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Netbooks started out as this massive craze, where every man and his dog not only wanted one, but somehow, required one. But, the netbook light that once shone so bright is now a fading star thanks to the ever-increasing speed and power of smartphones and the entry of tablets.
Samsung know this and look to be ditching the netbooks and concentrating on more expensive ultraportable laptops and ultrabooks instead, if we believe an e-mail sent to trading partners is to be believed. The e-mail is quoted by French site Blogeee and reads:
Following the introduction of our new strategy in 2012, we will discontinue our 10.1-inch (netbook) product range in Q1 2012, in favor of ultraportables (11.6 and 12 inches) and ultrabooks to be launched in 2012.
Acer and ASUS are working with panel manufacturers AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux separately to develop a new generation of full HD notebook panels with resolutions of 1928x1080, according to industry insiders. This is contributed by the fact that Apple are pushing for their next-generation iPads to sport 2048x1536-capable displays in early 2012.
Acer and ASUS want to push the next release of Ultrabooks in Q1 2012 at the earliest, to feature 1080p displays. At the moment, ASUS' 11.6-inch UX21 Zenbook models sport a resolution of 1366x768, with upgrades of resolution to 1600x900 for its 13.3-inch UX31 models. Acer's 13.3-inch Aspire S3 also includes a 1366x768 display.
Both ASUS and Acer are expecting to deliver between 400,000 and 500,000 Ultrabooks before the end of this year. Upgrading them to 1080p panels should help them compete against Apple's MacBook Air, a lot.
AMD is reportedly set to unleash their first Radeon HD 7000M series GPUs for notebooks on December 9th. There are said to be at least 16 models to be announced, all based on two silicons: "Thames" and "Seymour", and are being carved out of toggling various components within those GPUs.
AMD will launch models across the Radeon HD 7400M series, 7500M series, and 7600M series. Thames and Seymour are brand new chips that are built on the 28nm silicon fabrication process, which will allow AMD more TDP headroom where they can ramp up the clock speeds.
At the moment, there's no details on things like stream processor, ROP, and TMU counts, but ComputerBase.de have compiled a list which shows GPU and memory clock speeds, memory interface widths, and memory type. The table also makes a mention of higher-end GPU models with names of "Chelsea", "Heathrow", and "Wimbeldon".
Apple switched from NVIDIA to AMD for their current 2011 MacBook's, but it is rumored they'll be switching back to the green team for the 2012 MacBook's claims sources for SemiAccurate. In the last few years Apple have relied on a mix of AMD and integrated Intel graphics in their systems.
Apple are reportedly switching back to NVIDIA after a failed attempt on the most recent MacBook Air with an AMD Llano processor, which gave issues because of AMD's supply capacity. Apple is said to make the change next spring with Macs based on Intel's Ivy Bridge platform.
Of course, we take it with a pinch of salt, but then again, we know Apple like to change things up sometimes. If Apple is peeved with AMD, their only alternative for serious GPU power is NVIDIA. Next year should prove interesting times for Apple. Next-gen iPads, a switch back to NVIDIA for GPUs, iPhone 5, and we'll see how Tim Cook as CEO goes over a longer period.
It's holiday season once again and while everyone is dodging each other for that latest and greatest smartphone or tablet, Google would like to remind you that there are other options. Options such as their Chromebook, which they've now commenced a fresh push on, including an updated interface and some much more competitive, and festive pricing.
Google are slowly changing their Chrome OS to be more like a Windows laptop, or as user-friendly as an iPad. In May, Google introduced a file system and laptops with working SD card slots, which is a huge upgrade from the once only cloud-based launch. While Chrome OS and Chromebooks are still cloud-heavy, you can now side-load files and even download them to an easily accessible file area on the system.
There are going to be as many as 50 Intel Ultrabooks to be launched at CES in January next year. According to Shawn DuBravac, director of research for show organisers the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), he expects a truck load of ultrathin laptops to be unveiled in Las Vegas. DuBravac told journalists at a CES Unveiled even held in London:
We expect to see 30 to 50 new Ultrabooks launched at CES.
Up to this point, there has only been a few manufacturers who have announced Ultrabooks, as most of them are awaiting the 22nm refresh of Ivy Bridge before releasing their devices. Intel CEO Paul Otellini is set to give a keynote speech in Las Vegas, where Ivy Bridge is likely to be officially released alongside a large amount of new Ultrabooks.
DuBravac has said whilst Ultrabooks will have their time in the spotlight, its tablets that will be the showrunner. More than 100 new tablets were launched at 2011 CES, and the CEA is expecting a similar number of new releases next January.
This rumor has been around for a while, but there's some fresh news on it today. Upstream suppliers of Apple have reportedly started shipping a small volume of components for a 15-inch ultra-thin notebook model from Apple in November, and the device could be one of two things.
First, a MacBook Air, but 15-inch, or a thinner MacBook Pro. The new 15-inch ultra-thin MacBook is expected to arrive in Q2 of 2012 according to sources from the upstream supply chain. Mass shipments of the new 15-inch ultra-thin device are expected in March and could be catalogued in either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro line.
This could be the competition to the Ultrabook line recently launched by companies such as ASUS and Acer. We'll have to wait and see.
LG has readied up its latest 13.3-inch ultra-thin laptop for the Korean market, the P330 under its Xnote line. The laptop weighs in at just 1.7Kg and is only 4.5mm thick. Due to the thin 8mm bezel on the 13.3-inch (1366 x 768) LED-backlit display, the laptop ends up being right around the size of a typical 12-inch laptop.
Packed inside is a 2nd-gen Core processor with 4GB of RAM, while its storage setup includes both a HDD and SSD and graphics in the form of NVIDIA's GeForce GT 555M. Other features include 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Gigabit ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI output and a 6-cell battery.
The P330 works out to about $1,323 in base form, which can be pushed up to as much as $1,954 depending on your chosen configuration.
Toshiba's latest Ultrabook in its Z830 family has already been exposed in full and will soon be availabile exclusively from Best Buy at $899, managing to break the sub-$1,000 barrier by a good chunk while offering a really impressive, super lightweight package.
At the aforementioned price, the new Portege Z835 comes in a good chunk less than the comparably sized MacBook Air ($400 to be exact) and $300 less than the Zenbook UX31 and weighs less than 2.5 pounds.
Confirmed specs include a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 13.3-inch (1366 x 768) display, 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD.
Ultrabooks are set to account for 43-percent of worldwide notebook shipments by 2015, just four short years away, despite the devices have only just started hitting the market. An Ultrabook is designed as being a notebook that is very light and thin, at under 0.8-inches.
Feature-wise, they sport more tablet-orientated hardware such as instant-on activation, always connected wireless links, SSDs and batteries capable of delivering more than eight hours usage from a single charge. IHS iSuppli research has led to these results and predictions for 2015, where they said in a press release:
Ultrabooks will represent 43 percent of global notebook PC shipments in 2015, up from 2 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012. Following their first year of shipments in 2011, Ultrabook penetration of the notebook market will increase rapidly, rising to 28 percent in 2013 and to 38 percent in 2014.