How Long Until The Netbook Becomes Obsolete?

Netbooks are currently very popular, and were a hot gift this holiday season. But are the tiny, stripped-down computers really the future of consumer laptops? According to the BBC, some technology experts think that the netbook may have already peaked–and most of what people seek out netbooks for today, they may use other devices, including tablets, in the future.

Many contemporary netbook models run Windows XP or Windows 7 which has forced the specifications, and price, upwards. Many, he said, now cost at least [$550], a figure close to that for a more capable full-size laptop.

What people are looking for now, he believes, is a machine that can keep up with the demands of contemporary web users – far more than the basic e-mail and web browsing that made the first models so appealing.

“As soon as you want to do anything else you hit the same problem, it ceases to work,” he said. “It does not have the power.”

If you own a netbook, do you find that there truly are limits to what you can use the machine for? Are they really suitable for what most users need a computer for?

Technology changes ‘outstrip’ netbooks [BBC News] (Thanks, Stannous!)

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  1. JamieSueAustin says:

    Basic word processing, surfing, email, chat, video conferencing, etc seem to work well on my net book. More intense applications like Photoshop seem to get bogged down (Adobe anything seems slow) but over all I can do what I need to do with the net book. I use my regular lap top because of screen size more than power.

  2. MikeF74 says:

    Netbooks are a really handy form factor. And as they get faster, they will only become more useful. They’re great to travel with — so long as you don’t need a lot of horsepower.

    I use mine all the time, and if I need to do something CPU-intensive, I just RD into my desktop PC.

    • supercereal says:

      Isn’t the point that they won’t and don’t need to get faster? By design, they’re bare-bones systems that run only the simplest of applications. Put more horsepower into them, and you have a regular laptop. And not a good laptop, mind you, but one that comparable to laptops 4 or 5 years ago.

      • MikeF74 says:

        They will never be as powerful as a larger form factor, but they will become more powerful over time as low-voltage processor technology gets more advanced. Personally, I’d like to see denser displays, and that may or may not happen. My 10″ netbook has a 1366×768 display, and I’ve got good enough eyesight that I would enjoy an even higher resolution.

        I welcome the world of decent tablet computers, but like cellphones there will always be a need for devices with a physical keyboard.

  3. friendlynerd says:

    I have first-generation Acer AspireOne (the little 9″ version) and I think it’s great. I don’t expect it to be a full desktop replacement, but even after upgrading it to Windows 7 it runs fast enough for what I need to do. Even when attaching an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse and using it like a desktop it does just fine for web, word processing, Citrix, etc.

    I think the key is understanding the limitations of what a netbook is and what it’s supposed to do. I see the word “obsolete” thrown around a lot but that can mean different things to different people.

  4. colorisnteverything says:

    I have an Acer Inspire One 9” and it does everything I need it to – except for photoshop. It’s been great and the whole reason I bought it was so that I could take it to school, work, and on trips. I still have a regular sized notebook, but that has become my stationary computer and my netbook is now used for everything else.

    The whole point of the netbook is that it is small, simple, and portable – much more so than a 15” or 17” computer that weighs about 10 lbs. For someone that is my size (I’m 5′ tall), carrying that around is not happening.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That’s the reason I wanted one. I’m 5’11″ but that doesn’t mean I want to lug my heavy 17″ widescreen all over the place. All I wanted it for was to play music, Internet and to write on when I’m out and about (at work, etc.).

      Now they’re going away before I ever even get one? Bummer.

    • JoeDawson says:

      I have an original MSI WIND U100 (Atom 270, 2 gigs ram) And i run Windows 7 at full speed, OSX 10.6.2 at full speed, linux, Windows XP. Photoshop runs just fine for ,e

  5. Quatre707 says:

    Netbooks are excellent for those of us who remotely control computers via a VPN connection. I always RDP or VNC into machines and work on them all day. All lag experienced would also happen on expensive laptops since it would be latency problems

  6. friendlynerd says:

    I just realized that this article might be referencing early models with the 900-mhz Celeron processor like the first eeepc. In that regard I think the article is right – they were outdated as before they were introduced.

    Anything with the Atom 1.6 processor should be fine though.

