No USB 3.0 or Bluetooth 3.0 on 1215N? No Problem!

This is something that’s come up in a couple of emails to me, as well as various forums I follow. Some people are talking about the Asus Eee PC 1215N not having Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 3.0 support in the US/North America.

In regards to Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 3.0, it says on the ASUSTek website: *Availability is dependent on selected model, country or operator support. Check with your local ASUS website for more details. .

On the Amazon.com page it doesn’t show either one, nor does it show either one listed elsewhere on other places in the US that are selling the 1215N. On the Amazon.co.uk page it mentions Bluetooth 3.0 + HS (High Speed), and while the Amazon UK link does not mention USB 3.0, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was available, since that listing is a bit sparse.

First of all, formal specifications for USB 3.0 were finalized less than two years ago, and USB 3.0 devices were really not announced until earlier this year. You can get USB 3.0 (and Bluetooth 3.0) devices to work in Windows 7, but right now many manufacturers and accessory makers are not exactly in a rush to get these devices out. With Windows 8 in 2012 offering built-in support for both standards, I think you’ll see a serious push, especially in devices that we haven’t even seen yet. I don’t think Bluetooth 3.0 or USB 3.0 devices will dominate before Windows 8.

Right now I think what we are seeing as far as USB 3.0 devices, are USB 2.0 devices that were adapted for USB 3.0, so it’s not as if there is something that you are missing out on as far as some new device that we haven’t seen yet, perhaps video related. I expect that to change as we get closer to Windows 8 and as USB 3.0 gains traction.

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Netbooks Impacting the Mainstream Market

Netbooks

Joe Wilcox, editor of Microsoft Watch, has put together an in-depth article about the impact netbooks are having on the traditional, or mainstream, laptop/notebook market.

Netbooks are cannibalizing the low-end part of the market and driving some margins down (in the so-called “race to the bottom”). Just how much they are is up for debate – I think once we’ve seen another quarter or two, and factor in the MSI Wind U100 and Acer Aspire One launch during the first half of last year, then we’ll have a better idea on just what kind of impact they are having. eWeek considers this a huge problem for the overall PC market, and they believe the Microsoft must be a part of anything that addresses this. They mention the first quarter 2009 shipment information that was just released by both Gartner and IDC, and PC shipments declined by 6.5 percent over this time last year, while netbooks/sub-notebooks sales were strong. I think some of that is being alarmist – even if netbooks didn’t exist, shipments would probably still be down. Companies are cutting back, and within the last few years, laptops have reached a point as far as cost versus computing power, where the benefits of upgrading fairly often for consumers has dropped substantially. It’s one thing if you are going from an old Celeron or Pentium 4-based laptop from 5 years ago to a Intel Core 2 Duo-based system, it’s another if you are already on a Core Duo or Core 2 Duo-based system. I think we’ve reached the point where people aren’t going to be compelled to upgrade as often. On top of that, you have Microsoft Windows 7 which is going to perform as well or better on existing systems that were sold with Vista (and it performs just fine on Intel Atom-based systems).

I think that it is a problem for manufacturers, but at the same time, the damage is done. It’s very clear that these devices are something that consumers are very interested in, and in many cases, they are being bought by people who may not already own a laptop for one reason or another. I can also see the fear that the NVIDIA Ion platform inspires in some – a low-end netbook/ultraportable, perhaps powered by an Intel Atom (or a VIA Nano), capable of HD graphics (even just 720p). That would absolutely impact the traditional 15″ (and now 17″) budget market. Netbooks with their current, outdated graphics systems, are already impacting the market – the demand was there, and the products to fill it simply didn’t exist, at least at a pricepoint that was affordable by mainstream consumers. As we go forward, you’ll find more people willing to forego the 15″ laptops for something in the 13″ and below range.

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NVIDIA Talks About the ION

NVIDIA has issued another press release about the ION platform, along with a few more details about launches, as well as commitments from software companies in regards to boosting/optimizing software for the ION platform. Companies mentioned include Microsoft (no surprise), Electronic Arts, Adobe (Flash anyone?), … Read more

Apple To Launch Touchscreen Netbook in 3Q 2009?

Apple MacBook Air We’ll treat it as a rumor for now, but among the rumors, it’s a lot more solid than mos. DigiTimes is reporting on a Chinese-language Commercial Times publication that Wintek will be providing touch panels for a touchscreen netbook from Apple. There is a lot more going on that gives legitimacy to the idea of such a touch screen device from Apple.

The report states that shipments will begin in the third quarter of this year, which would put its availability (July/August/September) right around the end of the back-to-school buying season, with Quanta Computer being the main manufacturer of Apple’s netbooks.

At this point, I believe it’s a given that Apple will produce something with a 9-inch – 11-inch display. AT&T is about to start pushing netbooks for people who want something a little more than a smartphone, but who want mobile broadband access, and don’t want to lug a conventional-sized laptop/notebook around.

I think it’s very telling what Apple’s Tim Cook said back in January:

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