Thursday, August 7, 2008

Netbooks at it again


And that would be the sound of my or your hand slapped onto our face, and our mouth are murmuring "Not again...!" ;-D

While we're still looking for the right specifications to categorize which devices that suit with netbook criteria, computer manufacturers around the world are racing to get out their netbooks to the market. New model, revamped old models, refreshed model, all are just their marketing gimmick. And further pushing tins of the netbook's criteria itself into grey area, meaning there'll be very thin line left to define which is laptop and which is netbook. Or worse, in near future we can't tell what's the difference anymore between netbooks and laptops.

Even the low price that's first marked the birth of netbooks, is rapidly beginning to rise and closing the gap from its bigger siblings. With price as near as laptop, the main trait that mobile users are so fond of netbook; has began to deteriorate and blurred along with better specs inside. For one simple example; our own reader:
soda, thinks that the MacBook Air (MBA) is an UMPC or a netbook.

Is MBA a netbook? The specs are somehow not that different from today most new netbooks, the weight is indeed very light and it's very thin. Making MBA very-very mobile, easy to carry anywhere. But IMHO there are two differences that seperate MBA from netbook; first is MBA's screen size at 13.3", where for a netbook that size is too wide and the widest screen that netbook has right now is at 10". Second is MBA's hefty price tag, a very contrast with netbook's main trait.

But then again, those two can change tomorrow when computer manufacturers are beginning to push more the netbook's limits by releasing bigger screen size. Who knows? Maybe the netbooks price are no longer low & cheap, but the same with laptop's at value model.

Talking about price, there's a newly released market research that says Mac computers are pricier than PCs. This is true, and what do you think that really causes this phenomenon? Perhaps this Calvin & Jobs cartoon can answer your thirst for the truth. ~LOL~ --click on the picture to enlarge it--

Yes, MBA is very attractive. Apple has set a new standard in the term of thinnest notebook available, like it says in its
web page; not netbook. Even Sony, which known to produce thin and light notebooks (before MBA), has taken the same design like MBA for its newest Vaio SR-series. Don't let the left picture fools you, it's not MBA, but instead it's Sony's Vaio SR dubbed; as the Sony Air by Mr. James Kendrick (jkOnTheRun). According to Aving USA, this notebook isn't only boasting its lightweight but also more power-horse within its durable magnesium alloy body:
  • 13.3-inch LED backlit widescreen display and Sony's patented
  • BRITE-ECO LCD technology for clear and crisp images
  • Windows Vista Home Premium OS
  • Intel Centrino 2 platform
  • 802.11n WLAN
  • 'Switch' technology enabling customized modes for home, work and entertainment

What really intriguing is, Sony doesn't use 12" screen that's well known for its small Vaio line-ups, but instead uses 13.3" which is the same as in MBA. Plus the Vaio SR's keyboard layout. I believe we can expect more and more computer manufacturers will pick up MBA's design in their products too.

And if Sony is the one who's making this MBA look alike notebook, then you can also expect hefty price tag on it. But can we really judge high price to seperate notebook from netbook? So far, no real netbooks price are making the break through $1,000 price tag barrier.

Lenovo, one of the latest big computer manufacturers to join in the netbook bandwagon has released IdeaPad S10. The starting price at $399 will get you the usual netbook's specs:

  • 10.2" screen with 1024 x 600 resolution and LED backlit
  • 1.6GHz Atom processor
  • Intel 945GSE chipset
  • 512Mb of RAM
  • 80GB HDD
  • WiFi b/g
  • 1.3MP camera
  • 4 in 1 card reader
  • 2 stereo speakers
  • Form factor: 250.2 x 183 x 22-27.5mm, lightest configuration of 1.1 kg

If you wish to bump up the specs at $450 price tag, you'll get 1GB of RAM & 160GB HDD (5400rpm). The IdeaPad S10 available at these colors: black, red & white. Lenovo has already announced its intention to release a 8.9" screen model (S9) with the same IdeaPad S10 casing, where we can hope for cheaper price when it finally comes out. And according to Gizmodo; the IdeaPad S10 is only available with Windows XP preinstalled when it comes out in the US, no Linux OS option.

It doesn't feel complete if we're to talk about netbooks without mention Asus Eee PC, the one which started the netbook trend wave. After revealing the refreshed Eee PC 900A, Asus sucessfully make everyone frown with its mediocre specs (compared to the 901):

  • Intel Atom 1.6Ghz
  • 1024MB DDR2
  • 8.9“ WVGA screen, 1024 x 600
  • 8GB / 16GB SSD ( 16GB not yet available )
  • LAN, Wifi
  • 0.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • SD-Card/MMC Slot (SDHC)
  • Linux OS

But then, like not satisfied confusing mobile users with more options on Eee PC line-ups, Asus released Ultimate Eee PC S101 at a considerably high price for a netbook: $899. It'll still be powered with the same Intel Atom processor and sports 10.2" LCD display with backlit light, the only difference is its hard drive which will use SSD. The 32GB SSD costs around $699, and the 64GB SSD costs approximately at $899.

Pictured right, the Ultimate Eee PC S101 is placed next to Eee PC 901 model. It has a nice touch of glossy exterior, plus a more subtle colors.

So right now, we're having plenty of netbooks with bigger and bigger screen to choose. Is it not a trend for netbook to have small sized screen anymore? It's a question that need to be answered by mobile users themselves, not by computer manufacturers.

[blogged with my Treo 750v]

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