The biggest consumer electronics event of the year is around the corner, and by that we of course mean CES 2010. We'll all be there in Vegas scouting out the best of what's new, but you may find yourself asking: after Windows 7 and the launch of Core i7 laptops, what else is there to look forward to? Plenty, by our measure. Here are the trends we're expecting to see.
New Atom processors, new Netbooks The star of the show will likely be Intel's new line of Atom processors for Netbooks. Previously codenamed Pine Trail, these new CPUs will give the Netbooks platform a performance push, we hope, making these popular laptops even more ubiquitous. Currently, Netbooks are great for some tasks, but can be frustrating to use if you need them for all-around computing. Look for added graphics and HD video performance in particular.
On a related note, hardware manufacturers will continue to try to "upscale" Netbooks, by adding features such as discrete graphics, touch screens, and HD displays--all in an effort to move prices past the low-margin $299 mark. We'll see increased stratification in Netbooks--a category previously notable for its commodity nature.
Here come the Smartbooks If you don't know the term already, get ready to know it, as this will be one of the hot product trends of 2010. Consider them even cheaper and smaller Netbooks toting smartphone-level processors and a pared-down OS. Small CPUs such as the Nvidia Tegra and the Qualcomm Snapdragon are what will power this next generation of devices, and almost none of them will have an operating system that will be Windows or Mac.
Expect to see most of these hybrid devices with 3G antennas, sold in cellphone stores, and subsidized by mobile phone providers, much like some Netbooks already are. Economic realities have pushed computer makers to favor value over flash in designing new systems, and at CES 2010, we're likely to see a bigger focus on Netbooks and other low-cost PCs over the extravagant showstoppers of previous years. Smartbooks could help define a new low-end pricing zone, but it remains to be seen whether they'll offer enough computing power.… Read more