Netbooks are trendy

dell inspiron mini What kind of computer do you use? Most of my work is done at a desktop or workstation; a tower attached to three monitors. The rest of the time I’m using either my laptop or tablet. I’ve also got a little Sony UMPC but it doesn’t get used much. It was kinda cool for a while, but it’s not all that fast. And once I got my iPod touch, that pretty much fulfilled my small device needs.

My favorite to use is probably my tablet, even though it’s the slowest of the bunch. I think I like it mostly because of the form factor – it’s pretty small for a laptop (at 12 inches) but large enough that I don’t sacrifice a keyboard or full operating system.

A couple years from now though, my tablet might seem rather large thanks to the netbook trend. What’s a netbook? From Wikipedia:

A netbook is a small to medium sized, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptop, generally optimized for internet based services such as web browsing and e-mailing. Netbooks are also sometimes, but rarely referred to as a sub-subnotebook.

The form factor of a netbook is smaller than that of a notebook and they are very light in weight (usually 2 to 3 pounds). Common features include a small screen (usually around 7-inches to 10-inches diagonal), wireless connectivity, but no optical disc drive, and a smaller sized keyboard (usually 80 percent to 95 percent of normal size). There is also a trend of using solid-state drives instead of traditional hard disk drives.

Maybe it’s just me, but every second article on technology these days seems to mention netbooks! The blogosphere made a big deal this week out of the fact that Windows boss Steven Sinofsky demonstrated Windows 7 running on a netbook. And today, PC World declares that netbooks will soon cost just $99:

Subnotebooks like the Asus Eee PC, the Dell Mini 9 and the HP 2133 Mini-note will soon cost as little as $99. The catch? You’ll need to commit to a two-year mobile broadband contract. The low cost will come courtesy of a subsidy identical to the one you already get with your cell phone.

A monthly service fee for mobile broadband doesn’t appeal to me at all, but a $99 netbook certainly does. Heck, I’m already tempted by the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (pictured above) and it’s nearly $500! If the cost of components fell enough so that a netbook was about half that price, I’d have no hesitations about picking one up and I doubt anyone else would either.

Netbooks are definitely trendy, but I think this is one trend that will last. A small device to check email, read and post blogs, and update Twitter is something that appeals to lots of people. Okay maybe not that last part 🙂

6 thoughts on “Netbooks are trendy

  1. I’m not sure about that Dell – the site says 4 hours of battery life, and assuming the OEM is exaggerating, imagine what it’s like with the radios on… and it’s hard to comtemplate buying a new PC with XP with Windows 7 in CTP.

    Some of the UMPCs with keyboard look interesting – I haven’t taken the plunge on one – I’m curious to know what led you to stop using the Sony.

  2. I recently was buying a second laptop and because I wanted something small and truly portable I gave serious consideration to the Acer Aspire and the Asus EEE. Either would be easy to basically keep in a purse or messenger bag so that it’s always handy. I eventually just went with a 14″ acer instead, pricewise it made more sense to me, but I really did like the little netbooks!

  3. Colin – I think the keyboard was the main reason. The Sony has a tiny keyboard, and it’s just too awkward to use for blogging or any serious amount of writing.

    Laurie – if the netbook was a lot cheaper would you have gone for that instead?

  4. I bought an Eee in February and it has been my main computer ever since. I even sold my 14″ soon after I got the Eee. I find it sufficient for my day to day use (especially since we have a home server in the basement). The Eee is small enough that I take it everywhere with me, even when travelling. The battery life is surprisingly good. There are days that it can go more than 3 hours with wifi on. I think the worst thing about it is the keyboard (but I have small hands so I got used to it). Having a laptop that starts up in less than 30s is definitely a selling feature! Though I’m not sure I like the recent trend of having Windows on these netbooks because it’s just going to drive the cost up.

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