Computex Report: Notebook Computers in the Living Room

by Reads (3,156)

This week is the annual Computex Taipei computer show in Taiwan.  Many notebook makers are displaying their latest products, and companies such as Asus, Acer and Elitegroup are demoing notebooks that are designed to be used in the living room as consumer electronics hi-fi products.

According to a recent poll on, people that visit this site would be very receptive to using a notebook as a media control center:

Yes, a laptop can be a mobile TV, TiVO, Game machine, music jukebox and work machine all in one!   [54%]
If a laptop had such things as an integrated TV, I”d enjoy it but it”s no big deal   [15%]
Notebooks are good for storing music and pictures, but leave TV recording and media features to TiVO   [8%]
No, laptops are for work, why would I want to watch or control a TV from my laptop.   [9%]
No, I use a laptop for gaming and entertainment but no interest in using as a media hub.   [14%]

A poll on last week shows people would use a notebook as a media control center, and the notebook manufacturers are listening!

Each of the new notebooks being shown at CompuTex in Taipei have large-screens, are slimline and styled like consumer electronics hi-fi product – all aluminium, silver paint and black plastic – while also being designed to operate as standalone music and video players.

Elitegroup’s G900, the Asus W1N and Acer’s upcoming Aspire 1800 all include a control panel for playing and pausing CDs and DVDs, skipping backward and forward between different tracks, controlling the volume and so on.  The kicker is, each notebook’s control panel can also be operated when the lid closed and without having to boot the computer up first.

The Asus’ W1N is the most living-room friendly due to the fact it has its own TV tuner, TiVo-like functionality, remote control and an LCM display on the front of the machine to provide track and TV channel information. A built-in sub-woofer provides improved and more rich sound.  The W1N has a 16:10 ratio 15.4in display powered by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 chip with 64MB of VRAM. The processor inside the W1N is an Intel Pentium M, and includes an 802.11b card for Centrino-compatibility. With its aluminium shell and low lying screen-hinge, the W1N is looks a lot like Apple’s 15in PowerBook G4.

Elitegroup’s G900 is a fully-fledged Media Center Edition PC driven by a 3GHz desktop Pentium 4 CPU. It also has a sports a TV tuner, but offers a larger, 17in, 1440 x 900 display, this time driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128MB of embedded VRAM. Sound is provided by five built-in speakers: two high-frequency and two mid-frequency cones, and a sub-woofer. It too features a separate remote control unit – in addition to the front-mounted ‘Audio DJ’ bootless music controls.

The upcoming Acer Aspire 1800, will ship in a CE-friendly slimline aluminium casing. Acer is not giving any specs on this notebook yet, but it did say the machine will feature a 17in display – not that you can’t tell from the non-working demo model – and a Pentium 4 “desktop replacement” processor.



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