Posts Tagged ‘Netbook’

Hello iPad, surfing the web while watching telly up 35%

This one is from the bleeding obvious department but it’s noteworthy nonetheless.

The Nielsen Company’s latest Three Screen Report, which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones, says that in the last quarter of 2009, Americans’ simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter.

“Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV”, notes the report.

Now I won’t regurgitate the other stats (see the table below) but I will point a finger at the likely culprits: Laptops, or more specifically Netbooks, and handheld devices such as the iPhone and other smartphones, and let’s not forget the iPod touch. Along with social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter etc.) giving rise to the virtual watercooler viewing experience.

The same ‘couch computing’ craze likely behind Apple’s decision to release a tablet computer, the iPad, now and in its particular form-factor.

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Smartphone and Netbook, meet Smartbook (but haven't we met before?)

Netbook or Smartbook?

Netbook or Smartbook?

On the day that Intel secured the right from Psion to legally use the trademarked term Netbook, rival chip designer Qualcomm is pushing a “new” category of mobile device, which the company is calling a Smartbook. As a marketing term, like the Netbook before it, the Smartbook definitely has legs. It’s new, catchy and yet derivative enough of existing product categories so as not to scare off consumers.  But beyond marketing, what exactly separates a Smartbook from a Netbook and other ultra-mobile laptops before it?

Here’s Qualcomm’s own definition:

Smartbooks are a new class of devices running mobile operating systems that bridge the functional divide between smartphones and laptops, delivering the best aspects of a smartphone experience on a larger-display form factor. Constantly connected via 3G, Wi-Fi  and GPS , smartbooks are ultra-portable, personalizable, easy-to-use and last all day on a single battery charge.

In other words a Smartbook is similar to a Netbook, except it runs a mobile operating system rather than a conventional desktop OS, such as Windows or one of the various desktop flavors of Linux.

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Linux on a Netbook? Intel thinks its all about the User Interface

Intel's Netbook-friendly OS: Mobilin 2.0

Intel's Netbook-friendly OS: Mobilin 2.0

While I remain skeptical of Linux’s chances to overtake Windows as the Netbook OS of choice, that isn’t stopping Intel who continue to invest in a Microsoft alternative. The latest version of its own Linux distro called Moblin sees the light weight OS undergo a complete User Interface overall optimized for Netbooks and MIDs that typically sport a 7-10 inch screen. It’s the UI, says Intel, that will be key to Linux’s client-side adoption, and on that note Moblin 2.0 appears to take much of its inspiration from the next generation of smart phones.

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Are Netbooks running out of steam? sales down 26% in Q1

Netbooks were undoubtedly one of the hit products of 08, seemingly bucking the trend as the economy took a turn for the worse and with it a fall in PC sales. However, moving into 09, Netbook sales aren’t fairing quite as well, dropping 26% according to figures published by market watcher DisplaySearch (via The Register). And while that’s broadly inline with the overall PC market, it could suggest that the current generation of Netbooks may be running out of steam.

According to the researcher, 5.9m netbooks were shipped worldwide in Q1, down 26 per cent from the 8m shipped in Q4 2008. In Q1, netbooks accounted for around a fifth of the total sales of portable PCs, some 30.3m units in all, including regular laptops.

Notebooks shipments were down 25 per cent sequentially.

Acer performed best, shipping 1.8m machines. While Asus, who pioneered the whole Netbook product category, took second place, shipping 900,000 devices. This was followed by HP on 700,000, Dell on 400,000, and Toshiba and Lenovo selling 200,000 units each. The rest of the market – Samsung, MSI and Fujitsu – managed to shift just 900,000 Netbooks.

Of course, comparing Q4 (the holiday season) with Q1 isn’t nearly like for like, the figures do point to the Netbook losing its crown. And if that is indeed the case, I’m not entirely surprised.

