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  • MeSh1 - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    " Intel has essentially left the Atom core the same since the launch in mid-2008" This is what happens when there is no competition. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    True, there aren't other netbooks without atom, but there are other CPUs to compete. Unfortunately they all suck. All of the "competitors" use more power, save for ARM processors. Not sure if they'll ever use ARM processors in netbooks though. Tablets and smartphones seem to promising for them. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    No x86 license means no ARM netbooks. Qualcomm was trying to get the whole "smartbook" deal off the ground, basically just thinner netbooks running Snapdragon and either Linux, Chrome OS, or Android. They all sucked big time, then the entire segment got basically axed for tablets. Toshiba released this Tegra 2/Android smartbook, but it hit the market and basically disappeared, so that says enough about the segment.

    We'll see, I'm interested to see if AMD's impending release of Ontario can change anything, but the Ontario cores are clocked at a pitiful 1.0GHz (for the dual core, 1.2GHz for the single) so it might not beat Atom by too much. For single core apps, I'm thinking maybe a 20% boost in performance - whether this will be faster than Atom by enough to be usable is the question. But seriously, I would like for something (anything) to kick the Atom team into action. They basically created the netbook market with the release of Atom, but after that they've done nothing other than moving the graphics onto the CPU package. Every time I get a netbook, it's like "oh boy, Atom....again....greaaaaat" I want some interesting netbooks lol.
  • Eug - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Non-Atom netbooks already exist in 2010. The Acer listed in the review is arguably in this netbook/hybrid class, at 11.6" inches with a street price LESS than the Asus Atom/ION machine, but sporting a CPU that runs circles around Atom and which also has an integrated GPU (Intel 4500MHD) with full 1080p H.264 decode capability like NVIDIA ION provides.

    Hopefully 2011 will see more of these decently powered netbooks, whether it'd be with CULV Core 2 Duo class chips, or from Zacate, beginning in the sub US$400 price segment.

    Actually, just as important as the CPU is the keyboard. Using 10" keyboards is utterly painful. Just one and a half inches more and you get a full-sized keyboard. It makes all the difference in the world, not for productivity apps, but for basic netbook-style internet consumption as well. It's much more pleasant typing an AnandTech comment on a full-sized keyboard. For this reason, any 10" model IMO isn't even in the running compared to the Asus 1215N, regardless of performance.
  • Terodius - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    you do realize Sony has a 13.3 inch vaio with core i7, nvidia discrete graphics and a full HD screen? I mean seriously... netbook on steroids? I consider 12 inches more of a ultraportable. with another extra inch you get the experience of a desktop replacement. Reply
  • monomer - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Did you seriously just compare a $500 netbook to an $1800 laptop?

    Well played.
  • jigglywiggly - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    What? Reply
  • erwos - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I ordered a 1215N, but promptly returned it unopened after finding out online about the number of people who are breaking the flimsy power pin in the course of normal use. This is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed in the review. Reply
  • Scott_G - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Why wouldn't you just give it a try on your own, you can't always believe what people say on the Internet about defects. If you did believe everything then you wouldn't own anything tech related. Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Until I saw this review, I didn't knew the D525 doesn't even have speedstep...What was Intel thinking? Isn't the whole point of Atom is to SAVE as much power as possible even if this was meant for nettops?

    Back to the 1215n...ION 2 with Atom is just going to handle Flash and HD videos and... that's it, anybody who's buying a 1215n for gaming really, really needs a reality check. If current-gen Atoms actually came with an IGP that accelerates both I don't think anyone would even bother with ION...
  • sprockkets - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Been like that since day one, but why is it an issue when you take around 10-15 watts anyhow?

