Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Apr 2009 11:42 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems After the rather unexpected success of the netbook, manufacturers started looking for more ways to capitalise on the cheaper end of the market. Many of them are now putting netbook internals (the Atom platform) in desktop computers, such as nettops and cheaper all-in-one solutions. According to several analysts, this is going to be one of the few places where the desktop market can grow. And while we're on the subject of hardware, TechRepublic took the Dell Adamo apart to see its internals.
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Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Tue 14th Apr 2009 11:59 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

These have been around for a long time (The A9 Home on the RISC OS front). The explosion-factor I think is the current market. Desktop computers are already as low as £300; volume is no long going to lower that price, so the manufacturers have to start looking at cheaper technology (and by cheaper, I mean 'alternative' and not just 'lower quality').

I'm personally far more interested in the fanless ARM netbooks/nettops just on the horizon than the Atom platform. We could be looking at £100 tiny computers and £200 nettop bundles (cpu+screen+mse/kbd) by a couple of years time.

If this trend were to continue, in three years time computers could be as cheap as £50, being nothing more than a very thin screen with the computer integrated (no fans), and a mouse and keyboard in front.

In five years time, I hope to see computers that are just a single sheet of glass 3mm thick ;)

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by Kroc
by mark1282 on Thu 16th Apr 2009 09:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
mark1282 Member since:
2009-04-16

Hopefully running RISCOS ;)

Reply Score: 1

Nokia netbook?
by vivainio on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:03 UTC
vivainio
Member since:
2008-12-26
Great for the average joe
by chekr on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:33 UTC
chekr
Member since:
2005-11-05

With most applications now having online "cloud" equivalents this a great win for the average joe consumer who just wants to browse the web, read their email and type up the occasional letter

Reply Score: 3

RE: Great for the average joe
by Adurbe on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:47 UTC in reply to "Great for the average joe"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Im not sure you can ignore that average joe also needs to watch youtube/bbc iplayer also. The current netbooks/tops can onl JUST manage this

A little more grunt and im sure they will take off

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Great for the average joe
by Kroc on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Great for the average joe"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

By "grunt" do you mean "Flash to not suck so hard"? 400 MHz is enough clock-wise to play HD content. It's Flash that makes videos chug along like it's 1989.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Great for the average joe
by Ventajou on Tue 14th Apr 2009 16:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Great for the average joe"
Ventajou Member since:
2006-10-31

I'm with you there. Tried playing the same video using vlc and flash on a p3 laptop: vlc was smooth, not flash. Flash really sucks!

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Great for the average joe
by chekr on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Great for the average joe"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

I agree though i think thats more an indicator of the flash plugins quality than the need for computing grunt. Maybe i'm pining for BeOS ;)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:42 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

The move to high volume Atom based computers (outside of Netbooks) will be an interesting phenomenon in that it might actually force software vendors to make their code more efficient and compilers produce cleaner code. What will also be interesting is whether this will squeeze Microsoft to reduce their price for Windows 7 - with maybe the requirement that it can only be used on an Atom based computer. So how Microsoft will respond will make interesting reading - and how it will effect their bottom line as the bulk of end users slide towards the cheaper devices.

The million dollar question will also be how Apple will respond. Right now there is is a very small difference between Apple and PC laptops; case in point was at Noel Leeming where there is only around a $200 difference between a Sony laptop and a MacBook Unibody. The question is how Apple will respond once that gap starts to come really large when the peformance gap between the Core 2 and Atom begin to close. Will Apple respond to this by launching a range using Atom based low cost laptops at the sacrifice of their sacred margins?

Born out of that is also the question regarding how the current Atom netbook producers are going - and whether the Atom based netbooks are cannibalising their traditional laptops. If there isn't cannibalising - could Apple sustain introducing an iCheap range?

Its interesting how the launch of a little device and a low cost CPU by Intel is raising questions as to the shape of the computer world in the future.

Edited 2009-04-14 12:43 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by chekr on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:49 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
chekr Member since:
2005-11-05

It was the OLPC that inspired the netbook revolution not intels CPU (particularly the fact that OLPC uses an AMD Geode)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

It was the OLPC that inspired the netbook revolution not intels CPU (particularly the fact that OLPC uses an AMD Geode)


And yet no one could purchase the OLPC as a usable computer - show me a website I can buy one and have it shipped to New Zealand. The ASUS was the first commercially available consumer netbook and it rolled on from there.

