Smartphones have been around for a long time, but only recently did the laptop industry figure out that it could cut into the market funded solely by tech nerds' f*ck-you money with a compound word of its own: netbook. A computer that carries light on the hardware and is designed to run programs provided as network resources is …
There's one vital thing here:
Screen size. "Smartphone" implies something too small to see properly without special reformatting (thank you Opera Mini) where as "Netbook" (or "Minibook" or whatever) has a screen big enough to use. If it's small enough to fit in your pocket, its screen will be too small for a large percentage of anything you would normally use a computer for.
And then there's the keyboard...
Weaktops? Weak argument
"Making a business case for one of these things is hard, because for a few hundred dollars more, you can buy a full-featured laptop."
Making a business case for one of these things is easy - it's tiny. I can actually carry it around with me, and therefore get to use it occasionally. Contrast this with a nice heavy laptop requiring its own bag, which is far too much hassle to lug around and just ends up left on the desk.
Besides, you're vastly overstating how underpowered these devices are. I've yet to come across a single thing I can't do on my netbook (and no, I haven't tried video editing). Claiming that they're only good for browsing the web is entirely ingenuous.
I'm all for this new breed of smartphone you talk about; an all-in-one device that will fit in my pocket would be great. Now if someone could just release one which has a good UI and a decent range of features, but doesn't require me to lease my soul to St. Jobs to acquire it, I'd be first in line.
In the mean time, I'm pretty happy with my Acer Aspire One, thanks all the same.
Weaktop indeed - what bilge
I own an iPhone and an Acer Aspire One and there is no way that the iPhone will replace my laptot. Firstly, text input is painful at best. It is OK for a short message but nothing else. Secondly, the screen is just too small to be able to stand in for a laptot.
The fact is that my Aspire One is very portable and does most of what I want a laptop to do most of the time. It simply isn't true that all it's suited to is web browsing and email. Any device is a compromise, but the iPhone and laptots are different compromises and I could not do half the things I use my Aspire One for on an iPhone. I spent a few hours last night programming in Python for example, try that on an iPhone.
Try showing a presentation, writing a letter, programming and so on with a phone. Even just using Skype is beyond it.
Quite why the author is so negative about laptots is not obvious, but that this is no more than a propaganda piece is made clear by the silly use of the word "weaktop". What an inaccurate and linguistically foolish use of English.
"As destructive as it's going to be, the Rise of the Machines will be strangely satisfying. "
I knew! Ted is a minion of the LA and has been all along!
He must be stopped.
A netbook is a dsplay device, not a computer or smarphone.
I think that the netbook segment is not too much in danger from full size laptops or smartphones, and here is why:
Against full size laptops there is clearly a size and weight issue: people that buy netbooks are not willing to carry a 6 pound 15 inch laptop, otherwise they would probably have bought one already since they are not that much more expensive than a netbook. I bet that most netbook users also have a desktop at home or in the office for the times when they need to do heavy processing. Netbooks are portable additions to your computing arsenal, not the main piece.
Against the smartphone there is also a size issue, but the other way around: it's too small and doesn't have a proper keyboard. the web is designed for a screen 800 or 1024 pixels wide, and it's impossible to cram that kind of resolution on a screen less than 6 or 7 inches without making the whole thing unreadable. Beside most netbooks are also useful offline to arrange pictures in picassa, read pdf brochures, edit word documents, read ebooks etc... for anybody who isn't connected constantly a netbook is better than a smartphone.
I think the nebook will continue to occupy a fairly large market of users who want a computer smaller than a full size laptop but still big enough to display documents, videos, pictures and web pages with ease. the netbook is a display device, the smartphone is a communication device. The only way I can see this changing is if smartphones start coming up with some kind of foldable screen and keyboard.
Ruby On Rails
I have Ruby On Rails running on my Acer Aspire One and it uses SQLite by default, not MySQL.
The thrust of the piece is totally acurate. I have both an Acer and an iPhone. Why? Because I can...
"cheap, underpowered laptop.""
"it's now "all you really need is a cheap, underpowered laptop.""
yep, that's correct, that's all many people do need when on the road. Though you should have added 'small but not with teeny tiny screen and keyboard (e.g. unlike like a smartphone' .
'underpowered is in the eye of the beholder, but who needs a 3Ghz battery munching chip just to read email.