    Heck, my 2.5ghz dual core pentium only takes 3 watts less at idle when clocked down. That's why I didn't care when I went from the 65nm 2.2ghz to the 45nm 2.5 since for whatever reason Linux couldn't scale the new version down.
  • Geraldo8022 - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I have an Asus with the ten inch screen and single core. I find I can tolerate most everything about it except the small screen size.. The concept of the tablets eludes me. I do like the battery life. I am wondering if Ontario, or even Atom for that matter, will be available in 15 inch laptop. Reply
  • ajp_anton - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I'm still confused about your x264 battery life test. Do you mean x264, as in the program that *encodes* h264 videos, or just general h264 playback?
    You also mention x264 in the text, "[...] with slightly worse x264 battery life [...]". Is this when encoding (actually using x264), or h264 playback (which has nothing to do with x264)?
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    This is playing back an x264 encoded 720p video file, which is a very common use for laptops on planes (i.e. watching movies). Encoding battery life would be far worse I think, since that would effectively max out the CPU. Reply
  • ajp_anton - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    But the test itself has nothing to do with x264. An x264 encoded file is like any other h264 file, nobody cares where it came from.
    A much more relevant thing would be what you're using to decode the file (and if DXVA was used), because that's what's using the battery.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    We've stated this in the past: we use Media Player Classic Home Cinema 64-bit, with DXVA enabled. It's a ~7Mbps file as well, if that's important (though in my testing to date I haven't seen much difference between this file and a higher 15Mbps bitrate 1080p file, provided you have DXVA decode available).

    Anyway, we're playing an x264 encoded file, so it has everything to do with x264. It is also representative of general H.264 playback, though some H.264 content isn't quite so friendly. As an example, some of the QuickTime H.264 stuff behaves quite a bit differently.

    A 9.4Mbps QuickTime H.264 file uses 21.5% average (12.1 to 34%) in QuickTime. Played back in MPC-HC with DXVA, the same file uses nearly 8.4% (5.1 to 18.0%) but looks like absolute crap. VLC uses 13.5% (7.0 to 25.4%) but at least looks as good as playing it with QuickTime. The main point being that the file type does matter, though you are correct that the playback software is equally important.
  • ajp_anton - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    Yes I remember you mentioning MPC-HC before, I'm just pointing out that it's not in the actual test.

    And saying that x264 has "everything" or anything to do with the playback test is the same as saying it's important to know if the 600MB file you're testing HDD performance with is an .avi or a .mkv.
    If it weren't for the encoder info that x264 puts in the file header, there'd be no way of telling what it's been encoded with.

    Sure the file format may make a difference - different containers may need different amounts of CPU power (mov, mkv, m2ts...). However, this has nothing to do with the h264 stream inside, or x264. You can make a quicktime file out of an x264 encoded video, and you can make a mkv out of a quicktime video.
    Here I actually don't know what it is you're playing back in the test... avi? mkv? mp4?
  • stancilmor - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    aside from a using a dell ultra-sharp quality LCD/LED panel why can't manufacturers just do away with the track-pad, push the keyboard forward,and include a wireless logitech mouse. Reply
  • justaviking - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    If you accept that a fundamental premise of a laptop/netbook is portability, the less you have to carry around, the better.

    I like the option of not having to pick up a mouse and juggle it along with my other stuff (coffee cup, a paper notepad (gasp!), donut, power cords, whatever) when I move from one room to another.

    I know some people like the little joystick nubbin thing, but I've always detested them. The first laptop I used, and old Compaq, predated the trackpads and the joystick thing was very difficult to use. It had two speeds; really slow, and zoom across the screen, not much in between.

    So while i do prefer a mouse, especially for longer use, and I love mice with the nano receiver that I can leave plugged in all the time, for me the lack of a touchpad for mousing would be a deal breaker.
  • kmmatney - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    I have to say that I'm almost as productive with the track pad as I am with a mouse. I just have to turn off the double-click feature - that drives me nuts. Overall, trackpads are a very good built-in solution - I just wish mine was larger, like the track pads on Apple's laptops. Reply
  • slagar - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    On a netbook? Ew, no. Trackpads are fine for light computing use, carrying around a mouse (and having a decent surface to use it on) is not. Reply
  • stancilmor - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    well perhaps just provide a way to disable the track pad, I have clumsy hands that are always hitting the track pad and messing up my typing...usually have to tape over the track pad and use a mouse. Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Virtually all trackpads can be disabled in software (typically Synaptics drivers) ...most laptops even have a Fn keyboard shortcut to do that. Try looking for that or use control panel and go to mouse settings. Reply
  • Nataku - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    actually, I think if they embed the mouse into the laptop like how some mouse embed the receiver into the mouse as an option from the trackpad, i might actually jump on it ;-) Reply
  • b.kenobi - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    maybe not such a bad idea to remove the trackpad... how about using a smartphone as your trackpad... Reply
  • Xipto - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    "all in a tasty aluminum wrapper"

    Funny thing, I've just hold one and there's no trace of aluminium in the chassis. Like most Asus laptops now available, it's plastic painted as brushed aluminium. Only a few feature some aluminium screen cover or palm rests but I didn't found one where it was applied all around.
  • slagar - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    "The webcam has the same gimmicky manual shutter over it that the U33Jc has. In my opinion, that’s just one more part to break, but if someone sees value in it, so be it."

