It is powered by the latest Atom N455, clocked at 1.66GHz with one integrated single-channel DDR controller, an integrated graphics core and also support for multi-threading. It is also SSE3 and 64bit capable — making it quite the deal. This is a system-on-a-chip and its graphics bit is derived from GMA 3100, which gives it the hypothetical power to run 720p videos. However, the realization of that will depend on how good the drivers are.

The new Starling comes pre-installed with Ubuntu 10.4 and the display is 10.1″ with a native resolution of 1024×600. It has LAN, WiFi (b/g/n), VGA out, 3 USB 2.0 ports, SD Card reader and a built in 0.3 MP webcam. It also has a Kensington lock slot. The price starts at USD389 and you have to pay $25 extra for the Coral Red soft rubber finish.


Someone Just Bent A Netbook And Hackintoshed It!

Time for a cool new concept from Arc Computers. These are people who take their name pretty seriously. So they have introduces a concept design that fits together a curved OLED display and a curved, ergonomic keyboard to create what can only be called an Arc computer. Or a bent laptop, perhaps. It does looks a wee bit weird but the ergonomics are undeniable. Plus, the curved display has the added advantage of being better for displaying 3D content.

The curved design of this concept netbook/laptop from  Arc computers thus gets the opportunity to do more with the traditional laptop set up by bending the rules a bit. Other than the ergonomics of the entire set up and the 3D content display capability of the screen, the curved design has one more advantage. It creates a space in the middle of the keyboard for fitting in almost anything you can think of. From a touchpad to a series of dedicated buttons or may be even a secondary touchscreen display. This one has a touch

There’s no word on this being actually manufactured by anyone and frankly it would not be viable in the market anyway. However, it is always nice to look at these really interesting concepts that tend to crop up every now and then. And they always have a tendency to slowly filter down, in bits and pieces, to the mainstream manufacturers.

The industry has been pushing forward with newer displays which can bend and even wrap around pencils and these will no doubt result into very interesting computers. They are especially good for portability and even wearability. But for now, they are still in the labs and are part of concept designs like this one.

Enjoy the videos for now. Also note that it is running an OS that looks suspiciously like the OS X.


Eric Schmidt Says Nexus II And Google Branded Chrome Netbooks Won’t Happen

Looks like Google [NASDAQ:GOOG] is finally coming to their senses. They cannot sell hardware and they are better off making great software. Of course, it is not like the Nexus One flopped. But we all saw how bad Google was at managing the whole thing about selling and the whole thing was a mess for both parties. Imagine the kind of mess they can get into if they actually try to sell Chrome OS netbooks at a subsidized price. Over all, it is pretty clear that Google should not do this and Eric Schmidt agrees. Only, he says that the company probably wouldn’t need it.

Recently, Schmidt gave a statement saying that there will actually be no Nexus II or Google branded Chrome OS netbooks. According to  him — the Nexus One was meant to serve one single purpose and that was to stimulate the Android manufacturers. Google introduced a new smartphone scenario with Android — one party supplying the OS to smarpthone manufacturers. It is similar to what has happened in the Microsoft [NASDAQ:MSFT] ecosystem for a long time but smartphone manufacturers weren’t used to this.

With the Chrome OS, Google is not breaking any industrial mould. They are changing the way the main OS works, yes but not the way this industry works. So Google shouldn’t need to spur on the market for making various different and compelling Chrome OS netbooks. Eric did say that Google might be looking into partnering with other manufacturers (like they did with HTC), again adding that Google probably won’t need to in this case.

Chrome OS netbooks are still going to be slightly different from the usual models. Google places hardware restrictions for any netbook that uses Chrome OS. It will still be free for anyone. And the hacker community will probably be out with a hack for everyone else in a matter days. But as for the Google Netbook.


Gateway LT32 Tries To Be The Perfect 11″ Bridge Model

Gateway has been launching decent portables in recent times and like any self-respecting computer manufacturer, the company is trying to find its own space in the market. And so we have a very interesting 11inch model from Gateway that was only just launched. This is the LT32. It has a near HD display of 1366X768 and it actually has the graphics muscle to render this resolution, unlike the multitude of other Intel Atom based models that we have seen from the others.

And that is where the difference lies actually. The LT32 is powered by an AMD Athlon II Neo processor — the main main Atom rival from Intel’s main rival. Even though the Neo was born out of a need to compete and hasn’t really covered much ground, it has been gaining more following recently with manufacturers looking to build netbooks that do not look like the models that are already out there.

The Neo processor comes with an ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics processor onboard giving the LT32 the capability to run 1080p HD videos smoothly and at its own resolution. Now that is saying something for an 11″ netbook powered by something that attempts to compete with Intel’s Atom. The LT32 can also smoothly render the Aero interface elements on Windows 7 (Home Premium).

