Netbooks set to get larger screens

Intel eases specification restrictions

ITS ABOUT TIME that Intel has gotten around to removing one of its dumbest restrictions on netbooks, screen size. Up until now netbooks have been restricted to 10-inch displays or below, well, at least if the manufacturers wanted to get special pricing from Intel for the CPU’s and chipsets. There have been a few larger models in the market, but most of them have used Nvidia’s ION chipset, so those models have fit into a slightly more expensive product category.

Digitimes is reporting that Intel has finally dropped its rather pointless restriction and we’ll finally see larger netbooks en masse. The article is suggesting 11.6 and 12.1-inch models, although it’s not clear if netbook manufacturers can chose to use even larger displays if they’d want to. The most obvious advantage of the larger display panels is higher resolution, as most 10-inch displays are limited to 1024×600 pixels which means that you won’t exactly have a pleasant web experience in most cases. The larger displays usually offer 1280×720, 1280×800 or 1366×768 resolution, all of which offer a much better web experience.

However, it seems like the screen size restriction is still in place for certain netbook products, as this increase in screen size seems to be tied in with Intel’s launch of the Atom N550, which is set to be Intel’s first dual core mobile Atom processor based on the Pineview core. Unlike its current single core siblings, the N450 and N470, the N550 will feature DDR3 memory support, just like the upcoming single core N455 and N475 models. The N550 is rumoured to have a fairly slow clock speed of a mere 1.5GHz, compared to 1.67GHz for the N45x models and 1.83GHz for the N47x models. It will also have a higher TDP at 8.5W and we’re also hearing that it might have a slower IGP to try and keep the TDP as low as possible.

Digitimes is suggesting that Atom N550 netbooks will ship with a paltry 1GB of DDR3 memory – yet another artificial restriction that we’re waiting for Intel to lift – a 32GB SSD or a 250GB hard drive. Not exactly breathtaking specs, but then again we’re talking about a netbook here and not a fully feature notebook. Then again, we’d rather opt for AMD’s Turion II Neo, even though at 15W, the TDP of these CPU’s is almost twice that of the N550, we’d be willing to make that trade-off based on the overall platform performance gains. We have a feeling that Atom N550 netbooks won’t be going as cheap as current models, as larger screens cost more and so will the CPU.

The netbook as it once was seems to be a dying breed, but it appears to have played an important role, as we’re getting small, but quite powerful notebooks that don’t cost much more than the best netbooks. Intel is still hoping to sell 100’s of millions of netbooks over the next few years, but it’s going to have to do a lot more to make the platform attractive to potential customers than it currently is. It will also be interesting to see how AMD’s competing solutions will be priced, as Intel is going to get some pressure from AMD’s new platforms as well as its own CULV notebooks when you move into the dual core netbook territory.S|A

The following two tabs change content below.