Fessing up to faulty GPUs: The week in laptops

Dell and HP admit to receiving faulty Nvidia chips, netbooks solider on, and the U.S. government wants to search notebooks that cross borders. It's the week in laptops!

Tech Culture
Nvidia, Dell, HP, step inside...

Hey, remember when Nvidia issued that business update saying it was expecting to lose money repairing or replacing flawed graphics cards, but then declined to state which cards were affected and which manufacturers bought them?

Well, this week, both Dell and HP finally came out with a list of laptops that included the defective cards. Check your laptops, people, or you too may be treated to "multiple images, random characters on the screen, lines on the screen, no video" or even a "notebook (that) does not start."

Moving on, analyst group Gartner says the $100 laptop is a pipe dream, but the $200-$500 laptop is going strong. This week saw Intel's Classmate PC primed for a third-generation release; the MSI Wind started shipping with a 6-cell battery (though that bumps the price to $550); and Asus reportedly prepared an Eee PC 701 powered by Intel Atom chips.

That last item is apparently part of Asus' plan to cook up a total of 23 varieties of Eee PC over the coming months (or years, the timeline isn't clear). It's enough to make me wonder if Asus will continue to manufacture any non-Eee PC computers in the next few years. Or will we soon be receiving a press release announcing that Asus is changing the company name to Eee?

Meanwhile, memory maker Buffalo gets our carpe diem award for recognizing the market opportunity in DIY solid-state drives for the Eee PC. First runner-up is Samsung, which finally recognized business users as a prime market for the UMPC and added a few enterprise features to its Q1 Ultra.

In Reviews this week, the march of the back-to-school laptops continues, this time with mainstream 14- and 15-inch models. Reviews include the snazzily designed HP Pavilion dv6985se, the solid Sony Vaio CR510, the mostly average Sony Vaio CR498, and the slightly disappointing Toshiba Satellite U405D-S2852.

Also worth reading: Sony will release the first Centrino 2 laptop with switchable graphics later this summer; PC Magazine released the results of its annual survey of tech support (jump right to the analysis of notebook vendors here); and we posted some side-by-side photos of the ThinkPad X200 with the ThinkPads X61s and X300.

And finally, alarmingly, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reserved the right to seize laptops taken across the border. If your computer is an international traveler, consult our guide to customs-proofing your laptop.

Have a great weekend!

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