Okay, CES is over, so let's review the features that are showing up in the second generation netbooks. I would include the NC10 in that category, and it seems to be the benchmark everyone else is using. Everyone else (most notably Asus) appears to be improving their keyboards and offering a 6 cell battery option, so I am not going to comment on either of these features. I am not including touchscreens and tablets, but feel free to add your comments on them and any other innovations I missed.
Here is what I have noted:
THE BIG PICTURE - We have all heard the rumor about the Samsung NC20 12" netbook, but it was a no-show at CES. One rumor is that they didn't want to tick Intel off because it features the Via Nano processor. However, a new crop of 11 inch netbooks will be arriving:
http://arstechnica.com/journals/hardwar ... r-mid-2009
What is the sweet spot that balances screen size and portability? I found a site (that i now can't find) that had a very thorough review of what you sacrifice with a smaller screen size.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION - And the trend for 2009 is - lower screen resolution! Seriously, both the new HP and Lenovo netbooks sport 1024 x 576 pixels, which is less than the standard 1024 x 600 on most netbooks. The logic is that this is a true 16:9 ratio, but you lose about two lines of screen text. HP has stated that they will come out with a 1366 x 768 pixel display in March of 2009, but who knows what that will do to the price. We need more Via Nano netbooks to help break the Intel-Microsoft restrictions - the Dr. Mobile FreeStyle 1300n will come with a 1366 x 768 pixel display and an option for up to 4 GB of Ram - way to stick it to the man!
HEAVY METAL (cases) - Aluminum brushed metal will be used more than ever. The Wind X320 has an all-aluminum body, like the Macbook Air, as do new netbooks from Asus and HP. I always like the look of the HP Mini Note 2133, and the new 2140 uses the same case. If they cost the same as the plastic versions many buyers may go for the metal. The real question for me - do they show fingerprints like my stainless steel fridge?
INSTANT GRATIFICATION - This seems like a no-brainer to me. Phoenix Technologies, the company responsible for the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) that boots many Windows computers, developed HyperSpace. In addition to expediting basic tasks, the instant-on environment will significantly enhance battery life. The new Lenovo netbook has it, but can you add it to an existing NC10?
DUE PROCESS - First, as I think I have posted previously, don't hold your breath for a dual core Atom in a netbook. As quoted from an MSI exec interview: "Introducing a dual core Atom would complicate matters even further and would drive up prices past the $500 price point, which is where MSI doesn't want to go. Intel realizes this, too, which is why no one is really shipping a dual-core Atom on their netbooks."
Obviously the vast majority of netbooks use the 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 processor. However, the latest batch of netbooks (Lenovo, Sony, MSI, Asus) feature the 1.33-GHz Intel Atom Z530 (Intel's Silverthorne platform). The N270 is over 30 percent cheaper than the Z530, and the Z has a slower clock speed, but it is also much more efficient than the chipset used by the N270.
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/0 ... moves.html
Of course, the Via Nano continues to be touted as the answer to Atom; these are the only netbooks I can find featuring the Nano: Dr. Mobile's FreeStyle 1300n and the Lengda V10A Mini-Note. Please post if you have any additional information on either of these netbooks, or if you have any experience with a Dr. Mobile laptop. The Freestyle 1300n could be very attractive depending on the keyboard and battery performance.
No mention of AMD, as they say they are not for netbooks.
GRAPHIC CONTENT - Still waiting for the Via Trinity or Nividia Ion chipsets to show up in a netbook so we can see what a decent graphics processor does for their performance. My prediction is CES 2010 (maybe).
DUELING DRIVES - MSI recently announced the U115 netbook, which houses both SSD and spinning hard drives. It appears that netbooks and laptops will soon have this feature, as the newer SSDs can boot up the system faster with less power and the HD can provide ample file storage. HP added a 3D DriveGuard accelerometer chip to protect the HD. This should be standard on all netbook HDs (IMHO).
SLOTS OF FUN - The Lenovo and Dr. Mobile netbooks have mini PCI Express card slots and the HP Mini 2140 a full size PCi Express slot. Time will tell if this is an important omission form the NC10 in terms of cellular and WiMAX options in the US.
Okay, now it is your turn - let me know what I missed or comment on what I have included.