HP managed to slip in a video demo of their upcoming tablet right before the Apple iPad announcement. This tablet is much closer to a touchscreen netbook without a physical keyboard than the iPad and it might shape up to be a real competitor for the iPad at the basic hardware level. They do not have the content integration like Apple does but they do have the powerful Windows 7 in its full glory. So that means it is more open than what you will get on the iPad. But since both devices are currently far away from their shipping dates, there is no way to tell how either of them will perform — independently and against each other.
So let’s look at what the proper video demo turns up for the HP Tablet. The video demo features HP spokesperson Greta Schlendar and CTO of HP Personal Systems, Phil McKinney. Apparently the tablet was already in the work 2 years back but then it wasn’t worked on all that much because the market wasn’t deemed ready for it.
Phill mainly talks about how the device was created and why the device was conceived in the first place. He says the same thing that Steve would say a few days after him — there is a gap in the market where people like the smartphone usability but want a larger screen to work with. Conventional netbooks of course do not fit the bill in that case so they made a slate device.
Phil is quick to point out and emphasize on the fact that HP would like to think of this as the ultimate media consumption device. That basically means you cannot run a full OS on it properly, even though the HP tablet will be running Windows 7. At this point, if you want a good full OS experience in a small form factor — netbooks and ultraportables are it. And as touchscreen and touch UI’s grow, it is likely that both categories will collide into something new. So till then, we will have to make a distinction.
First there was the T91 from Asus in their Eee PC line. It was probably the first ever ‘convertible’ in the netbook segment. But that was single touch, slow and needed to run Asus’ own ‘touchgate’ UI on top of XP to become a useful tablet. Then came the T91 MT. That was basically the multitouch version of the original T91. It probably now sells with Windows 7 onboard, taking care of the multitouch needs.
Now it seems like Asus is about to bring out another such device in the Eee PC line. This one will apparently be called the T101MT and it was first spotted when it appeared at the FCC’s for the mandatory approval before operating in US territories. After that little stint, there was darkness around the device, until now. The T101MT is basically the 10.” version of the 8.9″ T91MT that was released last year.
The T101MT was shown off at CES 2010 by Asus, which is what any sensible tech company will do. Nevermind Apple ditching CES as usual. That is a an exceptional case. Asus has recently, like most other companies, taken an interest in touchscreen devices and its interest showed much earlier than most other companies. What and how Asus plans to market to sell this product is not very clear right now. They will probably zero in on the value for money crowd, which is the target clientele for the Eee range anyway.
The T101MT seems to have 2 different versions: Starter and Home Premium. They vary on memory (1GB vs. 2GB), storage (160GB vs. 350GB + 500GB cloud storage) and probably on the OS as well — judging by the names. WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and a 35Wh slim battery seems to be standard across the models. Pricing is Unavailable at the moment of writing.
There’s this new company in town peddling what they call netbooks. The company is called Netbook Navigator and they are essentially selling Windows 7 based tablet MIDs that have stylus and (hopefully) finger input. Now it has been reported by Netbooked the company is simply taking up Chinese devices (the good presumably) and rebranding them to sell in the US.
The company is talking a lot about netbooks but it is in then end selling tablets. That seems like confusion until you realize that they are probably doing it to lower expectations from device. Other than the fact that it is missing a physical keyboard, it is pretty much in the netbook territory when it comes to hardware components.
The 891A-NN model is 8.9 inches and is powered by an Intel Atom N270 processor. I has 2GB of Memory, a choice between 32-128GB of SSD storage, WiFi, Bluetooth, LAN, 3G, WebCam, Sim card slot, 3 USB ports, VGA out and a 2,200 mAh battery that will last you a good 2-4 hours according to the company. The resolution is 1024×600.
There’s a smaller model that has a 7″ screen with the same specs except that it has 1GB memory and 32GB SSD.
So far it sounds not the most interesting of devices but okay. But the real punch comes along when you read the price tag for the 8.9 inch model. Netbook Navigator is charging $1,199.00 for it. Now correct me if I am wrong — since when has anyone wanted to buy a $1200 netbook simply because it has a multitouch display and Windows 7 Home Premium? The Apple Tablet is definitely going to be cheaper than this and that is saying something!
The lower model comes for $799. Thinking of everything I could do with that kind of power, I think I laugh heartily at Netbook Navigator’s offering and move on to better things.
Microsoft has been trying to get rid of the eight-year-old Windows XP for quite some time now. But after the Windows Vista debacle, they have been having a harder time removing XP from the consumer’s memory. Even though Windows 7 is finally out and it is definitely better than both Vista and XP, it seems like people are searching out more reasons to stay with XP.