  7. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Also got an Acer Aspire One, refurb, and it works great for travel websurfing, word-processing, etc. Not so great for photo editing.

    When we outgrow it, it can be baby’s first computer.

    I think there will continue to be a market for very low cost, smaller machines that can manage the basics and that are more “disposable.” My full-size laptop cost a lot and I am going to ride this thing into the ground. My netbook cost me $225 shipped and, hey, baby drool on it is no problem.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Exactly. My Dell (piece of crap that has been replaced 3 times for hard drive malfunctions and it is only a year old!) was $2400.00. My Acer was a refurb and $240.00. It runs better than the Dell and if it gets destroyed, replacing it is NO problem.

  8. sven.kirk says:

    Monitor size is the biggest limit for me. I had one 10 inch Eee. Thought I could grow accustomed to the smaller display on trips. I never could. I got rid of it and got a similar HP netbook with a 15 inch display for about $50 more.

    • metalman420 says:

      I have a netTOP which is a netbook with a big screen.
      In my case a 20 inch screen. It also has a dvd writer
      and a lot more usb ports (6) and firewire. It runs xp and is
      great to watch movies, music, and rip cds
      and dvds (that I purchased legally). It streams movies full screen
      fine ( the 1.6 atom processor). I mainly got
      it for the cost (399.00 us) and low power consumption.
      It even came with wireless built in. It is WAY faster than vista (don’t know
      about windows 7) with only 1 gig of ram (standard netbook
      specs). By the way it is a Lenova c300 (the lowest end one)
      and I DON’T work for them.
      This was actually my favorite computer purchase…2nd
      one was a 499.00 sony vio (which is cheap for them),

      Dave

    • mmmsoap says:

      Urm….anything with a 15″ display can’t really be considered a “netbook”. Part of being a netbook is the small form-factor and low power usage. Not for everyone, I grant you. A full size laptop, however, is a different animal. Because there’s so much more space in the body, there are zillions of different options for networking/disk/optical drives/etc.

  9. justsomeguy says:

    I think another issue that isn’t being considered when suggesting that netbooks will be replaced by tablets is the presence of a physical keyboard. In this regard, the situation is very similar to cell phone design. No matter how hard manufacturers and designers push virtual keyboards, there is a large segment of the population that prefers to have a physical keyboard. As long as people continue to want a physical keyboard, netbooks will continue to be popular because they provide basic functionality without forcing users to use a virtual keyboard. Tablets and netbooks are both convenient and highly portable, but many people will continue to choose netbooks simply because of the keyboard.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Agreed. I really can’t stand a virtual keyboard. I love HTC’s for a phone, but I refuse to get one with a virtual keyboard. Having a virtual keyboard on a netbook makes even LESS sense. I really don’t understand what the point of that is. They are not comfortable to type on and just cause more problems than they are worth.

    • Orv says:

      I’m with you. I can’t stand virtual keyboards because I can’t touch-type on them. I’m sure tablets will be preferred by the majority of the population that doesn’t touch-type, though.

  10. legwork says:

    I’m writing this on my “netbook” while music streams, a VirtualBox VM runs my accounting, and about a dozen other FF tabs keep me updated on news. I’m in my jeep connected via blackberry tether via bluetooth. It’s a dual-core celeron 11.6 inch display acer with 4GB. Cost was $350 plus the memory I stole from my last system.

    Getting stuck on the reduced capabilities of early tech, and predicting its resulting downfall, is useless. I still have an early 16MB mp3 player in one of my junk drawers at home. Portable music must be doomed.

  11. rwalford792 says:

    I own a netbook, use it as my everyday computer. The only thing I miss is CD/DVD reading and writing…

    Everything else, is about the same as a laptop, maybe not enough power or speed, but it still gets the job done. The one thing I noticed though, is the battery life isnt as great as they make it out to seem

    • SChance says:

      And you can get a cheap portable DVD drive (read-only) for $50. I got one and carry it in my backpack for whenever I need it (which really isn’t even that often).

  12. AJ_Syrinx says:

    They’re obsolete in my view, so I never had to wait.

  13. tchann says:

    I bought a cute little 7″ Eee PC earlier this year and I’ve been exceptionally happy with it. Since I don’t play games and the like when I’m out and about, I really only need the bare necessities of web surfing and word processing. My hands are small so the tiny keyboard is no trouble at all, and I’ve been writing my novel (68,000+ words so far) on it exclusively since August.

