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back to article Dell flees netbook market, dumps Minis

Dell has pulled out of the netbook market in a move that pretty much seals the fate of the pint-sized form factor. The Dell Mini range is no longer available on the website and the tech titan's US office has confirmed that the product line is dead. First announced in 2008, Dell Minis had 7in or 10in screens, were powered by …

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Today's Ultrabooks are Tomorrow's Netbooks

> It will be interesting to see what else Dell will offer in the £300-400 price bracket.

Next year, it'll be the fire-sale price of their unsold stock of ultrabooks.

Between then and now, it might be a problem to get a cheap small machine, but hang on in there and there'll be some nice slimline brushed-aluminium pint-sized boxes arriving at the same price-point ... for a while at least.

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Meh

£300 - £400??

Dell netbooks cost the same as other manufacturers' offerings - around £200 - £250

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7 or 10 inches?

Who made the Mini 9s then?

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Anonymous Coward

What the hell are you smoking? I know it's Friday but...

"It's bad news for Intel's Atom processor, the silicon in most netbooks, because ultrabooks tend to use faster low-energy chips from AMD and Qualcomm."

No they don't, Ultrabooks use Intel ULV chips, so whilst it might be bad news for Atom it's fantastic news for Intel who will be selling higher margin chips. Perhaps you were thinking of Smartbooks, another dead fad, or low end ultraportables/netbooks which use the AMD E350.

Atom is actually quite happy in NAS and small servers (it's got a good niche there) and the newer versions are moving towards tablets and larger phones. It was never really meant to be a mass market product in the desktop/laptop arena anyway AFAIK.

Maybe some joy for AMD and Qualcomm who may shift low end laptop or tablet CPUs to people who would otherwise have bought a netbook. But Asus (who probably make the best netbooks anyway) are still making the little critters and haven't pulled back yet. There is probably enough demands for very small x86 cheapo laptops to keep Asus/Acer making netbooks for a while yet, any other manufacturers will probably fall away though.

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Netbook death

> It will be interesting to see what else Dell will offer in the £300-400 price bracket.

That statement explains why the netbook has failed.

It was originally meant to be a cheap Linux machine with a small (possibly SSD) HDD. It was meant to be half the price of the £300-£400 bracket. (I picked up my Aspire One with Linpus for £150, just to use as a toy, and have actually found it a useful companion machine to the desktop.)

Unfortunately MS put their boots in and threatened the OEMs, so they had to use Windows and the associated increase in disk space just to hold the OS and associated apps.

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Unhappy

Linux netbooks "didn't work"

The retailers got too many back from punters who thought that the inability to run any software they had, use any scanner/printers/cameras they had and failure to work on many corporate websites meant that the machines were "broken".

Unfortunately, to J Public, a "computer" means a Windows PC.

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WTF?

Really...

Widely available quote:

Todd Finch, Dell senior product marketing manager....

"Where consumers have returned machines, Finch said, it wasn't because of technical problems but because they'd bought a low-priced machine expecting Windows and opened it to find a different interface. Consumers had responded to the low price, he said - the Mini 10v retails for $299 online."

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Unhappy

My mini-10 came with 'buntu 8.10, which I replaced with UNR - using it now. I bought it because it came without windows

TRhing is, nothing new has happened in this space since.

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@Hayden Clark

@Hayden Clark

Good point well made.

I remember the start of the netbook era, some less-tech-savvy people would ask me to "put that there windows on it, I don't like whats on it". However, as I didn't at the time have a portable DVD drive, or walked through a USB stick install, nor could I pick a windows licence out of the air for free (!)* I politely declined.

However, I've noticed with my other half, when she's on the netbook she goes on to look up something on the internet, she just looks for Firefox and is totally platform agnostic. It doesn't matter whether it is booted into Linux, XP or OSX, the OS is all but invisible as the browser is the main application.

* (- Ever noticed how people expect you to work on their computers for free? They come to you with some obscure problem, and half the time you just google for the answer yourself, as if you know every single application/spyware/social networking feature. Could you imagine knowing someone as a mechanic, getting them to spend an hour or two fixing your car, then just driving off just saying 'thanks'? Or asking for free oil changes, as is the case that people think I must have some sort of personal volume licence to every piece of Microsoft software?!!?!?!? I actually now recommend Ubuntu or LibreOffice.)

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Happy

Netbooks haven't 'failed'

Good grief, they're still selling like hot cakes (at least here in sunny Kent) - a customer just last week bought 2 for his kids this Christmas, got me to 'fix' them first so they run Aero properly, at full speed etc...

They are excellent devices and fill the price gap below the low - mid ranged lappies.

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"because ultrabooks tend to use faster low-energy chips from AMD and Qualcomm"

I thought that to be branded an Ultrabook, it had to use a specific Intel CPU?

