It was only a matter of time before tablets replaced the underpowered netbooks that were all the rage back in 2007. And after five years of badging every one of its Intel Atom-powered PCs with the Eee moniker, ASUS (2357) is calling it quits on the netbook category that it pioneered. Digitimes reports that ASUS has ceased production of all Eee PC netbooks and will transition to marketing its family of Transformer tablets to fill the 10.1-inch netbook void.
HTC may be developing a new hybrid netbook/tablet “internet access device” that combines both Chrome OS and Android, presumably in some sort of dual-boot environment. Samsung and Acer are the only two major suppliers that currently offer devices powered by Google’s Chrome OS, otherwise known as Chromebooks, but DigiTimes said the two firms have only sold about 25,000 – 30,000 units this year. The lower-powered netbooks currently cost between $350 and $450 and will likely need to fall in price in order to attract consumers. HTC is expected to unveil its third Android-powered tablet in February, which will be powered by NVIDIA’s brand new quad-core Tegra 3 processor. HTC has yet to get its feet wet in the netbook space, and we have to admit we would be surprised if it ever did, so we suspect this secret Chrome/Android device could resemble something similar to Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer Prime rather than a traditional netbook. More →
Microsoft announced on Thursday that Quanta Computer will begin licensing its patent technology for Android and Chrome-based smartphones and tablets. Microsoft will receive royalties from Quanta, but the terms of the deal not disclosed by either company. “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Quanta, and proud of the continued success of our Android licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome devices in the marketplace,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property, Horacio Gutierrez, said. Microsoft has similar agreements in place with HTC, Viewsonic, Acer and Samsung, among others. Analysts estimate Microsoft pulls in three to five times more revenue from Android royalties than it does from its own Windows Phone devices. More →
Intel has delayed its next-generation Cedar Trail Atom processors until November, DigiTimes reported on Monday. The company originally planned to launch its new 32nm chipsets in September but has pushed the launch due to graphics driver issues that have prevented the netbook/nettop platform from obtaining Microsoft’s Windows 7 certification. Cedar Trail’s 1.86GHz Atom N2800 and 1.6GHz Atom N2600 processors support DirectX 10.1, Intel Wireless Display, PC Sync, Fast Boot and Intel Wireless Music and will replace the aging Atom N455 and N475 chips. Intel’s nettop Cedar Trail processors, including the Atom D2700 and D2500, are also delayed until November according to the report. More →
T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it will expand its Direct Carrier Billing option to support more digital products. The service allows T-Mobile customers to make purchases directly from their web browsers and charge them to their monthly T-Mobile bills. Customers can purchase music, games, social networking credits and more from their phones, T-Mobile tablets, or any of their computers connected to a T-Mobile network. Direct Carrier Billing will be available later this month, and once it is active, customers will see the option from participating providers during checkout. There is no additional fee for Direct Carrier Billing and customers can opt-out by contacting T-Mobile support. Read on for the full press release. More →
During the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco today, Google discussed the future of its “Chrome OS” platform, as well as some future products that will soon hit the market. Google has improved the performance of Adobe Flash playback within the browser, and the OS will now recognize I/O devices — such as cameras — when they’re plugged into the computer. Other new features include Google Music integration, a new photo manager that allows you to send directly to Picasa, and an option to upload files directly to Box.net. Google’s bread and butter, Gmail, Calendar, and Docs are all now accessible while offline. Hackers will also appreciate a new built-in jailbreaking feature. Samsung and Acer will both introduce “Chromebooks” on June 15th for $429 and $399, respectively. Samsung will also sell a 3G version of its Chromebook for $499. Those prices sound a bit high to us considering that you can get a full-fledged Windows 7 netbook for that price, but we’ll see if the market agrees.
On Monday HP announced that it has updated its EliteBook, ENVY, Mini, Pavilion, and ProBook notebook families with some more robust models. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new:
- HP’s ProBook 5330m, designed for business users, is less than an inch thick, weighs 3.9 pounds, and has a 13.3-inch screen. It’s powered by Intel’s Core i5 and Core i3 processors and comes with a fingerprint reader and other security options. It will debut on May 9th for $799.
- The ultraportable EliteBook 2560p can be equipped with either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, has a 7,200rpm hard drive (or SSD), and sports a 12.5-inch LED-backlit HD display. Its brother, the EliteBook 2760p has a smaller 12.1-inch display and doubles as a tablet. The EliteBook 2560p will launch on May 23rd for $1,099 and the 2760p will hit the market on May 9th for $1,499.
- HP’s updated Mini 210 netbook has been revamped with a more modern aesthetic, weighs under 3 pounds, is less than 1-inch thick, and offers up to 9.5 hours of battery life. HP also added Beats Audio for improved music playback. The Mini 210 will launch in purple, charcoal, red, rose, and blue on June 15th starting at $299.99.
- HP’s Pavilion dv4 notebook has been updated to include CoolSense technology, which adjusts PC cooling on the fly to prevent overheating. It weighs under 5 pounds, has a 14-inch HD LED BrightView display, and will be available in espresso black and blue when it launches for $599 on May 18th.
