Asus 1201T Offers AMD Dual-Core Chip, Pushes Netbook Specs

Asus' newest netbook, the Eee PC 1201T, features a 1.6GHz AMD processor, a 12.1-inch display and an ATI Radeon graphics chipset, according to published reports. While pricing is still unclear, its specs beg the question of whether it's really a netbook.

Asus reportedly launched the Asus Eee PC 1201T at an event in China, and Netbook Italia is reporting its specs as including not an Intel Atom processor, like most netbooks, but a 1.6GHz Advanced Micro Devices "Congo" dual-core MV40 processor.

It's also said to have 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive with online storage, an ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics chipset and a 12.1-inch display with a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels.

While the 6-cell battery is said to offer only four hours of juice, the 1201T features 802.11 b/g connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1, a VGA port, an audio jack, a LAN port and three USB slots. It weighs in at 3.09 pounds. And while it offers no video out port, it's said to be capable of handling 1080-pixel streaming video, thanks to the ATI Radeon chipset.

How the 1201T manages to offer a 12.1-inch screen, with measurements listed at 11.7 by 8.2 by 1.1 inches, will remain to be seen once the netbook arrives in the United States - a date Asus has offered no details about.

Along with Atom processors and sub-$400 price points, netbooks have been distinguished by their tiny - 7-, 8- and 9-inch - displays. However, screen size has increased over the year, as netbooks grew in popularity and income-pinched Americans opted for inexpensive devices over more powerful ones.

Somewhat similarly, when in September Sony introduced its VAIO X ultraportable notebook, which features an Intel Atom processor and an 11.1-inch display, some thought it was a netbook simply skirting the title.

"I wouldn't get hung up on the term netbook," Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies told eWEEK. "Essentially it's a marketing category. In my mind, it's about a price band and a small, underpowered box. It also has a little bit of a stigma that it can't handle HD video streaming and maybe some other 3D type of stuff, and certainly gaming. But I still think that even those labels are sort of temporary."

Kay explains that while the term netbook has been helpful to manufacturers, enabling them to quickly get across the idea of an inexpensive device to consumers, there are others, such as AMD and Nvidia, who would rather avoid it.

"AMD has stepped apart from netbooks and they've been promoting the next level up, the ultra-thin," said Kay. "If you ask, they'll say they're promoting reasonably cheap computers, but not rock bottom, because they still want their users to have a good computing experience."

Kay adds that, regardless, AMD doesn't have an Atom processor, so it can't get down to an envelope as small as an Atom's. Plus, it's the OEM, in this case Asus, that gets to decide what the device is marketed as.

"Who knows," Kay said, "AMD may be slightly annoyed that something they've worked to position as an ultra-thin is being marketed as a netbook... In some sense, there are no real rules to this game. If an OEM chooses to call something a netbook, because it makes it more attractive, that's the way it's going to go."