As Ultrabooks give us one more reason to eschew the cramped dimensions of low-powered netbooks, outfits like HP continue to churn out the little laptops that could‘ve despite the deafening ring of that category’s death knell. So, if you’re a student on a crunched budget, a business-y type with low-cost computing needs or just a wee PC fetishist, this latest Mini should suit your tiny tastes just fine. Starting at $399, the 1104 runs Windows 7 Home Premium on a dual-core Intel Atom N2600 clocked at 1.6GHz, sports a 10.1-inch WSVGA display, 320GB of storage, 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, Bluetooth 3.0 and support for WiFi a/b/g/n networks. You’ll also have the option to swap out the standard battery with a six-cell Li-ion for up to nine hours of productivity. And if security’s your major concern, the embedded TPM 1.2 chip along with Computrace Pro software should help you keep tabs and control over your data. Wondering if this lil’ guy fits your bill? Then check out the gallery below for additional shots while you ponder the merits of subnotebooks.
As expected, ASUS is bringing a bit of netbook Flare to CES 2012. The company just got official with the Eee PC Flare 1025C, 1025CE and X101CH netbooks, and we’re not going to waste any time getting down to the details. The 1025C ships with a 1.6GHz Atom N2600 dual-core GPU, integrated Intel UMA graphics (720p output), a 10.1-inch LED display (1,024 x 600), 1GB of DDR3-1333 memory, a 5,400RPM hard drive, built-in Altec Lansing stereo speakers, 0.3 megapixel webcam, a trio of USB 2.0 ports, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, an Ethernet port, 2-in-1 media card reader and VGA / HDMI outputs. The whole thing tips the scales at 2.7 pounds, while offering a six-cell (56WHr) battery that’s supposedly good for some ten hours of usage. It’ll ship with Windows 7 Starter, with $299 getting you one in gray, blue, red, pink or black next month. The Flare 1025CE ups the ante with a 1.86GHz Atom N2800 dual-core CPU, with the asking price edged up to $319.
Moving right along, the 1225B is a 12.1-incher with a 1.6GHz AMD E-450 dual-core chip, integrated graphics, a 1,366 x 768 native resolution, 2GB of DDR3-1333 memory, a 5,400RPM HDD, two USB 3.0 sockets (and a lone USB 2.0 socket), WiFi, a 0.3 megapixel webcam, Bluetooth 3.0 and a 2-in-1 media reader. It’ll weigh in at 3.1 pounds and tout a six-cell battery, with Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit) running the show. As for colors? Ah, colors. It’ll ship next month in black, red and white. Finally, the Eee PC X101CH hits the entry-level buyers, with $269 netting you a 10.1-inch panel (1,024 x 600), inbuilt graphics, 1GB of RAM and the usual complement of ports. All told, we’re looking at fairly expected updates since the last major waveof netbooks, but we’ll withhold judgment until we see just how well those new Intel chips due in the benchmarking / battery test departments.
The death of the netbook has been greatly exaggerated — at least that’s what ASUS is praying holds true for next year. Its latest addition, the Eee PC 1225B, refreshes the spec sheet seen on the 1215B. You’ll find it’s still based on AMD’s Brazos chipset — thus the B — and will apparently arrive on two different gear speeds; one with an AMD C60 dual-core 1GHz processor and another toting AMD’s dual-core 1.65GHz E450 APU. Up to 4GBs of DDR3 RAM and storage options starting at 320GB should ensure a respectable bang for your buck. On top of that, there’s an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display, integrated webcam, a smattering of USB ports (both 2.0 and 3.0) and the same VGA and HDMI outputs found on its predecessor. Notebook Italia reckons that these new netbooks will start at €349 ($455). If you’re not ready just yet for the heady specs (and prices) of an Ultrabook, you can visit ASUS’ official site at the source for the full spec breakdown.
