Netbook and Tablet Fever at IDF 2010

by Vivek Gowri on 9/15/2010 3:59 PM EST
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  • KG Bird - Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - link

    I'd like to have a tablet but none does what I want them to do. I want to throw away my notebooks and have a tablet that I can write on and have my notes go straight into a document on Microsoft Word or something compatible. If a tablet could handle electronic medical records software that would be great for my wife. Currently most (all?) of the EMR software runs on Windows. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    This isn't possible? I'm pretty sure there's a tablet out there for you. Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    There's such tablet-pcs from all major vendors. Like Fujitsu, HP, Dell, Lenovo etc. Also specialized vendors. They normally has dual digitizer now. Which means they work both with finger input and stylus. Stop looking at the MIDs if you want a tablet. Theres no problem converting your notes to word documents. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Tablet PCs like this have been available for 8~ years. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    looks to me that you never both to google it. tablet that can take note existed as early as year 2000. they probably wasn't in your budget. Reply
  • fpga_brad - Monday, September 20, 2010 - link

    There are plenty of expensive convertibles out there but not many true tablets/slates. By the time you add a keyboard etc it just becomes too clunky. Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - link

    Well of course we need the Broadcom Crystal HD, I don't get why manufactures skimp on that detail. It costs maybe 25 USD extra. But you can only get it on some, and it's virtually not available in retail. We have been able to do 720p with CoreAVC on atom for a while. But it's not enough.

    It's a really bad decision that the netbook makers make, also 1GB limit for W7 Starter means that they need a 100-120 USD license for the 2GB systems and just a CULV Core 2 based laptop/netbook would be so much better even if they use GL40 chipset only. It all means that netbooks come up to 600 USD in costs if configured to be useful. Not that HP/DELL/ACER etc can help that Microsoft charges a premium that corresponds to 20% of the product value.

    But flash kinda means you need a Core i3/5 laptop any way. And you can get one of those for 600 too.
    Reply
  • acsa - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    May I ask you, Vivek, was there no PixelQi device presented? Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Could you please get a better camera and/or improve your photo skills? :( Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    They aren't exactly in studio conditions here, it is probably rather dark (by photographic standards) and they can't exactly bring a multi-flash setup and their own backgrounds. Reply
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  • cjb110 - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    "I don’t think that Pine Trail is the right platform for tablets - Windows is too heavy and cumbersome as is to offer a good user experience".
    So its not Pine Trail that's the problem its the OS...do you think the current Windows will succed on tablets?

    Personally I think its 'not a hope in hell', its just not built for mouse & keyboardless operation. Even if they tried a full reskin (ala media centre), it would need to be so complete and so much bloat on an already bloaty base, it would kill any platform.

    Although most people wished the iPad was going to run OSX, Apple were right to scale iOS up instead. They can add more 'desktop'y features easier than removing unneeded stuff.

    I doubt even Win 8 will work, despite the obvious attention tablets will get...mainly because MS won't (can't?) take the step to split the OS up, so that they can have a light windows core + finger GUI, and a full core + traditional win GUI for the desktops.
    Reply
  • TETRONG - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    Could you please do an article explaining video to us?

    There must be something we're missing. How is it that a dual-core processor with over a 1Ghz each core frequency cannot play back a video file in the year 2010?
    This is ludicrous!

    When I play a sound file on my computer it requires almost no CPU. The file is already rendered. It doesn't matter how much processing power was used to create the sound file, once it's "rendered" the file is playable by even the lowliest devices.
    Why should it be any different for video?

    If I pull out a Sega CD system and watch the FMV intro consisting of rendered CGI graphics the system does not have to sit there and "compute" the footage, it simply plays it back.

    How much computing power does a DVD player have?

    Again, what is going on here?
    Why are so many computing resources being marshalled for simple video playback?

    This is artificial handicapping and Intel needs to be called out on it.
    Reply
  • justaviking - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    I don't consider myself an expert on the details, but I can share a couple items with you.

    FIRST - Most video today is in a compressed format. Or more correctly, today's HiDef video is in a more highly compressed format than before. That means it takes a lot of compute power to decompress it and display it on the screen.

    Most new video camcorders now record in AVCHD. A lot of people buy a modestly priced camera, and then later find out it is almost impossible to edit their video. You need a high-end computer to directly edit AVCHD footage. Or you have to convert it to a more CPU-friendly (but larger file) format.

    SECOND - Flash video is not a pre-rendered video like a movie is. It often is more like a program that moves elements across the display area, so that takes a lot of CPU power, especially when you have multiple browsers open and each page is playing 3 or 4 flash videos. (I'm less confident in my description of Flash video. I'd be happy to be corrected if my layman's description is off the mark.)
    Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Most Flash video is h.264 in a flash container. Flash programs can do what you are describing.
    All video these days is compressed and yep you are correct they take some power to decompress. However a good GPU can often do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to video.
    Just look an an Atom/ION system vs a plain Atom
    Reply
  • nexox - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    """There must be something we're missing. How is it that a dual-core processor with over a 1Ghz each core frequency cannot play back a video file in the year 2010?
    This is ludicrous!"""

