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Computex 2011

 

June 1 2011

A lot of exciting new technology is coming out in the Computex event that a number of technology blogs are covering, including Engadget, Netbook live, Netbook news, Liliputing, and Laptop magazine.

Thoughts on some of the more interesting announcements:

ASUS X101

This isn’t the first time a Netbook using Linux has been released. Like all of the Linux-based Netbooks that have come out before, this model will probably not last too long before being dropped—most users do not want Linux if they are going to use an x86 system with a traditional laptop-like clamshell design (on the other hand, people are fine with using Linux on a mobile phone, as long as it’s Android).

Indeed, ASUS is hedging their bets by not only having the very thin and light X101, but also having the X101H which includes a conventional hard disk and Windows 7 Starter; this should be a reasonably successful netbook. It’s a lot thinner than other netbooks; on the other hand, it will have less ports (the X101 has only 2 USB ports, a SD card reader, and doesn’t have a VGA, Ethernet, nor 1/8” audio port), and it uses the slower Atom N435 chip.

Lenovo S100 starting to appear

Lenovo is starting to sell their latest Intel-Atom based Netbook, the S100. Right now, the machine is only available in Hong Kong and China; this machine is a S10-3 on steroids. The hard disk is larger: 320Gb as opposed to the S10-3’s 160 or 250Gb hard disk. The machine is thinner and weighs less than the S10-3. Even though the system was supposed to be able to have a N570 processor (or at least that was what Lenovo promised us back in January), the only ones that currently are for sale use the same N455 processor as Lenovo’s current S10-3 model.

I would like to see Lenovo make the S100 available in the United States, but Lenovo may not do this (indeed, they delayed their S100 release by a couple of months) because the netbook market is fairly crowded, with current offerings from ASUS, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, and others, and because the netbook market as a whole lost steam when the iPad made tablets trendy.

In fact, Lenovo is doing quite well with their AMD E-350 based offerings (The ThinkPad x120e, with a four-week wait, and the IdeaPad S205), and may not be entirely comfortable continuing to compete in the higher-volume lower-margin netbook market. There may also be an issue with wanting to deplete the stock of S10-3 computers before bringing a new netbook to the market.

Then again, the fact that Lenovo has announced a low-cost Atom N435 version of the S100 shows that they have not given up on the netbook platform yet.

Intel Competing with the AMD T40E

I mentioned in a previous blog entry that the AMD T40E trounces Intel’s current low-power low-cost Atom offerings. Thankfully, Intel is not standing still. The Cedarview-based Atom N2800 chip is their answer to the T40E. Like the T40E, its TDP is 6.5 watts.

This chip reportedly is a dual-core chip running at 1.86ghz, with an improved “GMA 5650” graphics subsystem (compared to the GMA 3150 used by current Atoms), includes x86_64 support, and allows up to 4Gb of ram. My sense is that it will have better CPU performance than the T40E, but the T40E will have better GPU performance. I also doubt the GMA 5650 will be a programmable.

Speaking of the T40E, AMD has just announced a chip called the Z-01, which looks similar to the T40E but has a slightly smaller TDP of 5.9W.

Web page design update

I have updated the web page design today to not be so dependent on Verdana. Since it is now possible to use any font on a webpage, I have modified the Ubuntu font to have just the characters for writing in English and Spanish and be web page embeddable, and have put the font on my webpage.

Ubuntu's font is about as attractive as Verdana for small text and has full delta hinting. Since this is a "branding" font, it has a distinct (but very readable) look to it that makes it not quite suitable for body text, but it looks really nice everywhere else.

Hopefully a nice-looking open-source sans-serif font with full delta hinting usable for body text will come out soon.

I have also updated my development system from Scientific Linux 5 (SL5) to SL6; this took far too long to do. SL6 is more sluggish than SL5; I had to change my primary browser from Firefox to Opera to still access the internet inside my Virtualbox VM at a usable speed, but it's a lot more current and will be supported until 2017.

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