    Why do they feel the need to include this? So people can stop spying on themselves?
    Perhaps it's to evade potential lawsuits: 'oops I left a video-conference open while I got undressed - I better sue my laptop manufacturer for not including a safety shutter!!'. Honestly, it baffles me.
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    We live in an era where school administrators use laptop webcams to secretly spy on their own students ( governments will go to any length to spy on their own citizens, including photographing them naked, and hackers control networks of millions of zombie computers because the incredible complexity of modern technology is far beyond the comprehension of the average citizen.

    A simple webcam shutter is not only a sensible countermeasure, it should be mandatory on all computers.
  • Evil_Sheep - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    The lesson of the 1215N is that while there's lots of choice in this market (10-12" budget ultraportables), nobody offers a product without at least one significant drawback. Though the 1215 is a flawed product, there is no clearly superior alternative.

    The conclusion mentions a few possibilities but look at them: if you go with a 10" netbook, you have to live with their cramped 600p screens and keyboards and crippled Win7 Starter. If you go with EOL CULV, typically an Acer Timeline 1400 or 1800, you have to live with Acer's awful keyboards, LCD's, and bottom of the barrel plastic. And if you go with AMD, you get poor to awful battery life and still anemic performance. It's a no-win situation.

    Only the Macbook Air 11 comes close to perfection...but at $1000 you're blowing the budget and of course you have to take OSX.
  • mutter - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    Agreed with Evil_Sheep aside from the Macbook Air being nearly perfect... more so than even most apple products the air is an expensive toy.

    Since 2003 I have prefered laptops under 4 pounds with 12-14" screens. My selections were from the Dell XPS series, Satellites and even some offerings by the shitty company Averatec... my latest is a 1201n and it has been my most loved. I hope a better alternative to the Atom can be used to push variety and usefulness of machines in this size and capacity.
  • 86waterpumper - Thursday, November 25, 2010 - link

    I have had a lenovo ideapad s12 for awhile now. I agree with what most are saying. I love the size of this netbook and it has worked out well. I think 12 inch is the perfect compromise in size.
    I knew when I bought it that the atom cpu would be the achilles heel of the system but at a 400 dollar pricepoint I saw nothing to compete with it.
    I like the fact that mine has the more usable 1280 x 800 screen resolution. I have used some of the 10 inch netbooks and they are pretty well worthless for web surfing and the keyboards suck bad if you are able to type at a decent speed.
    I also do NOT want a 16:9 screen. This machine does have regular windows 7 and 2 gigs of ram, in fact it is very similar to the tested asus here except obviously for the dual core. It has been used alot lately for watching dvd rips on trips for the kids, and to play games such as plants vs zombies and of course email and internet surfing. I do wait for the cpu here and there, I found that the main place it really lagged was trying to stream hulu in 480 or 720p over the hdmi. However it will do this smoothly when it is run at 1.8ghz via oc software :P
    One thing I am really jealous of is the ability to turn off the ion graphics this is the only thing killing my battery time. Eventually I will hand this down to the kids but I am hopeful that in the next couple of years we will get some real solutions for a better netbook type cpu that still gets a good battery life. A decent 2ghz dual core would rock whether it be from amd or intel either one.
  • svojoe - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    I feel like this article should have mentioned something really important. Unless I am very mistaken Intel removed Nvidia's ability to access the ATOM directly when it released pinetrail. Forcing Nvidia to access ATOM via the pci bus. Basically killing ION. NG ION only brings one real advantage and thats the ability to switch between pinetrail and the ION chip. But while its a modest power saving feature. The real benefit of the ION is gaming and decoding and that can't really get a whole lot better. Regardless of cores or clocks because the bandwidth has been castrated.

    I feel like if this is true at least some bone should be thrown to Nvidia for playing against a stacked deck. If it wasn't for Intel trying to protect there vision of our ATOM based future its entirely possibly NG ION could have been really worth while.

    Yeah its better, yeah dual core atom is a little faster. But I don't think this is compelling enough better to jump from my HP Mini 311, almost two years and no real advancement in the 12" and under portable gaming market.