Even though many mainstream desktop and laptop users have upgraded to Vista or Windows 7, netbook users form the main demographic that is stuck with XP. XP is the least demanding of the currently available Windows OS’ and hence it suts netbooks users perfectly. But now that Windows 7 is here, Microsoft finally has reasons that are compelling enough for the company to put their full weight behind advocating switching. But things have not been going so well.
Recent tests by Laptop Magazine suggest that XP netbooks tend to have longer battery lives than their Windows 7 running counter part. In an OS to OS comparison based on the same devices, XP came with the more battery life – at about 45 minutes extra on an average.
This was only to be expected because being an old OS, it was configured from the ground up to run on configurations that are considered to be extremely low at present. Its lack of extra features that demand more computing power is probably what caused it to run longer on the test systems.
But XP is getting old and Microsoft is sure to stop supporting the OS in the very near future. Also, XP lacks the modern innovations that make Windows 7 such a compelling deal. There is also the profit problem for Microsoft – netbooks cause them to lose money already because netbooks use the lowest edition of Windows 7. And now if XP refuses to budge from netbooks, Microsoft will be losing a substantial part of their revenue.
MSI is pushing the boundaries between standard netbook and standard notebook with their new model – the Wind12 U230. This is a new offering that MSI is flaunting around the Internet. It is not your typical Atom netbook if only because this runs on an AMD Athlon Neo X2 chip. It also has a 12.1” display that has a native resolution of 1,366×768. The keyboard is described as a special ‘de-stress’ keyboard that will supposedly keep you from stressing your fingers.
The Athlon Neo X2 chip on this netbook/ultraportable clocks at 1.6GHz and apparently gives you a better performance than the comparable Atom chip. Another factor to take into consideration is the battery life. The MSI Wind12 gives you only four hours of battery life, whereas other comparable models often touch 5 hours and some around 6 hours. This short battery life will be a definite let down for those who are looking to buy this device. It might also affect how popular this model proves to be.
Other features include a 1.3megapixel webcam and a 160GB HDD. The official weight is 2.9 pounds, which is okay and it will be running Windows 7 Home Premium. For some reason, MSI highlights the fact that the copy of Windows will be genuine. No word on pricing yet.
While there is no apparent resistance in the market regarding non-Atom netbooks, they generally tend to confuse prospective buyers. This is because there is a distinct difference in the internal architecture and manufacturers want to highlight that. But in doing so they tend to confuse people as to why their netbook is better than Atom netbooks. But other than running the Neo, this new netbook is average at best with a below average battery life. So it might not sell as well as MSI thinks it will.
Nokia’s debut into the netbook segment and into the computing segment in general, is the Booklet 3G. The Booklet 3G is a 10” netbook that became the very first netbook to contain inbuilt aGPS, a 3G modem, accelerometer and various other features that are usually found only in smartphones. It was launched alongside the October 22nd launch of Windows 7, which runs on the device. Nokia collaborated with Intel in order to make this the Booklet.
It is currently available in the US either through a contract with AT&T or through Best Buy at a retail price. Best Buy has the exclusive retails rights to the device and hence all Booklet 3G models that are unlocked and sold without a carrier contract are to be found only at the online store and the physical stores owned by the retail chain. The retail price of the Booklet 3G in the US is $599.99.
That may be considered steep by some people but the advanced features of the device are the main reason why the cost is so much higher than the usual netbooks.
In the meantime, rumors are already circulating about an update to the Booklet 3G that is coming in the year 2010. Details are not clear but it seems like the company that makes the Booklet 3G is working overtime in order to satisfy the demands of the device. Since most of the advanced shipments are already on their way and the device is not in that great a demand, this flurry activity is regarded as abnormal. Hence, it is being speculated that Nokia us is making a second Booklet. Logically, that would make sense because the Booklet will soon be overtaken by other newer products and if Nokia has to continue in the market, they have to update the line.
The netbook has more or less exploded in terms of demand and popularity. Even though the market is saturated with similar models made by myriad companies, the segment has still seen some growth in the past few quarters. That is more than what can be said for notebooks and desktops, which are much more expensive than laptops. Hence, netbooks are considered to be a hot sector to be dealing with right now.
But big company executives and analysts are not feeling the same way. That is because the great demand for netbooks and the sagging sales in other segments is actually hurting the profit margins of larger companies like Dell and Microsoft.
Larger notebooks and desktop models make companies much more money than netbooks, whose sales in sheer number of units has dropped drastically in the past one year. This has resulted in companies not being able to meet their financial targets for the past few quarters. Since the profits go into research and development of newer products, the companies are seeing this as hampering their growth and development in the coming quarters.
