Atom N450 netbooks are set to launch on January 11th

Intel holding back its Taiwanese partners

ALTHOUGH THE UNWASHED MASSES might not be aware of Intel’s upcoming refresh of its now nearly two year old Atom N270 and somewhat faster N280, those in the know have been waiting for the Atom N450 for a good few months already. However, it seems like we won’t see any netbooks powered by the new processor until early next year, as Intel has decided to make sure that none of its partners will launch products before the 10th of January 2010, according to Digitimes.

All of the usual suspects, including Asus, Acer, Lenovo and MSI are all ready to launch Atom N450 netbooks as soon as Intel gives the go ahead. Many of them had planned to launch the new devices ahead of Christmas, but Intel wouldn’t have it. This might seem like a foolish business decision by Intel, but the new Atom netbooks are unlikely to be such huge improvements over the current models that there will be massive demand from day one.

The delay is unlikely to have an affect on Christmas sales, but we’d expect a few upset punters when they discover that they could’ve got a more power frugal and potentially better performing netbook if they’d held off with their purchase for a few weeks. The good news in this case is that many of the manufacturers are already dropping their prices on the current models. You can already get the brand new Asus Eee PC 1001HA in Taiwan for as little as $310, albeit with a puny 3-cell battery.

Asus Eee PC 1001HA

The original MSI Wind U100 is going for the same price, but with a larger 6-cell battery, and you can also get the Acer Aspire One with a 3-cell battery for the same money and the BenQ Joybook Lite U101 for slightly less. Even the “high-end” models such as the Eee PC 1008HA are starting to drop in price. The Eee PC 1008HA is still rather expensive at $480, but that’s over $100 cheaper than it was only two months ago. However, if you want Windows 7 Starter edition rather than Windows XP Home on your netbook, you do in general have to pay a price premium of about $30.

Intel is also set to launch a second Atom N-series CPU which at the moment is known as the N470 and is expected to be launched in March next year. Both of the new N-series Atom processors will feature a new on-die graphics core, but little is known about how well it will perform compared to the current GMA950 and GMA500 found in Intel’s 945GSM and US15W chipsets. The Atom N450 will have the same 1.66GHz clock speed as the current Atom N280, while the N470 will be slightly faster at 1.83GHz.S|A

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