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NVIDIA Ion: Why It May Save Netbooks

by Sean P. Aune | December 29, 2009December 29, 2009 4:55 pm PDT

When you say “netbooks” to people, several things pop into their heads (if they even know what the heck one is) like “poor graphics”, “underpowered”, “not good for anything other than surfing the Web” and so on.  What if there was a single solution that could change all of that without driving the price through the roof?

Welcome the NVIDIA Ion platform.

nvidia_logoThe NVIDIA Ion platform has been out for a good chunk of this year and is making its way into products from full-sized desktops to netbooks, notebooks, all-in-ones and so on.  The Ion pairs an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chips paired with an Intel Atom CPU in a super small form factor to provide you with superior graphics that most people didn’t think were even possible in such a small form factor.  Honestly, did any one ever imagine that a netbook would be capable of 1080p HD graphics?  Well, with the Ion, it is possible.

Even on a netbook, the NVIDIA Ion will run various flavors of Windows up through Windows 7, and seeing as must netbooks are running Ubuntu, which keeps the cost low, but people would like something more familiar in their operating systems.

So why may this save netbooks?  With a 10.1-inch screen being capable of pushing HD graphics, you are no longer talking about a small notebook, but a fully portable entertainment system.  Why bother with a portable DVD player which only does that one job when you can watch digital media on a slightly larger screen, and then go back to web surfing and word processing when you’re done watching your collection of Teletubbies videos?

Alright, fine, you aren’t sold, so how about if you could play World of Warcraft whenever and wherever you want thanks to mobile broadband?  Thanks to the Ion you can handle the graphics and computing power you need to play your favorite addiction at any time.  Why not go on a raid from the backseat of your car on the way to grandam’s house?  Who wouldn’t want to pick up something like a Lenovo S12 or HP Mini 311 for $399 each if it meant giving you that much freedom and entertainment?

In short, netbooks have gotten a bad rep for being underpowered and not good for a whole lot of anything, but when you can fit in a chipset that can power a desktop as well as a netbook for one low price, you have to wonder why more people aren’t snapping up netbooks for the convenience factor?  What could possibly make anyone interested in sticking with physical media devices like portable DVD players at this point?  And with some models being able to run programs like Microsoft Office, we really are taking a thinner, lighter and smaller way to take your work with you everywhere you go.  Why is it people are still mocking netbooks as some “also ran” option to laptops?

Personally I’m drooling for a netbook lately after a family member got one and I could finally played with it, and by golly I’ll be looking at one with Ion in it to run my system.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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