Starting January 11th, you'll be able to get faster, beefier netbooks, with the arrival of next-gen Atom chips, according to Gizmodo.
Search for netbooks on Amazon.com and you'll notice that for all the different models you can buy, the specs are mostly standard: 10.1-inch screen, 160GB hard drive, 1GB DDR2 of memory, and a 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor. If you're willing to spend the money, you can upgrade to 2GB ram and a 1.66GHz Atom N280, but that's about it.
According to Digititmes, manufacturers signed an agreement with Intel to hold off on releasing netbook based on the new Atom lineup. That agreement comes to an end on January 10th, and all of the major netbook players (Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and MSI) are set to launch their line of more powerful Atom N450 based netbooks.
And the hardware refresh doesn't end there. March will see the gates open for another processor upgrade: the 1.83GHz Atom N470. A Fudzilla report from October suggests that Intel will encourage vendors to include 2GB of RAM with the N470 systems which will most likely usher in a new standard of netbook specs. There had been some reports in the past that Microsoft and Intel teamed up to limit netbook specs so that Microsoft could charge higher fees on higher-end notebooks.
Despite the processing power upgrade, these processors may still not be enough to handle HD video playback, the litmus test for small gadgets nowadays. A pairing of Nvidia's Ion graphics technology with the Atom N450/N470 may still be needed before you can get your HD video on the go, but no such hardware is planned for release. Perhaps CES next month will shed new light on how these new processors will change your Netbook experience.