    I also named it GLADoS, which may be asking for trouble. >.>

    • tchann says:

      Another huge plus: it’s small enough that I can just drop it in my purse with the AC cable and carry it around all day without any problems. :)

    • Elginista says:

      These were exactly my reasons for buying my little eee PC earlier this year – It’s very easy to toss in my work bag and do some writing during my commute. I spend two hours a day cooped up on a train, and it’s nice to be able to write (whether for work or my own fiction) without needing to lug the full-sized laptop back and forth. Definitely worth the $180 I paid, just for the size and portability. A full charge lasts me about a week with this limited use, so I don’t need to carry the AC adapter, either.

      The only time it sucks is when I end up needing to haul my full-sized work laptop AND the netbook at the same time.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Yes, these are great for us writers who also have day jobs and have to write at lunch, etc. I’m sick of dragging my laptop with me every day.

      I also take a flash drive and sneak/work on my work computer when things are slow, heh heh.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Yeah, I also like the portability of Netbooks. Mine is a bit slow on the internet, but that might be our Dinorouter.

      GLADoS a great name for a computer; mine is Pip-Girl 3000. XD

  14. Wolfbird says:

    I totally get why they have little underpowered subnotes priced at $300. The point is to have something really small that you can just dick around with while commuting/etc. If you are into heavier work, obviously a subnote running Linux is not the best choice. Get a real laptop.

    I do not understand why someone thought it was a good idea to start making these overpriced “heavy duty” subnotes. Look, if I have $600 to shell out on some form of portable computer, I’ll just buy a less powerful fullsize laptop with a bigger screen and keyboard. Honestly, it’s not like I’d be playing Call of Duty 4 or whatever on my way to work anyway, I’ve survived off a PII Thinkpad I drag with me on vacations for years, last year’s craptop from Dell will be sufficient.

    • madanthony says:

      I think the more powerful ones appeal to business users who like the form factor but need a little more power – the kind of people who would have bought Toshiba Portege or IBM x41 a few years ago. If you travel a lot, having a small laptop is a huge advantage.

  15. masso says:

    Far into the future…

    The world still need portable word processors and spreadsheet running. Tablet isn’t gonna cut it.

    • uchikowasu says:

      Exactly. I used my netbook to type a book while commuting to and from work. I cannot imagine trying to type on a virtual keyboard and expect to be able to type fast. I do not think it is a matter of adapting I think that for some people a physical keyboard is a necessity. It would have been very uncomfortable to type on the same flat screen while reading what I was typing.

  16. themichael says:

    They have the ability to pack more punch into the little netbooks, but Microsoft has rules saying that machines that small can only have such and such fast processor, a screen resolution so big, and limited hard drive space. The computer companies are not allowed to design them with better parts because then Microsoft will refuse to release their operating system to it at a cheaper price.

  17. secgeek says:

    I have a mini9 with 64gb SSD and 2gb of Ram I got at the outlet previously ordered new for 315 over a year ago… I love my mini9… Carry it everywhere.. Was running OSX until I forgot to upgrade the EFI prior to running a software update and blew it away.. Put ubuntu on it and it’s still my perfect backpack and travel laptop.. Did 3500 mile motorcycle trip with it, 3g Wifi Router and was so glad didn’t have to carry my 15″ macbookpro

  18. bravo369 says:

    I have been saying this for a while now. I never saw the benefit of a netbook…unless you already have a far superior machine at home. Yes it is good for email, websurfing, & documents but inevitably you will want to put photoshop on there..or that hot new video game…or video editing software so you can post on youtube. the list goes on. I know because my extended family always asks for that stuff eventually. I don’t think people fully understand what a netbook is and don’t want to hear that the $500 machine they bought last year cannot handle the demands of today’s applications. If you have a home desktop or a powerful laptop…a netbook is for you but don’t make it your primary machine because you will be sorry in a year or 2.

    • The_Red_Monkey says:

      What applications are the everyday computer user using that will not work? Most people do not use programs that push their computers. Most people are farting around online, watching Youtube, reading TMZ, sending emails and maybe some word processing.

