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All posts tagged "netbooks"

Monday, May 9, 2011

The LapDawg X4: A New Breed You Can Cuddle With

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Laptop Thoughts Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

When life's circumstances breed new technology, great things happen. The LapDawg X4 is a good example. If you use your laptop to get your email in bed, browse the Internet from the chaise longe, or work in non-office environments, the LapDawg X4 is for you! Or, if you are just looking for the ultimate in ergonomic adaptability, you need to read on. Read more...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Everki Track Laptop Messenger Bag

Posted by Chris Baxter in "Laptop Thoughts Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Product Category: Laptop Bag
Manufacturer: Everki
Where to Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Price: $59.99
Specifications: Length: 16.54 in., Width: 7.09 in., Height: 12.99 in., Weight 1.98 lbs.


  • Handy compartment designed for Apple iPad or any other similar sized tablet computer;
  • Lots of additional compartments to store other electronics, including power cords;
  • Small enough in size to take anywhere, yet can hold a lot more equipment than you would think.
  • Clasps on front flap are difficult to manage while on the move;
  • The bag only accommodates up to a 15.6" laptop.

Summary: The Everki Track Laptop Messenger Bag, is a bag with a twist. It comes with a compartment especially designed to carry an Apple iPad. Given the wildly popular reception the iPad has received since its debut, there have been a lot of products designed to carry and protect it, but this is the first time I have seen a solution designed into a laptop bag, and that makes it rather unique. While some people might argue that the whole reason they bought an iPad was to ditch their laptop, for other people, myself included, that just isn't realistic. As handy as my iPad is, there are just some things that are done more efficiently with a laptop. So how do I easily carry both? Everki attempts to answer that question with their Track Laptop Bag. Just how successful are they? Let's see!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dual-core Atoms to Save the Netbook Industry

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"Otellini said that Intel was on track to introduce a dual-core Atom processor this quarter. He was vague on details, however, and did not specify whether the upcoming dual-core Atom would be for netbooks or small desktops. Intel already offers dual-core Atoms for entry-level desktops, and a dual-core chip could provide a much-needed speed boost to netbooks, which have been described as underperforming at times."

This is a bit confusing. There are dual-core Atoms out there, yet Intel believes that launching dual-core Atoms will help sales. Maybe they mean dual-core Atoms that have the same power and heat characteristics as single core Atoms. If that is the case, then that is exciting news! Of course, with Microsoft's restrictions on certain versions of Windows 7, the dual-core netbooks would be a bit more expensive, but they are already there! Netbooks certainly are "good enough" for a lot of tasks, but I welcome more power if it does not, or only marginally compromises its battery life and design. A dual-core Atom would go a long ways towards preventing netbooks from stuttering when a runaway process takes over. It looks like netbooks are not going gently into the good night!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Netbooks on Their Way Out Already?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Dear people who yelled at me when I said netbooks were garbage: I was right. IDC is reporting that sales of netbooks running the Atom platform are flat."

Putting aside the argument I have with the report says nothing about netbooks being garbage, or that is the reason why they are no longer selling as much, I do think it interesting to recognize the netbook. It arrived on the leading edge of a mobility push and it has changed our expectations of computers. We are seeing announcements with netbook class devices boasting 10+ hours of life! The writer suggests that netbooks are akin to useless computers and people are recognizing it. I think it is more a matter of competition. What may eventually remove all need of the netbook will be the continued rise of the smartphone. Especially as more companies and people better provide mobile websites and apps, people will turn to those as their primary, if not only computing device.

Friday, April 2, 2010

HP and Dell Shifting Focus Away from 10 Inch Netbooks

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell have both significantly reduced their investments in the 10-inch netbook segment, with HP reportedly even considering quitting the 10-inch netbook market and turning its focus to AMD-based 11.6-inch notebooks because profits from Intel Pine Trail-based netbooks have been lower than expected, according to sources from notebook makers."