We just witnessed quite the interview between ASUS chairman Jonney Shih and Walt Mossberg at AsiaD, and outside of revealing the Transformer Prime (and affirming that the impending Padfone would ship with Android 4.0), he also dropped a few other nuggets worth mention to the audience here in Hong Kong. For starters, he finally caved to Walt’s pestering about who his main competition was, specifically related to the new Zenbook. “The Mac[Book] Air,” he stated, chuckling slyly afterwards, but quickly continuing on to plug his own machine based on its own merits. Not surprisingly, he also expressed his confidence that Android tablets still had a lot of life left in the market, and he stated that ASUS is still on track to move its target — around two million — Android tablets this year. Moving onto the topic of netbooks, Shih noted that rather than being buried, netbooks are simply “evolving.” More importantly, however, was his subtle confirmation that a new ASUS netbook is en route: “You’ll see on our new netbook, it’ll be very thin.” In fact, he even suggested that the design may follow that of the Zenbook, but just… smaller.
When asked about his thoughts on people replacing laptops less frequently, and perhaps shifting disposable income to smartphones and tablets, Jonney maintained that all of those markets were key to ASUS’ success, and that none were taking a backseat. “We believe that this a very critical time, transitioning from the personal computing era to the ubiquitous cloud computing era.” Sounds a bit like another mantra we heard, truth be told, but ASUS has been riding the cloud bandwagon long before most other consumer companies even knew what it was. The original spate of Eee PCs had next to no internal storage; rather, they relied on accessing the web in order to deliver the bulk of their functionality. Jonney also noted that ASUS is attempting to tackle an interesting problem with its products, which is that few people can truly separate work and entertainment — in other words, you need products that adequately handle both worlds. We’re guessing a Padfone + Transformer Prime + Zenbook is his preferred trifecta to do just that.
Good niches don’t come cheap, but while $350 isn’t exactly a steal, Acer’s new AC700 will, at the very least, get you into the wonderful cloud-based world of Chrome OS for a good deal less than, say, Samsung’s Series 5. Of course, there are certain sacrifices to be made for the sake of affordability, namely the fact that the current version of Acer’s entry into the space is WiFi-only — a 3G version is set to hit later this summer for, one assumes, a noticeable price bump. The AC700 has an Atom N570 processor, 16GB of storage, and 2GB of RAM, and best of all, is available right this very moment.
Just in case you bought an iPad 2 but really needed a netbook, ClamCase is back with a redesigned version of its case / battery powered Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard combo. This one is a hair thinner and a little lighter than the previous version (reviewed here), with cutouts for the back camera and speaker grille plus integrated magnets to awaken and sleep your tablet when the case is opened or closed. The keyboard has also reportedly been refreshed for an improved feel, but even though the black version is on sale now for $149 (white ships next month) there’s still a 4-5 week wait for shipping to get a hands-on and find out for yourself. Logitech’s Keyboard Case for iPad 2 is another option for $100, but it will only protect your precious slab on one side — something to consider while you’re checking out specs.
Intel’s Atom processor and the rise of the netbook have gone hand in hand, which has to this date resulted in a tally of one hundred million CPUs shipped by Intel. And though netboks are not quite the new hotness they once were, Intel is today celebrating the third birthday of its low-power processor and promising to keep it going for many years yet. That’ll happen thanks to a category Intel is calling companion devices, which includes clamshells of the old netbook ilk and tablets of all sizes and varieties. As if to prove that point, the company showed off a tablet that could boot into MeeGo, Android and Windows — choice is what it’s all about, according to Intel.
Intel took the opportunity at Computex to update the tech-loving world on its processor plans, and it looks like those whispers we heard about low power and an accelerated Atom roadmap were spot on. Executive VP Sean Maloney didn’t divulge specific TDPs but did confirm that we could look forward to reduced power consumption and sleek designs in 2012. The Intel exec declared that new class of PC, dubbed “Ultrabooks,” will make up 40-percent of the market by the end of 2012. These machines, powered by the 22nm Ivy Bridge, will be less than 0.8-inches thick and start at under $1,000 — which sounds just like the lines we were fed about CULV chips back in 2009.