    • justsomeguy says:

      I also think most people buying netbooks don’t spend $500. Once you get into that price range, I agree that a netbook makes little sense. However, you can easily get a netbook for very simple computing for under $300. Anyone who spends $300 or less on a netbook generally isn’t trying to do advanced anything on it, much less video editing or high-end gaming. It’s a niche market, but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is no reason for people to spend close to $1000 on a PC anymore when they will never even scratch the surface of its capabilities. People who need a more powerful machine can still buy one and people who just ewant to read email, view basic webpages and maybe do some word processing with a physical keyboard can keep spending a couple hundred dollars on a netbook.

  19. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    I think the netbook is an analogy for today’s cheap disposable relationships too. Underpowered, flakey, disappointing, and cheap. So why does everyone want them?

    • thriceberg says:

      For the same reason some people want casual relationships: It doesn’t cover everything, but what it does, it does with a much higher level of convenience.

  20. The_Red_Monkey says:

    I have an HP Mini 311 and the article could not be more wrong. This Netbook works great. I can do everything that I do on my work PC on it and watch HD movies, etc when on the road. Its a great form factor and the battery life is great.

    If the dual core CULV units were mated with ION then I would switch. Sure ION is not a superpower but for what 99% of people do with computers these low powered units are great. Plus with Adobe Flash 10.1 being able to use the GPU for video acceleration its great for Hulu and youtube watching. Who cares about gaming, isn’t that what we have Xbox 360′s for?

    I have two nice desktops at home as well so the netbook is perfect.

    What I don’t understand is people claiming that these devices are bad and should not be primary machines. Tell that to my mother or my girlfriend’s parents. They go online, pay some bills, send some email and post pictures on facebook. Do they need to spend a bunch of money on a PC? Nope. The Acer Revo is perfect for them. There is a huge market for low cost PCs. Very few people are running photoshop. I even did minor video editing on my HP Mini using MS Movie Maker for uploading to Youtube and it was fine. Sure my desktop would have been quicker but I was in the parking lot after the concert.

    I have yet to perform an activity that it pains me to do on this netbook. We live in a Web centric world and these Netbooks and low powered PCs are fine.

  21. twophrasebark says:

    I really like the OSX netbooks.

    Apple was very clever to put those out. ;)

    • Orv says:

      Heh heh. I’ve heard OS X really crawls on an Atom processor, though. I think hackintoshes are mostly something people do just to prove they can.

      Sadly I don’t think we’ll ever see a real Apple netbook. One of the defining characteristics of netbooks is they’re cheap. Apple doesn’t do cheap. They stick to the high end where they can get bigger profit margins.

      • tinmanx says:

        My hackintosh is great! Upgraded to 2GB of RAM and a larger, faster SSD, OSX is very snappy and everything works. And the best thing of all, it only cost me around $350 after the upgrades.

  22. chocolate1234 says:

    We have one we bought for a little over $200. It’s not our main computer, but it’s great for traveling, and nice to have as a backup.

  23. Orv says:

    When the Eee came out I bought one almost immediately, because it was exactly what I’d been looking for. I’d wanted a machine for a long time that I could use for web browsing and email on the go — something small and light with wireless networking and a keyboard big enough to touch type on. I knew I’d better get one right away before people decided they wanted them to do more. Sure enough, they’ve gotten bigger, porkier, and more power-hungry as people decided they wanted them to do more.

    I’m still really happy with my Eee. My only major complaint is the annoyingly stiff left mouse button. I take it almost everywhere. It’s the perfect size to carry around without feeling weighed down. It even fits on airplane tray tables without jutting into my lap or making me elbow the person next to me.

  24. rachaeljean says:

    I use mine as a secondary machine – I can stick it in my purse and take it to work with me, but I have a big ole beautiful powerful iMac at home that I do all my important stuff on. The netbook is just for surfing, email, chat, quick document generating, etc.

  25. GearheadGeek says:

    I have a Dell Mini9 that’s a Hackintosh… I call it my Hackbook Mini. It’s not my only notebook (I have a 15″ Latitude personal and another 15″ Latitude work notebook) but I’d say it gets 80% of my computing time when away from the desk. The Mini9 uses an SSD and has an LED backlight, so battery life is quite long, and I put in a 2G SODIMM for better operation.