    Video decoding is mostly single threaded, so dual-core won't help much. H.264 uses cpu-intensive compression techniques to get high-quality video into minimal storage space. When H.264 1080p movies first started becoming available, my dual 2.2GHz system couldn't even begin to play them back without GPU decoding acceleration (which wasn't available at the time for H.264.) So a dual 1.6GHz should be expected to be unable to play the same files. Unless you have some acceleration in the form of that Broadcom card, or a GPU.

    """When I play a sound file on my computer it requires almost no CPU. The file is already rendered. It doesn't matter how much processing power was used to create the sound file, once it's "rendered" the file is playable by even the lowliest devices.
    Why should it be any different for video?"""

    Audio isn't rendered. You're comparing MP3 (probably) compression to H.264 compression, which are entirely unrelated to each other. You might as well state that since your computer can read a PDF file it should also be able to simulate a nuclear explosion, like super computers do.

    """"If I pull out a Sega CD system and watch the FMV intro consisting of rendered CGI graphics the system does not have to sit there and "compute" the footage, it simply plays it back."""

    Rendering is irrelevant. Once a video is a series of pictures, whether from a camera or CGI, it must be converted to a file. Storing individual pictures for each frame of video requires unreasonable amounts of space, so other compression methods are used. Compression is like complex math, and it takes CPUs a long time to work through all the math for each frame. Your Sega CD system was decoding extremely low quality, poorly compressed video, so it didn't require very much CPU to decode and display. Again, 1080p (with something like 10x as many pixels as SD TV) in a much more complex encoding (H.264 in most cases) requires a vast amount of CPU to decode in comparison.

    """How much computing power does a DVD player have?"""

    They have processors specifically designed for decoding MPEG2, which is a very light-weight codec compared to H.264 / MPEG4, which is what is used in BluRay and other HD videos. BluRay players can decode the video fine as well, since they have single-purpose decoding chips, not multi-purpose CPUs.

    """Again, what is going on here?
    Why are so many computing resources being marshalled for simple video playback?

    This is artificial handicapping and Intel needs to be called out on it."""

    Ah, so it's a conspiracy that nobody but you notices. Good thing you let us all onto it then. Maybe learn what you're talking about before making accusations?
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    great post. could not said any better.

    most of the end users are just spoiled and think technology is as easy as 1+1. in fact, decoding even the MP3 is not simple task. once you look into the algorithm you will know it is very difficult, look this way, Pentium mmx that runs at 223000000 Hz having difficulty decoding the MP3 files, yet it is powerful enough to bring space craft back to earth.

    i sometime fear the advance of the technology in recent years completely put normal folks in the dust. so much so that no one knows what the heck is going on in that box outside of very few elites who did the developments. many things in a chip, like the EM filed in the silicon, are black magic to pretty much everyone.
    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    CPUs aren't fast enough to decompress and decode H.264 bitstream if they aren't really high-end, thats nothing new. It's a 150MiB/s stream compressed to 5-40Mbits with a heavy algorithm, nothing strange, lots of stuff needs hardware acceleration. DVD-player have dedicated hardware just as modern graphic cards does. They don't do it in software. Sega-CD had fast enough hardware for FMV. With the help of the graphics processor. Also theres quite a difference between 256x224 with 64 colors and a bitrate of 150kB/s max and 1080p at 5-40Mbits highly compressed, 8 bit (24bit) color 16.7 million colors, and consoles like Playstation had M-JPEG acceleration. Just the buses are even busy with the video in modern day computers, as flash player does it the cpu need to read the decoded stream that's 150MB/s over the bus back to the GPU both directions basically, which is why Atom and ION doesn't work with Flash player video acceleration properly. Audio isn't 150MB/s to begin with. PCM audio (Audio-CD) is 1411.2kbit/s, uncompressed LPCM on BD has a limit of 27.648Mbit for 6 channels or 3.3MiB/s. And you don't sample audio any higher then 192kHz any way so it won't be any more beefier then 4.6Mbit per channel any way. A digital video recording can on the other hand be 4k resolution and 12-bit color to begin with, thats almost 1GB/s RAW. 1080p is in RGB 148MiB/s RAW. If you need to decode it in CPU and copy it to the GPU it taxes the cpu quite good. BD player can handle all the bandwidth and hardware requirements thanks to hardware. Software is always software, it's kinda like questioning why we have graphics cards and don't use software rendering. If you don't have the hardware to do the necessary calculations efficiently in doesn't matter if you have GFLOPs.

    Without hardware overlay you couldn't draw the video on screen any way. Hardware is always the key.
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Why watch 1080p on a netbook's screen? Are any of them even capable of displaying 1920x1080 pixels? Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    So you don't have to re-encode the video? Stupid question. You can't watch the video at all if you can't decode it. Reply
  • SimKill - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    I think the real reason is that its easier for people when they go to their friends house with their netbook to just 'plug'in an HDMI cable and watch it on TV. Not everyone has a dedicated computer box connected to a telly.
    So here a netbook acts as a very high quality movie player and nothing more.
    Reply
  • pournima - Friday, October 01, 2010 - link

    This topic is extremely brilliant....Thanks for a wonderful article... I really enjoyable!!! most important medium of communication across Reply

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