Leave it to that computer innovation center Columbia (the country, not the university) to come up with a way to turbo charge the lowly netbook into near-laptop performance. Haleron in Columbia spent six months engineering a netbook with two Intel Atom processors to rev up the performance. The lower netbook pricing enables income-limited South Americans to use a netbook in place of a more expensive laptop for general computer needs.
Haleron claims the Swordfish N102 nears the performance of regular laptops. Part of the reason may be the 2GBs of RAM installed, compared to most netbooks with a single gigabyte. Haleron uses Windows XP Home, the typical choice, because they say it shares the workload between the two processors better than either Vista or Windows 7. However, since price is a serious issue for this market, the lower cost of XP surely doesn't hurt.
Dual processors do take a toll of battery life, draining the standard 3-cell battery in about 2.5 hours of normal use. Haleron suggests buying the $29 upgrade for the 6-cell battery to run over four hours.
Yes, Haleron sells to the US. Retail price is $449, which is high for netbooks but not out of the ballpark, especially with the 2GBs of RAM. That price does not include the 6-cell battery, but does include mobile broadband 3G support and a 160GB hard disk.\
This excellent engineering by Haleron accomplishes a good part of what I felt would happen: new chips would boost netbook performance considerably. A netbook today works like a laptop of a half-dozen years ago. A dual-processor netbook should work like a laptop of a year or two ago. Next step? Full performance equality, based on hard disk speed and amount of RAM. Netbooks still get slower hard drives (5400 RPM rather than 7200 RPM in higher end laptops).
Here's a thought: amplify the Haleron dual processor speed boost with a SSD (Solid State Drive) rather than a traditional hard disk. SSDs run about 50 times faster than hard disks used in standard netbooks. That combination would fit the term “pocket rocket” better than any laptop or other netbook available today.