You and I may see the laptop market as completely oversaturated, but chipmaker AMD sees only opportunities and underserved markets. Hence the new Athlon Neo, which AMD calls a "platform for ultrathin notebooks."
The company sees Netbooks as occupying the space between 7- and 11-inch displays with prices under $499, while traditional ultraportrable laptops run from 11 to 13 inches and cost $1,499 or more. Somewhere in there, AMD reckons, there's room for systems with slightly bigger screens than Netbooks, and that cost slightly more.
The 1.6GHz Neo handles multiple apps better than the Intel Atom, and comes paired with either ATI Radeon X1250 graphics, or ATI Radeon HD3410 graphics. The higher-end graphics option runs the Windows Vista Aero interface smoothly, can handle some basic 3D gaming, and can play back full 1080p video--something that would bring the average Atom-powered Netbook to its knees.
The new Athlon Neo platform is turning up first in HP's Pavilion dv2, a 12-inch laptop that manages to be not only thin and light, but also inexpensive, starting at well under $1,000.
AMD still has to convince the public that it needs a midpoint between low-price Netbooks and mainstream laptops. With decent Netbook configs dropping to $399 or less, and only HP releasing Athlon Neo systems at first, it may be an uphill battle.