Samsung the Only Netbook Maker at CTIA

UPDATED: Recessionary budget cuts leave big-league names such as Dell, Lenovo, MSI, Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard and even IBM out of the picture at the world's biggest wireless device show. Korea's Samsung takes advantage by showing off two fancy new netbooks.

LAS VEGAS-It was amazing to discover that most of the big-brand portable computer makers on April 1 decided to skip out on the world's largest event dedicated to wireless gadgets: CTIA Wireless 2009, here at the Convention Center.
That's correct. Recessionary budget cuts left major-league names such as Dell, Lenovo, MSI, Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard and even IBM out of the picture this year.
Well, OK, HP and IBM had some business meetings scheduled in private rooms, but that's a far cry from having a commanding pavilion or booth presence, which is not only par for the course but is expected by ticket holders to an event like this one.
"I heard that IBM had 75 percent of their show budget cut, HP had theirs cut in half, and Dell, too," a worker in the CTIA event sales office told eWEEK. "IBM just dropped out in February, I believe. It's strange not having them all here."
In their defense, all those brand-name computer makers technically aren't well-known for being cellular device makers, although all the netbooks and laptops they do produce are cellular-ready.
MSI did make an announcement April 1, releasing the full specifications of its new Wind U123 and the X320 and X340 X-Slim notebooks. The new Wind model is MSI's first to offer a 3G solution and a TV tuner, and it features Intel's new Atom 1.66GHz N280 processor.
The company also said it was showing an example of the Wind U123, but it was nowhere to be found on the main show floor during regular show hours.
Later in the evening, however, MCI turned up at a smaller event across town called Pepcom Mobile Focus, where it did show the impressive new netbooks.
In any case, that left Korean hardware giant Samsung all alone on the main show floor, and that company took full advantage of the lack of competition by sporting one of the biggest, most colorful sections of the Central Exhibit Hall.
Samsung was the only company in sight showing off new netbooks, and the two they showed looked impressive.
The N310, which was released to retail two weeks ago in the West Pacific Rim, is a smooth-edged, 10.1-inch-monitor netbook with a "pebbled" keyboard that features lifted-and-separated keys. The keyboard is 97 percent the size of a regular keyboard, making it easier to navigate for people with larger fingers.
It sports an Atom N270 processor; preinstalled Windows Home operating system; Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth support; a VGA port; three USB ports; and a 3-in-1 card reader.
The Samsung N120 netbook, which is scheduled to be released next week, has all the features of the N310 plus multimedia-style speakers-including a subwoofer. Another interesting feature is the always-live USB ports, so a user can charge up an iPod or iPhone without having to turn on the computer.
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Editor's note: This story was updated to include new information about MCI's netbooks.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...