If someone asked you to explain what a netbook is, what would you say? The answer would vary greatly based on whom you asked, as well as whether you were asking a person or a corporation. With so many categories of portable computer available, from notebook to netbook to ultraportable to ultrathin and more, the lines are going to be blurred, especially without an industry-standard of what is what.
People are expecting this problem to become more convoluted when a plethora of new laptops pre-loaded with Windows 7 go up for sale this week. Many of the laptops will be small in scale, with form factors under 12 inches and many physical characteristics that might say "netbook". The marketers behind them don't always like that label – saying they are ultrathin or ultraportable devices intended for a different market segment then netbooks.
But where does one category end and another begin? The severe overlap is complicated further by the fact that no manufacturers can agree on a standard in any category, from size to performance to storage capacity to price. And given that all of those factors are subject to change as technology improves, last year's ultraportable might be next year's netbook. As the article brings out, it also doesn't help that many manufacturers see netbooks as more of a fad than a real market segment, expected to phase out as the other categories become more well-defined.
Will they, however? That's the big question, and one that is hopefully solved soon. If you have tried shopping for a laptop recently, I wouldn't blame you for being confused by the sheer number of categories out there. So, if you had to come up with a solution that fit all portable computers, how would you define and categorize netbooks, notebooks, ultraportables and ultrathins?