I think 11.6 inch screens are more usable - 10 inch displays can be a little squinty for some, especially once you move beyond 1024 x 600 resolutions - but I do have to question the use of AMD CPUs. Based on my tests using Proshow Gold, the AMD Neo CPU at 1.6 Ghz renders 1080p video twice as fast as the 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom CPU...but the AMD Neo has two cores! That means the performance is in the same ballpark on a per-core basis. The real problem with the AMD Neo CPU is the power consumption; it uses 15 watts at full load, while the Intel Atom N450 shipping as part of the Pinetrail chipset today on netbooks consumes 5.5 watts. Even if you factor in the fact that the AMD CPU has two cores, it's still more power-hungry than the Intel Atom CPU. I have an HP dv2 and it has pretty bad battery life; the fan also never stops loudly spewing hot air. I just don't think AMD has the whole "low power CPU" thing figured out.

As a side note, does anyone have an answer for why the N450 CPU shipping on notebooks uses 5.5 watts while the Z530 in netbooks prior to 2010 used only 2 watts? I thought Pinetrail was all about power consumption savings...Intel more than doubled the power consumption of the Atom CPU, yet it benchmarks no faster. I wonder why the added power consumption was necessary?

UPDATE: This is one of the main reasons I like Twitter; people smarter than me teaching me things. The wise sbrown23 pointed out the following to me when I asked the above question about power consumption: "Pinetrail moved additional functions on-chip, so you may have increased CPU power usage, but lower total system power consumption...Big power killer in 1st gen Atom was the chipset & graphics, much of which is on chip now and much more efficient." And there you have it! That ends up making the AMD Neo chip look even worse though, because I believe the 15 watts is CPU-only, not any other parts of the chipset.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And You Thought Things Were Tiny Enough on Netbooks

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Most netbooks have the same display resolution. And while it’s generally good enough for viewing most web pages, videos, and other apps, every now and again you’re likely to run into an application that requires a higher resolution screen to run. Fortunately, there’s a way to trick your netbook into thinking it has a higher resolution display — assuming you’re running Windows 7."

Over the years, I have seen variations on this when it comes to really small devices with limited resolution. The most prominent use of scaling technology that I can remember is OQO, who used some driver magic to make their 800x480 screen emulate much larger resolutions. This just makes what you are trying to see that much smaller, meaning you will be zooming a lot more frequently but for those of you who want to pack in as much data as possible onto the screen, it is an option. What is not mentioned is whether this same hack can be applied to other computers. It would be interesting to see just how far you could push a 2560x1600 monitor...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Netbooks Need Optimization Love

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"With cheap licenses available in family packs and academic discounts, and XP installs increasingly decrepit, ugly, and vulnerable to malware, lots of Windows 7 upgrades are going to happen. However, a quick install from a USB DVD-ROM or thumb drive won't let users get the most out of a netbook. As with the Hindu Saptapadi wedding vows, there are seven steps to optimizing your netbook for maximum Windows 7 performance."

Most of us will probably be well aware of these tweaks. While Ars suggests the use of Chrome, for me, consistency makes the choice Firefox for me. But, to make full use of limited screen space, I tap into the whole customize toolbar thing such that I only use two rows, the same as Chrome; one for the menu and navigation and another for tabs. Compacting things any further makes things a little too squishy. I really am surprised they do not mention dimming the screen though, as that does tend to be one of the biggest power suckers of them all. The only other major tweak I would do is a regular defrag with the optimization of files to speed things along. Of course, everyone is bound to have their own suggestions on how to improve the netbook experience but so far, the most common thing I see is people recommending Chrome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting The Most Out Of Your Netbook

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"The hardware is only part of the picture for any computing solution, netbook or otherwise. The right software tools can often make a big difference on the utility a consumer gets from a given netbook. Here are my five “must-have” programs for netbooks. These are only my own choices, your needs may vary. They are utilities for the Windows platform, so they are not restricted to netbook use."

Image courtesy of Google Inc.

