Introduction, Low-Power Computing Was Never Enjoyable
It was nearly five years ago that ASUS announced the first Eee PC model at Computex. That October the first production version of what would to be called a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 4G, was released. The press latched on to the little Eee PC, making it the new darling of the computer industry. It was small, it was inexpensive, and it was unlike anything on the market.
Even so, the original Eee PC was a bit of a dead end. It used an Intel Celeron processor that was not suited for the application. It consumed too much power and took up a significant portion of the netbook’s production cost. If Intel’s Celeron had remained the only option for netbooks they probably would not have made the leap from press darling to mainstream consumer device.
It turned out that Intel (perhaps unintentionally) had the solution – Atom. Originally built with hopes that it might power “mobile Internet devices” it proved to be the netbook’s savior. It allowed vendors to squeeze out cheap netbooks with Windows and a proper hard drive.
At the time, Atom and the netbook seemed promising. Sales were great – consumers loved the cute, pint-sized, affordable computers. In 2009 netbook sales jumped by over 160% quarter-over-quarter while laptops staggered along with single-digit growth. The buzz quickly jumped to other products, spawning nettops, media centers and low-power all-in-one-PCs. There seemed to be nothing an Atom powered computer could not do.
Fast forward. Earlier this year, PC World ran an article asking if netbooks are dead. U.S. sales peaked in the first quarter of 2010 and have been nose-diving since then, and while some interest remains in the other markets, only central Europe and Latin America have held steady. It appears the star that burned brightest has indeed burned the quickest.
Introduction, Design, User Interface, Display And Audio Quality
We have a lot of laptop reviews here at PC Perspective. As you’d expect, we generally use the same benchmarks and use the same principles whenever reviewing a laptop.
Yet we’ve never before put all of this down in writing so that our readers could understand exactly what we’re doing. Since this is a new year with new laptops to review, now is a good time introduce new benchmarks and get rid of old ones - which also makes this a good time to share information with our readers.
The first page of any laptop review here at PC Perspective is dominated by some very subjective criteria.
Design comes first, and is also the most subjective. It refers to a laptop’s build quality, general layout and attractiveness. This is where we comment on a laptop’s aesthetics, and it’s also where we comment on a laptop’s perceived durability. We look at details like the display hinges, the chassis, the display lid and overall material quality. An ideal laptop design is attractive to the eye, pleasurable to touch, and feels sturdy in normal use.
ASUS remains one of the best manufacturers in the netbook category. Today, they’ve pulled the wraps off some new products that will freshen their lineup for 2012.
Subject: Processors | December 28, 2011 - 07:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pine trail, netbook, Intel, cedar trail, atom, 32nm
Intel has been pumping out quite a few new processors lately, with new Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, a new Sandy Bridge i7 2700K processor coming out, and now a new line of Atom CPUs sneaking in the news right before the new year! Not to mention, they are also working on Ivy Bridge.
The new Atom CPUs are of the Cedar Trail variety and succeed the older Pine Trail-M Atom processors. Currently, there are three Cedar Trail chips that will be available as soon as January in OEM systems including the N2600, N2800, and D2700 CPUs. Further, the new chips are 32nm and have a 22x22mm package size. These little chips are destined to power netbooks, tablets, embedded devices (think medical devices, ruggedized tablets, machinery). Yes, Intel still believes in netbooks, and feels as though emerging markets will keep the market alive and growing as people want for cheap computers that are able to get them on the web. While the netbook is losing popularity in the US, Intel expects the South American, Eastern European, and African markets to see great interest in the netbook platform. Their netbook plans involve three price tiers with accompanying use cases including netbooks at $200 with minimal features and a price to match that enables people to access the web all the way to $400+ netbooks with lots of features that would fill out the market up to where the Ultrabook territory begins at around $900.
The new Cedar Trail processors improve upon the previous gen Atom chips by quite a bit, according to Intel. The graphics aspect in particular has been improved such that 1080p HD Youtube and HD Netflix streams are playable at at least 24 FPS. Something that early netbooks using Intel's integrated graphics will never be able to do. Intel further estimates a 50% lower TDP and a 28% processor performance increase over the Pine Trail chips. Further, the new Cedar Trail chips have more cache at 2 x 512 L2 cache(s), higher clockspeeds, lower TDP, higher C-State (C6 vs C4E)/lower power usage in sleep mode, a 200MHz higher clocked graphics card (400MHz vs 200 MHz), and increased memory speeds (DDR3 800 and 1066 vs DDR3-667). The fastest Nxx chip, the N2800 manages a .2GHz clock speed increase while also knocking off 2 watts from the TDP versus the previous top N570.
Needless to say, Cedar Trail is looking very good, on paper at least. The individual chip specifications are listed below.
|CPU Clock Speed||Graphics Clock Speed||TDP|
|N2600||1.60 GHz||400 MHz||3.5 W|
|N2800||1.86 GHz||640 MHz||6.5 W|
|D2700||2.10 GHz||640 MHz||10 W|
What are your thoughts on the new Cedar Trail chips, do you think they will provide enough "oomph" to make new netbooks desirable again? Some more information can be found here and straight from Intel here.
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 12:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, netbook, tablet, ultrabook
ASUS seems to be sitting in a very nice place in the market, with several flavours of 'killer' products, so that which ever ends up winning the form factor battle ASUS will come out with a profit. In this high tech game of rock, paper, scissors we have The Ultrabook, with their newly released Zenbook, The Netbook, their Eee series being the best known and The Tablet, being that nice looking Eee Pad Transformer. They even still sell laptops for those who prefer to exercise their arms and core. Which ever form factor becomes dominant ASUS already has a model out now, with new ones on the way, which explains the 11% growth in profit they recorded this quarter.