> "The internet terminal computer started as a classic imaginary problem that engineers wanted to solve"
No, you mean, "... that marketing types wanted to solve". The engineers were quite happy in the back room playing video games, thankyou very much, until some pin-striped marketing type with nostrils still crusty from the bolivian marching powder sashays in and says "What we need is sexy, cute, in-your-face, hip, notebook-like computer that ....". Cue groans and rolling eyeballs from the engineers .....
Let me get this straight...
...so, weaktops/netbooks are going to collapse because consumers don't like linux. Except that consumers according to you don't have money to spend on frivolous aspects. Only they do have that money if it's for spending on smartphones, which are somehow less frivolous than netbooks. Only we're talking about techies. Except not real techies who'd probably quite like a small cheap laptop running linkus, but rather "techies" who think that impressing people at what used to be their local Starbucks is the most important thing about their hardware.
Smartphones worse than netbooks in almost every way
Imagine a nice beautiful small long-battery-life phone plus a WiFI netbook.
1) Mmm, with my netbook I have a big enough screen and keyboard to see stuff and do stuff. (And on those very few occasions when I just *have* to have the internet, and there's no Wiffy, i go to my little phone.)
2) and oh yes, as for doing all that voice-call business - yes, my beautiful and appropriate little phone does that.
But if instead I use a smartphone for everything -- then yes, it always has the internet, but it's a deeply unpleasant experience, every time. It's crap at browsing, crap at typing, and it's crap as a mobile for voice use (big, ugly, crap battery).
The smartphone: half car, half lawn-mower. What's not to like?
Go on, tell us then...
"That's funny. I know of another device that can't support much beyond web browsing and checking e-mail, but is backed by the full faith and credit of Steve Jobs's divinity."
It's a MacBook, isn't it.
I don't agree
It's the two different form factors that are the most important, not so much the hardware spec and software design, though these will still improve.
The one is an A5 to A4 size screen that you can carry in your bag and comfortably read on and input into. The other is something that is pocketable and you can do comms and take pictures but you don't want to read a book or watch a movie or write something long on.
The reason I have a netbook and not a smart phone is simple: A Keyboard. Yeah the eee et al have miniture keyboards, but they're still infinitely easier to type on than a smart phone. Try making a long blog post, a long email or anything similar on a smart phone, and you'll feel like you have arthritis within ten minutes. Plus they're much more useful for troubleshooting people's wifi networks, another major use to which I put me eee :)
Things the smartphones will struggle with
Capability to run much bigger screen or a full external screen
Skype - yes that's a Killer app
Yes there's a threat but it's not from smartphones - it's from bigger laptops and (spit) win xp
I would rather have matches put under my fingernails than write a letter to my accountant on a 2.5 inch screen. And I can't think of a reason to carry arround a PC in my pocket, sensitive personal data and all. No, smart phones are not practical. Smart phones are in fact bought by the same gadget enthusiasts you dismissed as the only customers for weaktops
Smart phones are the moden equivalent of of the digital watch pen. Back in 1982 people would stand around in groups and go "oooooh!" when shown a pen with a digital watch built into the barrel. Useless of course, but they had that aura of desirability.
Weaktops, on the other hand, have a real market among middle-aged folks who want to store their photos, and a few music tracks, in a place where they are safe from the kids who have already monopolised and wrecked the family PC. And they can be used, at a pinch, for home office computing, most of which could be accomplished on a 486. Like writing a letter to my accountant, for example.
Smartphones - really interesting short term, completely useless
Weaktops - really rather usefull, completely boring
Oh and it was nice to see wheeled out that oft-repeated and most devastating of Linux counter-arguments, viz. that the sysadmin smells. I am a sysadmin and I am wearing an ironed shirt, Lynx deoderant and a rather nice pair of Loakes. I thank you.
difference is netbooks *can* function without the net
Example: I have my complete work java development environment set up on my Aspire One (with Ubuntu). Should I need to, and it has happened, I can push bugfix software updates out from that whereever I am. Sure it's a lot *slower* than developing on my iMac, and I can't splash source code windows all over the screen but in a pinch I *can* get the work done. The netbook *can* stretch to it (in fact it's not even hard, you just need a little patience and to remember that it's still faster than your desktop machine of a few years ago). I don't think there's a smartphone that can do that. A smartphone is what it is and you're stuck with it. The netbook can stretch.