Reply Score: 4

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I remember the first few articles; a ruggedized notebook for how much? Asus may have had the first commercially available netbook in your retail outlets but OLPC started it all. No one was doing low cost, adequate resources notebooks until Intel and Microsoft jumped on the OLPC bandwagon. I think the Eee first marketing I saw sold it as the third budget notebook for classrooms and kids. "OLPC has one, Intel has one.. we here at Asus have one too!"

Actually, now that I think of it, OLPC was a heck of a proof of concept:
- notebooks usable without quade core cpu and nvidia sli onboard
- lcd readable in direct sunlight
- keyboard suited to rugged environments
- chassis suited to rugged environments
- practicallity of alternative power sources for notebooks
- mesh networking advances

With the amount that we've gained from the OLPC, I truly hope the project has found it's feet and been able to help educate children now that the media spotlight is elsewhere.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by Beta on Tue 14th Apr 2009 19:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

"It was the OLPC that inspired the netbook revolution not intels CPU (particularly the fact that OLPC uses an AMD Geode)


And yet no one could purchase the OLPC as a usable computer - show me a website I can buy one and have it shipped to New Zealand. The ASUS was the first commercially available consumer netbook and it rolled on from there.
"

Just because you couldn’t buy a OLPC, didn’t mean it did not inspire the current netbook revolution ;)
I’m thankful to the OLPC and EEE, for without them I wouldn’t own an Acer One.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by fithisux on Tue 14th Apr 2009 18:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
fithisux Member since:
2006-01-22

Respect to AMD!

Today I bought the ordered AA1 D150X. After reading dreadful things about normal notebooks I decided that It is good for portability and has less problems. I am waiting to judge for myself.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by Kroc on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Speed is more than just the chip clock. Case in point: Windows runs better on a Mac than on most PCs.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Speed is more than just the chip clock. Case in point: Windows runs better on a Mac than on most PCs.


True; a lot of the problems that end users face have less to do with Windows and mostly to do with the garbage that exists in the legacy BIOS world. Its annoying that the PC world still hold onto BIOS when there should have been a movement to UEFI long ago. It won't be the panacea to fix all ills but it would be a good start to finally remove the cruft and hopefully result in a stable Windows experience.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by StephenBeDoper on Wed 15th Apr 2009 19:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Most of the problems I've seen have been the direct result of 3 factors:

1) Slow drives. I've dealt with a fair number of tech support customers who have 2-4 year old computers, where replacing the crappy stock 5400 RPM hard drive has added at least another year or two of useful life.

2) Too little RAM. Probably the worst I've had to deal with was a Compaq machine from 4 or 5 years back - it had a 2Ghz P4, but only 128MB RAM (with XP), with integrated video eating up some of the memory. It literally ran slower than XP on the P3 450 I had at the time (thanks to the P3 having 512MB RAM).

3) Excessive amounts of preloaded software / "demo-ware". All with background "helpers," or auto-update utilities, etc, all of which automatically loaded on startup (of course).

Disclaimer: I've avoided Vista like the plague, so my experience is probably getting a bit outdated. But from the few Vista PCs I have had the "pleasure" of dealing with, I can only assume that the situation there is an order of magnitude worse.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by Adurbe on Tue 14th Apr 2009 12:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

programmers have been lazy for years regarding optimizations. Why? Moors Law.

The PC would soon enough be powerful enough that you wont notice the sloppy code. The Atom has suddenly popularised a slower, less powerful cpu. This SHOULD change coding habbits/ephasis if the platform really takes off.

Of course, photoshop would never aim for this market. Im mor hopeful about the likes of Office....

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by Kroc on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Programmers have been lazy for years because of deadlines, budgets, managers, conflicting demands, job-security, 100-hour working week, women and children, marketing men, bad education and 'agendas' and finally the computer landscape changing almost daily.

Moores law has little to do with it in reality IMO.