So you thought that you needed a light-weight, easy to carry, just good enough computing device, and picked up a netbook. It was glorious. No more hernias, cramps or pressure marks from carrying a bag with a conventional laptop. However, the honeymoon is now over, and you are finding that the netbook is a bit constricting. Maybe its the sluggish behaviour. Maybe it is the eye squinting. Maybe it is the constant mousing to just the right exact spot. Well, James Kendrick offers some suggestions that might help you. I have moved my mini-laptop over the to Linux world (Easy Peasy, if you must know) however, a lot of the suggestions make sense for someone who has a Windows based netbook. I still favour Firefox, and would prefer Firefox Weave over Xmarks, but to each their own. The biggest suggestion I would make though, especially if your netbook is of the Flash/SSD variety, is use "portable" apps instead of the regular install. Portable apps tend to be better optimized for Flash/SSD based devices with fewer writes, which can often cause slow performance. What are your suggestions for getting the most out of your netbook?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Q4 2009 Windows PC Sales Explode

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"While Mac sales in the U.S. were up 31 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, Apple was unable to keep pace with exploding sales of cheap Windows PCs, and fell to the No. 5 spot, research firm IDC said Wednesday. Rival analysts at Gartner, meanwhile, pegged Apple's year-over-year growth at 23 percent, and also put it in fifth place, behind Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer and Toshiba. Apple's new position is down one from the same quarter in 2008."

Unit sales for HP were up 45%, and unit sales for Toshiba were up 71%. Driving all the growth? Low-cost netbook and notebooks - a realm where Apple doesn't exist today. A big factor was certainly Windows 7 - many people I knew were waiting for Windows 7 computers to ship because they "heard Vista was bad". True or not, the perception was there, and Windows 7 couldn't come soon enough. Now that it's here, people are snapping up affordable computers.

Tags: hp, dell, laptops, netbooks

Monday, December 21, 2009

PineTrail and the ASUS PC1005PE; Better, Faster, Sorta, Kinda

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"The Atom N450 processor has been launched today and it's comprised of a single core Atom chip with on-die graphics and memory controller. This level of integration, as we've shown you recently, is also coming to Intel's notebook platforms, but today Atom gets it first for netbooks. In the pages ahead we'll take a closer look at a new Eee PC from Asus with this new low-power Atom technology under its hood, as well as a view of the chip itself and its capabilities."

With the exception of ION, netbooks have been rather boring lately. All of them have a 8.9 inch to 10 11 12 inch screen, single core Atom CPU, HDD, webcam, WiFi and a base OS. While PineTrail will not revolutionize anything, it will raise the minimum bar a little with slightly better CPU and GPU performance. You still will not be able to handle HD video, or play any current generation game, but it does run faster overall, and manages to do so while not really changing the power requirements, which means the netbooks of tomorrow will still be able to run for most of the day. Overall, I think its nice that Intel has updated the platform, but it is much ado about nothing, and NVidia's ION and ION2 stand to make much more of a difference in the netbook market.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Netbooks Will Ship With Windows 7 Starter at Retail, and be $50 More Expensive Then Before

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:03 AM

There's been copious amounts of speculation on this subject, but it looks like we finally have the answer: it seems most netbooks are going to ship with Windows 7 Starter, not Windows 7 Basic, and the impact (at least in Canada) is a $50 price point jump. Case in point: Future Shop, one of the big-box electronics chains in Canada (owned by Best Buy), is touting their Windows 7 line-up of netbooks. Among them are products from HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. Looking at the HP Mini 110, and comparing them spec to spec, the Windows XP version sells for $299 CAD and it's identical in every way to the Windows 7 version, which will sell for $349 CAD. We've discussed this on the site before, and the hope was that even if the overall price of netbooks went up a bit, there'd be more than just the OS update in there. Perhaps a bump from 1 GB up to 2 GB, or a dual-core Atom processor? No such luck.