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Its not fair to compare an AMD Fusion chip to an Atom or an Intel ULV part......

Ok- so the AMD based subnotebooks- are not 'Ultrabooks'- they are however very energy efficient, and have a DX 11 capable graphics APU, until the atrocious graphics that are integrated in Intel chips......

The AMD chips tend to run a good deal more slowly than their Intel counterparts- they have vastly superior graphics though- alongside a different approach (out of order instructions) than do their Atom counterparts.

The AMD Fusion APU- has a hell of a lot more in common with a Cortex A9, than it does an Intel Atom chip...........

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Happy

I just decide myself to buy a netbook a month ago after long hesitation.

I feared it to be too small to use it and too slow to run the programs i need.

I finally got one with 1.6Ghz dual Atom and 1Go RAM.

I run mostly VS2008, IDA-pro and PSPad, all altogether. So basically, write code, compile, disassemble.

It run like a charms and the screen is really not a problem. I got used to it pretty quick, even using a 23" monitor at my desktop.

The most unpleasent thing so far is browsing the net. Looks like today browsers need huge amount of RAM and CPU cycles.

So all in all, i don't feel like owning a netbook, but a very handy small yet powerful computer (ultrabook?) to work on the go (and comes with unbeatable battery life: 6 to 8 hours *working*, depending mainly on screen luminosity).

Well spent money really.

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add more memory...

SWMBO has an Asus eeePC 1101 - now I've swapped the 1GB of memory for 2GB, it runs much more smoothly.

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slender 1-inch thick

slender and 1-inch thick don't appear to sit well together. Especially if we are talking MBA style "ultrabooks".

Now if it was 1-cm then we might be talking so

something.

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@Sir Wiggum

So the demise of netbooks is All Microsoft's Fault?

No problems with the useless screen size/resolution, the minuscule keyboard, the lack of an optical drive? Oh, OK, then.

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"No problems with the useless screen size/resolution, the minuscule keyboard, the lack of an optical drive?"

Those tablets are never going to take off, eh?

(Except substitute "minuscule keyboard" with "no keyboard at all". And add "inadequate storage".)

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Anonymous Coward

lack of optical drive?

why, when an SD card or USB stick offers more (rewritable) storage in far less space.

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FAIL

@Anonymous IV

Er - Yes, it IS largely Microsoft's fault. Why is the screen resolution of my original HP netbook vastly higher than the models which replaced it? Because MS refused to allow manufacturers to continue selling XP unless they crippled the hardware it was sold with.

Incidentally, none of the things you've mentioned are a problem at all with my 2133 - the keyboard is excellent and I genuinely have no idea what I'd want to lug around an optical drive for.

No, the only real problem with it is the VIA C7 CPU which is completely gutless... otherwise it's the perfect little Linux laptop for on-site troubleshooting, with it's nice and solid brushed aluminium case.

The Dell netbooks were also pretty decent little machines when running Linux and kitted out with a SSD, it's a pity they're going.

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Yes it is their fault and it sounds like you expect a netbook to act like a desktop or full fledged laptop and it's not. It was mainly meant for the net hence the name and lack of optical drives and its size. It was the tablet of laptops. If you were expecting anything that's your fault for not understanding their purpose.

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I have a 2133, and you are quite right. That and a mobo/bios problem that permenantly disconnects a sleeping hard disk& then locks the whole thing up

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@Anonymous 1V @Sir Wiggum

So the demise of Netbooks is All Microsoft's Fault?

No problems with the useless screen size/resolution, the minuscule keyboard, the lack of an optical drive? Oh, OK, then.

-

Err yes, between Intel and MS at the start they disallowed any screen resolution beyond 1024 x 600, mandated a crippled OS, MS Starter etc.. Anything basically that would like likely cannibalize more expensive laptops sales.

Keyboards are fine and why do you need a Optical drive ? if your desperate use a portable USB plugin one.

Some tablets have better screen resolutions than Netbooks, a ridiculous state of affairs...

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Tablets running current or previous versions of Windows are never going to take off. iOS is designed for small screens and no keyboard, and doesn't pretend to replace a laptop or desktop, so that is why it is successful in the tablet market. Android and Windows 8 may be successful in the future for the same reasons.

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bep

Yes, it's all Microsoft's fault. None of the other things you mention are a problem on a light, compact machine since you expect it to be, you know, light and compact. Windows on the other hand...

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Megaphone

I'm getting...

...nostalgic over all those analyst comments from 2009 saying that Apple need to make a netbook or be crushed!

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Boffin

Are they continuing the Latitude 21xx series? I've yet to convince anyone in my organisation to buy one (the things are preposterously priced for netbooks - as in, even with a volume client discount they're substantially pricier than any of the tried-and-tested units from the likes of Asus or Samsung, though of course, those companies aren't selling netbooks with business-class support agreements....).