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by Ventajou on Tue 14th Apr 2009 16:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
Ventajou Member since:
2006-10-31

Agreed. Plus it's not like the atom is that slow. It's still faster and has more memory than what was around when XP was released. Plus the graphics chip is also better than the old intel 815.

There's no need for developers to optimize anything. All the user has to do is dust off their Office XP and Photoshop 7 cds and use those.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

programmers have been lazy for years regarding optimizations. Why? Moors Law.

The PC would soon enough be powerful enough that you wont notice the sloppy code. The Atom has suddenly popularised a slower, less powerful cpu. This SHOULD change coding habbits/ephasis if the platform really takes off.

Of course, photoshop would never aim for this market. Im mor hopeful about the likes of Office....


In-Order CPU's will always punish sloppy code and sloppy compilers - maybe we'll see a return to the drawing board to design better compilers where the focus is on quality rather than speed. I wonder how well LLVM will be like when it comes to compiling the Atom. Photoshop will never run well on such a processor but there should be no reason for for Office or any other run of the mill application to perform acceptably.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by RandomGuy on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
RandomGuy Member since:
2006-07-30

Born out of that is also the question regarding how the current Atom netbook producers are going - and whether the Atom based netbooks are cannibalising their traditional laptops.

I'm pretty sure they are. Still manufacturers would rather see _their_ netbooks cannibalise their notebook market than netbooks from a different manufacturer.

The same cannot be said for Apple since most of their hardware sales are probably OS related.

Anyway, I don't believe that nettops will be quite as successful as netbooks. As some people already mentioned the price difference is just not comparable. I can get a perfectly fine PC that runs circles around any nettop for just a few hundred bucks more. The same can not be said for netbooks. If you want a laptop with the mobility (<=12") and battery life (>=7h) you can get with netbooks you have to pay 3-4x as much.
Netbooks took off because they satisfied a demand that had been ignored _for_years_:
A laptop that's portable and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
The same cannot be said for the desktop market where prices are reasonable and size isn't that much of an issue. And even if there existed a similar demand in this market I think it would be smarter to look into docking stations and external drives to complement netbooks.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 14th Apr 2009 15:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm pretty sure they are. Still manufacturers would rather see _their_ netbooks cannibalise their notebook market than netbooks from a different manufacturer.

The same cannot be said for Apple since most of their hardware sales are probably OS related.

Anyway, I don't believe that nettops will be quite as successful as netbooks. As some people already mentioned the price difference is just not comparable. I can get a perfectly fine PC that runs circles around any nettop for just a few hundred bucks more. The same can not be said for netbooks. If you want a laptop with the mobility (=7h) you can get with netbooks you have to pay 3-4x as much.
Netbooks took off because they satisfied a demand that had been ignored _for_years_:
A laptop that's portable and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
The same cannot be said for the desktop market where prices are reasonable and size isn't that much of an issue. And even if there existed a similar demand in this market I think it would be smarter to look into docking stations and external drives to complement netbooks.


True, although if these companies made it cheap enough with video in and out - they could turn it into a DVR device where the selling point would be 'unlimited storage' through a daisy chain of stacked hard disks hooked up to the USB port.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by google_ninja on Thu 16th Apr 2009 16:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Born out of that is also the question regarding how the current Atom netbook producers are going - and whether the Atom based netbooks are cannibalising their traditional laptops. If there isn't cannibalising - could Apple sustain introducing an iCheap range?


Honestly, I don't see that happening. The company has been built on shipping top knotch end to end user experiences for so long, they would probably be willing to pay money so that people don't see OSX struggling for resources. They make money by selling small amounts of high end machines with large profit margins.

Don't think its impossible, and definately something I would like to see, but don't think its gonna happen. Been seriously considering picking up an asus eee 1000h and putting osx on it, hear everything works great on it except for the sound card.

Reply Score: 2

good
by spiderman on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:03 UTC
spiderman
Member since:
2008-10-23

I bought my Amiga 1200 (the higher end at his time) about €300. the Amiga 500 was sold for about €100 if I'm not mistaken. Those were the size of a keyboard. This was the last time I was excited by a computer. Maybe there are still exciting times ahead?