    Well I guess I made a future proof choice being a early adopter of the ION platform. But its so frustrating to see so much potential.
  • lowlymarine - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    With the U30Jc being readily available for $750 these days ( I'd find it difficult to recommended a $500 12" netbook to anyone. For $250 (and the loss of internal Bluetooth, I suppose) you move from an Atom to a Core i3, NG-ION to a 310M (though the only real differences there are clocks and 1x vs 16x PCI-E, those add up to a fairly major performance delta), 2GB of DDR2 to 4GB of DDR3, a 250GB hard drive to a 500GB one, gain an internal DVD+/-RW drive, not to mention get markedly better battery life, which from a portability standpoint should outweigh the minor difference in weight to most people.

    While it's true that $250 isn't exactly pocket change, I'd argue that over the life of the machine it'd be a small price to pay to avoid the unpleasant experience that is Windows on an Atom. I've been there, and I'm in no hurry to go back.
  • svojoe - Saturday, November 27, 2010 - link

    $750 is too much, thats just it. If I was going to spend $750 I'd get a 'real' portable gaming laptop and skip ATOM or even CULV altogether.

    The appeal of these gaming netbooks is bizzare but strong, Sure, it sucks at games. but IT DOES game (even if it sucks) You should see it, I play CIV 4 with friends, they have dual-core machines that superPI in 35 seconds. (my atom takes over 2 minutes) but my CIV 4 game is buttery smooth, scrolling/zooming etc etc. They are watching a slide show with the Nvida 7400's,amd 4225's and the Intel HD's on much faster computers. And my netbook is small, I have a 11.6" 1366x768 screen that is more crisp and looks sharp as hell since its so small compared to there 15.6" screens. If we figured out a price for dollars vs FPS in the $500 or less market I bet this comes out on top barring any black friday deals. You go near $400 and forget about it. ATOM+ION gives you something nothing else can compete with. Tiny and almost-real modern gaming, with good last gen gaming.

    It tears up old games, Battery lasts 3.5 hours hardcore gaming, 4 hours light gaming and 5 hours dim screen browsing. Thats killer for almost anything with real discrete graphics.

    I can expound about ION for a long time, but I think the biggest difference is that I k now its weaknesses and I have atoned for that. I feel like almost every reviewer and almost everyone that comments on this stuff really misses the point. ITS CHEAP! and Tiny! Decent battery! games! aaaahhhh!

    Sorry just freaking out a bit. I agree with you 100% that a couple hundred bucks gets you into a whole new world, but this thing will be at $425 retail very soon, (who sells at list price?) and to kick it up to 700$ to get albeit a lot more performance is the equivalent of getting a 27,500$ car instead of a $18,500 car to get a 6cyl with automatic windows and locks and a higher trim package. Some people go for it, Others just need to get there even if it isn't pretty.

    I want more products and competition in this market. I want bettering gaming, smaller, faster and cheap. I want it all! And as sad as it is Atom-ION is it when yo factor it all in. (size, price, gaming, battery)
  • Penti - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Do you still have problem running Adobe Flash Player on NG-ION (high-res videos)? Have it gotten any better, I do see the bandwidth limit as a big usage issue and disadvantage. Why not build on GS40 and a Core 2 based Celeron instead in these cheap lappys? At least they should handle flash more or less fine. I mean come on for this price you can even get a 11.6" system with Nehalem/Core i based ULV. And just the OS is a fifth of the price really.

    Can't these Atom models just die already? The point became meaningless when the OS got upped to more then $20 USD and the screensize got enlarged, but they still don't offer anything better then the ULV alternatives. It's actually just a pain that they do sell computers with just 1GB of ram, just because they has that as a limit for 7 Starter OEM-licenses. Upping to 2GB also means upping the OS cost by about 80 USD. Adding in a Broadcom CrystalHD accelerator and a 300 dollar netbook becomes a 450 dollar one, and then you could just get some dualcore Core 2 based thing. Which won't really have any worse battery life or anything. (Look at the comparison, they usually have worse battery life if they are atombased). Asus got much better options like outgoing UL30A/newer UL20FT or UL80Vt, or any of the Acer's with ULV.
  • frederico - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    I am an enthusiast with a powerful desktop, 3 laptops of varying ages and a netbook

    At the moment I find myself using the netbook more and more

    I can veg with it outside in the sunlight, pick it up and browse while watching the tv, use it on regular long train journeys, watch films on it at night falling asleep, etc, etc

    I couldnùt do this if the netbook had the same weight portability and battery life as a laptop

    Let me rephrase - a netbook is a thing with long battery life, portability and low weight.