For non-programmers, I'd hazard that the continuing popularity of OpenOffice.org over Google Office Apps probably means the same applies for them too. OOo 3.0 runs fine on these machines...
I'd agree that the original Eee is too limited. However, the 9-10 inch netbooks have a resolution more viable for simple everyday computing, and most of these have 1GB of RAM, leaving XP reasonably happy to do its business, at least so long as you don't get too optimistic.
Having said that, there are entirely separate reasons to take an interest in a netbook. Let's see, decent battery life and small size - note-taking in classrooms or lectures, ebook reader, movie player, porn browser, etc... applications where the larger screen and/or reasonable-sized keyboard offer a clear advantage over smartphones.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a smartphone user rather than a netbook user, but typing any serious amount on an E71 is rather more taxing than on a proper keyboard, and the screen just isn't big enough for media playback. There's a degree of convergence, and I can see the specialised portable DVD and media players as the first casualties, as the smaller of their kind are picked off by smartphones and the larger by netbooks. Ebook readers such as the sony device will also look overpriced compared to surfing/colour/movie-capable netbooks, and may also find it hard to enter the market.
As people have less money to spend, netbooks will lose some who no longer have enough to spend, but will gain others who decide a netbook will suffice over a more expensive laptop, so it remains to be seen how much they'll get hit.
A point well missed
I shall shortly be purchasing one of those nifty Acer Aspire Ones. I'm not a gadget freak or a Linux 'fanboy', I just have a need for a laptop that can do Office (Open or Microsoft, I'm not too fussed) for one and a half hours on the train, morning and evening to do work on the move - and not much else really.
It's got to be light, robust and reliable. It doesn't have to be powerful. It doesn't even need to be permanently-net-connected, really (the idea of a netbook always connected to the internet is just hype).
I have a laptop at home - it's far too big and heavy. I don't want to spend a fortune to fulfill this limited need: spending £400 instead of £200 is £200 wasted because if I want mor processor power I have it in the office and at home.
Netbooks are popular because they fulfill certain people's *needs*. End of.
And what's all that about smartphones? How does that help me get work done on the move (not all of us have a need to answer email 24/7)?
Paris Hilton - cos she's clearly much smarter - and a deeper thinker - than this Dzuiba geezer...
Weaktops? Nice term.
But I reckon they should be "failtops" to go with the general Dziuba theme.
Nice article, this is my new favourite part of the Reg.
I think you've mis-understood this issue
Apparantly saying "that's bollocks" isn't business-ese enough....
I would argue that there wasn't a target audience for netbooks; Asus (and everyone else) have been surprised by the success of the eee PC.
One of the groups that's picked up on netbooks is the "yoof" community that are migrating from Nintendo DS and PSP to something that will do social networking stuff.; they aren't expecting to run MS Office or MySQL so the operating system and lack of horsepower aren't an issue, whereas the low cost is. Forget Mactards and expensive 3G contracts, we're talking about the unwashed masses and free Wi-Fi in MacDonalds.
Netbooks are perfectly capable machines, the eee901 has huge battery life and lets me, watch movies on the plane, check email, do web stuff and write documents.
Actually, most of the non-heavyweight stuff I want to do with any computer. On top of that, it boots in no time at all so it's prefect to have in the living room as a google/wiki machine for answering all those "wasn't he in ... ?" questions that arise when you're watching the telly.
Could I have got a full laptop for a couple of quid more? Sure, but I would have got something bigger, heavier, worse battery life and less resistant to being thrown around.
If linux is the issue, then sure, I have begun to hate Xandros, it was badly set up and doesn't have all the geek tools I wanted. Plus the update process is always failing. The problem for non geeks is more to do with "It won't run iTunes", "where's Microsoft Office?" and "what's a firefox?"
but then they're non-geeks, so who gives a crap about them?
A title is required.
"After all, the Eee PC isn't powerful enough to run MySQL and Ruby on Rails ..."
That's odd. I run PostgreSQL, Java and Tomcat on mine so I'm sure it could run MySQL and Ruby on Rails. It's not blisteringly quick, but combined with the convenience of the Eee (it fits in the inside pocket of my leather jacket) it's handy for knocking together bugfixes remotely, after SSH'ing into the servers to diagnose the problem.
Tecnically this is not about "failbooks"
It's about "fail-intel" the Atom is one of the worst chips ever to be produced. it's way to power hungry, doubles has a hotplate (if you fancy a fired egg with your chips!) and way to slow to be any use...