Maloney also confirmed that, going forward, the Atom line would be getting a die shrink every year, as opposed to every two. The upcoming, 32nm Cedar Trail will usher in the new Moore’s Law-smashing era with promises of a 10 hour battery life and weeks of standby, and will be succeeded by 22nm and 14nm models. Intel even talked up Medfield, it’s Atom variant designed specifically for smartphones and tablets, and showed off more than 10 tablets based on the Oak Trail-flavored Z670. With AMD merely a fading blip in the company’s rearview mirror it looks like Chipzilla is gunning for all those ARM-touting manufacturers.
It’s not the first time we’re run into CUPP Computing’s unique ability to blend the x86 and ARM platforms into one device — at least in prototype form — and just before the start of Computex 2011 here in Taipei we got a chance to experience the company’s latest iteration called PunkThis. The product is meant to replace your computer’s 2.5-inch SATA hard drive with a board featuring a complete ARM-based system along with a mini-PCIe socket — the latter capable of accommodating a physically smaller SATA SSD to handle the missing storage for the x86 host. PunkThis is built around a Texas Instruments DM3730 ARM CPU with 512 MB of RAM and includes a WiFi radio, as well as connectors and cables to interface the board with existing video, audio, and USB facilities on the host computer (no soldering required).
The netbook we got to play with was running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but was lacking WiFi support. It ran perfectly alongside Windows 7 which was powered by the existing Atom processor. Switching OS-es is just a hotkey away, and battery life is supposedly doubled when the main x86 CPU is shut down and the only the daughter board is operational. PunkThis also provides two microSD card slots — one for system storage used by the ARM-based OS (Android in this case), the other for mass storage visible to both environments (shared space). Pricing is supposed to remain below $200 and availability is expected in 8 weeks. That’s pretty hardcore, but with a name like PunkThis would you expect anything less? Feast your eyes on our gallery and peek after the break for our hands-on video along with the obligatory PR.
Well this is interesting: a webOS dev spotted a pair unnamed devices in his log files — one sporting a 1024 x 768 screen and a non-sliding keyboard, and the other a smartphone with no physical QWERTY input. Don’t look so surprised: it was all but confirmed by leaked training materials that webOS was coming to netbooks and HP has already announced its intention to bring desktops and laptops into the fold. Of course, this could also just be a TouchPad connected to a certain special keyboard. All we know is something bigger than a phone with physical keys is out there running an unannounced version of the OS dubbed Nova Dartfish. The second mysterious “device” showing up in the logs may be that keyboard-less handset that posed for Mr. Blurrycam back in April. Whatever it is, it’s running webOS 3.0 and has a measly 480 x 320 screen like the Pre 2 — so it’s certainly not a high-end smartphone. The logs also reveal that neither is packing a removeable battery, which is sure to disappoint some of you. If you prefer your rumors delivered with lots of quotation marks and colons the full log reports are after the break.
We never had much doubt about what Samsung would be showcasing at tonight’s finale event at Google I/O 2011, but now it’s official — the outfit’s first-ever Chrome OS ultraportable is making its debut in San Francisco, and we’ve been fortunate enough to grab a bit of hands-on time. Slated to ship to consumers, businesses and educational institutions on June 15th, the 12.1-inch Series 5 is a strikingly svelte machine, and there’s no doubt that holding a 0.79-inch rig gives us all kinds of chills. The company took a bit of time to play up its “Power Plus” battery technology, lasting up to 8.5 hours with “active use,” or 5 hours of straight video. There’s also a new hitch in the Verizon Wireless data deal — 100MB will be tossed in each month on the 3G model, but contrary to what we’d heard earlier, that ends after two years (rather than lasting for the life of the product).
