commentary A new Asus Eee PC may be, under the hood, one of the most advanced laptops on the market today.
Tablets are getting a lot of attention these days as the next big thing in portable computing. That may well be the case, but enticing new Netbooks and Netbook/tablet hybrids are emerging, giving this mobile category a new luster, as as I wrote recently.
USB 3.0: There are only a handful of laptops (typically priced above $1,000) on the market from top-tier vendors with USB 3.0 ports. Now we have an inexpensive Netbook offered in some configurations with this connection technology, which delivers up to 10 times the data transfer speeds of the USB 2.0 ports used in virtually all laptops today.
Bluetooth 3.0: This is another new connection technology boasting much greater data throughput and not seen on a lot of mobile devices today.
Intel dual-core Atom processor: This is Intel's first dual-core chip for Netbooks, delivering the multitasking goodness of multicore processors. The beauty of this chip is its high level of integration: Intel has already manufactured a chip that Advanced Micro Devices has been talking about for years (but has yet to make). That is, a single piece of silicon that fuses the dual-core CPU (main processor) with GPU (graphics chip). And the extra oomph from the second CPU processor doesn't affect battery life materially. In fact, Asus is claiming 13 hours on one charge. Likely overstated but if actual battery life is two-thirds of what Asus claims, this is still way ahead of most laptops.
All of this points to an interesting trend that may develop over the next 12 months or so. To date, larger laptops have been the bastion of the latest and greatest mobile PC technology. Some of this may begin to shift, however, to Netbooks as they come to represent one of the most viable alternatives to tablets.