Tag Archives | Intel

The War Against Netbooks Continues?

No NetbooksAccording to DigiTimes–a Taiwanese publication that’s always interesting, if not always completely reliable–Samsung is planning to release a netbook with an 11.6-inch screen and an Intel Atom CPU. Sounds cool–it’s a popular form factor with a roomier-than-usual display. But DigiTimes also says that Intel has responded by canceling Samsung’s deal for discount pricing on Atom chips, and similarly punished Lenovo when it introduced a 12.1-inch netbook. Samsung may also run into trouble with Microsoft, whose Windows 7 licensing agreements reportedly discourage netbooks with screens that are larger than 10.1 inches.

Netbooks make Intel and Microsoft nervous, since their low prices and high popularity threaten the market for costlier laptops that preserve a more generous profit margin for processors and operating systems. If I worked for either company, I’d be nervous, too. But trying to stifle netbook growth by making it tough for PC manufacturers to release appealing new models puts the companies on a collision course with consumers.

It’s a lousy development for anyone who’d like to buy a netbook with a sizable screen. I think it’s also self-defeating for the companies playing the pricing games, since the history of the PC business shows that consumers nearly always get what they want, even when pricing pressure makes it miserable for companies that make computers, components, and software.

Bottom line: If people want big-screen netbooks–and many surely do–they’re going to happen. I’d love to see the industry admit that and embrace it. Wouldn’t it be a more efficient way to do business than trying to prevent the inevitable?


5Words for Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

5wordsIntel and Nokia join forces.

A netbook with AMD inside.

MySpace seems to be shrinking.

Do netbooks confuse notebook buyers?

Flash for phones (except iPhones)

Zoho now works with SharePoint.

Get ready for Google Voice.

New ThinkPads get really skinny.

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5Words for Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

5wordsTechwise, it’s a slow day…

iPod Nano to get camera?

Intel, Microsoft dislike big netbooks.

Kids text 80 times daily.

Windows Vista SP2 is ready.

Microsoft’s future visions video, remixed.

Photorealistic games: 10-15 years?

Gotta love this 1878 sign.

Twitter on the Twitter show.

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Intel: Tell People What Netbooks Can’t Do

So you spent $350 on a netbook, figuring it’d be great for surfing the Internet on the road. The problem is, YouTube can be choppy and flash games grind a bit when things get too hectic. You can’t really edit your vacation videos on the fly, either. Rage consumes.

Apparently, these sorts of disappointments are happening too often, according to Intel, whose relatively weak Atom processors power most netbooks. At the company’s investor meeting (via CNet), marketing chief Sean Maloney said some retailers were seeing netbook return rates in the 30 percent range, which he described as “a disaster.”

Consumers were getting confused because netbooks are being marketed as notebooks. “So we gently went back to some of those chains and said if you segment them differently and state up front what they do and don’t do, things will be healthier,” Maloney said. “You’ve seen some of the European channels saying this (netbook) product does not do X and being very black and white and very clear.”

Here’s a slide Intel drew up to illustrate the differences:


I suspect there’s an ulterior motive here. Intel, like computer manufacturers, doesn’t want netbooks to cannibalize demand for full-featured laptops. Reminding buyers that the $350 machine won’t play video or create content as well as the $1,000-and-up machine is a simple way to pitch a bigger purchase. The sell will get easier when $700 ultrathins storm the industry in the months ahead, so its not surprising that Dell talked about marketing them distinctly from netbooks as well.

Regardless of Intel’s motivations, it will be good for buyers to understand what they’re getting. A little consumer education is always welcome.


5Words for May 12th, 2009

5wordsI’m about to visit Google

ViewSonic: from displays to smartphones.

Unhappy laptop owners sue Nvidia.

Adobe helps media player builders.

A Moto G1 from T-Mobile?

Twitter: bigger than NYT, WSJ.

Help! My iPhone is overheating.

Intel’s laptop and netbook roadmap.

Why is Microsoft raising money?

Microsoft tweets about Zune phone?

Apple nixes religious humor app.

Sorry you got a Kindle?

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Assuming There’s a New York Times in 2040, I Hope It’s Not This One

I just went to NYTimes.com, as I do multiple times a day. A split-second after I arrived at the homepage, it was covered up with a full-page ad overlay. That was irritating, but I’m willing to tolerate some annoyance in return for excellent free content.

I found this particular full-page ad overlay downright disillusioning, though. Here it is:

New York Times 2040

Yup–it’s a fake New York Times homepage from 2040, with jokey futuristic news stories and a redesign which consists of the Times dumping its logo, tagline, and typography in favor of a look which I’m guessing won’t end up resembling whatever is hip when 2040 does roll around. It’s a component of Intel’s big new ad campaign with the slogan “Sponsors of Tomorrow.” (Weirdly, when I go to the Intel site it links to on my Mac, I get a page that’s empty except for a splotch of tan–but maybe it works better on your Intel-based computer than on mine.)

