2008
11.12

First off, if you’re wondering where Tech News Bits went, due to lack of interest I’m going to post a subset of it on my personal blog. If you don’t like this development, by all means complain n the comments.

You may have heard of netbooks (see my previous article on the subject). Well, now there are more

Asus has released a thinner Eee PC, the s101, which trades a bit of thickness for a chunk of change. It costs about $250 more than an equivalent regular-sized Eee PC, but for those who want the thinnest computer possible on the cheap, this is a good bet. If you want something closer to a regular notebook, Asus also has the N10 series for people looking for a slightly more substantial computer. It’s bigger than an Eee PC, but keeps the 10″ screen and Atom processor. What it expands: hard disk space and graphics capabilities (if you get the more expensive model, you can switch between integrated an nVidia Geforce 9300M graphics). Also, it costs more, more in line with a rasonably spec’d budget 15″ notebook. Due t the large hard drive on the N10, it comes with Windows Vista installed by default.

Averatec, a lesser-known but high-quality notebook manufacturer, has their own netbook, with a hard disk, a webcam and Windows XP Home. You get a memory card reader thrown into the deal as well. The screen size: 10.2 inches. The price: $480, at the moment.

Dell will be releasing the Mini 12, complete with a dual-core processor, hard disk, twelve-inch screen and full-sized keyboard, in November. If it works as well as it looks, I’ll probably buy this one. People may say that this is not a netbook, due to its large screen, to which I respond “Fine, it’s an ultra-cheap ultraportable that’s more powerful than computers three times the cost a year and a half ago”. In my opinion, this is the ultimate “student PC”, for taking notes, writing reports and doing general low-power tasks while staying low on both weight and price. I feel this with such conviction that, had the Mini 12 with its pre-release specs been out in February of this year at its projected price ($600-$700) I’d be using it, instad of my Macbook Air, to write this article.

HP has released a ten-inch (or nine-inch if you want to save $50), plastic-case netbook by the name of Mini 1000 . The computer seems to perform quite well for its intended purpose, and it’s relatively customizeable, similar to the Dell Mini 9. Regardless of configuration, at this point the Mini 1000 comes with Windows XP. The computer is also less expensive than HP’s previous netbook (the MiniNote) was at launch, though now the MiniNote can be had for as little as $300.

Lenovo has also gotten into the game with its Windows-XP-powered IdeaPad S10. As with other Lenovo (fka IBM) products, the S10 is a solid product all-around at a decent price. On the other hand, its battery isn’t very large, and the white plastic design says “TOY” rather than “tool”, something you probably don’t want when you’ve spent $500 on a miniature computer.

Samsung has introduced a 10″ netbook of their own, the NC10. It seems well-heeled spec-wise (including the battery, which is six cells, huge for a netbook), with a price that’s quite competitive. The battery life is a claimed seven hours, which is nice to see in a hard-disk-based netbook. The operating system is…can you guess…that’s right, Windows XP Home.

Sylvania (yes, that Sylvania) has introduced a second netbook, this time based on the Intel Atom processor (like almost every other netbook at this point). It runs a specialized version of Ubuntu (the same underlying operating system used on the lower-end Dell Mini 9 netbooks) via a hard drive (as opposed to flash memory). Its redeeming quality: price; the computer is a mere $350.

It seems that a pattern is emerging for netbooks: flash storage or an 80GB hard disk if you’re cheap, a larger hard disk (or maybe a larger SSD) for more money. For screen size, you get an 8.9″ or 10.2″ display, depending on price (both at 1024×600 resolution). For an operating system, Linux is for the cheaper computers (always customized for netbooks, never the same customization or distribution), Windows XP for the higher-end ones. The processor: an Intel Atom N270 single-core 1.6GHz model. Webcam presence and resolution depends on the computer you’re looking at, but one is usually there. Soon Intel will release a dual-core Atom, and SSDs will grow in capacity and speed for a given price. Screens will get higher-resolution as well, and eventually we’ll see Windows 7 running on these netbooks. In short, you’re looking at a rather homogeneous but exciting new frontier for computing at this juncture, one that’s great in almost every way for students.

For more tech news, visit http://yanntx.info/cat/tech/

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