    The worst thing about it is the cramped keyboard with an odd layout. I will probably move up to a Mini10 for the better keyboard when new models of that (Pine Trail, 1366×768 display) are available in the outlet store but I think I’ll have to give up the Hackbook aspect of it with that and suffer through Win7.

    It’s great for quick CouchComputing tasks (looking up what other movies Actor X was in, checking the weather, email during commercials or when my partner is watching something I’m not interested in, etc.) It’s light and small, so it’s readily portable if I won’t be needing to do much work.

  26. ArcanaJ says:

    They can have my netbook when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. I bought it for writing, band it was the only thing that kept me sane (and allowed me to transfer rescued files) when my desktop was out of commission for two weeks. They’re not betamax, I don’t see them going away.

  27. mrbucket says:

    Since I don’t game much anymore, I picked up an Acer Aspire One for $350 about 6 months ago. It has been my primary system ever since while my vastly more powerful desktop collects dust. I’ve since installed more RAM, and a faster hard disk (upping my investment to $550), I use the system for work, some games, and photoshop, beyond the simple browsing / editing tasks. It’s very resilient, and does exactly what I require. It’s faster than a celeron, more portable than most other laptops that cost hundreds if not thousands more, and personally the best computer I’ve owned in the past 20 years. It ‘just works.’ It’s the Mac of the PC market. :)

  28. jonquil says:

    ” a machine that can keep up with the demands of contemporary web users – “

    What the hell? What am I supposed to be doing, running 3-D modeling? I’m typing this on a year-old netbook. It does everything I need it to do, thanks: word processing, spreadsheets, and normal Web browsing. For anything heavy-duty I pull out one of the more expensive computers at home; this is, after all, not my only computer. In the year since I’ve bought it, I’m amazed at how few heavy-duty things I really do; I don’t mind waiting until I get home to do video conversions from one format to another, and that’s the most CPU-heavy thing I can think of.

    “run Windows XP or Windows 7 which has forced the specifications, and price, upwards” Apples and oranges. XP is cheap and doesn’t demand much processor power. 7 is deliberately priced up by Microsoft because they don’t like low licensing fees from end users — note that the version shipped with netbooks won’t let you change the background color or sound scheme! So, yes, Microsoft wants your netbook to be more expensive. That doesn’t mean it will be.

    Netbooks probably will vanish eventually, just because they’re a middle technology, between phones on the low end and PCs on the high end. Right now, though, they’re cheaper than smartphones and much cheaper than ultraweight laptops.

    • Noadi says:

      I disagree, I think we’ll continue to see ultraportable laptops but as technology improves and becomes cheaper the line between netbook and full powered laptops will disappear.

  29. Noadi says:

    For travel, school, or other times when portability is needed I think netbooks are great. I’ve been thinking of getting one for business, I do art festivals in the summer and a netbook would be perfect to bring along. I think they are a bit too trendy right now, the prices for many models are too high when compared to full sized laptops we’re seeign the initial peak of the technology and now it will go back down to being a useful subset of laptops.

  30. Ayumi~n says:

    I don’t feel particularly limited because I do have both a netbook and a desktop computer. I have had to use the netbook for some image editing and it works just fine. The only thing I haven’t used the netbook for that I use my main computer for is video editing. Honestly, I really don’t need the full-powered computer on a daily basis and the netbook is just perfect for just getting things done whether it’s typing a novel or watching a video during downtime.

    I’m still using my first EeePC 701 and almost 2 years later, it’s still satisfying a need. Although, 2010 will be the year I upgrade. Netbooks should totally stay on the market at least until tablet PCs are at an affordable price.

  31. speaky2k says:

    I have a nice, powerful laptop. However I was thinking of getting a netbook since I travel a lot and don’t trust taking my laptop to some of those places. If I had a cheap netbook (around $200) then I would take that with me, use local hotel / coffee shop / airport wifi and be able to clear my camera card when full. It would not be a replacement for my current computer, only a secondary one for travel.

  32. jsl4980 says:

    I use my netbook all the time for instant messaging and e-mail and google reader. I use a desktop for gaming and picture editing/storage and stuff.

