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This week in laptops

Laptop news for the week of March 17.

Small fish
The field of small fries is starting to look a little crowded...

Small fries everywhere! A bunch of this week's news focused on tiny laptops of the Eee PC variety: the Intel Classmate PC will reportedly hit U.S. and European retailers; photos of a possible "netbook" surfaced on Flickr; and we saw an Eee PC competitor for the Taiwanese market (release date unknown). Meanwhile, the tiny tablet-smartphone hybrid, the HTC Shift, became available for pre-order on Amazon; we have one in hand and posted a full review today.

Phew! There's no indication of a slowdown, either, if reports of ultra-low-priced Intel Atom CPUs for netbooks are accurate. Bring on the smallies!

In other news, Dell was all over the product rumors, with reports that the follow-up to the Latitude XT tablet is on its way, plus more leaked details on its rumored business-focused Latitude E Series. In actual product news, Asus announced a 15-inch multimedia laptop, while apparently a 13.3-inch HP Pavilion dv3000 will hit Asia in May.

The continuous forward march of solid-state drives hit a speed bump this week, with an analyst making headlines by declaring that many flash-based drives are being returned for poor performance and outright failure. Dell, the company implicated in the analyst's report, quickly denied that it was seeing high failure rates. Toshiba, unphased, announced a notebook with a 128GB solid-state drive for the Japanese market.

We were feeling nostalgic at Crave this week; how else to explain our two backward-looking posts? First, Brooke Crothers takes a look at super-slender laptops (aka MacBook Air rivals) past and present. And Emily Shurr takes us on a photographic tour of the earliest portable computers. Enjoy!

Finally, our own Matt Elliott rounds up some of our favorite 17-inch laptops; be sure to let us know your favorites in comments on his post.

Have a great weekend!