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Netbooks based on new Atom chips launched in Indian market

After much waiting, netbooks based on Intel’s next generation Cedar Trail Atom processors have hit the Indian market.

The Cedarview Atom processors (Atom 2600 & 2800) are the first netbook processors to combine a moderately powerful CPU with a moderately powerful graphics processor (GPU) and still give about 8 hours of battery life on a six cell battery. As such, they will appeal to users trying to locate a moderately powerful netbook that also gives a nearly full-day battery life.

The claim of power-plus-battery life may surprise many, who have been used to seeing claims of 10-11 hours of battery life on several netbooks already in the market.

The difference lies in the graphics processor on the Cedarview processors — they come with PowerVR graphics cores licensed from an external vendor, unlike older Atom chips which had to make do with what Intel could manage in-house.

Both Atom 2600 and Atom 2800 based netbooks have hit the market. We found the cheapest one to be the Asus Eee PC 1015CX, available for Rs 14,766 from Flipkart. The model, however, has just 1 GB of RAM (same as most of the older netbooks) and has the slower N2600 chip.

The cheapest Pineview netbook with 2 GB of RAM and the faster N2800 Atom processor turned out to be the HP Mini 110 – 4108TU, available at Indiaplaza for Rs 16,965.

Their immediate competition will be with laptops powered by AMD’s E-series chips, such as the E-350 and the E-450.

In terms of processing power, both the Pineview Atom and the AMD E-series APUs are neck and neck, with perhaps a slight advantage for the AMD chips, especially the E-450 chip. However, there really is nothing much to set the two competitors apart from each other.

However, they are very different from each other in three review departments — graphics and display, battery life and price.

While the Pineview may be enough to play 720p Youtube videos, they are likely to create stutter when it comes to playing 1080p Youtube videos.

The graphics capabilities of the AMD E-350 and E-450 chips are much more powerful than those on the Atom, primarily because of the ATI heritage that the two chips have inherited. The AMD chips can, therefore, easily play full-screen, full-HD videos, even from web-pages.

Of course, the graphics power comes at a cost — the battery life of netbooks with these two chips is about 6-7 hours, while the Pineview models are good for about 8-9 hours.

In addition, the Atom models are cheaper, ranging from Rs 17,000 to Rs 19,000. In comparison, the E-450-powered Samsung NP-RV513 will set you back by Rs 20,714.

There is, however, one final detail that sets the two classes of netbooks apart. For some reason, all the nearly half a dozen Pineview-based netbooks launched in India so far have an atrocious display resolution of just 0.6 million pixels. Their displays, in addition, are smallish at 10 inches.

In comparison, nearly all the E-350 and E-450 powered netbooks have 1 million pixels on their displays, which range in size from 11 inches to a jumbo 15.6 inches. Some of them even come with CD and DVD drives.

In addition, the AMD-based models come with HDMI ports, which lets users connect their netbooks with their high-definition TVs for a larger audience. Though Intel had claimed that the new Atom platform does indeed support HDMI ports, none of the models so far launched in India have such ports.

Finally, in terms of weight, both Atom and AMD have netbook models weighing as little as 1.1 kg.

In conclusion, it may be said that if you already have a home laptop and are looking for a second, lighter and more portable laptop, the Atom platform may be a better option due to the longer battery life.

On the other hand, if you are comfortable with a 6-hour battery life and want to use the netbook as your primary computer, the AMD APU-based models are a better option.

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