Tuesday, 16 February 2010 19:04

Samsung's LTE netbook isn't LaTE, it's way early

Although Samsung has announced a netbook with an inbuilt LTE modem at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung's notebook and netbook announcements last week in Australia were far more significant: a netbook with built-in quad-band 3.5G (HSPA) modem module, and an admission that a Chrome OS powered netbook is in the works!

With LTE networks still at least a couple of years away for most consumers worldwide, aside from some early rollouts in the US and elsewhere in the world, the real mobile broadband deal for many of us is 3.5G HSPA.

Until now, the main problem facing netbooks with built-in 3.5G wireless broadband modems has been which one to choose - one with an 850, 1900 and 2100MHz tri-band modem, or one with a 900, 1900 and 2100MHz tri-band modem.

In Australia, at least, this has meant that a consumer had to choose carefully based on the wireless broadband they wanted to use, and where, because a SIM card from a telco that worked on an 850MHz network wouldn't work with a telco using a 900MHz network, forcing users to fall back on the 2100MHz networks that are prolific in cities but aren't as good at delivering 3.5G deep in buildings or in rural and regional areas.

So, although Kyu Uhm, the Vice President of Samsung's IT Solutions Business, launched a Samsung netbook with its own 'Kalmia LTE modem chipset' at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the vast majority of consumers worldwide simply won't care as yet, likely preferring to buy a brand new 2011 or 2012 netbook with whatever the latest LTE modem is at that time, when an LTE network has been installed and is working in their respective countries.

Yes, Samsung has spoken of the 8.5 hour battery life its LTE-equipped netbook offers, but its existing N210 netbook already offers 'up to' 12 hours of battery life, handily beating the LTE version, while the upcoming N220 netbook will offer that very cool built-in quad-band 3.5G wireless broadband module.

The quad-band 3.5G module is Samsung's own technology, and when shortly launched, will be the world's only quad-band 3.5G device, beating competitors such as Huawei, Ericsson and others and simplifying the buying decisions for consumers who aren't guaranteed to always be using the same wireless Internet provider for ever and a day.

What else did Samsung launch - and how high up in the sky did Samsung launch them? Continued on page 2 - please read on!

Samsung's Australian director of IT, Phil Newton, also confirmed that a Google Chrome OS Samsung netbook was being worked on, but that's still months away from being in the hands of consumers, although that's far sooner than most of the rest of the world will ever see both an LTE network in their neighbourhoods and far sooner than they'll see an LTE-equipped netbook in their hands.

Interestingly, Samsung hosted it's Australian new product launch on a platform, held by a crane, something like 100 metres up in the sky. It's a concept called "Dinner in the sky", which started in Belgium and is now on offer in 25 countries, with around 6 sky events held in Australia each year, thus making it a very unique launch and one that was certainly incredibly memorable.

So what else did Samsung launch and/or preview?

Well, besides competitively priced netbooks with built-in 3.5G quad-band modules, there were more notebooks and a range of peripherals.

These included some Pentium Dual Core (CULV) notebooks, which like the netbooks were all running various versions of Windows 7, there were Core i5 powered notebooks (with Core i3 and i7 models on the way), new LED screens with brilliant colour, new printers including a new colour laser multifunction printer that uses a new type of chemical toner, and a 2TB hard drive that looked like it would be priced very competitively against existing external USB hard drives.

Many of the products are coming to retail over the next few weeks, and will soon be on offer at a store near you - unlike an LTE network, or an LTE-equipped netbook computer!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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