The new Intel 'Pine Trail' Atom N450 platform has only just been announced and it hasn't taken manufacturers long to proclaim their own netbook refreshes.
Jumping on the N450 are Dell, Asus and MSI who have kindly indicated it would therefore be daft to buy any of their current models before Intel launches the next gen chip in January. So, in no particular order, the netbooks to avoid are:
From Dell, the Mini 10 hops on the N450 with a D410 processor (as do all the models here), but keeps the same mind numbing 1GB RAM and choice of 160GB or 250GB HDDs. Somehow 802.11n still isn't standard, nor is the more appealing 1366 x 768 display option, though Dell claims you will now get up to a whopping 9.5 hours from the Mini 10 between charges. It will ship in January from a reduced $299 with Windows Starter 7.
Next up, Asus is updating its Eee PC Seashell line with the '1001P', '1005P' and '1005PE' all getting some N450 luuuv. Asus says the new platform when combined with its Super Hybrid Engine (which can dynamically underclock the processor *reels away in terror considering how that must feel on an Atom*) will manage a potential 14 hours of runtime. That said, expect real world tests to bring down that monumonstrogantic figure considerably.
Lastly, MSI has firmed up its previously leaked U130 and 'U135' (pictured) Pinetrail netbooks which also do little to excite with the otherwise bog standard 10in 1024 x 600 displays, 160/250GB HDDs plus Bluetooth and a 1.3MP webcam. There is at least wireless n as standard and the option of WiMAX connectivity is interesting, if largely pointless in the UK.
As for the main difference between the two, the U135 adds an isolation keyboard, 20 per cent larger touchpad and more colour options (silver, black, blue and red verses white and black on the U130). Unhelpfully, no actually battery life stats were quoted, but they will benefit from a "15%" boost which means little without context. We do learn that prices are fairly cheap though at £229 and £279 respectively.
Expect other manufacturers to jump on Intels' announcement with similar N450 upgrades, but you won't find me writing them up as this lot have made me nearly catatonic. Rule of thumb: don't buy a netbook before Christmas (ideally don't buy a netbook, full stop. Go CULV), and come mid/late January they will all be sporting Pine Trail. Now if you'll excuse me, I must find somewhere comfortable to lay my head before I... *Zzzzzz*