I'm just waiting to see how the new ARM's fare....
Road to Damascus
I bought a Maplins MiniBook a couple of months ago. I thought it was going to be a toy. It turned out to be surprisingly usable and, once a VNC client was installed, enabled me to do everything I could on my desktop system because I could run my desktop system from it. Less than 700 gm and can be squeezed into a pocket. It has taken over from my Dell Latitude d420 anytime I travel without a car.
Under-powered? No. My Eee 901 is the fastest computer I own. I can hardly imagine why anyone would need anything faster. Oh, except for games of course, and a few things like video editing. Can someone enlighten me as to what else I'm missing with this "underpowered" computer?
Real life non-geek use
We have a non-geek (but smart) friend who ditched his smartphone in favor of an AA1 which he carries *everywhere*.
The neighbours' kids all want one for Christmas.
And the obligatory IT angle, the geek writing this is a bit clumsy and has put both a Clie PDA and the wife's AA1 to the involuntary drop -from-table-height test - of the two, the AA1 is the one still working.
Give the chipmakers a year and we'll be seeing Pentium-M performance levels from these toys, still at the £200 price point. Sweet... especially if one can has 20" widescreens at home and office to plug into.
For those sufficiently well off, the future is something like that - carry your life around and plug in the usual peripherals wherever you stop. And a Mac Mini with a few terabytes of external storage at home, for doing the media stuff.
Keep up at the back
In the rise of the machines Ted Dziuba would be a robot capable of morphing into Ted Douchebag in an instant. After one or two pieces which weren't totally off the mark, Ted returns with a tired piece parroting the tired "that'll never sell" nonsense that was the conventional wisdom before Asus showed everyone that netbooks do actually sell, probably making a bunch of people wonder why they'd listened to the pundits all these years.
Another vote of 'what a load of bollocks'
Ditto what the majority of posters have written - that's a truly shoddy article.
For the record, the term 'netbook' actually came into being with the Psion product of the same name, circa 1999.
And 'weaktops' is a pathetic term, you may as well complain you can't hammer nails in with a screwdriver, the issue is about fit-for-purpose, and the author seems to be a little confused about what purpose he's writing about...
Education needed, nothing more
Without getting into technicalities like whether you've tried running MySQL and Ruby on Rails on an EeePC, if you've "got this hunch that consumers may be cutting back spending in the shit-they-don't-need category of goods" and "a smartphone that gets more powerful [is] just an excuse to spend more money" then aren't netbook and smartphone sales *both* going to suffer in the climate? Jobs wouldn't be in favour of product diversification, and it's no great surprise it turns out he isn't.
As for "making a business case for one of these [netbook]s is hard, because for a few hundred dollars more, you can buy a full-featured laptop": well, quite. When was there a general-consumer case for getting an overpowered electric typewriter (latter cases of "it also does games" notwithstanding?).
I don't see netbooks going into wide use in business, either. Schools, maybe, but wasn't that the point? The problem we've currently got is that we reached the point (at last) where machines exist to cover the niches all the way up from internet and light-business use but there's a distinct lack of salespeople able to convey the sudden difference in the low/middle end to the man on the street (and some hardware teething troubles).
I for one don't want a smartphone, nor do I want my netbook with me at all times. Some folks might want one or both. Who knows? Why force a choice? Different strokes for different folks :)
it dose everyting my laptop dose
the netbooks I am looking to get run XP so I KNOW I can use thinks like usb memory stciks bluetoof adaptors etc and they are a Proper computer so I can stick my memoy stick in on the train write a doc or save a pic of the internet and take it out at the end of te trip and plug it into my computer on my desk and it opens find
to me that is the BIG diffrence between a net book is a netbook runs the same os as a desktop
Not all bad
The article isn't all bad. It is correct that there is a threat to netbooks from the laptop market. But I'm fairly confident it isn't particularly threatened by the smartphone market. The reasoning behind that statement is that the overlap between smartphones and netbooks is much smaller than the writer thinks. They may both connect you to your email, but you need a netbook for writing anything serious, reading articles or webpages properly. You can do these things on a smartphone, but it's hard to argue that you can do them anywhere near as easily. And then there are things that you shouldn't even contemplate doing on a smartphone such as spreadsheets. So smartphones threatening netbooks, not much - people buy what is appropriate to them. But laptops threatening netbooks I get because laptops are getting lighter and, I suspect, cheaper over the next year. There will still be people who want to cycle around time or run to work with their netbook in their backpack, or students who want to walk around with it all day in a big baggy pocket. Netbooks will be fine for them. But for most people, a ultra-slim laptop will be better value and as netbooks are already expensive enough that they count as a non-casual purchase, people are likely to spend the extra on what they need.
