Fighting 2008's war, are they?
Intel says shipments have started on its latest lines of dual-core Atom processors, formerly known as Cedar Trail, and that it’s aiming them at the netbook and healthcare markets. The new processors - announced ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month - are fused with Intel’s Graphics Media …
I have a Macbook Air and I love it. However, a Macbook Air is not a netbook. The Air is about a lightweight, productive laptop that does make a couple sacrifices for portability and weight but can still do some serious work. I've been doing some C++ development for a personal project I may open-source some day; I've also been doing RoR work for work with it. It's not a muscle car like the Cadillac CTS, but it's a Lotus Elise: light, responsive, and balanced. Apple has a knack for knowing what to leave out, and they hit it here. Also, it's surprisingly well-engineered. I've dropped mine, while it was opened, about 4 feet onto concrete and, though the corner bent a bit, a pair of needle-nose pliers put it back. I'll gladly pay for that sort of design and engineering.
Netbooks, otoh, are about cheap, cheap, and cheap. They're the ugly Pacific Rim cars that whose 0-60 performance is measured by a calendar.
The market has shown that people are willing to pay enough for an Air/ultrabook to make them profitable, but not necessarily for netbooks. If I were running a business, I know which market I'd pursue.
I do software dev on a netbook, decompile dlls with IDA, write and compile code (C with VS2008), check hex files with PSPad and it works perfectly fine. I enjoy 6 to 8 hour of *work* on the go.
I paid my dual core 270 euros.
It has an integrated SD card reader and 250Go HDD.
I'll give you credit that i didn't drop it on the floor so i won't argue on sturdiness. For the rest...
Netbooks are not dead.
Tablets are not a long term replacement.
What is happening is twofold:
1) A saturated market is only slowly replacing existing kit, as the existing kit is still good enough, and not really growing massively, and;
2) The new shiny has had a massive bump which will not last.
BOTH will need processors.
I honestly wish you could get an ARMs netbook. Windows supporting it will probably help (as much as I don't plan to have windows on my next netbook anymore then it does now)
The netbook form factor is awesome for what I use it for (amateur writing and as a console)
now if we could get ARMs CPUs in there and a display you can use outside, it would be perfect.
... of buying the very latest netbook, when you didn't buy it for its speed in the first place? The point of the things was exactly that speed wasn't that important. It's ultraportable utility computing. So any old chip in there will do. Like, arm, or mips, or something.
The interesting technology bits are in fancy screens, solid state storage, lightweight and small form factor, long battery life. The cpu? You could've had a dual MIPS64 core for 10W total years ago. Or a single core MIPS64 part for 2Watts at 600MHz. That was a decade ago. We could've had our netbooks then, no worries. Alright, no GPUs tied in, but you didn't need those back then, and in ten years they could've been added... and were, in various offerings. What intel is delivering just isn't all that interesting. Not when taken in perspective of what was already on the market.
So why are they touting this now? Why wouldn't they "invent" it back then when others already could? Just because nobody had thought of the form factor? That sounds a bit silly, dunnit.
Notebooks had to get pretty powerful and wireless networking pretty pervasive before it became apparent that there was a niche for connected sub-notebooks. Intel has clearly missed the boat on this one though - AMD's offering is as good and has been out there for ages already, and Intel doesn't have disproportionate clout in a market that owes as much to Palm as to WIntel.
The netbook originally was a cheap web+email machine. But the first ones generally were underpowered for good quality video. Tablets like the ipad raised the bar, so that to be competitive, a netbook needs to be able to play HD video. For some strange reason, most netbooks do not have the Nvidia Ion chipset or the AMD C series processors, both which allow a netbook to play HD video. With Ivy Trail, underperforming netbooks will be a thing of the past.
No mention of nettops? I've been using two NVIDIA ION based Atom Nettops for a couple of years now. With 2GB of RAM I get decent enough Win7 performance from a PC that consumes around 20W peak. It handles Hi-def video, I can do basic video editing (as long as I leave the final "build" to run overnight) and I love it.
I reckon 90% of users could get by on Atom-based hardware and would never notice the difference over a Core i3/5. Certainly most business PCs.
My NB100 is a very dinky XP home machine - 1024x600 screen at 9" - rare because most other sub-notebooks are 10"+. Size of a hardback book. Single core atom 1.6Ghz. The maximum 2gb RAM makes a difference. Swift, even with a truecrypt encrypted 120gb hard drive. Clean install of XP squeezes some extra speed as no trialware guff. Quiet machine. Keyboard small but that's 'cause the machine is small innit?
It's a versatile swiss-army knife of a machine because despite what people say about Windows - and Linux being better, Windows enables me to run the most popular/major apps on it.
