Intel may open door for bigger netbooks

Intel logoOne of the ways that Intel has kept netbooks from cannibalizing notebook sales is by imposing a limitation on netbook screen sizes—netbooks that use the Atom N series have been restricted to screen sizes no bigger than 10.2 inches. But rumor has it that Intel will lift this restriction in the second half of the year, and allow larger screens on netbooks that use the dual-core N550.

This move isn't too surprising, given that netbook sales have started to level off as a percentage of mobile sales. Intel is probably looking for a way to keep netbooks interesting, and offering more form factors is one of them. It's also the case that Intel has been pitching the Pine Trail + Broadcom CrystalHD combo as a way to do 1080p video on a netbook—and 1080p certainly makes more sense for larger screens than it does on a sub-10" panel.

A final argument for the restriction's elimination is that it's quite likely that the coming wave of ARM-based "smartbooks" will include units with screen sizes above 10.2 inches. Intel won't want the Atom platform to be arbitrarily restricted in competing with ARM-based offerings, so now is as good a time as any to do away with the ban. That way, OEMs get the all-clear to work on larger Atom-based netbooks that will hit the shelves in the second half of the year, as ARM A8- and A9-based smartbooks start to trickle out onto the market from Lenovo and other vendors.

The increase in screen size raises one question: at what point is a netbook no longer a netbook? I don't have an answer to this, so I'd like to ask the readers to weigh in on the question. Is it a specific price point? A particular form factor or range of form factors? A combination of price, form factor, and flash memory for a main storage pool?

Source: ars technica

Tags: Atom, Intel, netbooks

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