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.


1.8″ 128GB SSD Now At Your Disposal

sabertooth-zxAs storage moves further away from portable devices and things move more towards speed, SSD’s are fast becoming the future of storage on consumer devices like netbooks. However, previously it has been tough to include larger capacity SSD’s into small devices like the netbooks mainly because it was impossible to find a large drive that would fit into the cramped space of a netbook. That has changed not, thanks to Active Media.

They have released a netbook that is only 1.8″ in size and still manages to pack in 128GB worth of storage space. It is called the Sabertooh ZX and has a PATA/IDE interface. That has got to be one of the densest consumer grade storage devices we have seen till date. But the main deterrent to large scale SSD deployment acts here as well. This 1.8″ 128GB SSD from Active Media will set you back by $380. So unless you are a professional who can justify this as a business cost, you probably do not want to buy something that costs almost as much as the netbook itself.

But there are other options for lesser mortals like us — there’s a 64GB version for under $200 and a 32GB version for $120. You really only need a tiny bit of space for the OS, apps and some files. The rest can simply be pulled from the cloud. Have no doubts about it — the SSD is many times faster than your HDD and will create a noticeable difference in boot and app loading times. Overall performance will better as well, thanks to the really high read and write speeds.

This 128GB SSD from Active Media however is not the speediest we have seen at 38MBps write and 80MBps read. But it’s selling point is that it can get that much SSD storage into your netbook and that is where it really seals the deal.

HP Mini 311 Gets Updated

hp-mini-311-netbookThe HP Mini 311 has always been a netbook that has a nice set of features and a price that is reasonable. It had the NVIDIA ION LE, 1366×768 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) and came with 1GB RAM and 160GB HDD. But there was no DirectX 10 support. That has changed.

Now that Windows 7 is here and the HP Mini 311 is available with it, the specifications have changed for the better. For starters, the chipset is no longer stuck with the LE tag. That means it has the NVIDIA ION in full force with support for DirectX 10. It now comes with 2GB of memory and there is likely to be an option to upgrade it to 3 or 4 GB.

Storage has been bumped up as well. You now get 250GB, 90 Gigs more than the previous version. There is the option to upgrade to a 320GB HDD or an 80 SSD. However there is always a tradeoff between price and performance. Hence this performance upgrade comes at a price to you. The previous price point of around $300 has become $400 for the new Mini 311s.

The battery life on the older version used to be a nice 6 hours almost. But now that the full version NVIDIA ION is onboard, that is bound to change. No wonder the battery life has been left craftily out of the highlights. With specs in this state, it is likely that the battery life is around 4.5 to 5 hours depending on the configuration you choose.

The thing that will decide the fate of all these PCs is how well Windows 7 performs and that can only be seen after the OS has been in use for a few months.

Toshiba becomes the first to produce mSATA SSD

toshiba msataSSDs or Solid State Drives are most definitely the storage solutions of the future. They are stable, they do not have any moving parts and hence are perfect for portable devices. Let’s face it, non-portables are going to be a big part of the future except has building blocks of server farms.

So far, SSDs have been available in a multitude of different connectors and users have been forced to choose between them for the best fit to their systems. With any luck, this scenario is about to change for good. The SATA-IO working group has recently announced a new standard called mini-SATA or mSATA in an effort to standardize the entire process. With this new connector in place, SSDs should take up far less space. If the image is anything to go by, the new mSATA connectors will slim down the connecting bay by almost 50%.

By releasing 32nm SSDs in 32 and 64GB capacities, Toshiba has become the first company to adopt this new connector standard but computer manufacturers will take much more time than that to bring out machines and mainboards that have mSATA connectors. Given the timing, the first wave of systems with mSATA are at least a good two months away.

These 32nm and half slim drives from Toshiba have newer NAND Flash drive types that give manufacturers greater control over the design of the end device. With this new connector standard in place, devices like netbooks should be able to save a lot of valuable space and make the devices more compact than ever before.

As SSDs become cheaper, more and more netbooks are adopting them in order to avoid the problems commonly faced by HDDs and also to speed up the entire system. Without moving parts, SSDs are much more portable and much less susceptible to damage while in motion.