Weekend open forum: Are netbooks here to stay?

By on October 3, 2008, 5:35 PM
After struggling to become mainstream in the late 90s, the netbook market has seen somewhat of an unforeseen revival in 2008. While most PC literates would have agreed years before that a smallish, low-cost and straightforward laptop could easily carve its place in the PC market, a number of significant constraints like manufacturing costs and watt-heavy processors made it unfeasible for the netbook to arise, until now.

Widely available products like the Sony Vaio TX/TZ and the IBM Thinkpad X series used to provide ultra-portable accommodations to those who needed them and could afford them, but then late last year PC manufacturing giant Asus took the world by surprise by announcing its inexpensive Eee subnotebook line starting at just $300. You probably know the rest of the story. Asus reportedly sold 300,000+ Eee units in 2007 and expects to sell several millions more worldwide this year. Furthermore, support from Intel was almost immediate and now the Intel Atom processor is expected to compete in this segment with the likes of VIA and AMD.

Other PC manufacturers have been jumping aboard incessantly during this year, so while the Asus Eee line has been diversified, now there are several other players in the netbook market, to name a few: the Acer Aspire One, MSI Wind PC, Dell Inspiron Mini 9, OLPC XO-1, HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, Everex CloudBook, Intel Classmate PC, LG X110, and Lenovo IdeaPad.

So, are you a netbook owner now, or do you plan to buy one later this year? Would you consider this netbook movement pure novelty that will fade away in a matter of years or is the form factor here to stay? What do you think is cool about the format and/or what is it currently lacking to make it perfect?

Discuss.