Netbooks will stick around, but the hype will die down soon, I think.
Wrong; wrong ; wrong!
The author has completely missed the point and I award a big FAIL to the assessment. I have owned laptops in the past; several in fact but have given up using them
too big (try it on a train; plane.....)
too short a battery life
weak components - screen; hard disk- HARD DISK !!
underpowered compared to most peeps desktop at work (or home)
So called "weaktops" are like the Psion netBook
smaller but easily used keyboard/screen
more robust (NO HARD DISK)
relatively long battery life
apps "just good enough" for letter writing; basic touch-up my photos; running website etc
Smartphones (I have a nokia 9500) is fine for "have to type a reasonably argued email"/desperate for internet use and good as a PIM platform. But it (and other smartphones are available) has a pale imitation of a browser that glacially slow at rendering. I know it's the smartphone app's fault - not good enough for the job for nay realistic use for any length of time (add in the mangling that mobile browsers do to websites and.....). Alternatively; GPRS via smartphone linked to netBook = *very* acceptable mobile internet. And it (Eee PC) all can be carried as as A5-book-size parcel all day and in my pocket (phone). Just not possible with a "real" laptop.
Background: 10years+ with Psion netBook and Nokia 6310i
"...to figure out how to get a stripper's tit-glitter out of his hair (hint: shower twice)."
Just HOW do you know this?
I think the country (and your wife!) needs to know...... :-)
Paris, coz even she wants to know.......
where did the idar that a netbook JUST dose internet a netbook dose everything a 3 yearold laptop dose (the eee 901 is the same spec as the old dells we use in my office) and seames it runs xp it does exactley the same stuff
I see why people are objecting but the readership of El Reg isn't representative
Money permitting, I'd quite happily have a smartphone, a weaktop, a laptop and a desktop, because they fit different niches (very portable, quite portable, I want to do serious work elsewhere, I want to play games), but I am not typical. Joe Public isn't going to want all 4, and your average businessman will probably have 2. One has to make phone calls, and the other has to be suitable for using in his office, so that's a smartphone and a laptop then. The other niches don't have enough extra benefit, especially considering the smartphone, the weaktop and the two computers will have at least 3 different UIs.
Broken? I've posted on this one twice and nothing is appearing.
And @Joe "but who needs a 3Ghz battery munching chip just to read email?" - isn't that the Vista population?
I think Ted's got a point - unless I can do everything I ever want to do on a weaktop I need a second laptop, and if I can do everything I need to on the move with a smartphone I'm done.
@David Hicks - This is why Ted is right
The last 2 paragraphs of your post are a potted summary of the non-geek experience:
"If linux is the issue, then sure, I have begun to hate Xandros, it was badly set up and doesn't have all the geek tools I wanted. Plus the update process is always failing. The problem for non geeks is more to do with "It won't run iTunes", "where's Microsoft Office?" and "what's a firefox?"
but then they're non-geeks, so who gives a crap about them?"
That's why shitloads of them got returned to Carphone Warehouse and why ultimately Ted is right and these things won't carve out the market that their makers would like.
Most of the commenters on this article are springing to the defence of their favourite toy, which is fine, I can see the attraction. But the geek market just isn't big enough to give these things critical mass.
@ Jim 13:18
"I am a sysadmin and I am wearing an ironed shirt, Lynx deoderant and a rather nice pair of Loakes. "
So you're just wearing a shirt, a pair of loafers and deodorant, and this is meant to show that sysadmins have social skills? I can't wait for the update from dress down Friday .
cheap and light. Duh!
Consumers want a laptop that is light, cheap, and easy to read and type on. Smartphones are light. Laptops are easy to read and type on. So what's wrong is either that it isn't possible to do all three, or that makers just don't get it.