  33. Rachacha says:

    One of my favorite computers was the Dell x300. http://www.dell.com/downloads/us/products/latit/x300_spec.pdf
    It was not a powerful machine, but it did MS Office, E-mail and the web well. It was one of the first machines to not include an optical drive or floppy drive into the main machine, you had to use an external dongle, or the docking station. I could get 4 hours on a standard battery, and near 8 on an extended battery, it was small (about the size of a 3 ring binder) and weighed about 3 pounds. I wish dell would bring back this form factor. I would love to shave some size and weight off my current laptop by leaving my optical drive at home, but giving me a docking station so I could come home and easily connect to my full keyboard, power supply and external display.

    If a netbook had just a bit more power, and a slightly larger keyboard it would be perfect, but as my current laptop weighs about 3.5 lbs, comes with a 13″ screen and is powerful enough to edit audio & video, I currently could not justify spending $400 on a barebones laptop that was only slightly smaller and lighter and would choke on streaming video.

  34. tz says:

    I have two – the better one (the HP from Verizon) has a camera, reasonable keyboard, more than enough disk, bluetooth, everything but the optical drive.

    If you compute on the go (take it to lunch or dinner on the road, or while wiating), it is more than adequate for even most larger programs and some can upgrade.

    There are a wide range even of netbooks – my HP is more like a light laptop (the video will do HD on an external monitor), but my eeepc is like my Nokia n810 internet tablet but with a bigger screen and bigger but not quite usable keyboard.

    I think the ends of the laptop market are where the main action is at – desktop replacements with big batteries, fast processors, heavy and big with huge screens (like my macbook pro), and the netbooks which you can take like you would a paperback.

    There are bulky and heavy laptops which are about the same as my netbook – those are going to go away. They have an optical drive and a few more ports, but they aren’t used that often, and if you really need them the higher end laptops are even better.

    “Contemporary web users” use what the netbooks have. If you go beyond that you aren’t doing web stuff, you are doing some kind of professional work which can be done on a netbook, but probably should be done on something bigger anyway, and the bulky/heavy laptop with netbook specs won’t do any better.

    Then there’s battery life.

    Also, something like system76′s Darter is a small linux system and light but you can get really high-end hardware – 8Gb, 3Ghz processor 500Gb hard drive – and more – it specs higher than some servers and is smaller than most of the “laptops”. I was going to get one until I got the netbook.

  35. Carlee says:

    I’m considering getting a netbook (w/ WinXP, around $300) because i want something lightweight to use on travel. I have a 15.4″ laptop from last year (runs Vista) but it weighs between 5 and 6 pounds so it’s not exactly portable.

    I don’t plan on doing anything CPU-intensive while on vacation (I doubt I would try to edit photos or anything) so the fact that netbooks have lower specs is not a big deal for me.

    I’ve gone back and forth, trying to decide if I want to get a netbook and I always arrive back at “yes”. I have an iPod Touch so I can check email via wi-fi and it is convenient because it’s easy to just tuck the iPod Touch in my purse, but I prefer a physical keyboard when I am doing more than just checking email… like if I actually need to type an email.

    Maybe the XP netbooks will be cheaper now that Win7 is out?

  36. KillerBee says:

    Tablets may take over for a little while, but sooner or later someone will start selling a “tablet with pull out keyboard”. Essentially, you know, a netbook.

  37. rm1x says:

    I use an EeePC, and while I’m never going to be able to game on it, I can use it to make music with various programs. It overloads pretty easily but will do for the time being until I can afford to repair my pc :-)

  38. morganlh85 says:

    I haven’t ever seen a netbook that cost more than $350 or so.

    As a graphic designer I’m considering a netbook, because lugging around the 17 inch laptop I have for work when I just want to surf the web is becoming troublesome, and I haven’t found a phone with an internet interface that I like enough to leave my laptop at home.

  39. Geekybiker says:

    I think the one thing that netbooks have done that is useful is bring the price of real ultra portable notebooks down to sane levels. You can get a reasonably full featured ultraportable for $800-900 now instead of the $1500+ they were not long ago.

  40. Cantras says:

    I was saying this in another thread, I think a morning deals thread with a powerful $$$ netbook on it — that, shouldn’t this have another name? *I* have a netbook, my friend has a tiny laptop with a weaker processor.