Edited 2009-04-14 13:04 UTC

Reply Score: 4

About time
by ThomasFuhringer on Tue 14th Apr 2009 13:11 UTC
ThomasFuhringer
Member since:
2007-01-25

Netbooks are simply laptops done right (L. Thorvalds).

Nettops are dektops with an acceptable size for the 21st century.

Reply Score: 4

RE: About time
by sonic2000gr on Tue 14th Apr 2009 18:36 UTC in reply to "About time"
sonic2000gr Member since:
2007-05-20

You are right. I think we are all tired of seeing beige and black square boxes collecting dust on our living room floors...

Reply Score: 2

RE: About time
by benmhall on Wed 15th Apr 2009 18:25 UTC in reply to "About time"
benmhall Member since:
2006-03-08

"Netbooks are simply laptops done right "

When/where was this said? (I agree completely, BTW.)

Ben

Reply Score: 1

Nettops same price as Netbook
by truckweb on Tue 14th Apr 2009 14:08 UTC
truckweb
Member since:
2005-07-06

The fact that they try to sell Nettops at about the same price as Netbook is a huge problem for me. Just the price of the LCD, that's 50-100$ that should be removed from the price.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Nettops same price as Netbook
by leos on Tue 14th Apr 2009 14:18 UTC in reply to "Nettops same price as Netbook"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

The fact that they try to sell Nettops at about the same price as Netbook is a huge problem for me. Just the price of the LCD, that's 50-100$ that should be removed from the price.


Except something like the Asus Eee Top, which has a much bigger LCD integrated, and it's a touch screen, which are a lot pricier than normal screens. I think the price is reasonable.

Reply Score: 2

Don't see it
by bolomkxxviii on Tue 14th Apr 2009 14:36 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

Netbooks fill a need. They are small, lightweight and cheap. While we all like cheap, small and lightweight are very important for highly mobile computers. Most of us do our heavyweight tasks in the office or at home so a very powerful machine isn't required on the road.

Nettops don't make the same sense so they will not sell as well.

Reply Score: 2

!
by HappyGod on Tue 14th Apr 2009 14:41 UTC
HappyGod
Member since:
2005-10-19

The price is crazy. Nobody is going to pay that much for a jumped up XDA, in a bigger box.

But if they get serious on the price, it would be a great idea. Because they don't emit any noise and they use hardly any power, you could pretty much put them all over the place.

I've always wanted speakers in every room, and to have lots of computers with touch panels, so you could access your own local or internet streamed media/tv anywhere in the house.

Reply Score: 2

eVilla
by Buck on Tue 14th Apr 2009 17:20 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

Has everyone forgotten about Be and eVilla?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_eVilla

Edited 2009-04-14 17:21 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: eVilla
by JrezIN on Wed 15th Apr 2009 21:01 UTC in reply to "eVilla"
JrezIN Member since:
2005-06-29

I was thinking about it too when I've read the headline...

Has eVilla came too soon?

Reply Score: 2

Nettops + DVD = Nice MPC
by Anonymous Coward on Tue 14th Apr 2009 17:28 UTC
Anonymous Coward
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think a Nettop would be a great starting point for a Media Center.... just needs a DVD Rom added. The Mac Mini would be nice, but it's too expensive. Just out, I'm seeing new EEE Nettops for a bit less than a used Mini on eBay.

I really want a nettop with a full bluetooth stack so I can use a Wiimote with it to do basic gaming and watch movies on my TV.

I already have a computer that does this, but a nettop would be better with less fans and only the DVD Drive to break because the rest is all on SSD.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nettops + DVD = Nice MPC
by james_parker on Wed 15th Apr 2009 00:26 UTC in reply to "Nettops + DVD = Nice MPC"
james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

I think a Nettop would be a great starting point for a Media Center.


I agree in general, but not quite on the details. The just-announced Ion-based Acer AspireRevo is a good example of where this should go.

Ideally, it would have an SSD for the OS and primary software, a digital TV receiver (perhaps optional), provide HDMI output, have wired and wireless networking plus bluetooth, and support a series of matching peripherals -- in particular add on DVD, Blue-Ray, and HD with easy connections (and a modular construction, either vertically or horizontally), as well as USB and one either firewire or eSata connector. In addition, a partnership with Logitech to provide a Harmony-remote IR output to control attached devices (specifically the TV/monitor).