User Comments: 19

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phantasm66 said:
cheap tablets also to make a big impression IMHO[url]http://www.tabletpcreview.com/default.asp?newsID=12
3&review=HP+Pavilion+tx2500z[/url]
camuss15 said:
I'm not gonna lie, I think netbooks are pretty sweet and are extremely "cool." When I get a job and enough money, I plan to buy one asap, but I'm torn between all the different one out there so far. The form factor is definitely here to stay. I think people like to have a small, portable device that works for every day use. Just wait until higher performance systems are released with even lower energy consumption and price drops occur!
tragicallyhip said:
Acer One $379, mainstream Acer Celeron with vista home $399 I did the math and things didn't add up for me.Dispite all the hype there is no real meat on the bone,I just dont see the perceived value for the dollar here.
camuss15 said:
The size and weight plays a big role in the cost of most netbooks. My cousin has an ASUS Eee PC 8G and it was the smallest thing I have every seen Windows XP run on! I could hold it in one hand comfortably and it weighed very little. As I said, when the performance and energy consumption use improves a bit over the next few years, netbook market will explode even more rapidly than since the first EEE PC's were released.
skitzo_zac said:
I personally only own a Desktop PC at the moment. But I plan to get a 'netbook' when I have the money for one. The portability of one would be awesome.
nirkon said:
I do own a netbook..the one I won from you guys :)For me, its lacking battery life.
JudaZ said:
For me, to be honest, the Asus Eee is all hype and no preformance. Poor baterry life, wothless preformance, pointless screen. We dont even sell them in our computer store, only in the online shop if someone really wants one. Most of our customers can barely use Windows XP, and are lost when the realize that they have bought a machine with linux. We have even installed XP on a few Asus Eee that cutomers have been fooled to buy from other stores. We tell them the computer will not be useble with windows XP in it, but they insist, then they come back complaining that the computer is slow. Duh! We told you. What can you use this thing for? The resolution is to small to use the computer for just surfing, its to slow to run any office application (MS) in any good way, the batterylife suck, The storagespace is a joke, and the non expandable RAm is the same. Ifyou decide to run Windows XP on the machine anyway, just because you just cant handle linux (like most of our customers) you need an antivirus, your Eee just became a paperweight. Dont belive the hype. I have a 12" Asus my self, it cost 1300$ but it has the power to be used. The Asus Eee has not, no matter what version.So you want a small portable computer, what are you gonna use it for? You cant play games on it (solitare and winmine does not count) You cant use it for photoediting, you can barely use it for webdesign.(You can write the code, but barely see the result) You cant write documents in a good way, only to make notes on. You cant surf the net in a good way (the resolution is just to small). You cant store you images temporary from your digital camera (if you are on a trip) because the memory in you digital camera is probably bigger then the portable computers. So what are you gonna use it for? I can think of one thing, if you are a students and want to write notes in a seminar. (but then you better hope the seminar does not last past 2 hours, or the let you have a powerconnection to every student)[Edited by JudaZ on 2008-10-04 03:01:36]
captain828 said:
> So, are you a netbook owner now, or do you plan to buy one later this year?Neither> Would you consider this netbook movement pure novelty that will fade away in a matter of years or is the form factor here to stay?IMHO, it's not only the format (small and portable) that's appealing but the price segment. I doubt this format will fade away any time soon, but in some time the high sales will come to a stop.Novelty? for now it seems it is; lackluster performance, low HDD space, small screen + small rez, bad battery life.> What do you think is cool about the format and/or what is it currently lacking to make it perfect?What's cool: the very small form factor means it is highly portable/occupies little spaceCurrently lacking: a decent CPU (the Atom is a joke put near a C2D), possibility of upgrading to higher RAM capacity (> 2GB), small HDD (20GB on an eeePC?!), small battery (3 cell?! at least 6 cell), higher screen rez.Note: this form factor is nothing revolutionary, notebook have existed for some time in this format but were aimed at a higher spec market (see Sony TZ & new Z series). Their performance is much better, the Z even having a discrete GPU (albeit a low-end one) and very high battery life with an optional Bluray upgrade + HDMi port.
yukka said:
I have access to one of the 900mhz celeron models at work and use it alot of the time when I am out and about.It has Windows XP installed and has 512mb of ram. I adjusted the dpi to fit more on the screen but it makes it quite tiny - its the 9inch model.What is really good though is when I terminal into my main pc which runs Vista (a core 2 duo). Vista adjusts so much better to smaller screens and the netbook is easily capable to running a terminal connection - i have tried underclocking it using notebook hardware control software to 235mhz and its not noticable.. so i end up sat in a random office connected to my vista machine running all my apps on this tiny portable device. for that, its really good.the con? battery life. its very short - about 2 hours maximum which is a shame so I wait for a longer lasting one before I buy one. but the free one work gave me to use is cool enough for now.
nirkon said:
[b]Originally posted by JudaZ:[/b][quote]For me, to be honest, the Asus Eee is all hype and no preformance. Poor baterry life, wothless preformance, pointless screen. We dont even sell them in our computer store, only in the online shop if someone really wants one. Most of our customers can barely use Windows XP, and are lost when the realize that they have bought a machine with linux. We have even installed XP on a few Asus Eee that cutomers have been fooled to buy from other stores. We tell them the computer will not be useble with windows XP in it, but they insist, then they come back complaining that the computer is slow. Duh! We told you. What can you use this thing for? The resolution is to small to use the computer for just surfing, its to slow to run any office application (MS) in any good way, the batterylife suck, The storagespace is a joke, and the non expandable RAm is the same. Ifyou decide to run Windows XP on the machine anyway, just because you just cant handle linux (like most of our customers) you need an antivirus, your Eee just became a paperweight. Dont belive the hype. I have a 12" Asus my self, it cost 1300$ but it has the power to be used. The Asus Eee has not, no matter what version.So you want a small portable computer, what are you gonna use it for? You cant play games on it (solitare and winmine does not count) You cant use it for photoediting, you can barely use it for webdesign.