    I have an eee 900. I love it. But I think the thing is that these pricey ones came out, and people want that sort of power. I can’t play CDs or DVDs on it. I can’t open more than about 4 consumerist tabs without it pleading for mercy. I’m fine with that. I can make skype calls. I can work on my projects with my friends. I think it sucks that these things are likely being shown the door — when this thing eventually breaks, I’d like to get another –

    BUT I don’t want to shell out cash for features I’m not going to use. It’s the same reason I don’t have a phone that keeps a decent calendar, or a car with a thingy that switches the seat positions if it detects that the my husband’s set of keys opened the door.

    Basically the only feature I want out of this thing is that it connects to the internet with some internet-relevant programs, and it doesn’t take up more space in my bag than a book. It does that, for $170. Good money. Looks like I bought it just in time, though.

  41. cerbie_the_orphan says:

    “As soon as you want to do anything else you hit the same problem, it ceases to work,” he said. “It does not have the power.”

    An Atom will have a range of performance between a 2GHz or so P4 up to low-end Athlon64. You an do plenty with that. There are even a few nVidia ION netbooks out there, and more on the way, giving much-needed visual boosts. What does that mean? It means your average netbook has all the processing power, and more memory, available to it as the best desktop you could have had in the beginning of 2003.

    Nothing small and portable will replace something big and bulky, because that big and bulky thing is big and bulky for good reasons (cooling, large keyboard, mouse pad, large display, etc.). But to say anything more than word processing and web browsing is possible? Pffft.

    “Many contemporary netbook models run Windows XP or Windows 7 which has forced the specifications, and price, upwards.”

    My Pentium III notebook just needs more RAM to run Windows 7 well (a few web browser tabs, and it starts to crawl, with 384MB). Are they really trying to say that Windows 7, which, other than high idle RAM use, is faster than Windows 2000 on that old PC, is pushing specs higher, when the most minimal netbook is going to be at least double the CPU power, and many times better in terms of video and HDD? And in the age when you can buy 2GB of DDR2 or DDR3 from change under your couch? No. Specs are going higher because people want to squander more resources with their portable devices, and because users have a habit of becoming used to using bloatware. Bloatware is bad, but finding more ways to squander resources with newer devices and software is very good.

    “Sure ION is not a superpower but for what 99% of people do with computers these low powered units are great.”

    You need to go check performance of Atoms with Intel IGP. Then go check out driver support for GMA500. Then notice that VIA is still…well, VIA. Finally, not the gaping hole where there should be an AMD/ATI option (2011, on time, please). nVidia’s ION is insanely powerful for what it is, and handily beats anything else in the form factor. It really is a superpower.

    Tablets? Come on. Tablets have flopped over and over and over again. Realize that to be really successful, there has to be a need for a tablet interface, and you need a device as small as a phone to make that desired.

  42. EtherealFlame says:

    I have one of the first Asus Eee PC and use it when I dont feel like dragging a massive laptop around. It’s limited on what it can do but I accepted that when I bought it. Which reminds me.. I need a new laptop too.

  43. tfcocs says:

    I have had my Sylvania Meso since September 2008; I love the pretty pink toy to pieces. I bought it with the original Ubuntu Netbook interface (as is shown in the graphic accompanying the story). I have heard that some people returned the machines when they first came out because they did not know how to use Linux; as for me, I have used Linux for over ten years, so I was not the least bit intimidated. YMMV, of course. As for Windoze, I had Vista on my “big” laptop for about half an hour when I first bought it in 2007, but only because I needed to search for some drivers from the OEM distribution; Linux, in all of its flavors, works much better for me.It is cheaper, too!

    • EtherealFlame says:

      I loved the interface for the linux install on my E3 but was spending to much time trying to figure out how to do things like install software ect. I envy your linux knowledge. I keep threatening to cross over to the dark side.

  44. DoktorH says:

    I have an acer aspire one with Windows XP and it works great for watching videos (Netflix watch-instantly ran better on that than on my Vista desktop), surfing the web, etc. the only problems I’ve had is serious lag whenever I log into twitter. I haven’t tried playing WoW on it yet, but I imagine I eventually will.