Earlier this week Intel announced that it has started shipping Atom N550 dual-core mobile CPUs. Of course, this is not the first dual-core Atom, but it is the first dual-core that can be used in netbooks, with Intel’s blessing.
Several players have already introduced their first dual-core netbook designs and although we have no doubt the new Atom N550 will deliver a significant performance boost, it appears that dual-core netbooks will be quite pricey.
Lenovo has starting preorders for the N550-based IdeaPad S10-3 in some select markets, but the price seems to be rather ridiculous. It features an Intel Atom N550 clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB of memory and a 10-inch 1024x600 screen. For some reason Lenovo is pricing it at AUD 559,98 in the Australian market. This amounts to over 450 US dollars, which makes it rather pointless.
Asus on the other hand hasn’t gone as bonkers as Lenovo and it's offering the stylish Eee PC 1015PEM for €349 in the European market. It also has 2GB of DDR3, so it’s somewhat better spec’d than the Lenovo.
Speaking of specs, Gigabyte’s T1005M convertible tablet beats both the Eee and IdeaPad with its hands down. It features a multitouch capacitive 10.1-inch screen in 1366x768. It also has 2GB of memory, Express Card slot, USB 3 and eSATA. However, it will sell at close to $800. We must note that Gigabyte is aiming at a niche market, so we really can’t call it overpriced.
However, it appears that regular netbooks based on Intel’s new N550 will be anything but affordable. Judging by some early listings, most will sell for more than €350, which doesn’t make them a very good deal. Oddly enough, their biggest competition comes from the same vendors and the same chipmaker, in the guise of small 11.6-inch CULV notebooks. Some are available for about €375 and at just over €400 there’s several to choose from. While they are some 10 to 20 percent pricier than N550 netbooks, they also offer bigger screens in 1366x768 and dual-core CULV processors, such as the Celeron SU2300.
All in all, dual-core Atoms are the way of the future, but at current prices they simply don’t make much sense.