Software-wise, it should support as wide as possible a set of codecs (including licensed proprietary codecs). I'd lean towards Linux as the core with a solid 10 foot interface, plus support for bluetooth keyboard/mouse, and a bluetooth remote (the latter probably included). It should also support a decent SDK and user community support for extensibility.

Price point should probably be US $250-300 max (should be doable), with an initial list price for 1TB add-on HD at $150 ($90 for 512GB), $50 for DVD-ROM, $100 for DVD-RW, and perhaps postpone Blu-Ray a bit (although bandwidth should be engineered in).

This would create a new and extremely profitable new market.

Reply Score: 1

I'm waiting for the TouchBook myself
by Lennie on Tue 14th Apr 2009 23:30 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

Touchbook from Always Innovating seems much more interresting and does all these things.

http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/

Reply Score: 1

Cloud computing
by Different on Wed 15th Apr 2009 02:08 UTC
Different
Member since:
2007-07-03

All these Nettops and Netbooks are cheap devices that can be connected to a central server and run essential applications off the the server

Linux or Windows devices are already able to run Windows apps through ThinServer

http://www.aikotech.com/thinserver.htm

Reply Score: 1

RE: Cloud computing
by darknexus on Wed 15th Apr 2009 03:07 UTC in reply to "Cloud computing"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wake me up when the so-called cloud computing buzz goes away or when it actually turns into what it is hyped up to be. Until then, it's just thin client solution by a new name, appropriate for some situations but hardly for most home use.

Reply Score: 2

sounds like a C64
by unclefester on Wed 15th Apr 2009 02:50 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The C64 would have to be the most successful machine of all time. It was a cheap and low powered.

Reply Score: 1

RE: sounds like a C64
by truckweb on Wed 15th Apr 2009 16:58 UTC in reply to "sounds like a C64"
truckweb Member since:
2005-07-06

Back in the days when the C64 was popular, it was not that cheap. $500 in 1982 was worth much more than the same $500 today...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: sounds like a C64
by Soulbender on Wed 15th Apr 2009 17:00 UTC in reply to "RE: sounds like a C64"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

It was comparatively cheap back in the day, especially compared to Mac's etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: sounds like a C64
by unclefester on Thu 16th Apr 2009 01:12 UTC in reply to "RE: sounds like a C64"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The C64 was extremely cheap compared with Macs and PCs.

Reply Score: 2

Energy Savings make Nettops Valuable
by mreyer on Wed 15th Apr 2009 03:35 UTC
mreyer
Member since:
2009-04-15

I don't like the idea of an "all-in-one" desktop/monitor. However, for the corporate world low powered (<35 watts) with dual core Atom's and emerging SSDs, make a lot of sense for general purpose office computing. On power savings alone, these nettops and the ones soon to be introduced, will pay for themselves in 12 months just in power savings over the 300 watt hogs they can replace. Combined with emerging VDI architecture, additional savings in support and maintenance costs make for an even more compelling case. While, I'm not ready to bring back thin clients in most situations, these low powered nettops have a place in corporate computing.

Reply Score: 1

Prices too high
by reez on Wed 15th Apr 2009 21:25 UTC
reez
Member since:
2006-06-28

I gues Nettops won't be as successful as Netbooks, because you can already find cheap systems. I guess you could say there have always been nettops, if you don't look at the size, but this isn't really a problem for most people. Oh, nettop seems to be the new name for thin client ;)

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Mark Williamson
by Mark Williamson on Fri 17th Apr 2009 20:00 UTC
Mark Williamson
Member since:
2005-07-06

I'd love a small form factor PC that was quiet (fanless?) and had a DVD (or bluray) drive in, so I could use it as an media centre / internet radio. I have an old 1930's wireless case I could mount it in ;-)

I looked at the Asus Eee Box for this purpose a while ago but the supplier I used for my Eee laptop did not stock the Linux version. I'm not even sure the Linux version is available in the UK. I'm holding out until I can get a bare / Linux-installed ultra compact PC, since the whole point of building my own media centre is to save money and get exactly what I want.

Reply Score: 2