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The Revamped Classmate PC

Intel announced their latest revamp to the Classmate PC. In essence it is a tablet PC which looks like a Netbook, but it is quite formidable if you look closer.

It features an Atom N450 processor, a 160 GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, GPS and allows OEM’s to include 3G or WiMax connectivity. It is also EnergyStar 5.0 compliant and is touted as having an eight and a half hour battery life. But the real kicker is the 1366×768 touch screen.

The screen responds to touch and to a stylus. It can also be rotated so that it lies flat on the keyboard, essentially turning it into a tablet PC. Orientation of the screen is automatically handled by an accelerometer. Intel has also made a smart decision by putting the webcam and microphone on a pivot mount, which allows users to capture themselves or the background.

The PC is quite rugged in design and is made of thick plastic so that young users need not be extra careful when using it. The rubberized surface provides users with an excellent grip. The cooling vents have been placed thoughtfully and the stylus has a neat recess that it can go to as well as having a place to be tethered to. The screen also features some buttons around it, which enables certain quick tasks when it is used in the tablet PC mode.

All in all, Intel seems to have done a good job in thinking things through and providing features that appeal to the target market. Look for it to hit the market soon!

LED or LCD for Your Next Laptop

The new generation of laptop screens offers you the choice of switching to an LED screen. Initially this can sound confusing and exciting until you see the price tag. So what’s all the fuss about LED?

The term LED actually refers to Light Emitting Diode and is a reference to the backlighting that is used in new laptops. The prevalent method of backlighting is Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps or CCFL. Both methods use LCDs in front but the benefits of LED are far superior.

In terms of power consumption, LED are great because they use up to 30 % less power than the CCFL screens. In terms of a laptop, this is a huge saving as the battery will last longer. Since you will charge the laptop less frequently, this also means that you save on your energy bill.

LED backed screens also give brighter and richer colors. Color accuracy and contrast is also improved. However, since LEDs adjust brightness levels automatically based on ambient lighting levels, these features may be less evident at times.

If you plan to use your laptop for a few years then LEDs are a good bet too. Over time CCFL screens start dimming and the output does not look as it once did. LED screens last longer and do not diminish over time. They also are lighter so the overall laptop weight goes down too.

As you can see, LED technology is actually the right way to go. The only thing stopping it from taking over the market is the current high cost of manufacturing. But if you consider the long term benefits that this technology offers, then the extra $100 or so you spend getting it, is truly justified.

Windows 7 and Netbooks – 6 Steps to Harmony

With Netbooks spreading like a wildly contagious infection all over the world, it will be only a matter of time before users want to get Windows 7 for their machines. The latest operating system from Microsoft has revealed itself to be surprisingly kind on resources and works quite well on low spec machines. Installing it on a NetBook is fairly straightforward but you should make sure that a few things are in order.

1. Windows 7 has an excellent driver database but they are not always the best drivers. On a normal laptop or PC you can be not-too-bothered about this, but with a low powered NetBook you need all the performance you can get. Even if Device Manager reports everything as “ok”, you should still download the latest drivers for your devices from the manufacturer’s site.

2. Manufacturers like ASUS have excellent power management software that comes with their devices. After a new operating system install, it is advisable to download this software again as it will manage your power consumption better.

3. Netbooks are about performance, so get rid of Aero and other graphical marvels. In the long run you will be happier due to the extended battery life.

4. Free up screen space by installing practical apps, like Chrome for browsing. Unlike Firefox it is not menu heavy, therefore you get more viewing space. You should also auto-hide the taskbar to gain a few more pixels. In this manner, try choosing software that will consume less screen space in terms of menus and sidebars and so on.

5. Squeezing your battery to last longer is always a running battle and one thing that can help you is MSCONFIG. Using this, turn off any processes and services that you don’t need. Do this with caution; just because you do not know what a process does, that does not mean that you should turn it off. Look online for guides on how to do this.

6. If you do have the budget, consider some hardware upgrades like memory and efficient hard disks. The memory will help Windows and the HD will use less power.

A Brief History of Netbooks

The first version of the netBook (also known as mini-notebooks) for general computing applications and for accessing web applications first appeared in 2007. These “primitive” models lacked many of the features of today. They had smaller screens and did not even have an optical drive. Nevertheless their potential was immediately recognized by the masses and lapped up.

The predecessor of the netBook can be traced back to 1991 when the Psion-3 was released. The key factor that sets this particular model apart is that it included a dial-up modem. Since then, we have had the Toshiba Libretto 20, Casio Cassiopeia, Psion netBook, HP Jornada, OQO Model 01, Sony VAIO X505 and finally, the netBook that has really kicked off the phenomenon in 2007, the Asus Eee PC 701.

The reason for the netBook’s popularity is simple. The reliance that people now have on the internet is great which means that people need to have access or to be plugged in to the World Wide Web wherever they are. With the advent of Wi-Fi and free internet access points popping up everywhere, it became normal for people to purchase laptops and carry them to whatever location they travelled to. Yet the problem of weight was a pressing one and this is where the netBook has won hands down.

The netBook’s primary function is to be a device that provides access to the internet. Although mobile phones and handheld devices like the iPod Touch provide the same function, the netBook with a larger screen, QWERTY keyboard and now with an optical drive is a clear winner for anyone who needs to be in touch with the world without being hampered by the limits of a tiny device.

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