Plays YouTube 480p effortlessly. Chrome runs smooth on it. Photoshop Elements on it. Basic standard definition (720x576p) video editing possible. Works great with a large second 1920x1080 monitor attached - extended desktop. (Won't play 1080p video of course being a single core Atom with integrated graphics, but that's OK). Burns DVDs at 16x with USB2.0 external drive effortlessly with ImgBurn.
Maybe I'll upgrade it to Windows 7 at some point. But all the while XP is supported with updates until 2014 I'm in no rush.
I bought the S9e 17 months ago and I am very happy with it.
9" screen (1024x600)
But the rest of the netbook is the same as the 10" version (same resolution screen) so the keyboard is a little less cramped.
When I'm out and about I bring it along as it is small and compact.
I use it for Arduino development (Jave IDE), YouTube video editing
Google Docs, Mail.
Does exactly what I bought it to do so very happy with my purchase.
They don't even seem to realise that they basically killed Atom themselves, unaided. If they hadn't forced it to limp along with piddly amounts of memory and atrocious graphics hardware, if they hadn't crippled its expansion potential, it could have been so much more. All the good stuff like the nVidia ION platform came years too late.
They didn't want to damage their own low-end CPU and chipset sales for small laptops and the like, and as a result they smothered their own offspring. Good work, guys.
Wasn't there also something about limiting the screen resolutions that netbook manufacturers were allowed to use? Maybe I misremember and this was a Microsoft limit, but I could be wrong.
Intel don't know what they want to do. They can see ARM systems nipping at them in the ultra-portable space and soon the server space and they don't know how to respond. Intel have been so tied to MS that when ARM/Linux systems started to appear they couldn't respond, now that MS have committed to ARM Intel are in a real panic.
What is the difference between an ultra-portable laptop and a netbook? a lot of money, both are small laptops but one is expensive the other is cheap. Why buy the expensive one when the cheap one will do? Intel didn't like the netbook segment it was robbing them of margin.
The problem is that the iPad is popular and with all the ARM pads on the market they aren't even running Intel CPUs so Intel like that even less. Intel need the netbook to fight the iPad and clones while they also need the higher margin ultra-portables to do well.
Intel wants to go back to a market of Intel servers, Intel desktops, Intel laptops and eventually Intel pads/netbooks. The problem is that at the moment it's not cheap AMDs that Intel are worrying about, it's really-cheap and really cool and really light on power ARMs that Intel are worrying about. If ARM get a good chipset out that is powerful and cheap enough to run a portable device for most of a day in one go then who isn't going to want it. Once ARM are there, it's the thin end of the wedge..
IIRC, OLPC started the tiny laptop craze and the concept of creating a low cost laptop-like device. Intel freaked because OLPC would not use power hungry Intel chips( Microsoft freaked too and also spent millions attacking OLPC ) so they came out with their own laptop for children. It was called the ClassMate PC and while it did not have many of the features of the OLPC XO, it was a small cheap laptop which ran either Microsoft Windows XP or GNU/Linux. I think there was even a story about thousands of ClassMate PCs getting shipped where Microsoft got involved and signed a deal putting Windows on them even when the CTO wanted GNU/Linux. They then sent the Windows ClassMate PCs to a 3rd party who then put GNU/Linux on them.
Had Intel, and Microsoft, not gone all ape over the OLPC devices I don't think we'd have seen the netbook market when we did. Too bad Intel and Microsoft both then went and set artificial limits on what an OEM could do in making a netbook using their hardware and software.
And where the heck are the Tegra 2 or Tegra 3 based Netbooks?
But none of the stated partners are going to give us that on Intel silicon. This is coming to be an old story. With Linux netbooks were sleek and quick, could be made cheap with a lower BOM and driving ever lower prices. With Windows, not so much. Now you can get a regular laptop for $300, people just aren't going to be that interested in poorly performing Windows on a netbook that costs even more than that.
We're loving our Android tablets but Intel's at a loss to find a vendor that will really build one instead of promising to but never shipping it. They keep going back to the same old partners who have let them down time and again when it comes to non-Microsoft platforms.
So once again Intel will have made a really interesting bit of kit that probably comes to naught.
A shame that. I'd have gone for a Medfield Android tablet.
if there was a viable market for them. It's as simple as that.
The $10-$15 premium for Windows starter is paid for by a lower return rate - a 15% return rate on a $250 linux tablet makes it more expensive to manufacture than the same hardware with Windows and a 5% return rate. And like it or not, end-users are more likely to encounter some show-stopper on a linux machine, if only because they can't call their brother or their niece to sort an issue out for them. When a bump in the road becomes a show stopper, the machine get's returned.
And people are loving them at prices from $79 to over $800. Transformer Prime is a standout hit, sold out everywhere - as was the original Transformer. Kindle Fire is just killing it. Android is now taking something like a third of the tablet market (all of the rest being iPads, of course).
People would love Intel Android tablets too, but there's just nobody to make them.
What there's no market for is Windows tablets. You can find them if you want them, but apparently nobody does.