One major benefit ASUS has with these smaller form factors is that they all use flash memory for long term storage. With the devastation hitting Thailand as flood waters cover homes and businesses, the tech world also watches the stocks of platter based HDDs plummet. In fact ASUS reported to The Inquirer that they expect to be out of hard drives by the end of the month. That will only effect the larger form factors, ASUS may still hit the 1.8 million tablets shipped target that they are aiming for by the end of 2011.
"ASUS managed a slight increase in profit for the third quarter of this year, despite the global slowdown in PC sales.
ASUS is still shipping notebooks, but has also been strong in netbooks and has launched its own fondleslab range, all siblings to its popular Eee PC netbook, led by the Eee Pad Transformer, but to eventually include the Eee Memo, Slider and Slate."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel 8-core server Atom gets a name and date @ SemiAccurate
- "Devil Robber" Trojan Infects Macs, Leeches Their GPUs for Bitcoin Profit @ DailyTech
- How to make sure your computer (and the internet) survives a nuclear holocaust @ ExtremeTech
- Google search and Gmail users can block advertisers @ The Inquirer
- Weekly Giveaway #14: BitFenix Outlaw Chassis @ eTeknix
Introduction and Design
We have our heads in the clouds. Once a dream, cloud computing is now common and used to support everything from file sharing to email. Here at PC Perspective, for example, we often make use of Dropbox. Storing certain files “in the cloud” is much easier than directly emailing them to and fro.
Google is one of the cloud’s most ardent supporters. The Internet seems to be Google’s answer to everything from emails to file sharing to document editing. All these tasks can be accomplished online through a browser with a Google utility.
When Google announced that it was going to develop an entire OS based off its Chrome web browser there was much shock, speculation and excitement. In hindsight, however, this development was probably inevitable given the company’s love of everything online. Now, Google Chrome OS is a retail product. Let’s find out if a cloud OS can compete with more traditional options.
Subject: Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 02:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gma 3150, netbook, hp, atom, single core
The demise of netbooks has been greatly exaggerated, with a $400-ish price tag and at least as much power as a tablet but without the added costs or contracts, there is still a large market for these devices. The incredible sales figures we saw when this form factor originally came out will never be reached again but there still are a lot of people buying netbooks. Up for review by Matt is the HP Mini 210 with a Atom N455 and Intel's older GMA 3150 graphics inside. Is it worth saving $100 by choosing a single core netbook instead of a dual core? Read on to find out.
"This praise aside, the HP Mini 210, like most traditional single-core netbooks, sits in a market position that is increasingly awkward. The problem is the lower prices of dual-core netbooks and budget ultraportables. The HP dm1z has now been reduced to an MSRP of $449.99, and the Eee PC 1215B’s initial price of $450 has already been knocked down to about $435 on Amazon. These dual-core AMD Fusion powered netbooks are substantially quicker than the HP Mini 210, but only $100 more."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Samsung Sens R540: First Encounter @ InsideHW
- Sony VAIO Y Series 11.6-inch Notebook Review @ Legit Reviews
- HP Pavilion dv6 (Sandy Bridge) Review @ t-break
- CyberPower Xplorer X6-9100: Gamers Need Not Apply @ AnandTech
- ASUS K53E 15.6-inch Notebook Review @ Legit Reviews
- Toshiba Satellite L655-S5161 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Coolink Lapchilla Super-Quiet Laptop Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo Duo Silent Fan Notebook Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Cooler Master NotePal Infinite EVO Laptop Cooler @ Pro-Clockers
- CoolerMaster NotePal LapAir Notebook Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Arctic C1 Portable Universal Charger @ Overclockers Onlin
- Choiix Power Fort C-2006 Power Backup Review @ BayReviews
- Targus Mini Stand Video Review @ Tech-Reviews.co.uk
- Mobile GPU Comparison Guide Rev. 11.3 @ TechARP
- Hands-on with the BlackBerry Bold 9900 @ t-break
- LG Optimus 2X review @ The Inquirer
- Control your BlackBerry from your Jaguar's screen @ t-break
- HTC Droid Incredible 2 (Verizon Wireless) Review @ TechReviewSource
HP Mini 210 Review: Introduction
With all of the talk about tablets and smartphones it’s easy to forget just how popular netbooks are and remain. The days of absurd 800% market share growth numbers are over, but netbooks remain a part of the mobile computing market and are not likely to disappear any time soon.
That may mean the end of excitement over netbook, but it also means the opportunity for refinement. New, revolutionary products often have rough edges. Many older netbooks had poor keyboards and so-so build quality. My old Samsung N10, which was considered the cream of the crop in its day, looks cheap compared to today’s models – and I paid just over $400 for it.
Introduction and Design
You don’t hear much about Atom these days. It’s still there, still kicking, still being stuffed inside an endless stream of netbooks. Yet it’s also not very exciting, and hasn’t created much buzz. This isn’t a case of a journalistic blind spot; Atom just hasn't been update. The original was released in 2008, but Intel hasn’t released a major performance upgrade since. By comparison, the performance of mainstream mobile laptop processors has, in some benchmarks, doubled over the same time-span. The processor performance of Atom, measured relative to the power of an average $600 laptop with a Core i3 dual-core, is actually becoming worse over time.
Yet Atom has still dominated the laptop market because of one reason; there was no other alternative. For the first time, however, that’s changing. AMD has released its Fusion APUs, and we recently reviewed two different laptops with two different versions of that technology – the single-core E-240 in the Toshiba Satellite C655D and the dual-core E-350 in the Sony Vaio Y.