Dell Ditches Its Netbook Computers As Tablets Continue To Captivate Consumers

Hear that? It’s the dying gasp of the Netbook computer, as tablets continue to rule as the device of choice for small, portable computing needs. So clutch your Dell Mini close and tell it you love it, as the company says it isn’t selling any more of the 10-inch laptops.

In a sign that tablets are really taking hold, CNet says a search for the once popular little Dell Minis on their site comes up with no results, and that Dell is going to be focusing more on its newer products.

“We sold through the Dell Mini some time ago. We’re committed to the highly portable space and have focused on delivering thin + powerful solutions, for which we’ve seen strong success, particularly in our XPS line,” Matthew Hutchison, director of Dell Global Consumer PR, said in a statement sent to CNET.

The Netbook debuted in 2008 and had a good, if short run — in August 2010 Intel said they’d shipped 70 million Atom processors for the laptops.

If you still think a tablet isn’t for you, check out our smarter sibling Consumer Report’s reasons why a netbook (obviously, not one from Dell) might be the right choice.

Dell says goodbye to Netbooks [CNet]

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  1. SporadicBlah says:

    screen resolution sucked on’em anyways.

  2. Cicadymn says:

    Well it seems only natural. With tablets and docks nowadays it’s easier and lighter than ever to have all the computing power you want right in the palm of your hand.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the laptop doesn’t get over taken by a tablet/dock system here in the coming future as well.

    • Darury says:

      I think it was Lenovo that had the idea of a combination laptoptablet for a while. Essentially the screen on the laptop popped out into a tablet. So, while it used the larger processor, memory and keyboard while it was attached, you still had the option of a tablet whenever you wanted.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        This definitely need to be the future.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Well, actually, if you were looking for a tablet/netbook, look no further than the company that came up with the netbook to begin with: Asus. Asus created the netbook with its EeePC back in 2007, which began the netbook craze. They just carried that forward into the tablet space with their EeePad line. Sure, they’re a bit more of a ding to the wallet than a netbook, but the EeePad Transformer has been the little darling of tablets not made by a certain fruity company from Cupertino. If you’re shopping for a tablet, perhaps you should wait until the Transformer Prime hits the shelves–should have hit by now, but alas, they’re not available yet. Featuring the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a sweet 8 Mpxl camera on the back that can shoot 1080P video, and actually slimmer than the iPad 2. 32Gb storage model: $499. Add a docking keyboard and it’ll set you back $650–the dock doubles as extra battery life. Asus promises Android 4.0 before the end of 2011 as well.

        Send from my Asus Transformer, by the way.

        • Trae says:

          i’m an iPad user, and I have no plans to switch, but the Transformer Prime is pretty sweet looking, and if a friend of mine was thinking about a tablet, I’d probably recommend they look at it.

          So yeah – the Prime is cool, and that’s coming from an Apple fanboy.

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            I love this Asus Transformer. The keyboard is quite comfortable, pretty much full-sized, and gives you 2 USB ports and a full-sized SD card slot, as well as the added battery. It solves the issue of those who want a tablet yet grumble about trying to type on virtual touch-screen keyboards. Hell, the Transformer’s dock even has a two-finger control touchpad to keep your fingers on the keyboard while doing pinch and zoom/scrolling gestures. The keyboard’s USB ports also allow you to connect harddrives of any size–and ASUS wrote specific Android drivers to allow even NTFS-formatted drives. With the soon-to-be-released Prime, the original Transformer’s come down in price, although not by much, considering the Prime’s added goodness for not much more $$$. When I went tablet shopping, I almost bought an iPad–after all, I already own an iPod touch and those apps could come along to the iPad–but this tablet is just better IMHO.

            • Trae says:

              I think it really comes down to personal taste – I just really prefer iOS over Android – but where the Prime impresses me is battery life. So many Android tablets get nowhere near the battery life of the iPad 2, but the Prime is the first one to match it.

              I live off my tablet, rarely using my laptop, and that’s the most important stat to me.

      • parv says:

        That combination would not have been lighter near 3-some pounds, would it?

    • Bakkster says:

      See, I use my netbook for light PC gaming, and that requires a keyboard which tablets don’t have. They were also nice in college when I wanted to write a program while in class, and the battery life is enough better than a full on laptop to make it worth sticking with.

    • Ihmhi says:

      I hope to god this doesn’t happen. I hate tablets for stuff I’d rather use a laptop on. I literally type 5-10 times slower on the iPad’s shitty keyboard system. (Not my device and not my choice to mod it – it’s what’s being used for a project right now and it’s the only computer available. I don’t have anything else portable that I could bring in.)