(You can write the code, but barely see the result) You cant write documents in a good way, only to make notes on. You cant surf the net in a good way (the resolution is just to small). You cant store you images temporary from your digital camera (if you are on a trip) because the memory in you digital camera is probably bigger then the portable computers. So what are you gonna use it for? I can think of one thing, if you are a students and want to write notes in a seminar. (but then you better hope the seminar does not last past 2 hours, or the let you have a powerconnection to every student)[Edited by JudaZ on 2008-10-04 03:01:36][/quote]I'm sorry.. but that's really different for me...I had the default linux, then ubuntu, then I finally put XP on it, after you go to performance options and turn it all off, XP runs great, fast as well, you can use office just like any other computer, and for surfing just press F11 in internet explorer or firefox and its completely usable!Ram is also upgradeable... I don't have a ram hatch on mine, but you can open it up without voiding the warranty.Storage is small, but just buy an 8,16 or 32gb jump drive, I mean I just saw an 8gb for 9 dollars the other day..The downside is: 1.5-2.5 hour battery life, youtube videos sometimes play with a little lag.and games? the eeepc can run a bunch of games... I played some myself! (warcarft 3... half life 2)check this out:[url]http://wiki.eeeuser.com/list:games[/url]You can also overclock the 630 default to 900, which really isn't an overclock, because it is a 900mhz cpu!as for antivirus, I personally don't run my eeepc with one, but you can get a lightweight antivirus such as AVG to do the job and it won't slow down the system much!(my model is the Eeepc 4GB Surf from TechSpot )
JerryWithaJ said:
I've got a 7" eee pc. I've just preordered a 9" eee pc with 160GB HD. My wife wants the 7"er when my new one arrives. My son has abandoned (literally, given away) his Dell boat anchor (no criticism of Dell; just its weight) for a 10" Asus 1000H. My brother got a 10" Asus on my recommendation and couldn't be happier. He takes it everywhere.At this moment, I'd guess there are two broad categories of people. Those with desktop; those with notebooks only. The netbook may not appeal to the notebook only group. They'll want a larger screen and DVD capability for certain tasks. The desktop crowd (which includes me, my wife, my son, my brother,...) already have something big. What we want from a laptop is portability. The boat anchors just don't cut it.I see the netbooks starting to take over a good part of the world as desktop users realize "Hey, I've already got a big machine. Now, it's time for something portable." The early netbooks *were* slow. The Asus 701 has an *underclocked* 900MHz Celeron running at 2/3 its rated speed, a 7" screen, and 4GB storage (2GB in other models). It's basically something only fanatic could really love. However, people who *now* criticize them for those reasons are so five minutes ago that they should not be advising others. Compare last year's netbooks to the latest models: 9 or 10" screen 80GB+ HD (160 GB in the Asus 900HA), 1.6GHz Atom processor! Now, *that's* no compromise. That's a *real* laptop in a 1 kg package!When laptops first hit the market, one of the mainstream columnists made the comment that the idea weight for a laptop was one where you had to look in your briefcase/knapsack/purse to be sure it was there. With the latest round of netbooks, that goal has been reached.If I had to summarize in one sentence, I'd say that I could understand why someone who had only a laptop would want a larger screen, but every desktop owner who has seen the new netbooks has salivated over them and no one I know who has purchased one has been disappointed with the class, that is, if they didn't like their netbook, they've replaced it with a newer generation netbook, not a larger laptop.[Edited by JerryWithaJ on 2008-10-04 07:40:59]
Woh_igor said:
There is a lot of good posting on both sides of the fence. Personally, I hope they are not a novelty or fad. The cool thing is research was done from IDC not too long ago and their report indicated that in a survey most mobile users on the go use notebooks for word, excel, powerpoint, outlook and web browsing. If that's the case, some users will find themselves buying these petite small netbooks. The backlash, of people buying into this survey is that it may affect sales of more expensive notebook. AMD VP Pat Moorehead, made a similar comment about the possible effects. However, my belief is if the OEM's that don't jump in and take advantage of the traction these small form factor notebooks - will lose out. 1% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Sony already made their point not to do a netbook, and they have a valid point; same as AMD's Pat's. They way I see it, the netbooks are good for high schoolers and college kids. I have an 8.9 acer one and one thing I do admit - it's tough on my hands and wrist for prolonged periods of use.
intrepid_3 said:
It seems to me that laptops are kinda going backwards. Smaller screen, less storage, less compatiblity, and less performance. Don't get me wrong i think portablity is great, but not at the expense of performance and compatiblity. I have desktop and a laptop. In my personal opinion these new portable laptops are adding up to nothing more than over grown iphones, zunes, and ipods. The worst part of this is that they are more than likely here to stay.
Julio said:
What I find great about netbooks is that they have created this new low price point that can be further enhanced in the coming years. I agree that you are restricted to basic hardware and performance for now, but that's also inherent from the form factor. A 11" Vaio laptop I bought a couple of years ago is almost equally capped in performance terms, but battery-wise it could run for 5+ hours without an issue.In the end, even 11" was too small for me to accomplish a number of tasks without eye strain in the very short term. I'm not sure I represent a majority in that sense but in my case I overspent (that Vaio was expensive!) in a very portable machine that I barely use nowadays.
sngx1275 said:
The reason I don't have one is I can't deal with a screen that is only 800some pixels wide. Most web pages can't be viewed in that space. I could get by with the smaller resolution for simple office type stuff, and IM, but for internet its no good. It isn't even a screen size issue, its the pixel density, its crap. Many regular laptops (most/all?) have a higher pixel density, so it can be done.
yukka said:
The width of the 9 inch eee pc is 1024. its the height that is less than standard rez at just 600 instead of 800.
sngx1275 said:
Thats the 9", by the time you hit 9" are you really dealing with a 'netbook'?
Julio said:
For me anything equal or less than 11 inches is a subnotebook. Then a netbook is meant to be a subnotebook with limited capabilities and hence a price advantage. So ideally I'd say netbooks should grow in screen real estate without affecting size too much or price, and that's more or less what manufacturers are trying to accomplish after the success of the original 7" Eee PC.
phantasm66 said:
[b]Originally posted by Julio:[/b][quote]What I find great about netbooks is that they have created this new low price point that can be further enhanced in the coming years. I agree that you are restricted to basic hardware and performance for now, but that's also inherent from the form factor.[/quote]Good point. Its about a new range of devices which are cheap and thusly more disposable.
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