The hardware feels tremendous — stiff, solid and well appointed, much like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition. It outclasses the other sub-$450 netbooks we’ve seen in both style and rigidity, and while we’ll always have a special place in our heart for the CR-48, it’s pretty clear that this particular unit was in the oven for some while. We’ve hoping to spend some serious time with this guy in the middle of next month, but for now, here’s what we can tell you — the 1280 x 800 display is both crisp and sharp, with shockingly great viewing angles for a machine of this price. The keyboard’s far from cramped, and if you’ve had your doubts on the 12.1-inch form factor, we’re guessing one touch of this would have those running for cover. Oh, and the trackpad? One of the best we’ve felt in the PC universe, and one that we hope crops up elsewhere in the near future. It’s right about on par with the one found on the CR-48 (post update), which is also stellar compared to most netbooks.
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Rumors told us what, when and even how much to expect, but Google just made it official on stage — Chrome OS netbooks are finally here, and Samsung is leading the way with a ultra-slim 0.79-inch thin machine. This is the Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook, which plays to Google’s new standard “Chromebook” spec –in short means they’ll each come with a dual-core Intel Atom processor and an “all-day” battery, which Google says will provide 8.5 hours of continuous usage here. Samsung’s particular clamshell will have a 12.1-inch, 1280 x 800, 300 nit screen, weigh 3.26 pounds and come with dual-band 802.11 WiFi, optional global 3G, two USB 2.0 ports, an HD webcam and a clickable trackpad that Google tells us has thankfully been revamped since the CR-48. You’ll be able to order one from Amazon or Best Buy beginning June 15th. It’ll cost $429 for the WiFi version and $499 for worldwide 3G — which includes 100MB of free Verizon data per month, just like the CR-48. PR after the break.
Update: Amazon’s Series 5 listing details some additional specs — we’re looking at a dual-core 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 chip, a 1 megapixel webcam, and a 16GB mSATA solid state drive here, as well as an SDXC card reader, and VGA-out via an “optional” dongle. The press release also mentions a Li-ion battery good for 1,000 recharge cycles, though it doesn’t mention what efficiency will be like after that.
With a Sandy Bridge refresh, a new 14-inch mainstream laptop, and a redesigned netbook, HP’s latest crop of consumer systems offers a little something for everyone. First up, there’s the 14-inch Pavilion dv4 (not to be confused with the metal-clad dm4), which bears the same Imprint finish and CoolSense technology as its siblings and ushers in a striking cobalt blue color option, as you can see in the photo above. Look for it on May 18 with a starting price of $600.
Then there’s the revamped Mini 210, which swaps last year’s not-too-glossy plastic lid for candy-colored lids, and adds a seamless touchpad, edge-to-edge 10.1-inch display, and a flush six-cell battery promising up to 8.8 hours of battery life — an upgrade over last year’s standard four-cell. Spec-wise, nothing has changed from the current 210, except for the addition of Beats Audio, something you’ll find across HP’s notebook lineup. It’ll be available on June 15 and cost $300 for the charcoal version — alas, you’ll have to pony up $330 for one of the punchier colors. For now, be sure to check out our video hands-on.
Lastly, HP did the predictable and refreshed the high-end Envy 14 with Sandy Bridge CPU options and USB 3.0. It also promises an improved touch experience — something we bemoaned in our review last year — with a trackpad that uses optical sensors to analyze your multitouch gestures. That will go on sale June 15 for $1,000 and up.
Truth be told, we liked the Mini 210′s not-too-glossy design when we reviewed it last year, but compared to the latest generation, it manages to look frumpy. The made-over version (starting at $299) has a shimmering paint job that’s almost metallic, but since the 210 is still made of plastic, it feels light in the hands — as a netbook should. And oh, the colors! We’d be lying if we said the palette didn’t help sell us on the design. (It’s just too bad that all but the charcoal gray model will set you back an extra $30). Even more than our sweet spot for turquoise, what makes these color options appealing is that HP committed to them. Lift the lid, and you’ll see the color extending onto the palm rest, above the keyboard, and even between the keys. The 210 also has a flat bottom with a larger, six-cell battery inside, and it’s because of this flush battery that HP was able to paint the area near the hinge, as opposed to letting the battery stick out. Throw in the edge-to-edge 10.1-inch display and flush touchpad, and you’ve got a design that feels seamless, minimalistic.
