There's good news from Taiwan's Computex trade show this week: The future has not been suspended because of the weak economy. Google's Android OS precipitated a flood of news and new Intel chips commanded the spotlight.
Intel made several announcements including low power chips intended to drive a new generation of (pick three) super-thin notebooks, super-powerful netbooks, or Apple MacBook Air-killers.
By the time Intel shows something as Computex they already have manufacturers waiting in the wings. These new consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) machines are intended to be a notch above a $250 netbook, yet not compete with over $1,000 "professional" notebook computers.
Intel said it is tracking 50 such machines now in development and expected to be released this year. However, when I think "ultra-low" voltage, I am imagining ultra-long battery life, something Intel doesn't seem to be claiming for these new machines. Rats!
Acer, the largest computer company most Americans know little about, used the show to announce plans for what may be the world's first Android netbook when its released later this year. That is, if a Chinese company with the catchy name Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Technologies doesn't hit the market first. GSTT says it's Android netbook is now undergoing final testing.
Qualcomm used Computex to show off netbooks based on its Snapdragon processor as well as an Android-based, Snapdragon-powered Eee PC.
Now, if Qualcomm would stop calling its netbooks "Smartbooks" life would be easier. What if every company were to develop a new category name for everything it sold?
Elitegroup Computer Systems, whose machines are not sold under its own name, also showed an Android netbook, due later this year and expected to sell for under $500. It uses ARM processor cores from Texas Instruments.
Indeed, Computex is where device manufacturers come to show their wares to potential marketing partners, resulting in announcements of cool products that eventually come to market under someone else's brand.
Via Technologies' Nano processor was shown powering a pair of small desktop PCs from Shuttle. Most people wouldn't guess that Via is the world's third-largest CPU-maker, in the shadows of Intel and AMD.
Not all the action was at the low end, however. Intel showed off the first motherboards using its upcoming Lynnfield and Clarkdale microprocessors.
Lynnfield is a successor to Intel's first Nehalem desktop chips, released last year. Those chips, called Core i7, are aimed at PC enthusiasts and gamers at the high-end of the market for desktop PCs.
The Clarkdale desktop chips, which follow Lynnfield, will make Intel's Nehalem microarchitecture more mainstream, an Intel executive said.
Asia's largest computer trade event, Computex continues through June 6, though most important product announcements scheduled for the show have already taken place.
What do these and other Computex announcements mean for business computing? That despite the weak economy, there will be interesting hardware to purchase when we can afford to start buying again. Hope that's soon--some of this gear looks awfully tempting.