The AMD powered 1015B and 1215B netbooks from Asus are yet to be released in the US but the word has reached the shores long before Asus chose to make them official. The company has been showing it off recently and finally they have decided to put up official product pages for the netbooks up on the website. So now it looks like the April shipping date is more believable.
So far, there’s nothing outside what was expected out of them. The 1015 sports a 10.1 inch display with a 1024×600 pixel resolution. It comes preloaded with a Windows 7 Starter Edition. it is powered by a 1.2GHz AMD-C30 single core or a C50 dual core processor. They will both have the AMD Radeon 6250 graphics chip for handling all polygons and shadings. It will support 1 and 2 GB of DDr3 RAM along with the usual connectivity options — Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi (b/g/n). There’s also HDMI, USB and VGA out. The combination of VGA and HDMI is actually an uncommon on one but it will be welcome to media professionals doing presentations. So it’s a plus.
The 1215 is a larger model with a 12.1 inch with a 1366×768 pixel resolution. Along with the same processors as the 10inch model, it also has the option for the more powerful AMD E-350 dual core processor with Radeon HD 6310 graphics. It holds 2 to 4GB RAM and also offers 500gb of hdd storage. Other than that it also has the sme connectivity options. They both have the 6 cell/56W/h battery but on the 1215b it is standard whilst on the 1015 it is an option over a 3cell version of the same. Given the usual battery life scenarios, expect the 6 cel version to last over around 5-6 hours of regular use. perhaps some more if used sparingly.
Asus brings out so many netbooks on any given quarter that it is getting increasingly difficult to keep track of it all. However, now that they have released some thing quite distinctive from the rest of the lot, it will be easier to spot. Asus has put up the Eee PC 1215T up for sale. It breaks the norm of using Intel Atom as the processor and joins the few notebooks on the market to use the AMD Neo processor.
MSI [LON:MSI] seems to be heading for a new niche in the netbook category. They have launched a new light version of the Wind U230 netbook. It has more or less the same specs that the original U230 has but with some crucial differences. The main difference is the display, which at 11.6″ is smaller than the original 12.1″ display. This causes the entire package to shrink a bit, making it more compact and supposedly light.
The internals stay more or less the same. It is still an AMD MV-40 Neo powered machine with 1.6GHz of processing power. The whole AMD chipset contains an integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chip, enabling it to decode HD video and also afford an HDMI output. Given the better than average graphics performance, the battery life is going to take a hit.
The U230 Light, despite being smaller, is actually better equipped when it comes to the other options. Unlike the original U230 which comes with Windows 7 Starter Edition, it comes pre-installed with the more expensive Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. This model is available only in two colors — Black or Gray.
Since MSI has chosen to go with AMD, they get to install more RAM and hence this model comes with 2GB of RAM and a 250 HDD storage option. For connectivity it has a WiFi-n module to offer, which ensures a high-speed WiFi connection wherever it is available. Sadly though, there seems to be no option for Bluetooth.
As for ports, other than the HDMI mentioned earlier it has a card reader, 3 USB ports, 1 VGA out and the usual audio in and out ports. The 6-cell battery is good for only 4 hours, which is the trade off that you have to make for the better graphics performance. The US price is $400, keeping it above the average netbook pricing and clearly pointing at the fact that MSI is indeed gunning for a bridge market.
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 [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.
AMD has a list of things that it thinks it should do. It has released news of it bringing about really great chips with fusion characteristics for a long time now. None of that has made it to the market yet but we now have another announcement to deal with. AMD has finally realized that they should probably make a netbook chip that rivals what Intel is offering at the moment.
According AMD’s Jason Taylor, the chip-maker is working towards releasing a netbook-class fusion core CPU that combines CPU with GPU to attain a better performance at a low battery life cost. The new chip will be code named ‘Ontario’. It will be released with integrated DX11 graphics sometime next year.
Ontario was part of what was leaked earlier as AMD’s roadmap quite some time back in last year. Ontario will be part of the ‘Brazos’ platform and will have Bobcat low power cores. This will be sitting right underneath the ultaportable segment that AMD terms as the ‘thin and light’ segment.
Whether AMD really makes it on time wit their 2011 target, is a question worth asking. But more than that, I am quite skeptical about AMD’s ability to really catch up and then surpass all the competition in the market.