    A laptop is cumbersome, heavy and has short battery life (I have 3)

    My current samsung netbook is tiny and has an 8 hour battery life - great.. BUT, like most netbooks, it cannot play HD, .mkv files, open a lot of flash, or do a spot of light gaming - something that is crucial to me (not most netbook users)

    Its a lifesaver but I need something with just a tad more cpu power, graphics power, and that won't roast the legs off me - BUT maintains the same portability and battery power (very important)

    This ASUS is about the only netbook out there with favourable reviews that fits the bill (except for the dodgy fragile power pin - check amazon reviews)

    Just wanted to clarify the above - as the reviewers and comments here seemed to be a little hazy as to its function
  • gralex - Friday, December 03, 2010 - link

    Totally agree!

    And would like to take it even further by saying "I'm tired of having a (full blown) laptop". I just don't see the point of having a laptop AND a netbook (assuming of course, one has a desktop). I actually DO need a "netbook on steroids". A lot of you are probably thinking "Yeah but then what you REALLY need then is a CULV that'll run circles around...". No, I don't. And here's why:

    I'd rather spend 500€ now and another 500 in 2 years, instead of 1000€ now and another in 4 years. It's also easy to poke fun at an Atom (I'm looking at you, The0ne) and a dinky little ION, but here's the deal. I run Seti@home and have had the 1215n for almost 2 two months now. The Atom+ION combo is 15x faster than the 2,8GHz processor on my old laptop. Not to mention my old processor is rated at 73W! Plus Seti "sees" the Atom as having 4 cores and crunches 4 workunits simultaneously... go figure. Plus the ASUS can max out the Atom, ION, download non-stop over wi-fi at full connection speed (all in the background) while playing HD video on my Plasma (flawlessly I might add) and have the battery last approx. 4hrs! So for a "desktop" processor, an extra gig of ram, a larger hard drive, a higher resolution screen, "real" Windows 7, HTPC & light gaming capability.... It's totally worth the extra 200€! Especially since your browsers are going to be (officially) GPU accelerated soon. Not to mention the fact that your media players ALREADY are...

    CONS: Vivek's comments on the screen are 100% spot-on. Also the charger-pin is somewhere between the old Nokia chargers and the new ones, in size. It really IS scary to use. Trip over the power cord and I'm pretty sure you'll be without a laptop 'till it get's repaired. Lid and palmrest are plastic of course as stated in other comments (I've got the silver one), but I was suprised at how nice it is (you'll have to see it for yourself to understand that comment). Sturdy too. But the bezel and keyboard-surround are made of a flimsy, shiny plastic that's both cheap and ugly.
  • The0ne - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    Finally a comment that is sensible and reasonable to accept from Anandtech,

    "While most people label it a netbook, I wouldn’t strictly call it so—I tend to define netbooks as anything with a 10” screen running Atom at a sub-$400 price point. The 1215N has more power, a larger screen, and a higher price tag, but it’s still running Atom so it’s not an ultraportable laptop either. CULV will eat the dual-core Atom for lunch and not even bother spitting the bones out. You don’t even need to ask about Core i3 or its ULV equivalent."

    I hope users and Anand reviewers, especially Anand himself, would abide by your stance.
  • Hrel - Thursday, December 02, 2010 - link

    ASUS N53JF-XE1

    I think it's a pretty amazing deal for 1K. BD drive, 1080p screen, a DX11 GPU that will run every game out there smoothly at 1280x720 ie 720p. USB 3.0.
  • XxCoolHandsxX - Monday, April 11, 2011 - link

    Hey Anand, what are the chances that we could get a sibe by side comparison of the 1215N and the 1215B?? A true apples to apples since the two are outfitted almost identical save for the hard drive capacity as far as I can tell!

    I need to get one of them (1215N/B) for my work truck for invoices and billing. I would love to see the results of benchmarking them! I have always been an Intel and Nvidia fan, but if the AMD E350 will beet the Atom/NG Ion in productivity apps ie: open office/quickbooks/etc.
    I am game to get it!

    Regards, Jim.

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