That continuity — even more than the metallic finish — is what makes the Mini 210 look like a high-end laptop, cut down to size. In fact, the Mini 210 borrows design elements you might recognize from the company’s premium Envy line — namely, rounded edges, scooping around the keyboard area, and Beats audio — a surprise feature in a category that doesn’t usually offer much in the way of rich sound. As for the keyboard, HP’s stuck to a chiclet layout that’s served it well in the past. In our brief hands-on, the panel felt sturdy, and we made few typing errors. The buttons, meanwhile, felt tactile, though we’ll have to spend more time with it to gauge how well HP fixed the trackpad issues afflicting last year’s model. We hope to do just that before it ships in mid-June, but until then take a peek at the gallery of close-up shots below, along with the video tour after the break.
Samsung has yet to announce a revised release date for its Sliding PC 7 Series tablet / laptop hybrid, but the 2.2-pound netvertible slider is already available for pre-order on Amazon. According to Amazon’s listing, the 7 Series should ship with many of the same specs we noticed at this year’s CES: a 10-inch touchscreen with 1366 x 768-resolution, dual front and rear cameras (1.3 and 3.0 megapixels, respectively), a 32GB SSD, 2GB of RAM and, of course, Intel’s 1.5GHz Atom Oak Trail Z670 processor, which was originally scheduled to launch in March, before being pushed back to May. The slider will also run on Windows 7 Home Premium, and come equipped with 802.11b/g/n WiFi. When it debuted earlier this year, the Series 7 boasted optional 3G and WiMax features, as well as a six-cell battery that claimed to last up to nine hours on a single charge. Amazon doesn’t mention either of these specs in its listing, but everything else checks out with what we’ve already heard. And, at $649, it’s even a little cheaper than we expected.
The other device, Seaboard, has been floating around the Chrome OS flaw depot for some time, but reports are finally starting to reveal some tantalizing details. We now know that it is powered by a Tegra 2 and sports a touchscreen — the perfect place to test out those finger-friendly tweaks we’ve heard so much about. There are also mentions of a “lid switch” and a physical keyboard, indicating it may be a convertible or something in the vein of the Eee Pad Slider rather than a pure slate. The hybrid form factor would make perfect sense since it will house a pair of USB ports and an HDMI jack, which could make for a rather chunky tablet. Obviously, neither of these devices are confirmed yet (and Seaboard is most likely being used for internal testing only) but at least we’ve got a better idea of what to expect when the browser-based OS comes to consumers later this year.
It looks like that funky Acer netbook with the dented lid that we spied at MWC wasn’t a one-off. The company just released the Aspire One 722, an 11-inch mini with the same aesthetic (and a likely successor to the 721). Like the D257 we saw in Barcelona, its lid is made of molded plastic, sculpted to resemble a series of ripples. Spec-wise, it has the same innards as the more staid-looking Aspire One 522, pairing AMD’s netbook-class 1GHz C-50 Ontario processor with Radeon HD 6250 graphics. But the 722 improves on the 10-inch 522 with higher 1366 x 768 resolution, two speakers instead of one, and rated battery life of up to seven hours — a boost over the 522′s six-hour max. No word yet on pricing or availability, but for now you can content yourself with some official press shots.
It’s perhaps a little too early to be feeling all retro-nostalgic for the netbook, with much of the industry moving on up to your notbooks and your tablets and such, so we’ll just say that Hercules is still kickin’ it old school by launching its eCAFE netbooks. There are two models, the Slim HD and EX HD, the former tipping the scales at 1.9lbs and measuring only .8-inches thick, while the EX model is a bit heftier at 2.5lbs and 1.1-inches, managing 13 hours of “real use” battery life. Both are said to smoothly play 720p video on their 10-inch, 1024 x 600 displays or export it over HDMI, running a custom flavor of Linux and powered by an ARM Cortex-A8 processor. Hercules says this “sets a new standard” in netbooks, but 8 or 16GB of flash storage and 512MB of RAM sounds all too familiar to us, and if that cramped, recessed keyboard is the future we’re quite happy to stick in the present, thanks.