PC makers introduce netbooks with new Atom processor

The netbooks are smaller and offer longer battery lives

PC makers including Dell and Fujitsu have introduced netbooks based on Intel's latest Atom processor that are smaller and offer battery lives in excess of seven hours, the companies said on Monday.

Fujitsu announced the LifeBook MH380 and Dell redesigned its Mini 10, both of which tap into the smaller design of Intel's latest Atom N450 netbook processor, which was also introduced earlier on Monday. The single-core Atom N450 chip is 60 percent smaller than its predecessors, and consumes close to 20 percent less power, Intel officials said.

Netbooks are low-cost laptops characterized by small screens and keyboards. The devices are designed to surf the Web and to run basic applications like word productivity programs or spreadsheets. Today, most PC makers offer netbooks as part of their product lineups.

The updated Mini 10 supports high-definition video. The laptop, which starts at US$299, will include a 10.1-inch display and offer nine and half hours of battery life.

Though the N450 processor supports 720p HD graphics natively, Dell will soon offer an optional HD panel and Broadcom Crystal HD media accelerator for users to see full high-definition 1080p video. The company will also bundle an optional HD tuner for over-the-air TV broadcasts. The netbook will offer storage of up to 250GB of hard drive storage and wireless communication options include Wi-Fi and an optional mobile broadband module.

The netbook will weigh starting at 2.75 pounds (1.25 kilograms), and will come with a gaggle of OS options include Windows 7 Starter, Windows XP Home or Ubuntu, a flavor of Linux. The laptop will start shipping worldwide by the end of January, Dell said.

Fujitsu's MH380 offers better processor and graphics performance than earlier models, the company said in a statement. The netbook, which is priced at $449, weighs 2.97 pounds and includes a 10.1-inch display. It comes standard with a six-cell battery that offers seven hours of battery life. Other technologies bundled include a webcam, b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless networking, Bluetooth support and hard-drive storage.

The MH380 will be available worldwide in January, the company said.

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