- HP dropped Intel’s second-generation Core processors into the HP ENVY 14, and also added USB 3.0, a new “HP imagepad” for gesture support, and a precision-etched metal alloy-case. The ENVY 14 sports a 14.5-inch HD BrightView infinity LED display, Beats Audio, and more. It will launch on June 15th for $999.99.
Hit the jump for the full release from HP. More →
Acer believes there’s still consumer interest in netbooks despite the surging tablet market, and the firm recently said that it’s not giving up on the mini notebooks just yet. “Tablets have impacted overall netbook sales, but we’re not stepping away from the [netbook] segment,”Acer’s senior product marketing and brand manager, Eric Ackerson, told Forbes. “We think there’s still opportunity for sales, including in the U.S.” Acer’s not ignoring the tablet market — its Acer Iconia Tab A500 recently launched in the United States — but it also has some new netbooks up it sleeves that are expected to launch later this summer. The firm believes that netbooks, which are typically priced far below tablets, are beginning to offer an experience that’s on a par with notebooks thanks to bumps in hardware specs. “The death of netbooks is overstated,” Lisa Emard, an Acer spokesperson said. “We may not see the same explosive growth as before, but the netbook price point is still killer,” she added. More →
Details of Samsung’s first official Chrome OS netbook, dubbed Alex, have surfaced in Google’s code repository. According to the Chrome OS development site, the Alex netbook will be powered by a 1.5GHz Intel Atom N550 processor and sport 2GB of RAM. A SanDisk solid-state harddrive of an unknown capacity, a 1280 x 800 pixel display resolution, Wi-Fi, Ethernet port, front-facing webcam, and Bluetooth along with support for 3G cellular connectivity and a Synaptics TouchPad will also be included. Google’s I/O developer conference is in just a few short weeks… perhaps Sir Alex will make an appearance.
Intel on Monday officially took the wraps off of its latest Atom Z760 processor, formerly codenamed “Oak Trail.” The Atom Z760 processor promises to provide better performance, specifically with multimedia playback, and it supports 1080p video encoding as well as HDMI-out in a package that’s 60% smaller than previous Atom CPUs. The new processor also supports Windows 7, Android and MeeGo, allowing manufacturers to build tablets that can boot into a variety of operating systems, and Intel says the chip is designed for more portable embedded designs. The Atom Z760 chip — clocked at 1.5GHz – has been shipping to manufacturers for the last few weeks and tablets from OEMs including Lenovo, Toshiba and Fujitsu are expected to hit the market as soon as this May. Intel confirmed with BGR that the “lion’s share” of the Atom Z760 powered tablets will run Windows 7. The chip maker will show devices running the new processor during the Intel Developer Forum, which begins on Tuesday, and it will also tease its next generation “Cedar Trail” chip for netbooks during the forum. Cedar Trail will provide support for Intel Wireless Display, PC Synch, Fast Boot and Intel Wireless Music. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
Via a press release, Best Buy has made its electronics Buy Back Program — the very same program we broke the news on last week — official. The program will allow users to trade in their laptops, netbooks, tablets, or smartphones for a percentage of the device’s original value. Best Buy is billing its new service as “future proofing.”
“We recognize that technology is changing faster than ever, and our customers tell us they want to enjoy these devices without worrying about when the next or newest version will launch,” said Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy. “We call this ‘future-proofing’ because our customers can now have more confidence that they’re protecting the value of the products they’re purchasing today.”
Best Buy’s Buy Back Program will begin to be offered this month and retail for $69.99 for laptops, netbooks, and tablets and $59.99 for mobile phones — the price for TVs (under $5,000 only) was not disclosed in the press release. Hit the jump to read the full announcement. More →
In case you had any open questions about Best Buy’s upcoming Buy Back program, a trusted source just sent some more information that will clear up any open questions. The new info includes an internal PDF detailing exactly what this new service means to you, the customer, in addition to Best Buy the company, and also employees that work at Best Buy. The program, as we exclusively reported, will offer customers up to 50% of the purchase price on their laptops, netbooks, tablets, TVs, and mobile phones for two years. Best Buy is positioning this internally as a way to continually lock in customers. For instance, “for every Buy Back plan sold, a future customer purchase is locked in.” The document also states “customers will come back to Best Buy when they are ready to upgrade,” and “customers tend to spend more than the amount of the gift cards they receive.” Hit the break for all the details.
One of our trusted Best Buy sources has come through with several documents that provide additional details on the retailer’s new Buy Back program. The new protection plan, which allows consumers to sell back their devices for a percentage of the its original MSRP, will launch covering phones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, and TVs priced under $5,000 on January 5th; the service will be expanded to “other product categories” sometime during fiscal year 2012. To heighten awareness, commercials and advertisements will begin hitting the airwaves and print media beginning on February 6th.
The pricing structure for television “buy backs” will vary from that of computers, tablets, and smartphones. TVs under 6 months old can be turned in for 50% of the original full-retail price; 6 to 12 months, 40%; 12 to 18 months, 30%; 18 to 24 months, 20%; and 10% during the third and fourth years of ownership.
All “buy backs” will be issued in the form of Best Buy gift cards and the company is positioning the program to its sales staff as “protection against obsolescence.” Hit the jump to see a few more images and be sure to let us know what you think. More →