An unnamed search engine has reported traffic from a product purporting to be Apple-made but with a screen-size larger than that of the iPhone but smaller than that of MacBooks. The disclosure was made to John Markoff of the NYT, on the understanding that their identity be protected, and instantly the speculation began that Apple is testing its own netbook or tablet.
It's become somewhat traditional to start the week's review with what's happening in the netbook world, a niche that's arguably the fastest developing right now in consumer tech. Fujitsu kicked things off with the proclamation that budget ultraportables "don't add up" and that the current race to the bottom line doesn't give manufacturers enough room to make profit; Fujitsu were rumored the week before to be planning a netbook of their own, only with the emphasis on build quality rather than solely the price tag. Sony also picked up a few netbook-in-progress rumors, tipped for Q4 2008, and HP revealed that they're working on a follow-up to the 2133 Mini-Note that will be less sturdy but also less expensive.
LG, too, are said to have a netbook in the works, with a model tentatively named X110 running Intel's Atom CPU and made for them by MSI. It's uncertain whether, if this turns out to be true, the X110 would be a rebadge of the MSI Wind or a whole new design. Finally, ASUS confirmed they wouldn't be letting up the pressure as firm most associated with the segment; there's talk of an "all day" battery and cloud storage option for release later on in 2008.
While seeing OS X running on various traditionally Linux or Windows netbooks is nothing new, there's still a frisson of pleasure to be had from a new machine getting its unofficial Apple stripes. When said-new-machine is the HP Compaq Mini 700, the Euro version of the HP Mini 1000 and a particularly desirable and impressive machine in its own right, that gets all the more interesting.
Video demo of the OS X HP Mini 700 after the cut
Biggest news this week has been in gaming, with Nintendo announcing the latest iteration of their DS handheld. The DSi introduces new multimedia features - for instance a 3-megapixel camera - and an even thinner body, at the expense of battery life. Don't get too excited, though; the US won't see the DSi until "well into" 2009.
In netbooks, ASUS slipped in a few new models at both the low and high-end of the market, with the Eee PC 900HA and 904HA offering bargain 160GB storage while the S101 corners the more-fashionable (and expensive) end. That's a niche the ASUS N10 already occupies; that netbook ran the review gauntlet this week, proving "technologically clever" but simply too expensive. ASUS - and MSI, whose Wind U90 was panned too - must be looking enviably at Gigabyte's M912M convertible touchscreen netbook, which was good enough to pull a credit card from the wallet of one reviewer.
Intel's Classmate Tablet PC was a surprise announcement at IDF yesterday, and Laptop Mag have scored a little more time with the education-focused notebook. While the hardware is certainly pre-production - both the handle and the touchpad you see here are temporary, with Intel still working out exactly how they will look - overall it looks too promising even to be simply left for the classroom.
The fight got dirty in the netbook arena this week, as Monday saw VIA's Nano CPU take on Intel's Atom with a 1080p smack-down video only to become mired in controversy when bloggers ran the tests themselves and came up with wildly different outcomes. Still, we had Lenovo's finally-official IdeaPad S10 and S9 to cheer us up, together with the rumor that Gigabyte plan a 10-inch dual-core version of the coveted M912 tablet-netbook.
Of course, ASUS couldn't bear to be out of the headlines for a single minute, and so announced the S101 (the size of an Eee, the branding of an Eee, but it's not an Eee) together with a cloud storage option. Netbooks are so much the niche of the moment that this week's "He Said, She Said" editorial was all about whether the best value comes from there or from a second-hand laptop off of eBay.
Samsung has announced two new versions of the company's Q1 Ultra UMPC. The Q1U-CMXP adds a 3G HSDPA modem, while the Q1UP-V replaces Windows XP with Vista Business. Both use Intel's 1.33GHz Core Solo U1500 processor, but in a nod to Vista's greater RAM hunger the Q1UP-V doubles standard memory to 2GB.
E-Lead's Noahpad UMPC showed up at CES 2008 with an Eee-alike casing, super-swivelling hinge and a dual-touchpad interface that recognised gestures and also typing using the printed key layout. It's finally made it into the hands of UMPC Fever, and it looks like they've not even waited until they drove home in order to shoot the unboxing video.
Check out the E-Lead Noahpad unboxing video after the cut