Tag Archives: netbook

On The Hunt for Productivity



ProductivityRemember the netbook “fad” from a few years ago? According to Wikipedia, “netbook” as a generic term came into widespread use in 2007. By 2011, manufacturers such as Dell exited the netbook market due to declining sales.

Were netbooks really a fad, or was there something more to it?

Before proceeding, let’s get one thing out of the way. Netbooks were cute little notebooks with small price tags that helped to turn them into impulse buys. That cuteness also helped them grab shelf attention in the stores.

Cuteness alone could not explain their popularity. Let us not forget that netbooks actually disrupted the existing larger notebook sales.

It might be helpful at this point to take a look at overall computer sales and how markets have evolved over time. At one time, desktop machines dominated the sales figures. Then, full-sized laptops disrupted the dominance of the desktop PC sales. Netbooks disrupted laptop sales. Next, tablets and smartphones disrupted the netbook sales.

I believe that netbooks inadvertently dangled the carrot of a small, lightweight machine that happened to be a full PC, where real productivity could happen. Of course, the reality did not quite match up to the promise. Most netbooks were sorely underpowered. The worst aspect of the netbook was the smaller keyboard. Typing on the average netbook-sized keyboard is not an enjoyable experience.

Whether we realize it or not, many of us are always looking for productivity devices. With every computing device I’ve ever purchased, in the end I’m always looking for ways of putting the device to work. How useful it is ends up determining if it is one of my most-used devices, or if it ends up given away, or forgotten on a shelf or in a closet somewhere. Once the novelty and the emotional hype of having the new device is stripped away, the question is always what can this device do in terms of productivity?

So rather than being seen as just a fad, the relatively brief popularity of the netbook should serve as a lesson. We are on the hunt for productivity devices. The more portable the better, but without sacrificing usability or performance.


GoNote unveils 7-inch Android netbook



Netbooks are essentially dead, but GoNote apparently has other ideas. At this week’s Gadget Show Live in Birmingham, U.K. the company unveiled a netbook with a different look and purpose. The company is billing the tiny device as “your child’s first computer”.

The 7-inch computer also does not run Windows — not even the basic starter edition that many past devices like this used as an operating system. Nor is it running Chrome OS or Linux. No, the GoNote Mini actually runs Android. “GoNote is one of the first Android products specifically designed to help school-children get access to the best Learning Apps & Games, while becoming familiar with a ‘notebook’ form factor”, the company said in its announcement.

GoNote mini

It has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, a “child friendly” QWERTY keyboard, 802.11 b/g/n, supports up to 1920 x 1080 HD video, 16:9 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 1.2GHz ARM Allwinner A10 CPU and 1 GB of DDR 3 RAM.

The GoNote Mini will be become available towards the middle of this month and retail for $99, but will be in the U.K. market, so if you want one in the U.S. you will need to pay a fair amount for shipping.


Are netbooks truly dead in 2013?



Many websites have been parroting a recent report from Digitimes which is ready to call a “time of death” for netbooks, but are they really going the way of the dinosaur? Yes, it is true that Asus is killing its Eee PC line and Acer may follow suit with its line, but it certainly does not ring a death knell for an entire industry.

In fact, I would argue that the platform is alive and well, but only transforming. After all, we just got brand new Chromebooks from both Samsung and Acer, which could very easily be classified as the next generation in this product line.

Larger Front

Let’s face it — the world is still hungry for affordable computers and the attempt to force us to move to overpriced “ultrabooks” is certainly not cutting it with the average consumer.

In short, I find this entire report to be overblown rubbish. It looks at one thing and ignores several others in order to draw a questionable conclusion for sensationalism. Then again, I expect no less from many sites — page views are money and I get that. But, look at the big picture. The market is constantly evolving. The new netbook may well be the Chromebook, which Acer themselves produce. The form factor and price fit the bill. Only the name has changed.


Other World Computing SSDs



Solid-State Drives (SSDs) haven’t ousted spinning hard drives from the average PC, but they have made significant inroads in the netbook market where the performance of the SSD compensates for the weaker performance of the CPU. Andy McCaskey talks to Larry O’Connor, founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC) on how OWC got started, what makes OWC special and why OWC SSDs are the best in class.

If you’re not familiar with SSDs and their features, such as wear-levelling, this video covers much of the technology behind the devices and gives some insight into what to look for when choosing an SSD.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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Ubisurfer Netbook



Ubisurfer Netbook

Ubisurfer is a services where you pay for the cost of the netbook which is $250.99 and get free Internet access for up to 30 hours a month for a full year. Right now in the UK if you want unlimited access it will cost you an additional 5.99 pounds a month. The cost in the U.S. has not been determined as far as I can tell.

