Ion- and Tegra-Based Netbooks, Plus Multitouch and MacBook-Mimicking Notebooks

What is it about September 15? Is it some post-Labor Day vortex of tech-centric news? It sure felt like it as a gang of NDAs lifted in the past 24 hours. I valiantly attempted to cover everything--and in case you missed some of the news, here's a quick recap in bite-sized chunks (and with convenient links) about each of these announcements.

Rarely do you put the words "sexy" and "business notebook" in the same sentence. And yet, that's exactly what's happening here with HP's latest little wonder, the ProBook 5310m. I fawned over the machine in a private demo thanks to the slick little design, but what prompted me to say, "Shut the heck up," to spokespeople on hand (sorry about that, by the way) was the starting price: $699. Of course, that's with Intel's 1.2GHz Celeron SU2300 as the baseline CPU. Want to learn more? Read the whole story.

Lenovo's ThinkPad T400s and X200, and Fujitsu's LifeBook T5010 now offer multitouch panels. As people brace for the coming of Windows 7, more notebooks are introducing up such panels. Today, Lenovo's $250 multitouch option showcases not only a taste of what Windows 7 will bring, but also provides a fairly handy SimpleTap software suite that lets you control many of the hardware functions with a touchscreen overlay menu system that's just fun to play with. Meanwhile, Fujitsu offers a $100 upgrade to its T5010 Tablet PC; it'll serve as a digitizer that will work with both the stylus and multitouch manipulation.

Nvidia pushes further into the portable market with Ion- and Tegra-based netbooks. I've talked ad nauseum about the Ion platform, but today HP officially showed off its Mini 311 to the masses. While initial demos didn't show much, I had some quality one-on-one time with it, and can say that the 411 on the 311 is simple: It's got game. I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on it at 1024-by-768-pixel resolution, and it works--about 30 frames per second with little to no stutter. That's far better than initial tests with the platform a couple months back.

As for the Tegra platform, I also had a chance to play a little with a Tegra-based netbook. Yeah, the same chip fueling the Zune HD can also make a $200 netbook hum. In fact, I'd say after an initial glance that the Tegra-based Mobinnova N910 seems faster than most basic Atom-based netbooks. Think of it as an Ion's little bro. Bonus: It is easy on the eyes as well.

HP also one-ups its Pavilion dv2 with the DM3. The short version of the Pavilion DM3 story: same small size, better guts, lower price. Just check the story on that one and keep your eyeballs peeled for a review. I'm looking forward to this machine.

HP gets "Apple envy" with two new notebooks. HP announced its new premium, high-end, double-take-inducing notebooks today: The Envy 13 and Envy 15. Are they gunning for premium Apple MacBook Pros? No doubt. Unfortunately, they are also gunning in the same expensive price ranges. HP spokespeople would, no doubt, counter that these are luxury machines. My only concern--despite lusting after these guys--is that we aren't quite living in luxury times. Prestige, yes. Practical? The jury is still out.

And that is all just one day of notebook news. I'm scared for what will get unleashed next week during the Intel Developers Forum.

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