Well, there's a third possibility too. Maybe the software available is so pathetic that a gigahertz processor, gigabyte RAM, and kilo-miliwatt battery isn't enough to make the thing go. How could that be? The OLPC folks are trying for all three. I don't think they're there yet. They were close but then they took windows on board, so maybe in acouple more generations...
My next laptop will be
1. under 1kg
2. minimum full-laptop sized keyboard
3. minimum 12" display; nice and bright please
4. minimum 10gig solid state hard drive. 40 would be better.
5. around US$500.
6. runs useful software (so no OLPC then). Windows or Linux (so no smartphone software then).
7. no stupid surprises; adequate cpu horsepower, reasonable battery life, reasonable connectivity, reasonable peripherals, etc.
I've decided to wait until these specs are available, so any maker hoping to pull themselves out of the recession with my dollars better listen up.
Y'know, we're almost there.
This article is 100% correct. I've been wondering why weakbooks even sell! All I could figure is I'm not the average consumer (which I'm not) so I have to just accept that I don't understand people who buy weakbooks.
I have a smart phone. It browses well. I can take notes on it etc. The display is fine for both video and text and web pages. The only thing that it could possibly use is support for a real bluetooth keyboard if I was to say type for a long time with it. But actually I don't have that need very often. When I do have access to a computer, I need a 1920x1200 screen, and the ability to do whatever I may want at the time (Photoshop, MS Office, page layout, video editing, compiling/debugging, etc.)
I have a laptop in my family room that's probably used a bit like a netbook for browsing and looking up IMDB info while watching movies, but guess what? It always ends up getting used for things a netbook couldn't just because it's more convenient then going upstairs to the desktop. So say hello to video editing and some quick code debugging and photoshopping. Things that if I had a weakbook simply wouldn't be on the table. The funny thing is, if I had a weakbook, I probably wouldn't have noticed how it was hindering me because I never planned on using the laptop in the family room for these other things. But since it is powerful enough and allows one to be with the kids while getting some work done, its duties grew to more then what a weakbook could handle.
Anyway, while most of the comments don't agree with you, I think you're 100% correct. I've felt the same way and don't understand the people who buy underpowered tech that will only hold them back.
You seem pretty sure
...you have the market demographics nailed. With a sample size of one surely there must be some doubt in your mind? Or are you just so c*ck sure?
I've never had the slightest interest in a smartphone - ever. Screen is too half-arsed to be useful, keyboard (if even present) is unusable, phone is too big to be carried everywhere as a phone. In short, for something that needs to be small and pocketable 99% of the time it fails 'cause its too big, and the other 1% of the time when you want to use it as a computer, it fails too because the keyboard and screen are next to f*ing microscopic.
Counter that with a weaktop - too little grunt to tackle 5% (10,20 or even 30% - I'm feeling generous) of the heavier workloads, but good enough for more than most things. Small enough to throw in a small bag (lets face it, even most smartphones don't site as easily in a pocket as the manufacturer would like it to) and with a screen and keyboard just big enough to get the job done.
You mentioned something about pitching the same thing over and over again (I don't have the words in front now, Reg comment system conveniently "hides" them while posting - must be a feature) until acceptance grows - colour me stupid but I think that's the smartphone market you're talking about.
I for one find a weaktop actually useful (yes I have, and I use one). Am I a lone exception, or possibly one in a demographic that may help to expain the recent success in this area? WTF?
The article started going downhill when ti referred to Linux users as "freetards", a word The Register has so often used for the alleged downloaders of alleged music of alleged dubious legality.
Though it's probably true that Q4 sales of these low-end notebooks are going to be down. Q4 sales of everything are going to be down. And, just in case nobody has noticed, outfits such as the multi-headed marketing hydra of DSG are being undercut on this hardware by toyshops.
But what really grates are the assumptions about necessary computer power. I'm typing this com/ment on a machine which, less than a decade ago, would have been incredibly powerful. Whether the design is coming from the smartphone end or the N-book end, these are the high-end compuiters of an unimaginablke sci-fi world of supersonic passenger flight and men walking on the moon.
Tell young people about that today, and they just don't beieve you.
If I'm a freetard for spending good money on a machine that comes with Linux installed. what's the word for all those people who insist on frying their thighs with a machine that runs Windows Vista. Given their over-cooked nether egions, just where might we think they keep their brains?
But, in the end, it's getting the right machine for the job, hardware and software, and I've had more problems adapting to using Mozilla than in coping with the pointy-clicky differences there are between Windows and Linux.