The Ubisurfer is made to work over wifi or 3G, you choose which one you want to use. There is no plan or activation fee. It is a 9 inch netbook and weights only 700 g. It has a screen resolution of 800 X 480 with a full QWERTY keyboard. It runs on an ARM processor, has a 1 gb ssd drive and an additional 50 gb of online storage. There is also a USB port and an SD Card slot. It uses the Datawind web browser, there has been some complaints that the browser is slow. However since you are getting the access for free I am not sure these complaints are valid.

This sounds like the perfect computer to bring to your local coffee shop, where you just want to browse the Internet, or post a couple of emails or if you are traveling and need be able to get on-line but don’t want to carry your main lap top. The Ubisurfer has been on sale for a while in the UK and uses the Vodofone network, it is just starting to be come available in the U.S. They are also expecting to put out a 10 inch netbook later this year and some tablets.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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Notebooks Lead HP Consumer Focus



At CES 2011, HP today announced a raft of changes to its portable computing portfolio, bringing an exceptional mobile experience to its consumers through upgrades to processors, graphics, audio and design features.  Additionally, the Pavilion line of desktop PCs benefits with similar changes to their specifications.

The HP Pavilion dm1 is ideal for the mobile user, being thin and light while delivering notebook performance in small package.  At less than 1″ thick and with an 11.6″ screen, the dm1 comes with AMD’s VISION technology capable of delivering a full 1080p HD experience.  The AMD Fusion-accelerated processing unit integrates a Ms DirectX 11 GPU into the main processor.  And keep things from overheating, the dm1 is equipped with HP’s CoolSense technology, which intelligently controls fans and routes waste heat according to use and situation.

Next, the HP ENVY 17 now features HP’s CoolSense technology making it the first high-performance HP PC with advanced cooling technology. Further, the laptop is able to intelligently switch between the low power integrated graphics and the dedicated AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6580M for high performance.  Twinned with the latest Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs, this is a seriously powerful multimedia notebook.

The Pavilion line (notebooks dv6, d7 and desktops p6700, s5700 and HPE-500) get a spec boost with the latest Intel processors and AMD Radeon graphics chips. New to the desktop PCs is HP’s Multi-Display Capable technology (that’s running two monitors at once to you and me). Selected models have also been upgraded to Beats Audio, created by Beats by Dr. Dre. Working with HP, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine tuned and applied the signature Beats sound profile across the premium notebook and desktop lines to provide a great sound experience.

Finally, the HP Mini 210 netbook gets a fashion makeover with raspberry and iceberry tartans (plaid), though the former will be available exclusively in Best Buy. A matching range of mice and other fashion accessories is also available.  With an Intel Atom processor and six-cell battery, users can expect over 10 hours of use.


Dell Inspiron Duo – The Best Of Both Worlds?



News broke today of the new Dell Inspiron Duo – a combination netbook and tablet.  Does it look cool?  Yes.  Will it actually be cool?  We’ll see.

Here are the specs. A 10.1″ screen, Intel dual-core Atom N550 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 250GB hard drive.  Those are especially good for a netbook.  It will also run Windows 7 Home Premium – another step up from the normal netbook OS.  Like any Dell PC it can be customized with such things as a larger hard drive.

The next most important thing, after specs, is looks.  Here, of course, it’s all up to personal tastes.  If you wanted a closer look you can find a hands on with plenty of closeup pictures over on Engadget.  It’s available in three colors – blue, black, and red.  As you have probably guessed from the picture above, the screen rotates around to transform the netbook into a tablet – just flip the screen 180 degrees and close the lid.  The touch interface for the tablet was designed by Dell and looks clean and simple.

So, is this the best of the netbook and tablet worlds combined?  It has promise.  The hardware specs are good.  The box seems to have a nice look and the choice of colors, while not uncommon in the laptop world, is new to the tablet business.  Windows 7 may not be the best tablet interface, but it’s standard for netbooks and probably perfectly usable for the tablet.  It seems like a good alternative for those who want to use a tablet while traveling, but need a real keyboard to get some work done.  At $549 it’s a bit pricey, but not prohibitively so.  I’m intrigued, but not entirely sold yet.  I certainly plan to try one out though.


NVIDIA ION Graphics Processor HD in Netbooks CES 2010



NVIDIA Ion Graphics Processors are kicking the graphics power up in a Netbook bringing you true HD streaming capabilities. You can now stream HD videos without chop on netbooks with Nvidia Ion Graphics chips embedded. Make sure you keep a eye out for Nvidia ION chipsets in select notebooks!