      • human_shield says:

        Why? I imagine very soon we’ll have a tablet with a sliding/foldout keyboard that bends just like a laptop. Windows 8 is designed for the inevitability. If you have a screen and a keyboard, there’s your laptop.

        • Trae says:

          We’ve had tablets that did that for a decade – and Asus already makes an Adroid tablet like that (the Slider)

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          That would work for me, for traveling, so I could write while I’m doing so without having to tote a separate keyboard. Then I could also watch a movie like my seatmate did on my last flight (I was so jealous and kept peeking). But I still will use my laptop at home. I like the bigger screen, and the full-sized keyboard. I probably won’t get a tablet until I can do this or something like it.

  3. thomwithanh says:

    Apart from the fact my campus wifi VPN isn’t compatible with ChromeOS (as well as Linux for that matter – seems to only want to work with Windows and Mac OSX), I absolutely loved my ChromeBook. Sad to have to sell it, probably going to pick up an Eee PC in the spring.

  4. Coffee says:

    *Puts Dell Mini 10v on lap.*

    Hey there, little fella. It’s me. You remember all those times we had? You were so small and compact…fit right into my briefcase and were always so useful at business meetings.

    *Pets 10v as he talks*

    You had a great run. Well…not that great. But it was great for me…my eyes still well up when I think of the first time I put Ubuntu on you. The future seemed so big, so full of endless possibilities. Ideas wrapped inside of dreams wrapped inside of hope. That was us!

    *Holds back a sob*

    You were a good friend, but it’s been sad recently. You take forever to wake up, and I noticed that you’ve started forgetting things. I…I can’t do this…I don’t know how many years you’ll limp along…it’s not fair.

    *Puts pillow over 10v*

    Shhhh…I know you’re tired…just go to sleep. Everything will be all right. Go to sleep…I’ll *sob* be here when you wake up.

    *Holds the pillow down hard for a long, long time*

  5. Black Knight Rebel says:

    No duh.
    Netbooks were an exercise in compromise.

    The only reason they stuck around was because they were cheap, but they were only a TEENY TINY bit cheaper that full on laptops but offered non of the benefits. The were smaller than normal laptops, but still an unholy PITA to carry around compared to a tablet or an Ultra Light laptop.

    A Chrome Book is pretty much the only acceptable kind of netbook since it isn’t trying to do anything other than be a web portal, but even then I personally feel antsy in a web-only OS

    • OutPastPluto says:

      No. Netbooks were half the price of a “full laptop” or less.

      Now the inevitable march of technology has changed the number a little bit.

      Although the category was a bit artificial to begin with. Basically you were talking about an older machine being sold for a dramatically lower pricetag. I bought such a machine when it was “shiny and new” and “trendy”. Spent a lot more money for essentially the same thing.

      It’s odd how things that used to be suitable magically become unsuitable.

      Gnarly inputs tend to make “ultrabooks” and “tablets” even less suitable than a netbook.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Unless it was clearance or some other sort of fire sale, I rarely saw netbooks below $300 in Phoenix. You could OTOH get a low-end laptop computer for less than $400 (on sale). So, I also never saw netbooks for anywhere near half the price of a laptop. I was able to score a netbook with XP Home for $189, but it was a customer return on a discontinued model at Fry’s Electronics.

        • metalman420 says:

          I agree at regular price (250-300) not so great of a deal.
          I purchased 2 acer one netbooks at target 2 years ago
          a week before black friday for 179.99 each with a sleeve case.
          I did a clean install and installed drivers from acer site.
          For the price they work great on the go.
          Wifi is free at multiple fast food and other places all the time.
          For me I don’t think I could do without the keyboard and
          usb ports etc. I”m old..45..but have been on the
          net since the inception.
          Bottom line is I think the IPad is decent but not worth the
          money to me.
          The android copies seem to have a lot of bugs and different
          versions of android and it seems that apple has somehow
          created a product without much competition.

        • u1itn0w2day says:

          That’s about the price I usually saw. I think the lowest I ever saw a netbook around was for around 230. But the thing is for that extra hundred dollars you can get a full fledged computer/laptop or even replace a bad tower for your desktop. And I’d bet the newer ones probably are just as capable if not more as your old if you didn’t have the top of the line.

          Again I simply don’t get these Ipads or smart phones. Nothing but thumb injuries and mechanical problems even if it’s the glass. And as pointed out alot of apps have to be downloaded and paid for.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        I agree with your point about gnarly inputs. I really like keyboards and can’t fathom computing – writing emails or editing even short documents – without one.

