14-hour batteries, gaming graphics and Windows 7

MSI X320
MSI debuted the MacBook Air-alike X320 netbook at CES

The next generation of netbooks will have a 14 hour battery life, far better graphics and be Windows 7 ready. That's according to MSI's Sales Director Andy Tung, who adds that his company will look to experiment with different screen sizes – although he believes netbooks should "keep things simple."

Battery life is a key area that Tung says will certainly improve: "We've tried to fine-tune the battery from three cell (2.5 hours), to six cell (6 hours). That causes some weight problems. By using Intel's Menlow [platform] we're getting 8.5 hours. With SSD it's even better. The flight to Taipei is 14 hours. With Intel Menlow we can achieve that."

Better graphics

Better graphics will also follow, making HD playback possible. But as for gaming, Tung isn't sure that people will take to it. "Netbook gaming is pretty interesting concept; will people play games on a 10-inch screen? However, instead of talking about netbook gaming, let's talk about [the] netbook virtual experience." Tung cited Nvidia's 9200M graphics chip (from the recent MacBook line) as being of particular interest. "There will be a better [graphics] experience [on netbooks]."

We also asked Tung about moving on from Windows XP. Will the plan be to move straight to Windows 7? "So far we haven't really got confirmation yet. Last time they did a Windows 7 demonstration [at WinHEC] they used a netbook. That gives a sign to the market that Windows 7 will be ready for netbooks. I'm not sure about the segmentation, though." Is it scalable and adaptable? "Yes definitely."

Dual-core on the way

And what else is in store for netbooks during 2009? "Intel's plan [is to move the] single core Atom to dual core – even though dual core might not happen [in the] first quarter. AMD has the Neo processor."

"In terms of direction, [the push will be] very similar: thin and light. The netbook category will be even more exciting in 2009 and 2010 because everybody is trying to fine tune the user experience. There are three ways [we can do this]. The first is an appropriate screen size, second a comfortable keyboard size, then better battery life. MSI will always go in those three directions."

"Of course we will add extra spice like a touchscreen, that's for Windows 7. All of our products will be Windows 7 ready before they're released."

Are netbooks to complex and expensive?

So how does the new X320 fit into MSI's plans? "We always try to find the best user experience. The new X line is one of our new series. In terms of product branding, we figured there are a lot of people that like thin and light. [People] are inspired by many different companies such as Apple and Samsung."

"So thin and light will be one of the directions for MSI. And 13.4-inch is just the beginning. We have other plans for bigger screens or even a bit smaller screens. We will have a full line of products."

We also asked Tung if he believes netbooks are getting too complex and expensive. "For the netbook market, personally I don't want it to be too complicated. "They should have easy design, easy features and then there's the economy, I don't want to talk about that! If we add too many features, we'll make it too complicated."


Now read Leaving XP: how we upgraded our Asus Eee netbook to Windows 7

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