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Anonymous Coward

@Captain Underpants

I'd like to know too. Expensive yes, but I've sent quite a few SSD equipped Latitude 21xx netbooks to Afghanistan *and* had them come back functional and in half reasonable nick. In fact, their survival rate is similar to the Dell ATG machines I've also sent over, but these are way cheaper.

Doubt that could be said for many other netbooks.

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I love my netbook

Sold my old laptop before going away for a while and picked up an NC10 when I got back. I used it for two years as my main laptop at home, I picked up an external DVD drive but hardly ever use it. It's been great for internet, email, iPlayer, listening to music etc its also got great battery life and fits easily in my backpack and unlike an ipad it's actually usefull for doing some work and typing (don't get me wrong the ipad has it's uses).

What a great versatile device :)

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Me too!

Since I got my 1012, with its Broadcom Crystal HD video speedup chip, and 1366x768 screen resolution, Bluetooth mouse etc., I've hardly ever switched my big laptop on. Browses fine, runs Win 7 Home Premium, Office and everything else I want very well. What on earth are those people complaining about browsing speed doing with them?

Come to think of it, the only time I do switch my big one on is when I'm using remote access on it to do video editing on my desktop...

I've also got the earlier mini 1010, running dual boot Win 7 and Snow Leopard.

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Trollface

The Dell Mini is Dead, Long Live the Dell Mini!!!

OK, the "Mini" range is gone from the Dell website. Well, from the "For Home" section.

They also sold Mini 10's in the "Small Business" section but I think they were branded as Latutudes. And they have what looks like a new Atom based 10in netbook in the Latitude 2010, as well as their Latitude ST tablets.

The price tag is getting high, which I expect is down to the touch screen.

So the question really is, what will the masses want? A cheaper netbook without touch screen, a tablet, or a tablet with a keyboard ;-) I don't think I really want a touchscreen netbook at those prices.

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Anonymous Coward

"Dell [snip] pushing a slender 1-inch thick Inspiron 11z Ultralight Laptop as an alternative on the product page for the Mini"

Not as an Ultrabook(tm).

From http://premierit.intel.com/community/ipip/blog/tags/ultrabook

"Intel has trademarked the Ultrabook name so that it can require OEMs to meet certain design targets that include driving the thickness of an Ultrabook to less than his forefinger"

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I have a Mini10...

... with a 1366x768 display and with an extra Gig of memory in it, it's quite a capable little machine. I wouldn't want to edit HD video on it, but apart from that it serves pretty well for software development, media consumption (it's also got hardware video decoding assistance) and general home and office chores.

I don't think there's much wrong with the form factor, it just that they were being sold into a consumer market for which tablets are simply more appropriate and the flexibility offered by a general purpose computing platform isn't very important.

Unfortunately, I suspect ultrabooks might have exactly the same problem.

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I really like my Dell Mini, it's really useful for surfing on the sofa, and the battery lasts about three hours.

It's small and sturdy enough to drop in my rucksack and use as a back up for my camera SD card when I'm travelling. And it fits on the little tables on a Virgin Pendalino

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Aspire One - best value computer I ever bought

I bought an Acer Aspire One when they first came out. It was cheap (£190), quick enough to do anything I wanted it for and was delightfully and conveniently small. I have used it every day for more than two years although I am using it less and less now.

The low screen resolution wasn't a problem and although I am fairly tall, I don't have wide fingers so the small keyboard never caused a problem either. Optical drives are stupid and I don't want to see another one ever so I certainly didn't miss that.

All in all, my AAO has been cheap, reliable and has done what I wanted it to. It's not the best computer I have ever owned (my MacBook Pro costing 8 times as much wins that distinction) but it was the best value.

RIP netbooks, you were fun while you lasted.

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WTF?

Barely escaped...

I was just eyeing with one yesterday... Would be unsettling to have another abandoned Dell product sitting next to my Streak.

Streamlining the product range makes sense if you strip the products without future, but if all you have left are the same products everyone else has, then you'll just be one of the common vendors.

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Anonymous Coward

Todays tablets are tomorrows netbooks...

... assuming anyone other than Apple manage to make significant sales.

Tablets will see a consumer demise as the must-have factor dies.

Instead, they'll end up in the markets where they are effective.

Give it a few months, this years iPad2 xmas present will end up in a drawer, or the back of the cupboard as many people simply get bored of them.

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Anonymous Coward

No one with a clue buys a Netbook

Netbooks are toys for the clueless. Ultralight Notebooks have function. Ultrabooks are an over-priced, under-performing POS that only a few fools will buy even with Intel bribe moeny.

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Megaphone

No one with a clue buys a Netbook → #

Most Stupid comment of the day award goes to....