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HP Mini 110 Netbook – Mini Review



HP Mini 110 NetbookNetbooks seems to be one of the biggest “old” technologies for 2009. I say old technology because it doesn’t seem to really offer anything that hasn’t been offered before, except in a smaller size. Under-powered machines have been around since PCs came on the scene back in 1981 (and before).

With that said, I been using one for a couple weeks and find I really enjoy it. So what’s changed? I think it comes down to having the right product at the right time. The right time being the ability to take advantage of the Internet with built-in wi-fi and internet browser.

I think another reason for the popularity of netbooks is that they are not trying to position themselves as your main machine. They are really intended as a secondary machine that you would use around the house or office or to take when you travel.

I’ve been using the HP Mini 110 netbook with Windows 7 Starter edition. I’ve been using Windows 7 on my other machines and decided if I was to get a netbook, it should have Windows 7 and not XP that is offered on some machines. (The HP Mini 110 does come with XP and you can add Windows 7 for about $30 extra).

Here are the main features of my Mini 110:

  • 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
  • 1 GB DRAM
  • 10.1″ WVGA display
  • 160 GB Hard Drive
  • Wi-Fi and RJ-45 Ethernet
  • Webcam with built-in mic
  • 5-in-1 Digital Media Reader
  • 3 USB Ports
  • External VGA Port

I have both Mac and Windows machines (desktops and notebooks) that I use on a daily basis so why do I need “another” computer? There is something wonderful when you get a new computer. It’s so fresh and new and fast. (Fast is not something I would associate with my netbook, but its not that slow). The key is managing its use and the programs I don’t put on it. From my experience machines slow down from “program bloat” — installing too many programs on a machine. These programs take up disk space, desktop space (icon shortcuts), and each one wants to hack away at your registry. All the things that cause the machine to slow down over time. I know there are things you can do to clean up your system, but it’s never the same as a new machine (or reformatted hard drive).

I plan to take a “less is better” attitude to what goes on my netbook. I use it for Internet browsing, Skype and general note taking. I have installed a few utility programs that I can use to remotely manage my client’s websites but I don’t plan to burden it with Photoshop (Elements), Word, or anything else that will bring it to its knees.

So far I’ve enjoyed the experience. From time to time I check in on a number of live video sites, TWIT and Geek News Central, and find the netbook is perfect for that. I can open a session and take the netbook with me as I go to different parts of the house and not miss a beat. If I keep it in the kitchen, it’s there if I need to do a quick Google search and doesn’t take up much counter space. (I don’t need a memory, I have Google :) )

After a few weeks, here are my pros and cons of the netbook:

Pros:
– Lots of built-in features: 3 USB ports, VGA port, SD card reader, RJ-45 jack, wi-fi, web cam.
– Long battery life: about 6 hours
– Nice keyboard
– Small size

Cons:
– Speaker sounds tinny. (I use a small portable speaker system when I need better sound.)
– Display is only  1024 x 576 pixels. The 1024 width is fine but the 576 height is a little short for some programs that assume a taller display. I have some programs that don’t resize and I can’t access buttons at the bottom of the screen.

I don’t think the netbook is for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend it as your only computer, but I think it does have it place.  So far this netbook will stay a part of my toolkit and I’ll keep you informed as I use it more.

Happy New Years to all!

73’s
Tom


No more Hackintosh Netbook?



Well apparently according to some sources like PCWorld, the newest update of Snow Leopard will kill the Hackintosh. 10.6.2 will not run on the ATOM processor, therefore knocking out all the instruction sets for any netbook running that version. Therefore, you will have to stay in a lower level to keep the machine running.

I really don’t understand why Apple is so Anti-hack. iPhone bricks – Palm Pre doesn’t get iTunes – now the hobbiest is not allowed to play? What’s next: controlled net neutrality? (you think I’m kidding, but I would guess if Apple had it’s way, there would be an iNternet)

We get it, Apple: You had the contracts with UMax and Motorola. Macintosh clones of ten years ago where you pulled those licenses. You even go against Psystar so they don’t profit off your work. But going against the tinkerer? Going against the core Geek?

Remember Apple – you run on an Open Source architecture in FreeBSD. While I’m not saying you should Open the OS, you might find that giving people the option may turn them to Apple products faster. They will flock to something they are used to. What is to stop someone from writing code that could closely mimic the Apple OS? What about someone that just writes code to make an OS that could Rival MacOS? Android, perhaps?

And while I will not cry Antitrust on this, I do have to ask the question: Why would I go with something that is so closed? I am wondering if they should re-review their 1984 commercial where the woman ran down the aisle with a hammer to smash out conformity. Who would have thought the old guy on the screen was Apple itself?

BTW – there is no mention on if these instruction set changes will affect any desktop Hackintosh system. You might just be safe….

…for now…