Intel has already left AMD behind after releasing the Core 2010 and the Pine Trail Atom chips. The CPU/GPU train has left the station quite some time back, leaving AMD behind. And with that there is the added advantage of the NVIDIA ION2 that uses the Optimus Technology to deliver fantastic graphics performance to those Atom chips. Together, they are the most potent combination for netbooks and nettops.
Ontario is looking to barge into this niche thinking that the party has just begun, when in reality it’s been on for quite some time now. Forgive me for not reserving much hope for AMD at the moment, the planets are aligned to favor Intel at the moment!
That was some fast work by Kohjinsha. It was was only one a few months ago when Kohjinsha was showing off a dual-screen netbok at CEATEC 2009, Japan. Back then, the company reps said that this was merely a proof of concept and there were no plans for commercial production. Well, now that showing off seems more like a viability test rather than a true showing of a proof of concept. I don’t think there has been this fast a movement from concept to finish (that too without any initial plans to mass produce) ever. So this was probably a planned move.
After all, they are very serious about their efficiency in Japan. This move sounds too whimsical if it really was decided to be mass produced right after CEATEC without any plans of it before that. So how is this netbook in person? Well, it is like any other netbook but with two separate screens running at once and slightly better specs.
The two 10.1 inch LCDo displays are jammed together side by side when open and they fold back into a normal laptop form factor when folded. Called the DZ, this netbook is packing AMD’s Athlon Neo processor which is better than an Atom Z550 at 2.0GHz. Performance wise, the reviewers tell us that YouTube videos are decent, 720p is slightly problematic and 1080p is extremely poor. WOW-POW did all the testing and apparently the DZ managed to run Castle Wolfenstein pretty smoothly. Well, considering the fact that I had once managed to run the same game on a Pentium III 1.13GHz/256MB SD RAM machine with 5MB onboard VRAM (shared), this is not much. But it does mean that it will be able to run older games at low settings. They could’ve just gone with ION. I guess they are afraid of this becoming too popular and killing their higher models.
It is on sale in Japan right now for the equivalent of $1050 or so.
Interead’s new 3G Reader
Interead is the startup company behind the fun-loving and simple Cool-er eBook reader. It it is no competition to the big wigs like the Sony readers, Kindle or even Nook but it is simple and relatively cheaper eBook reader that does the basic things.
The Cool-er hasn’t been all that popular and that is mainly because it is a first generation device and simply needed time to mature. The UI, the layout of the current model need changing but the menu system has been deemed alright by those who have used it. These things are still small compared to the lack of WiFi on the current model. This is exactly what is about to change on the Cool-er come 2010.
There were already rumors about a new Cool-er emerging early next year and the CEO had hinted at a color touchscreen enabled phone too. For now at least, the company has confirmed that there is a new Cool-er in the works and it will have 3G connectivity for wireless access to content wherever you are.
The company has apparently tied up with AT&T for this. Hopefully the device will also have improvements to the layout and the the UI as well. There have been no images of the new device in circulation, so we are unsure about all the cosmetic changes that the device will surely go through. Still, if Interead is serious about making the Cool-er the ‘iPod’ of the eBook Readers, it has to be a lot more user friendly.
This is just an upgrade to the Cool-er reader. The color touchscreen reader is probably still in the works.
Simon & Schuster Hold Back On eBooks
If you have been looking forward to reading new Simon & Schuster publications on your Kindle or Nook or some other reader, you will have to wait. According to the company’s CEO Caroly Reidy, there should be a delay expected between the the initial release of a book and the release of the eBook version.
That is mainly because the house does not want readers to start thinking that the new novels and such are worth only $10 or so — which is the price that most eBooks tend to charge. We are supposed to wait for the time in between the hardcover release and the paperback release. A more precise estimate was pegged at four months after release.
Four months is a long time and the gap isn’t even natural. This sort of forced gap is not to going to hold up very long in this world of instant data. As for the price, that debate has been going on for years now.
As publishing a book cuts out the physical costs such as paper, printing, binding, shipping and storing, the cost is bound to come down. And the drop in the perceived value of a work of art cannot be avoided all that easily. When you get something for $10 instead of something around 2.5 times that sum, you will automatically attach less value to it. It is only human.
But that does not mean that the digital age will kill of books. Apple made the music industry come off age and make the transition into digital through the iTunes store. Sure they tells us that a song is worth a cent less than $1 but it did manage to keep the industry from dying out and falling prey to piracy. So here’s hoping that these artificial gaps will be closed as soon as possible.