So the question becomes, is the license for Windows 7 Starter really $50 CAD more than Windows XP? Highly doubtful - a $50 license fee is in the realm of what HP would pay for Windows 7 Home Premium desktop computer, and we know that Windows 7 Starter isn't going to be the cheap. So is this a case of the netbooks OEMs looking for ways to bump up the price of netbooks to eek out some more profit? It's certainly possible - netbooks have razor-thin margins, and I'm sure HP, Dell, and others would do anything they could to make them more profitable...and a new operating system changes the value proposition for consumers, giving them an opportunity to do so. Read more...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Will Windows 7 Make for More Expensive Netbooks?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:44 AM

"An analyst told The Standard that while Windows 7 Starter will likely fall into the current $15 XP price point, the push will be to get users to upgrade to Professional or Home which will add to the cost. According to the article, the cost of XP on a regular computer runs $50, quite a difference from the discounted netbook price, and we should expect similar differences with Windows 7. Microsoft hasn't confirmed the pricing to OEMs but adding a Home or Pro installation of Windows 7 to a netbook could bump prices significantly."

Given all that Windows 7 brings to the table over Windows XP, I'm more than happy to pay a bit more to get a much better OS on my netbook. It will be interesting to see how functional netbooks are with Windows 7 Basic - if there will be a feeling like we're missing anything significant or not. Of course, if the price increases too much, we might see Linux netbooks start to do better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Netbooks and Notebooks, Say Hello to the NetNote

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 06:30 AM

"These NetNote systems are “turnkey” in the sense that manufacturers can choose between ultra low-voltage VIA C7-M processors or VIA’s newer Nano processors, then add up to 2GB of RAM, mobile broadband chips, and Windows or Linux operating systems."

Just when you thought that netbooks were becoming notebooks, Via has decided to make the market simple and easy to understand by introducing the NetNote platform! Via isn't actually selling any NetNotes themselves, but providing a new platform that other manufacturers or brands can sell. The specifications are hardly earth-shaking, though Via claims the ability to offer 1080p output and idling at 2.3 watts of power. The NetNote can also supposedly work as an mp3 player without booting the system (as if someone would love to cart around a netbook sized mp3 player) and an fm transmitter. What it comes down to though is that Via just wants a piece of the netbook pie. With ION and Pine Trail imminent, it looks like we will all at least have a choice we can gladly look over.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lean, Mean, Netbook Friendly Windows 7

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"Like many of you I loaded Windows 7 on my netbook and it performed just OK. It provided a huge performance improvement over Windows Vista but was not as snappy as I wanted. The key to speeding up Windows 7 on a netbook with limited resources is to turn off and disable features that you don’t need. After all, it’s a netbook and there are many Windows components that will never be used. Additionally, disabling un-needed components will extend your battery life since fewer processes will be using the CPU running in the background."

There are some great tips in this article for optimizing Windows 7 for use on a netbook. If you are already running Windows 7, give it a shot. If not, bookmark this site for once you get ready to upgrade.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Announces Chrome OS

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 08:26 AM

"Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve."

The Web is buzzing with the news this morning: Google's long-awaited "Google OS", something that people have been talking about for several years, is finally becoming a reality. Dubbed Google Chrome OS, this is a Linux-based operating system that will run on x86 and ARM processors. It won't be a reality in the consumer market until the second half of 2010, so don't get too excited yet. Will this be compelling enough to win consumers over to Linux? Most people want Windows on their netbooks, because while the browser is important, apps are still important to many people. It will be interesting to see how Google does in this market, and more importantly, how they're going to make money. Check out the Google blog post for more details.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Top 10 Netbook Questions Answered

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 AM

This video is a bit different than my normal videos - it's designed more for you to pass it along to others interested in netbooks, because if you're reading this site you probably know all the answers I give. In this video, I tackle the ten most frequently-asked questions that I see in YouTube comments. Rather than endlessly answering the same questions over and over again, I thought I'd make a video that handles the most common questions and then point people to it to have their questions answered. I hope you find it helpful!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Windows Expands Dominance To Netbooks

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"On the eve of the Computex, the largest computer exhibition in Asia and the second largest in the world, we got word that PC World, the largest electronics retailer in the UK, is de-assorting (i.e., getting rid of) all of the Linux small notebook PCs in their stores and going all-Windows. It’s pretty big news from across the pond that they’re making this move, but what’s even more important is the “why” behind the decision."