Shouldn't let the under 10s at a keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

There's a reason why Dull stopped selling Netbooks

That reason is nobody would buy them.

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Anonymous Coward

Dell 10v

Super wee gadget - dual boots Linux and OS X. Great for browsing, writing up notes and a spot of development. Even runs a LAMP stack.

Does what it does and does it well. I got a 6-cell battery and get 6 hours out of it no bother.

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FAIL

Bah!

Another product bites the dust. I'm still ticked off that Dell discontinued the Zino HD - what a great little FreeBSD server that made...

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Yes!

I don't care about netbooks, but what the hell happened to the Inspiron Zino HD? Or the Studio Hybrid?

These were nice machines for HTPC use, and there's absolutely nothing to replace them in that space for the performance/price. What the hell, Dell?

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Go

Mini 9 - I still use mine!

Picked up a new Dell Mini 9 from Dell's website when it was on offer (149 quid) a few years back and I'm still using it today. I used the money I saved on the offer to boost it with 2GB RAM, 32GB Runcore SSD and a 32GB SDHC card - that's probably a higher spec than most tablets and I topped it off with Fedora Linux for maximum usability.

It's the right form factor for a mixture of both serious and fun stuff, unlike tablets which are strictly for media consumption/games, IMHO. Sadly, most people don't do serious stuff with their computers beyond managing photos and doing some word processing, so I guess that's why netbooks are so out of fashion now.

BTW, can you actually buy a netbook with an SSD any more? That was the saddest thing to disappear from them in the last year or two - why would I want a hard drive in a primarily portable device?

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Netbooks didn't fail

From a customer's point of view - they just didn't make enough profit margin.

Here $200 Acer Aspire's were flying off the shelfs all year, I have one and my company bought HP's netbook for everyone that travels.

I'm sure makers would rather sell you their version of a Mac air - but it's nothing to do with customers rejecting net books.

Somebody has just gone through Ford and GM's reasons why customers demand pickups and SUVs rather than sub compacts and changed the words.

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Fit for Purpose

Unless of course your purpose was to score a cheap Windows OS device expecting the full Windows experience.

My netbooks come in handy for portable troubleshooter (small screen for googling forum solutions for a bigger piece of hardware). One serves as a temporary media player, the other travels with me occasionally where I know I don't need my work laptop. We're currently in a hotel with paid for wifi and rather than pay for each device (phones, tablet, macbook), I just setup the netbook in the corner sharing eth0 to a portable wifi router and connect everything else through that.

Great, portable devices that are not locked down like a tablet in hardware and software. I will be sad to see the market die thanks to Microsoft. IMHO manufacturers should have made it more clear in the marketing that the devices were NOT Wankdows and pushed back against offering refunds. Do they do refunds for people like me who buy a device and discover it's not Linux? No, thought not, would love to try that one on.

That said, I'd be interested to know if any Windows tablets have now or in future will be, returned because the hapless purchaser got it home and discovered it's not iOS or Android. I'd like to see those figures please.

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Anonymous Coward

Netbooks-R-us

Dont have a Dell, Dont tend to like them, had too much trouble with 90% of them that I have had to work on. However, I do have 16 computers in my home and 5 of those are netbooks. Dual or triple bootable from the HD on equiped machines and multiboot on SSD equiped models, I simply boot from external USB or SD cards.

The primary use of one machine is encoding DVD in to avi's I can play directly from my media server connected to my TV. Small, low power usage and the other half doesn't think it clutters the room. Not the fastest encoding capability in the house, certainly the least bulky

Going on Holiday? At least two fit in one laptop case, his/hers/kids and the airports dont mind as it is in one bag.

Bought my other half a tablet last year, unused this year doesn't like it, at best it will become an expensive ebook reader.

As for others saying about printers and scanners. None have issues in XP/Windows 7 premium/ Ubuntu/ Mandriva/ SuSE/ Debian

NO, tell a lie XP booted from a USB drive or SD card and iTunes throws a hissy fit, it has to be booted from an internal drive for iTunes to work. A reason to avoid iTunes?

Screen resolution! OK if you RDP/VNC the netbook on to a desktop, more of a pain in the opposite direction. Using scaling looks awful! scrolling is annoying. Hang on use the right OSes and I will just forward the output for the application across to the netbook.

Apart from the latest/greatest games Netbooks work fine for nearly everything as long as you dont expect latest/greatest performance.

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They'll get it right soon and make a pocketable edge-to-edge screened tablet with optional keyboard, ala Transformer. (I hope)

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The worst

I still can't understand why people buy Dell computers.

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Sounds like

Dell tablets are not too far away. In the style of Asus transformer hopefully. Windows 8 either in x86 or arm. Bring it on

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Anonymous Coward

They are already here, but with Win7.

They are called "Latitude ST" and can be found in the Samm Business section of the Dell website.

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