To be fair to the Atom-based netbooks, the LT32 is actually packing quite a bit of extra memory than the Atom average. At 2GB, the Gateway model has double the memory of the average Atom netbook. However, all of this does not work well for the battery life and hence it has a relatively short battery life of 5.5 hours.

Gateway is pricing this at $450 and you get Microsoft Work bundled free with that in order to get some light work done without spending extra. The LT32 is expected to be in stores soon.


Toshiba Unveils AMD Powered Satellite T215 Netbook

Toshiba [ETR:TSE1] has released news about an upcoming netbook that will be powered by an AMD chip instead of an Intel one. This is the Toshiba Satellite T215 and it will be powered by an AMD Neo processor. You might remember that AMD’s Neo line is one of the few competitors of the Intel Atom line.

The Satellite T215 is powered by an AMD Athlon II Neo processor, which is the equivalent of a dual-core Intel Atom chip. The main concern here is whether the Athlon Neo chip will be able to live up to the performance level set by Intel’s Atom processors. Toshiba actually has a similar Satellite netbook called the Satellite T210. They are both 11 inch netbooks and the only difference is that the T210 is powered by an Intel Atom processor.

The T215′s Neo processor also comes with integrated ATI graphics, making it a good deal if it can live up to the expectations of it performing well in real life situations.

The Satellite T215 will be coming in with a chiclet style keyboard, the kind that was made famous by Apple (but existed long before that). It will have one USB port that will be able to charge devices even when the system is sleeping and two normal USB drives that sleep with the system. It will have 2GB of DDR3 RAM and up to 320GB of HDD storage. It weighs approximately 3.3 pounds and will come in three — red, white and black. It will have a matte silver finish on the inside with a chrome trim around the touchpad, something that is becoming awfully common these days.

They have been kind enough to announce the release date and the price. It will be coming out on the 20th of June and will be priced at $470, presumably for the base configuration.


HP Introduces the Smallest Ever ProBook Model — A 12 Inch Netbook Named HP ProBook 5220M

Looks like HP [NYSE:HPQ] really wanted to sell their ProBook series to those businessmen who were abandoning the business laptop ship for something more portable  — i.e. a netbook. Of course, it is not like they did not have something that looked like a ProBook and was of netbook size. They still have the HP MINI 5102 netbook that really looks like a ProBook in a 10″ form factor. In even had some special extras like a premium build, options for SSD, spill resistant keyboard, HDD shock protection, etc. But now we have a 12 inch ProBook carrying the name ProBook 5220M.

The HP ProBook 5220m has  12.1 inch display with a native resolution of 1280×800 pixels. You can choose from a range of powerful but low voltage Intel processors as the CPU. There’s the Intel Celeron U3400, the Intel Core i3-350UM and the Intel Core i5-450UM to choose from. Of course, the last one will cost more than the first one and is the most powerful of the lot.

The netbook can support up to 4Gb of RAM, so you can choose your RAM size before buying. Purely business work shouldn’t need anything more than 2GB. For storage you can choose between a 250GB/500GB 7200RPM or choose a 80GB SSD to go with it. And since it is a ProBook, you get to choose your OS. You can have Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 — depending on how updated (or not) your company’s IT infrastructure is. As for battery, you get to choose between a 4-cell or a 6-cell battery.

The whole thing weighs 3.5 pounds with the battery and should be enough for all your business needs. It has Bluetooth, Webcam, WiFi (b/g/n), USB, HDMI, eSATA, VGA, Card reader and Gigabit ethernet. Prices start at $764.


Onkyo C413 10″ Netbook Debuts In Japan

Onkyo has launched a new netbook in Japan today and it is called the Onkyo C413. It is a 10″ netbook that has the basic look and feel of a netbook and has absolutely nothing that separates it from the rest of run-of-mill netbooks crowding the netbook space in Japan and elsewhere. There is however one thing to note about it — it sure looks similar to the C411 netbook released by Onkyo earlier this year.

The Onkyo C413 has a 10.1 inch display and has a 1024×600 native resolution. It is powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor and has 1GB of RAM. Storage comes in the form of a 250GB hard drive. It has WiFi (b/g/n) and comes loaded with Windows 7 Starter Edition.

Even though he C413 looks like the C411, it does not have the option to choose between a AM/FM radio tuner and a Digital TV tuner like the C411 did. However, it does have separate left and right mouse buttons with the touchpad. This wasn’t the case with the C411.

It is possible that Onkyo decided not to run with the C411 and change the model to the C413 configuration because the demand for the C411 wasn’t high enough. Even though the idea of having the radio tuner/TV tuner on a netbook sounds like a fun prospective, you have to remember that people are usually on the move with a netbook and saving battery life is of the utmost importance.

And they are very likely to have a phone/PMP with them that already has their music on it and may be also a radio tuner. Considering all this, a consumer might decide that paying extra for a netbook that has a radio/TV tuner is simply not worth it when it will hardly be used. Hence, it is quite possible that the C411 will be phased out.