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Google, Android and the future of Netbooks

According to a flurry of reports, a number of established PC manufacturers – and new entrants – are planning to release a Netbook running Google’s Android operating system. However, recent comments made by the search giant’s CEO Eric Schmidt, suggest that Google isn’t particularly interested in seeing Android running on a Netbook – at least not yet, anyway – but is excited by the opportunities that these low-cost sub notebooks present.

Not only are Netbooks sales making Google take notice, their primary use case – surfing the web and accessing other Internet applications – fits perfectly with the company’s own ‘cloud computing’ vision (think Google Docs, Gmail and other Google services). “Keep an eye on this space”, attendees at a recent Google press event were told by Schmidt. So if not Android, what exactly does the company plan to bring to the Netbook experience?

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Android's biggest Netbook challenge (Hint: Windows)

netbook-androidI’ve written before about Android’s potential to power a range of consumer electronics, such as set-top boxes, media players and Mobile Internet Devices (see Google’s big bet: Android beyond the cellphone). However, one product category where I think the mobile OS will have a tough time competing is the ‘traditional’ Netbook.

(Note: I’m referring specifically to low cost sub notebooks such as those from the likes of Asus, MSI, Dell, Acer and HP, which feature a clam shell design and typically sport a screen size of between 7 and 10 inches.)

And although that seems contradictory considering Android’s low power footprint and Linux roots, coupled with its standard-based and speedy web browser, let me explain why…

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Will Apple's 'Netbook' be open or closed?

Rumors of an Apple Netbook or Internet tablet have resurfaced once again. Predictably, tech pundits are debating the likely specs, not least if the device will feature the traditional clam shell form factor of current Netbooks on the market, all of which feature a physical QWERTY keyboard, or be an all touch screen device – think iPod touch only much bigger. However, perhaps the most important design decision for Apple will be whether to build the company’s future Netbook on an open or closed platform.

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HD video coming to a Netbook near you

I may have jumped on the Netbook bandwagon a little early, as these low-cost mini-notebooks are about to get a whole lot better. Especially in terms of video playback.

Intel has released a new version of its Netbook-friendly Atom chip, which although only bumps the speed up slightly, is being paired with the company’s new GN40 chipset, whose graphics capabilities includes hardware-based 720p HD video decoding. The current range of Netbook have no problems playing back lower quality YouTube content and standard definition DivX movies but really struggle with higher definition content. So Intel’s new offering, first seen in the new Asus Eee PC 1000HE, makes Netbooks a much more viable media player.

Not content with 720p video playback on your Netbook, then you may want to hold out for future offerings based on Nvidia’s rival Ion platform with all its hardware-based 1080p decoding goodness. Watch this space.

Mike Arrington's CrunchPad web tablet reaches prototype but should it go into production?

Six months on from TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington’s stated mission to create a “dead simple and dirt cheap touch screen web tablet to surf the web” and the first fully working prototype has been unveiled.

The device, which is now being called the ‘CrunchPad’, sports a 12 inch resistive 4:3 touchscreen, Via processor and 4GB of storage, virtual on-screen keyboard and is powered by a version of Linux and a custom WebKit browser. It’s primary use is for surfing the web, perhaps while watching TV “so you can look up stuff on Wikipedia or IMDB as you channel surf”, writes Arrington. Or as another means to consume online video (“on Hulu or Joost or wherever”) and other content, as well as check email or access other web services such as Google Docs.

See also: How do you use your Netbook?

In other words, just like existing Netbooks, the CrunchPad is designed for the Cloud, in which our data and applications increasingly reside on remote servers, accessible through a standard web browser.

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Hackintosh Netbook: Goodbye XP, hello OSX

While I’ve been largely off the grid during the holiday period, I did spend part of New Year’s day tinkering with my beloved Netbook. The mission was to rid the device of Windows XP and install a hacked version of Mac OSX and, as you can see from the image above, it was a success! (Happy now Mr Zatz?)

Although it’s been possible to run OSX on the MSI Wind (or in this case the Advent 4211, a Wind clone) for many months now, it previously involved swapping out the WiFi card for a compatible one. That is until RealTek released an unofficial driver for OSX last month. So how does it run?

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