    • caradrake says:

      I like my netbook. It weighs a fraction of a full laptop, so I can carry it around, AND I can write novels on it. I hate writing more than very quick messages on my tablet. It’s a good compromise – I have a desktop (mostly my husband’s, I use it for gaming), a netbook, a tablet, and an ereader. Each one is used for different purposes.

    • OnePumpChump says:

      GOOD netbooks offer 6 or more hours of battery life. On that note, they draw as much power as one, MAYBE two CFLs when you’ve got them plugged in.

      They weigh a fraction what a normal notebook weighs. (Weight goes up faster than diagonal measurements)

      They may not be fast at it, but they can run pretty much any non-real-time desktop software. That is where they’re really killer…the fact that they can run software no smartphone can run, and almost no tablets can.

      The only downside to netbooks is the screen resolution is usually pretty low (1024 by 600 was still common last I checked). But I was photoshopping 10 years ago at 800 by 600…1024 is a step up.

      When they make a tablet that can run desktop Windows and/or Linux, has at least 1024 by 600 screen resolution, has a keyboard that can be attached such as to hold the entire weight of the screen, and do so at a comparable price to a netbook, I’ll be interested in a tablet.

    • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

      you can thank intel for the suckage, they demanded that the netbooks use the bottom of the range atoms for some unknown reason, dual cores weren’t available for years and even then they were more expensive then cheapo 14″. chromeOS is just an exercise is sheer stupidity, it combines all of the hardware costs of an actual computer with the utility of a cell phone minus the cell phone bits, i have yet to see one in the wild and I’m in a company where we are required to carry a computer at all times.

  6. polishhillbilly says:

    my dell netbook has been faithful for two years. its been hiking, made several professional presentations, and even survives my youngling hammering on the keys.
    all for $200. i would like a tablet, but the price points are still to astronomical.

  7. Belle says:

    I love my netbook! I use it as my travel computer. It was cheap enough to buy without hurting my pocketbook.

    I’m not sure why there is so much love for tablets. Tablets look fun but I don’t see why I particularly need one. What niche in my life does a tablet fill?

    • QrazyQat says:

      The niche that wants to sell you a separate application for every single thing you do with a computer.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I never understood tablets or smart phones. Too much wear on the thumbs in particular. If you type tablets and smart phones aren’t worth it. I know people who wore out the Blackberrys etc with mechanical/part problems. My only computer problems so far(knock on wood) have been virus and/or software or lack there of. The keyboards are killers on these things. At least the netbook gives you more ergonomic typing capacity.

      I’d rather spend money on netbook knowing I could use the internet without major add ons. Tablets and smart phones want all that as do the companies that sell this stuff.

    • jrobie says:

      This is exactly right.

  8. brinks says:

    When my laptop died, I was looking around for something cheap. I have a desk top, so I didn’t need something that was capable of much. The price vs. features of netbooks and laptops in laughable, though. I could get a netbook that sucks, or pay $100 more and get a laptop that sucks, but has a dvd drive and more memory.

    I gave up and just use my phone now.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I always felt the netbooks should’ve been a much cheaper alternative to a laptop or desktop but they weren’t. Yep for less than a 100$ more than a netbook you could probably get a laptop that was better than your old computer. I’d say if they wound up just 50$ cheaper they would’ve sold alot more.

  9. vliam says:

    I can’t play LotRO on my Android tablet.
    I can play it on my Lenovo S205 netbook.

    When they resolve that issue, I’ll think about looking at a fancy new tablet.

  10. framitz says:

    My interest in a netbook lasted about a month, then I got a tablet and am no longer interested at all.

  11. Kuri says:

    I was always scared to try out the demo netbooks due to them being so small.

  12. bbf says:

    No, the tablet isn’t killing netbooks. It’s Dell’s lack of profit selling netbooks that got Dell to drop them. It’s double speak from Dell to cover up their incompetence in the netbook market… $300-400 for a Dell 10″ Atom netbook?!? I wonder why they didn’t sell many of them. Especially since companies like Acer are selling 11.6″ 1366×768 netbooks with faster AMD processors and decent built-in graphics for $300.

    Acer and Asus are still making money selling netbooks and aren’t considering dropping them eventhough both have a huge investment in both the tablet and ultrabook markets.

    • SnoopyFish says:

      Agreed. I have had an Asus 1005PR for over a year now and it has been awesome. The 1366X768 screen is kick ass. I watch BlueRay movies on it, game on it, program on it, layout websites with Photoshop, netflix, browse the web and so much more. No tablet could even come close. Oh, and I spent far less than most tablets out there.

    • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

      dell has same cheap chinese junk as everyone else but they need to support their US business unit, arguably the only part of the company that does not contribute to the product quality from having state salaries. same reason why IBM went bust and why HP has to go out of business

  13. Exceptional Vampire Does Not Sparkle says:

    Never liked them anyways. I far prefer a 7 inch tablet or a 15.6 inch laptop.

  14. gman863 says:

    Dell is but one of many players in the world of electronic toys. If or when other major players (specifically ASUS and/or Acer) drop netbooks, I’ll consider them on the way out.

    Aside from the marketing hype, I’m still scratching my head over the tablet’s market share:

    * Same apps that run on your iPhone or Android – just a bit larger screen.

    * Typing anything longer than a Tweet on a glass touch screen is a pain in the ass. Want a real keyboard for a tablet? Add $80 and one more thing to carry around.

    * “Cloud” storage with free Wi-Fi is good. Cloud storage using a 3G/4G cellular network card is bending over and grabbing your ankles when the overage charges kick in.

    My feeling is the netbook market is being hit as much (or more) by the narrowing gap in price between netbooks and entry level full size notebook PCs. A netbook is currently $250-$300; add $100 and you get 4 times the screen size, a much more powerful processor, a CD/DVD drive and more memory.

  15. TuxMan says:

    Netbook? Tablet? No thanks….

    No way am I giving up a keyboard. I type by touch.

    No way am I holding the damn thing for more than thirty minuets.

    No way am I giving up G Bytes of storage space.

    No way am I going to convert all of my CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray disks to the cloud.

    All for what? A touch screen? My phone has a touch screen, and fits in my pocket too.

    All you need is a laptop and smartphone.

    • SnoopyFish says:

      A netbook has all the above aside from touch screen.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I’m with you, I’m not giving up that key board. I never had a smart phone though. Maybe a text now and then.

      I think people are going to be disappointed around a year from now with their Ipads just because of the screen. I frequently have seen people go into a cell phone dealer or carrier asking them to replace their smart phone screens. If your carrying the Ipad what’s so difficult about a smaller laptop or netbook.

      Too many tech hipsters out there with no practicality.

  16. plex says:

    Uhh, tablets are the one’s that are a niche product. They definitely cannot be used to type in words anywhere near as easily. I would find them extremely frustrating when traveling. Not to mention tablets being a good bit more expensive.

  17. plex says:

    Also, Dell has just sorta sucked lately. It hasn’t even tried competing with the other netbook makers. Its desktops haven’t been much of a deal either.

  18. jeffpiatt says:

    oddly they never mention that the Latitude net-book is still being sold to academic customers i service dell systems and compared to the mini 10 they are much better built.

  19. duncanblackthorne says:

    *sigh*
    I think I’ll just continue my strategy of buying used laptops for cheap (or free, if I have a friend who has one that needs repair and they just replace it) and using them until they’re not repairable anymore.

  20. ironflange says:

    I love my Inspiron Minis. Yes, I somehow wound up with two, so I use one with Win7 and one with Linux. My wife got a tablet a few months ago and I can honestly say I haven’t spent more than an hour total on it. I want a mouse and a real keyboard.

  21. SteveHolt says:

    Damn! My Dell laptop wanted a mini-me.

  22. maruawe says:

    The people that I know who bought Dell’s netbook probably will like this idea, most seem to think that it was not the best choice when buying

  23. Ablinkin says:

    The death of the Netbook for all manufacturers will be the painfully slow Atom processor.

    You guys can keep your i-pads and any other type of tablet. There are hardly any usable ports, not much internal storage, and frankly the touch keyboard’s suck.

    But we all know they have nice displays.

  24. gargunkle says:

    I still like my netbook quite a bit (Dell mini 1012). Great for what I need it to do, and long battery life. Hmm.. wonder if they are going out now, if I could get a markdown one.

    FWIW, the Mini (in models 2100, 2110, 2120) still seem to be available on the Dell Outlet.

  25. diagoro says:

    First Dell dropped the Streak (5″ phone/tablet combo), than dropped the 7″ tablet….and are now dropping the netbooks. Anyone wondering if things are getting tight over at Dell?

    (And for the record, the Streak is a great phone)

  26. quail says:

    Just because one company says the Netbook is dead doesn’t make it so. Got an Asus that my mother-in-law bought but doesn’t use. It’s 2 yrs old and has Easy Peasy as its OS. The thing will run 5 hours on battery alone with the wi-fi running and me surfing the net, reading books in Calibre, writing drafts for papers, etc. (And no, it does not have a solid state hard drive.) It’s my go to PC for when I’ll be away for a day. (Thankfully it was one of the first models to have a decent sized keyboard.)