If you remember that intriguing dual-screen netbook back at CEATEC this year, it has now gone into production. They are accepting pre-orders and the device will be out soon. As in this December soon. Considering the fact that it was said to be a concept only some time back, that was some fast development the thing went through.
Called the Kohjinsha DZ, it will have two 10.1” screens that have 1024×600 pixels each, So when you fold it out, it will display 2048×600 pixels. This is not an Atom model.
It will be running on AMD’s Neo MV-40 processor, clocking at 1.6GHz, which is pretty standard for netbooks. Graphics will be handled by the integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics. Two DIMM slots support dual-channel architecture and will support up to 4GB of RAM. You will get a 160GB SATA HDD, Bluetooth 2.1 and EDR, WiFi N, Windows 7 Home Premium (32Bit).
You will also be getting a fingerprint scanner, although we all know by now that they are extremely easy to fool and/or bypass. It will be supplied power by a 6-cell 5200mAh battery. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, one VGA, an SD and microSD card reader and the usual audio in/out.
Kohjisha DZ’s main product page is up right now and they are currently charging 79,800 for it. That converts to around $900 US. But since everything is more expensive in Japan, we can expect the US price to be lower.
Overall, I am sure it came has a mild shock to people who have followed Kohjinsha’s getting fed up of this. Whether anyone has any particulsr use for a dual screen is still debatable but I guess Kohjinsha sees some potential in it.
AMD had an analyst investor day recently and there they revealed their roadmap for the year 2011. They are planning to introduce two new processor cores, which are codenamed Bulldozer and Bobcat.
The plan is to make Bulldozer the powerhouse that will power mainstream devices like servers and desktops and to make Bobcat the mainstay for the ultra-thin segment. Bobcat will also be aimed squarely at the netbook market, making it the Atom-competitor of the future.
Bobcat is being touted as being able to achieve amazing feats of power efficiency. They are saying that this new core will be able to achieve 90% of today’s power at just half the entire silicone area. That means they will be able to run the chips at less than one watt of power, which is extremely impressive. If they can actually make this happen, we will be seeing futuristic netbooks in 2011 that have incredibly long battery lives or have really slim profiles.
Prior to launching into the Bobcat initiative, AMD plans to introduce the Nile platform for the ultrathin segment. The Nile platform will support the dual-core Geneva CPU and it will have a DirectX 10.1 IGP or discreet graphics. AMD makes another attractive claim for this platform, saying that it will have a battery life of seven hours. It will also support DDR3 memory, which will definitely become a standard by the time Nile goes mainstream.
AMD then goes on to talk about the Brazos platform that will coincide with the Bulldozer/Bobcat time frame. It will be part of the Bobcat family of processors and will support the Ontario APU, DirectX 11 and DDR3 memory.
Over all, AMD’s promises are all very attractive and they certainly are headed in the right directions. But these are promises that might be hard to keep, so we will have to wait and watch how this unfolds.
The dual touchscreen OLPC XO-2 project has been cancelled due to non-viability of the device. Since the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) foundation is looking to make a sub $200 device, they cannot fit the XO-2 into their scheme of things. They have also been facing some budget shortages and the economy has definitely not been helping matters.
The first OLPC device to come out, the original XO, had an AMD processor. The second device was the XO 1.5 that had a faster VIA processor. And now that the XO-2 has been cancelled, its replacement – the XO 1.75 will be running on an ARM processor and will look similar to the last version.
The ARM architecture also means that it will not be able to support x86 architecture requirements and hence will not be running Windows. But since they are trying to keep the costs down, they are definitely not going to benefit from a machine that can run a costly operating system like Windows. They are much better off running Linux distributions like Ubuntu and may be even an adaptation of Moblin.
Even though the XO-2 is not happening, the organization has already started planning the XO-3. According to their plans, the XO-3 will be one single sheet, made out of plastic. It will be a quarter of an inch thick and will have a full color, reflective and transmissive surface. They also want to make the device unbreakable and waterproof. If all that is not ambitious then their price for it all surely is. They want to sell this device for only $75. Which means they are again looking at sub-$100 territory like they did in the beginning. Their own estimated arrival date is 2012, which seems highly unlikely right now.