Intel’s Pine Trail platform wasn’t designed to give netbooks a huge performance boost. For most day to day tasks, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between a netbook with an Atom N450 processor and GMA 3150 graphics and one with an older Atom N270 CPU and GMA 950 graphics. But there’s one thing that Pine Trail netbooks can do that older Atom powered mini-laptops can’t: handle 1080p HD video playback.
Surprised? Well, the truth of the matter is that most Pine Trail netbooks won’t do this out of the box. But it turns out that’s a software issue rather than a hardware one. The drivers that come with Windows 7 aren’t optimized for 1080p HD video playback. So while most videos with resolutions of 720p or lower will play back fine in Windows Media Player, you’re going to need to install some software if you want to be able to watch 1080p content without first transcoding it.
I’ve already told you that the latest version of the Jolicloud Linux-based operating system brings support for 1080p video in a variety of formats including MPEG4, DivX, and Xvid. And you don’t have to wipe Windows off of your hard drive in order to install Jolicloud. The operating system makes dual-boot setups pretty easy. But if you’d rather not have to reboot your netbook to watch a video, there is apparently another way.
The folks at PC Pro discovered that you can purchase CoreCodec’s CoreAVC codec for Windows for $9.95 in order to add support for 1080p AVC or H.264 video playback to a Windows netbook with a Pine Trail processor. The CoreAVC codec won’t work with every media player, but a safe bet is the free Media Player Classic Home Cinema.
Of course, while some netbooks have 720p, 1366 x 768 pixel displays, I don’t think we’re going to be seeing any 10 inch netbooks with native 1080p screens anytime soon. But if you have a large collection of 1080p videos that you’d like to be able to watch on the go without first transcoding them to a lower resolution format, Jolicloud and/or the CoreAVC codec may be the way to go.