Microsoft feels similarly because netbooks are preventing the sales of the higher editions of Windows 7 like Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Ultimate. Not only that – netbooks are also promoting retention of the eight year XP operating system. Hence, it is causing losses for Microsoft as well.
As a counter measure, CEOs and top executives of the various companies are publicly speaking against the netbook segment. They are speaking as if their entire customer base is dissatisfied with the netbook line, when in reality they are actually quite content with it. They are looking to break this status quo and make the consumer buy the larger, faster and more expensive models. However, it has to be remembered that the companies jumped on to the segment as a way to push sales through the depression. So this is their own doing.
Windows 7 is here and that has caused every PC company to upgrade their products to Windows 7. Compared to Vista, Windows 7 has been doing phenomenally well in the netbook sector and that has everything to do with the fact that Windows 7 starter was designed specifically to run on low-powered devices.
In fact, the lowest and completely stripped down edition of Windows 7 is not available to the individual buyer. It is an OEM-only version and is only to be found as the OS installed on your netbook.
Initially, during the public testing phase, there was an artificial 3 app limitation on the Starter edition. But that has since been repealed. However, there is one caveat that people are complaining about and that is the lack of multitouch support on the Starter edition.
Microsoft is clearly wary of having multitouch on machines that are low-powered. It will take a toll on the user experience and might cause discontentment that Microsoft simply cannot afford right now.
Which is why, some of the systems upgraded to Windows 7 have actually become les desirable. These are multitouch enabled low-powered netbooks/convertibles that have been making their rounds since earlier this year.
The entire PC industry has been looking at Redmond to help them get a break in this soft economy. The general tech sales are down and only a few companies are still growing. The most conspicuous being Apple, who has actually experienced about 12% year on year growth this last quarter.
But the rest of the industry is now hoping that the current volume of Windows 7 sales will last long enough for them to be able to recoup some of the business that they have lost to the negative growth this year.
Asus has been known as the company who put the ‘netbook’ into the consumers’ hands. They almost single-handedly created this extremely popular segment. And now they are trying to upgrade and adapt fast, as the market remains depressed and volatile.
The Eee PC 1005HA has been, one of the most successful netbooks in the market. It has certainly made Asus a lot of money. It is one of the best-selling Eee PC models and everytime Asus tries something new, it adds it to the Eee PC 1005HA. So now we have a new Eee PC that has HD screen and it has been added to the 10.1” 1005HA model, which is now called the Eee PC 1005HR. The 1366×768 display is coupled with WiFi (b/g/n) and a 1.66GHz Atom N280 CPU. The 6-cell battery gives you 8.5hours of battery life.
Asus has gone ahead and done another interesting thing. Instead of upgrading all their models to Windows 7, they have taken the 1005HA model once again and changed it into the Eee PC 1005HA Business Edition. Asus has decided to remain with XP and change it to XP Professional to give business users all the functionality they want. That, 2GB RAM and a silver-black chassis are the only things separating the Business Edition from the regular 1005HA.
While it is easy to see through this, the portability and the convenience of a netbook are undeniable. So this $715 device just might click with a few business buyers.
Both these models were released in Japan around the Windows 7 launch. The regular models are all available with Windows 7 all over the US, Europe and Asia.
Acer has been working on a Windows-Android dual booting Aspire One netbook and it is now time to taste the fruits of their labor. Initially it was available as a dual booting machine that had Windows XP and Android. This time round Acer has gone ahead and upgraded it to Windows 7.
The main idea is that the Android OS will be used in place of the usual lightweight Linux distro that graces the fast booting alternative OS slot. Android is definitely a far more stable and mature option when it comes to a Linux OS that is small, fast and light.
Acer has used its Aspire One D250 model to bring this dual-booting system to life. The new D250 netbooks have the Android OS in place for the instant booting feature and it works really well. The main purpose of the OS being enabling Internet usage and some media consumption the Android does the job pretty well. It boots in just a few seconds to a usable state but you have to reboot in to Windows when you want to get serious work done.
Google shouldn’t want Android to get to netbooks simply because that is what the Chrome OS is meant for. But netbook manufacturers have already seen the Android as a strong and stable platform that has been through two upgrades already.
The trend has hit smaller netbooks especially. There are little known or unknown companies all over the world who are turning to the Android to deliver better user experience at a cheaper price. Google’s intention from the very beginning was to hand device manufacturers a strong software platform so that they can concentrate on the hardware. This approach is slowly but surely paying off for Google and these fringe products are an indication of that success.