When ASUS first released the EEE PC, it was host to Linux. It helped keep the cost of the PC down and allowed for very low specifications. However, as more netbooks were released into the market, manufacturers were finding that Linux based netbooks were facing higher return rates. It seems that consumers were rejecting the feel and behaviour of Linux in favour of their comfortable home of Windows. This trend has grown so strong it appears that PC World has announced it is removing Linux based notebook PC and Windows based netbooks own the US market. Does this mean that Linux has lost its chance to warm the hearts of the average consumer? I am doubtful this is the last we have seen of Linux in the mainstream and Linux does have considerable penetration in other markets, but it does show just how strong the momentum is behind Windows. Consumers want to save money, but not at the expense of what they're used to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moblin v2.0 Beta for Netbooks Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:04 AM

"The Moblin steering committee is happy to release the Moblin v2.0 beta for Netbooks and Nettops for developer testing. With this release, developers can begin to experience and work with the source code of the visually rich, interactive user interface designed for Intel Atom based Netbooks. The Moblin v2.0 user experience has been designed from the ground up to provide unique ways to engage with the internet, aggregate your social networking activity, and enjoy your media content. The new user experience and core applications were developed using the Clutter animation framework, leveraging heavily from GL and the physics engine."

I'm generally not a fan of Linux on netbooks - it always seemed like it was a nice-looking top layer and below that it was ugly and confusing. Even on the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition, which has a great home screen, I found myself missing my Windows applicatons. If someone is focused almost purely on browser-based applications, a Linux netbook can work quite nicely, but the scenario breaks down as soon as they want to do something that's application based - the lack of iTunes is a deal-breaker for some people. I think that's the main reason why Linux netbooks tend to have higher return rates than Windows-based netbooks. I've downloaded the Moblin 2.0 beta, put it on a USB flash drive, and will take it for a spin...anyone else here used Moblin?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Top 10 Netbook Questions I Want to Answer

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 PM

OK people, here's the deal: I spent an ungodly amount of time answering questions posted by users on YouTube, and answering the same basic questions over and over is making me go slowly insane. It's also a waste of my time and I need to stop doing it. I want to shoot a video that will address some of the basic questions that people ask over and over again so I can reference the video. Here's the list of questions I have so far:

  1. Why do netbooks ship with Windows XP?
  2. Where's the DVD drive?
  3. Why get an underpowered netbook when a full-sized notebook is about the same price?
  4. How much does that netbook cost?
  5. Where can I buy it?
  6. Can I load Word/Photoshop/Excel/whatever on this?
  7. Can I play Flash-based browser games on this?
  8. Can I play World of Warcraft/Call of Duty/whatever on this?
  9. Can I record/upload YouTube videos? Can I watch YouTube HD videos?
  10. What's the best netbook? Should I buy this netbook?

If you're reading this site, you're more advanced than the types of people who post questions like this, but am I missing anything obvious in that list? Anything I should add or change? Thanks for your input!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Calling All Developers: Code Wide, Not Tall

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

Above is a screen shot from Gspot, the popular video codec detection tool. Notice anything? That's right, it won't fit on the screen. This screen shot was taken on a Dell Mini 10, a netbook with a 10.1 inch screen running at 1024 x 576 resolution. I've seen this before with several applications, so this is a general call-out to all developers: with the booming popularity of netbooks, and with many new laptops in general hitting the 1280 x 720 mark for resolution, there's just not a lot of vertical screen resolution on mobile screens. Developers seem to have taken for granted that resolution and screen size would continue to increase, and as such they didn't see the decrease in resolution that netbooks bring to the table. Developers, please "think small" and opt for wider, rather than taller, displays.

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