And, from all I've seen so far, with the hype-machine starting for Windows 7, I'd want to see a more resoned dismissal of Linux than a shout of "freetards".
Actually, sad to say, there are quite a few techies which suffer from techno-utopianism. That misguided belief that the 'net is the alpha and omega, the best thing that happened to humanity since inventing writing, and that a billion monkeys twitting to each other and editing each other's wiki pages will user in an a golden age of enlightenment and progress like you've never seen before. It will solve world hunger, cure AIDS and cancer, etc. And verily the same guys who can't even write a page worth reading otherwise, will produce literary works better than Goethe, Shakespeare and Homer put together, if you put them on a networked computer.
To be nasty: I guess when your only "life" is online, and it's the only place where anyone takes you seriously, it's easy to fall to the delusion that that's the real thing and RL was just an unfortunate prelude to it.
To be sure, there are plenty of marketroids too, who just see it as "target market segment." Not going to disagree with you there. But among those techies that you mention as rolling their eyes, there'll be one who's already getting delusions of it being the thing that triggers the next golden age of humanity.
Netbooks vs Smartphones
One key aspect of this battle remarkably appears to be overlooked here:
A netbook (even a 10" model including Windows XP, MS Works and the lot) is still significantly cheaper than a decent smartphone like an iPhone or HTC Touch family member like the Diamond, Pro or HD.
Smart phones? For me, carrying a smartphone would be like having an albatross hung round my neck. Ignore the Jesus-Phone for a mo. The real evil of smart phones is push-email. I can't think of a more productivity sapping development. Executive management do little enough real work as it is with all those stupid meetings they go to. Give them smartphones and they'll never do anything again.
I do get real work done on my Eee PC 701. Although the keyboard is small, I can work with it, but I've got long slim fingers. Sausage handed friends struggle. The relatively low power of the CPU is not an issue when you consider how much of what people do with PCs is not particularly processor intensive.
It's changed the way I work. I used to make lots of notes on paper and never do anything with them - retyping handwritten notes is not something that I enjoy. The incredibly fast start up time means that I can start typing in seconds- try doing that with a normal laptop. And I can put the notes to use.
I've got a PDA as well and I did use it with an infra-red keyboard with it, but the apps with Windows Mobile are crippleware compared to using a proper office suite on a laptot.
Math and You
"The intended target was people who can do all of their computing with web applications, but the actual target was people who are into gadgets and have $300 to burn. Making a business case for one of these things is hard, because for a few hundred dollars more, you can buy a full-featured laptop."
A "few hundred dollars" more than $300 is a price increase of two thirds. Or to put it another way, these netbooks are only 60% of the price of a "full-featured" laptop and yet the only feature I seem to be missing is a graphics processor capable of running modern games - for which I already have a desktop with a large screen anyway!
And as "they don't want to learn Linux", don't tell them it's Linux and they won't complain. The technophobic windowphiles you're worried about have either seen my EEE PC running ubuntu and said "Oh wow, it's like a Mac" or they've seen the stock Xandros install and been impressed by how simple it was to use.
The whole article sounds like some kid whining to his parents about how absolutely imperative it is that he get's the Action Man figure with the Kung-Fu grip instead of the normal non-gripping version.
This article is somewhat tounge in cheek I guess..
..or good old-fashioned trollbait.
Asking "who wants to buy a family hatch-back when you could buy an articulated lorry or a moped?" makes about as much sense as this article.
This is a randomly generated news story using buzzwords and negativity designed to attract readers who might want to leave an equally pointless comment. I think I will stop reading thereg
More extendable than a smartphone
As been mentioned previously, netbooks are extendable, with standard USB slots (and an ExpressCard/34 slot in the Lenovo S10), whereas smartphones are much more limited in that regard. You can add in a wireless broadband widget of some sort, and have essentially the same capabilities as a smartphone, only with a keyboard that's much easier to actually type on, plus considerably more storage space and computing power, and a wider range of potentially useful software.
The only advantage smartphones have is that they're small enough to fit into a coat pocket, or (judiciously) tossed into a briefcase, and used on the go more conveniently.
I believe that there's a decent market for netbooks, and another decent one for smartphones, as well. One note I might add is that I've been looking at netbooks recently, but have had no desire to get a smartphone.
Mine's the longcoat with the 10" pocket in the lining.
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