RealTime IT News

No Recession for Netbooks or MacBooks

With the popularity of netbooks undiminished, vendors are continuing to bring new products to the market. On Tuesday alone, three new products were introduced.

Sony (NYSE: SNE) made its entry into the netbook market official with the announcement of the Vaio W, a 10.1-inch device with a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 160GB HDD, 1GB RAM, Windows XP, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n, Ethernet, VGA out, two USB ports, Ethernet, webcam, and MemoryStick/SD card readers. Plus, a software bundle called VAIO Media enables content streaming across DLNA-enabled devices like the PC or PlayStation 3.

Notably absent is support for 3G or WiMax, and there isn't an optical drive, either. Sony is positioning the product as an "in-home" product. At $499, it will be competing against notebooks that do much more.

The blog Macles reported on the latest from Acer, one of the companies credited with starting the netbook craze (along with Asus) has a new device, the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810T. It looks a lot like the popular Aspire One 751 netbook, with the same chassis and same 11.6" screen with 1366x768 resolution as the Aspire One.

However, it uses the same internals as the Timeline series, which are not Atom-based. The Timeline 1810T uses the Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) ULV SU3500 1.4GHz processor, which is faster than Atom processors, supports 4GB, much more than a netbook offers, and comes with the GS45 Express Chipset with integrated graphics and hardware-accelerated decoding of HD video.

The Timeline also has features you don't usually find on netbooks, like HDMI, S/PDIF, Gigabit LAN, Intel 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN ports, plus optional 3G and optional Bluetooth 2.1 support. It also promises eight hours of battery life. The Timeline runs Windows Vista Home Premium is pre-installed, with the option of a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it's released in October.

Acer, however, declined to comment on the reports, saying the Timeline 1810T has not been formally announced.

Finally, European vendor Medion launched the Akoya Mini E1312, an 11.6-inch notebook based on AMD's Neo platform. This will likely be for the European market only. It comes with a 1.5GHz Sempron 210U processor, integrated Radeon X1250 graphics, 1GB of memory, a 160GB hard drive and a 11.6-inch, 1366x768 display.

The E1312 will be in stores in England on July 12th at a starting price of £339 (US$550).

Wanted: 13" MacBooks

A research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noted that Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) online store is listing wait times of seven to 10 business days for the faster of the two 13-inch MacBook Pros, the longest delay he's ever seen for the 13-inch notebook models.

The longest delay Munster could find prior to this was two years ago, and that was just a delay of five to seven days.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro, which uses the same 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo chip as the high-end 13-inch Pro, also has the seven to 10 day wait. Every other MacBook on Apple's Store is available immediately.

"We see this as a sign that demand is outpacing the company's build expectations, and it may take several weeks to reach a supply demand equilibrium," he wrote.

Looks like Apple's promotions are working. At WWDC it announced lower prices for the MacBooks, rebranded its 13-inch plastic bodied MacBook as a MacBook Pro and announced it would get the unibody metal casing, and also Apple announced a back-to-school promotion where students got a free iPod Touch with each Mac purchase.

Apple will report second calendar quarter sales on July 21 after the close of market.

The devil is in the details

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) has what appears to be a bargain: a netbook for $1. Actually, just 99 cents. But the devil is in the details, as the sleuthy blog jkOnTheRun noted.

The netbook in question, the Compaq 1040DX, is basically a rebranded HP (NYSE: HPQ) Mini and offers the same specs: 10.1-inch display with 1024 x 576 resolution, 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, three-cell battery, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive.

The caveat is you must sign on to a two-year service agreement with Sprint, which has a 5GBit per month transmission cap for $60 a month. Over two years, that's $1,440. Subtract the $199 SRP of the 1040DX and Sprint pockets $1,050. But that's how cell phone providers operate.

Not so green

Vendors have worked to be more eco-friendly, with Apple really out in front to make a big deal of how green it is.

Well, color Greenpeace unimpressed. It has released a chart of the best and worst offenders for green products, and many vendors were taken to task, Apple included.

Greenpeace commended Apple for removing pollutants from its computers but said "Apple fails to score top marks on this criterion because it uses unreasonably high threshold limits for BFRs and PVC in products that are allegedly PVC-/BFR-free."

Nintendo scored the worst, a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, due to only recently removing harmful chemicals from its consoles. Fujitsu was the worst-performing PC vendor at 2.4 for "no commitment to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions and reports on renewable energy use only in Europe."

The best PC vendor was Toshiba at 5.5 and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) best overall for "leading competitors on toxic phase out."