Chips transform market
The days of low-cost, lowpowered laptops are numbered, writes Jennifer DudleyNicholson
THEY are just three years old but netbooks are on the endangered list. The reason for their threatened status, however, might not be what you suspect.
Yes, tablets are challenging netbooks, and the shrinking price of full-sized notebooks are a threat, but there’s another factor at play. Netbooks are starting to receive transformational hardware upgrades.
New computer chips will soon be added to netbooks, including AMD’s new Fusion C-Series processors designed for use in netbooks.
The chips feature multiple cores for added speed, built-in graphics processing for highdefinition video, and deliver longer battery life.
AMD worldwide product marketing vice-president Leslie Sobon says the new generation of processors will revolutionise netbooks, which have earned a bad reputation.
‘‘ The reason the industry called it a netbook was because it couldn’t do a lot,’’ she says. ‘‘ And they had to create a new name for that. The experience of using a netbook has been poor.’’
But Sobon, who launched AMD’s Fusion chips in Sydney, says powerful chips will transform the make-up and reputation of netbooks.
New models will handle media capably, will feature ‘‘ up to 12 hours of battery life’’ and will work at a faster pace, she says.
The transformation is set to be so dramatic, AMD will retrain retailers so consumers are not turned off by 10-inch PCs.
‘‘ We may need a new name for netbooks,’’ she says. ‘‘ I’m not sure what that will be.’’ New-generation netbooks are expected to arrive in stores soon from makers including Toshiba, Dell, Sony and ASUS.
But some companies are not as bullish about the future of netbooks. After announcing five tablets for the coming year, Acer’s Taiwan sales manager Lu Bing-hsian told reporters the slate computers were ‘‘ aimed at phasing out netbooks’’ as that was ‘‘ the direction of the market’’.
IDC infrastructure senior analyst Trevor Clarke says netbooks have certainly ‘‘ dropped off the hype radar in recent times’’, but are still selling well in Australia.
Consumers and schools continue to buy the small computers, which sell for $500 or less, Mr Clarke says, though sales figures are ‘‘ flat’’. The new chips may help maintain current sales.
‘‘ It really is a great time to be a consumer if you are looking to purchase a computer.’’
Lap ’em up: now is a great time to buy a computer.