Intel's new Pine Trail processors have finally launched, and it's about flippin' time. A chunk of all netbooks released in the past year or so have run on Intel's 1.6 GHz Diamondville Atom N270 or N280 processors, which is a nice configuration for a portable mini-computer. Battery life is decent, performance is OK, though it's no jaw-dropper. It's aging fast, especially in light of competition from graphically superior NVIDIA Ion chips, so Intel hit us with an upgrade--sort of.
The new 1.66 GHz processors integrate the memory controller and GMA 3150 graphics, which reduces the size and improves efficiency. Early reviews of new Pine Trail computers like the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE indicate that the battery life is notably longer (20 percent), but the performance is largely the same. It "felt slightly snappier than netbooks with Atom N270 or N280 chips, but not by much," Joanna Stern of Engadget said. It's capable of comfortably running several small-footprint programs at once (a browser, messaging clients, music libraries, for example), but any kind of heavy media editing is best left to a more powerful machine.
Long story short: Pine Trail netbooks are slightly improved versions of older Atom-based netbooks. This falls short of the true overhaul that enthusiasts had hoped for, so we'll all have to keep our fingers crossed for something better to roll along, but still a decent option as long as the price is right.