Sick of netbooks yet? If sales numbers are any indication, the buying public certainly isn’t. With prices typically under $500, feature lists that just seem to grow longer and longer, and portability that can’t be matched, netbooks remained a hot item at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Here are five that caught out our eye – including one that stretches the definition just a bit.
Finally, a netbook worthy of the ThinkPad name. Lenovo’s X100e shuns all the things we hate about netbooks with a full-sized keyboard, high-resolution 11.6-inch screen, and a sturdy, matte-black chassis. It also adopts AMD’s Neo processor rather than the standard Intel Atom, and integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics. Amazingly, despite the biz-worthy build, Lenovo has also kept MSRP down to just $450.
MSI continues down the conservative path inside the U160, which only sports a new Pinetrail N450, but outside, the new netbook clearly has greater aspirations. A power button built in to the hinge calls to mind Sony’s Vaio notebooks, while a touchpad integrated into the wrist rest and marked with dimples reminds of us Asus. Even if you see it as a collection of other company’s concepts piled into one machine, we think it’s a definite step forward from the last generation, and should retail for only $350.
Can we even call this a netbook? Based on the 11.6-inch display, it certainly qualifies, but you might think twice after peeking inside. There, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GeForce GT335M work in tandem to give it all the muscle of a full-size notebook. In fact, Alienware claims it will play Modern Warfare 2 with consistent 30fps frame rates in high definition. Now that’s a step up from Solitaire. Expect it this spring for under $1,000.
While the rest of the world is clamoring for Apple’s upcoming tablet, Asus has quietly pushed out the Eee T101MT, a convertible multitouch tablet netbook running Windows 7. An update to the T91MT, the new Eee ups screen size to 10.1 inches and also drops in Intel’s Atom N450 Atom Pinetrail processor, along with all the usual netbook specs – 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, and 6.5-hour battery life. Asus hasn’t yet announced pricing or a launch date for the upcoming device.
The more portable devices get, the more often they seem to end up in the line of fire – or batted off a desk onto the floor, doused in coffee, or gouged by keys. Which is why we’re amazed it took someone this long to build a rugged netbook. Samsung’s NB30 doesn’t quite meet the mil-spec standards of a notebook built by the same company that builds F-16s, but it should survive office life and travel just fine. A ridged rubberized coating gives it resistance to the all-too-common scratches that come with wear and tear, while a free fall sensor protects the hard drive in falls from up to 30 inches and a watertight keyboard seal protects the keyboard from spills. (Samsung claims it used 50cc of water in testing, or 1.69 ounces, so you had better right that Venti Starbucks cup real quick!) Expect it sometime in January, at a price yet to be announced.