As a journalist, I stress out when media brands lease out their good names to advertisers to make a buck, and the notion of the Times permitting a fanciful New York Times to be shown in an ad on its own site is inherently unsettling. (It’s unfortunately reminiscent of the Los Angeles Times’ appalling decision to allow a fake article to appear on its front page.) No brand in journalism has had standards higher than those of the Times, so this sort of tomfoolery is particularly out of character.

But here’s what’s really dismal about the ad: The notion seems to be that during the next thirty-one years, the main thing that the Times will accomplish is to dump the media world’s most instantly-recognizable look and feel. With reasonable people questioning the the viability of big media in general and the Times in particular, it’s an odd time to allow an advertiser to define the future of the Times–even in jest–and to say that it’ll consist of a goofy redesign.

Am I the only admirer of the New York Times who both hopes and believes that A) it’ll be around in 31 years, but its primary form will be something that hasn’t been invented as of 2009, and which won’t bear much resemblance to today’s Web sites; and B) the Times’ venerable logo, typefaces, and promise of “All the News That’s Fit to Print” will still be with us?


5Words for April 7th, 2009

5wordsCare to read some news?

Google searches return local info.

New logos for Intel chips.

New BlackBerry Storm in September?

Problem! Mysterious missing Twitter avatars.

Boxee rolls out API, fixes.

Dual-thumbstick PSP for Christmas?

iTunes variable pricing goes live.

Arrington on FriendFeed: cool, unused?

Drobo introduces eight-bay storage.

AP: hands off our content.

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Why Your Notebook Battery Life Never Quite Seems Equal to the Claims

[A NOTE FROM HARRY: Please welcome Patrick Moorhead of AMD to Technologizer’s roster of contributors. He’ll be writing both topics relating to his day job and others that simply stem from his experiences as a gadget enthusiast.]

Do you ever feel like the actual battery life on your notebook never quite equals the information that appears in promotional material? For example, you may see “up to five hours,” but actually get about half that.  Well, you aren’t alone.  I hear it all the time, and if you do a quick Twitter search on the topic, you’ll see lots of discussion.

I can assure you that no devious plot exists to mislead you. It really comes down to a few simple factors.

#1: Measurements are best case: Like a car’s “highway miles per gallon” which gauges the best case (cruising at a sustained speed for an extended period without stop-and-go driving), notebook battery life is typically based on MobileMark 2007. This benchmark primarily measures battery life while the notebook is doing nothing–not even wirelessly connecting to the Internet. A “city-driving” equivalent of notebook battery life doesn’t exist…yet.

#2: Different strokes for different folks: We all use notebooks differently, and therefore will see different battery durations.  Some watch HD web videos on YouTube, some may just do email, and some play more games than others. all of which will mean varying battery life.  You can see this data from AMD here that shows the phenomenon.  (Disclosure: I work for AMD) This also shows that battery life varies depending on the combination of components inside a machine.

#3: Battery life varies over time: The longer you own your notebook, use it, charge, and recharge, over and over again, the more the battery loses its effectiveness.  So theoretically, your longest battery life will be on the first day you crack open the packaging.  See all the people selling new batteries for old notebooks?  Some even say that battery life is variable with heat.

So what should you do?

  • Grade battery life on a curve–let’s say, 60% of the claimed performance. If the label says 10 hours, my guess is it’s probably only about 6 hours in real use.
  • Ask your retailer and systems providers to provide the “city miles per gallon,” or, using the tried and tested cellphone analogy, “talk-time.” They all have Web sites–and when all else fails, you can ask them over Twitter.

I may have not added back 40% of your battery life, but hopefully you know why you only get 60% of it!

Pat Moorhead is Vice President of Advanced Marketing at AMD. You can find him on his AMD blog, Twitter, FriendFeed, and LinkedIn. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions.


5Words for March 23rd, 2009

5wordsHappy Monday, everybody. Reading material:

Wow, they still make mainframes?

White House sides with RIAA.

Hulu adds 10 million viewers.

Intel chip flaw is theoretical.

New 17-inch iMac: Old!

The art of laptop stickers.

Samsung unveils 11-hour netbook.

IE 8: Losing users. Already!

Dell cancels phone…buys Palm?

The personal supercomputer is imminent.

September: an Acer Android phone?

Apple caters to business buyers.

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Nvidia Might Get Into the x86 Business

Nvidia LogoIt’s more than a rumor but less than a fact: Nvidia is apparently considering branching out from its core business of making graphics processors to make system-on-a-chip products that combine a CPU and a GPU on a single chip at some point in the next few years, putting it in the most direct competition imaginable with Intel. The theory–and it certainly sounds plausible–is that SoC designs that pack both a powerful CPU and a powerful GPU will come to dominate the market, leaving a graphics specialist such as Nvidia in a tight spot.

Plenty of companies have tried to compete with Intel over the years; nearly all of them have failed, leaving only AMD and VIA (the latter of which specializes in basic chips for basic devices) still in the game. As a consumer, I love competition, so I hope Nvidia goes for it. Anything that gives Intel reason to be paranoid should help Moore’s Law work its magic of more potent technology at better prices. And if any tech outfit has the combination of ambition, tech chops, and craziness to dive in at this point, it’s probably Nvidia.

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