  27. The Twilight Clone says:

    Dell’s netbooks SUCKED. I had a mini 10 at work for a while. The slowest piece of shit I’ve used in years. Course, it was limited to 1GB RAM and was running some shitty neutered version of Windows 7. God that thing was horrible.

    But I use a Latitude at home and it’s great. Love it.

  28. FrugalFreak says:

    netbook- NO
    notebook YES

  29. Frank From Virginia says:

    I have both (and a desktop) and they each have their place. Quick browsing, checking the news, E-mail, etc. the tablet is the way to go. But any major typing (writing a paper or book) the netbook, while lying in bed or in front of the TV, or the desktop other times is the way to go.

  30. Groanan says:

    The Dell Mini 9 (well, Vostro A90) I purchased from the Dell Business Store a few years ago for $250, and upgraded the SSD on, is still more useful to me than any tablet device so far (and I can have three operating systems on it simultaneously!!! (although Snow Leopard is by far the best)).

    Maybe I’m too set in my ways, but tactile keyboards are still easier for taking notes in class.

  31. viper2000 says:

    I’m actually considering buying a netbook before the next semester starts.

    I’ve used my 17″ and 15.6″ laptops to take notes during my lectures, and when I’m in a big lecture hall with large tables, either one works fine, but when I’m usually in a regular classroom with regular desks, they are both too big to be practical.
    I’ve also tried using my android tablet with keyboard-case to take notes, and it just ended up being a PITA. While it may work for some people, its not for me. An iPad is not an option for me.

    So, instead of taking notes by hand, which is a pain in the hand, I’ll probably be picking up a decent cheap netbook.
    Not because I want a full time laptop (which I already have), or want to play games on it (which is what my desktop is for), but because it’s the best tool for the job. Pretty much all it will have installed is an office suite, web browser, and any software required for my classes.

    It doesn’t matter that for another $50, I can get a 15.6″ dual core laptop with decent ram and storage. I don’t need any of that. I am sure there are others that feel the same. The netbook may not be practical for everybody, but it does have its use, especially at the ~$200 price range.

  32. jrobie says:

    So annoying. The story everyone is writing is “nobody wants netbooks anymore,” when in reality there was only like one generation of actual netbooks. Netbooks were supposed to be (1)small, (2) weak and (3) cheap. After making these for a year or so the industry seemed to say “if you like things that are small,weak and cheap, you’ll love things that are small, kinda powerful and expensive!”. No wonder no one was interested. I don’t believe the market went away, the supply went away. I love my tablet, but tablets are primarily consumption devices. Trying to do actual work on one is frustrating waste of time.

  33. yospiff says:

    I still like my netbook for what I use it for. It’s a full fledged windows 7 computer, small, cheap, light and ideal as a second computer for traveling or mobile troubleshooting. There are just some things a tablet can’t do. If I traveled by plane, train, or something else where I just sat and killed time a lot, then I might look at tablets as more convenient for that.

  34. JonBoy470 says:

    Dell is making this move because they’ve noticed the success of the iPad, as has Microsoft. M$ will be making a big push into the tablet space (and away from netbooks) with Windows 8, and Dell is positioning themselves appropriately for this paradigm shift.

    The iPad has definitively shown that the netbook is dead. As Steve pointed out, they’re nothing but cheap laptops. Netbooks offer no functionality above and beyond, or different from a regular laptop. They’re just smaller, have crappier screens and keyboards, less storage. And between price erosion of Windows notebooks, and feature creep of netbooks, they’re not really any cheaper anymore.

    As for typing with an iPad, I own one, and can touch type on it just about as well as I can on a regular keyboard. That said, if I were to do a lot of typing on it, I’d invest in one of the gaggle of keyboard cases available, at which point it’d be maybe the size of a netbook.

  35. hwertz says:

    Too bad. I have a Mini 10 and it’s nice. The biggest problem they had was people insisting on ordering them with Windows (which really runs poorly on the Atom.) Ubuntu runs fine on the Mini.

    In a broader sense, I really need a keyboard on my stuff. I even have one on my cell phone.

    Here’s hoping some ARM-based small computers (i.e. screen as well as keyboard) come out before the netbooks fade out. They’ll have even better battery life than the Atom-based ones, and no comment on “Windows for ARM”, but I can tell you I’ve messed with Linux dekstops on PowerPC, UltraSPARC, DEC Alpha, PA-RISC, as well as a bit on ARM and they were just the same as an x86 desktop, including driver support for any PCI, USB, etc. stuff I could shove into them. You could run Ubuntu or whatever for ARM for a desktop-like experience, or Android if you want it more tablet-style.