Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ion-packing Netbooks: Samsung N510 finally arrives next month

We feel like we've been waiting a long time for this, but Netbooks running Atom processors alongside Nvidia's Ion GPU are finally coming to the America...soon.

Reports from Liliputing.com claim that the Samsung N510, an 11.6-inch Netbook, is on its way next month. Included in the N510 will be HDMI out and an "ability to handle Blu-ray," though we're not sure how that will apply in a laptop without an optical drive. We're still waiting for the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 Ion version to arrive--we reviewed the non-Nvidia Atom version of the IdeaPad S12, and found that we really missed the idea of an added graphical boost to what was otherwise a standard Netbook affair.

On the other hand, those Nvidia processors better hurry up--CULV thin-and-lights are spreading with costs in nearly the same range, and new Intel Atom processors with greater power are coming out sometime in the next year. While beefing up the graphics and HD capabilities of a Netbook is a fine idea--especially since the Ion in theory should have the power of a GeForce 9400M (the graphics in the 13-inch MacBook Pro)--the price and release date need to be right in order for this to not get lost in the shuffle. Price is reported to be $599, which is roughly a hundred-dollar upgrade from the highest-end Netbooks we've encountered. This also puts it square against the lower tier of budget mainstream laptops. $599 also gets you a Core 2 Duo Gateway NV5807u, albeit without the same level of graphics.

Our biggest questions at this point: will Ion Netbooks be more competitively priced? Will the Ion significantly drain battery life compared to existing Netbooks and thin-and-lights? And just how good are they as gaming machines? Stay tuned.

So, sound off: for the cost, would you rather have a graphically-boosted Netbook, a thin-and-light, or a budget laptop with a better core processor?

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