back to article Asus CEO sounds netbook death knell

Asus CEO Jerry Shen has apparently called time on the company's pioneering Eee PC family of netbooks. Shen has said Asus will make no more of the devices, and when current stocks have shipped that will be that, Digitimes claims. Shen is reported to have blamed the move on falling netbooks sales in emerging markets and upon the …

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Unhappy

Shame

I currently have an Eee PC 901 running Linux - I bought it four years ago as a little machine that'd be good to use on the train while commuting and the like. I still use it daily for skype and the odd bit of web browsing, typing the odd document and generally doing stuff I don't need my big workstation for.

The thing is, it's starting to show it's age now, and yet there is nothing I can replace it with. Its 9" form factor means that it will fit nicely, along with the charger in one half of my attache case when I travel. Now though, netbooks are pushing 11" and when they've gone, what's left are ultrabooks that are closer to 13", at which point I might as well just start carrying a full size laptop and pocket the difference in cost.

What I would really love someone to do is make a 9" device, with a 1366x768 screen, perhaps a small i3 processor, 4GB of ram and a small HDD at a price point of around £300. It wouldn't be anything fancy, but it would be extremely useful.

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Silver badge

Re: Shame

I'm with you on the 9" device idea, the tech certainly exists - eg you can buy a LVDS 8.9inch 1280x768 TFT screen with a HDMI / DVI / VGA input control board for $150 shipped so imagine what it costs in bulk without the standalone control board, it shouldn't be difficult for a manufacturer to create a "next gen" Eee equivilant with mostly off-the-shelf tech, keeping the costs down.

Ultrabooks are just too expensive to justify getting one, especially in ths time of austerity.

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Linux

Re: Shame

Callam: a well-reasoned post, and I can sympathise. I picked up a refurbished Eee 701SD (yes, the "original netbook" - 7" screen, 8GB SSD, Linux (I put Arch on there)) in 2009, and it's served me very well - as an erstwhile Psion owner, I rather like the super-small form factor of the 700-series.

Like you, I'm wondering what I'll do when the little fella either fails, or requires some accessory I can't find (affordably, or at all). I suppose I'd have to do without it, or go back to Laptops Direct and see if I can find another refurbished netbook to stick Arch on. Maybe a cheap tablet might do... though I've seen a couple of ARM-based netbooks like the Hercules eCafe, which might be worth a look?

Meantime, I think the battery is starting to conk out - those high-capacity batteries on Amazon look interesting?

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Re: Shame

I still have an Asus 701 which is still an amazing device despite its age because its so dinky. I actually managed to install Ubuntu and Xfce on it recently the screen res means I have to use the smallest theme around to get it to run acceptably.

In general I believe it's stupid to get rid of netbooks though I can see why they are doing it - money. Kill a popular line of inexpensive computers and then charge consumers an arm and a leg for something which does the same but costs more money. Or does less and probably still costs more money.

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Re: Shame

I have battery problems too, Ubuntu is constantly warning me that my battery now has just 40% of its original capacity. That said, after four years of abuse that isn't too bad and it still gives me nearly two hours of use between charges. I may attempt to prolong the life of it with a new battery, an upgrade to 2GB of ram (WOW!!!) and perhaps a 1.8" Hard disk to replace the creakingly slow thing they called an SSD.

I was thinking about tablets, and I was playing with an Asus Transformer we have at work, yet for what I want, it just doesn't work. It has a keyboard, but because it's designed to be a tablet, its top heavy and wobbles about as you use it. Also, because it's ARM based, you're stuck with Android, whereas I would say that the ability to run x86 based Linux is a crucial requirement - for Flash (As much as it sucks) and the ability to run a wide range of software (including some Windows stuff through Wine)

I am hoping some of the manufacturers have a go at making x86 tablets based on these new low power Intel chips. If I could get a Transformer that I could run Linux on, I would potentially consider changing over to it.

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Silver badge

Re: Shame

Another 901-er here.

Mine lives in a padded cooler-type sandwich bag, which also has a nice little mesh pouch for a mouse and few bits and bobs.

Many's the time I've had it sitting on a lump of machinery - well, bouncing up and down usually - logging data, setting parameters etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Shame

I agree, what realy erks me is for around 3-4 years they have stagnated, I was going to get one but everybody only seels 1gb ram versions, prices stayed stagnant for years for same spec with no love and the obvious love seems to piush the price out to silly land with nothing realy sexy around the £300 mark. This and laptops and there specs effectivly make the netbooks not appealing.

Real sad part now is windows 8 will end up rebirthing the platform in the form of tablets with keyboards. Still there are some nice AMD chips that dont shirk at having more than 1-2 gb of ram and are out at a good price. But in general it is not the lack of demand that has killed them it is the fact that in effect they have been selling a dog-eared product for the past few years without any love at all as you can get something years ago and comparte it to todays offerings and thing your product has actualy gained in value, which is for a laptop or any IT product, just not right.

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Re: Shame

I was going to get one but everybody only seels 1gb ram versions

Pick up an N2800-based netbook (e.g. HP Mini 210-412x) while they're still out there; they can take upto 4GB (well, 3GB after the reservation for PCI IO, unless you're using a 64 bit OS. 4GB from Crucial was £15.59.

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Re: Shame

If you're happy to stick with your 701 for now, I can't recommend the 2GB RAM upgrade highly enough - it's the best hardware mod I could've made to my 701. Along with running a lean install of Arch Linux (no DE, just Fluxbox), the machine zips along like you won't believe...

I really should look into a battery upgrade - if they work OK, one of those monster 10,000+mAh units look interesting :-)

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Thumb Up

Re: Shame

While people make 11.6" laptops, which shouldn't be affected, I imagine the next closest thing would be getting a Win8 tablet with keyboard dock, which would meet most of those requirements, but I'm not sure about the price.

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Paris Hilton

Where is she?

Terrible news, but surely a story like this needs illustration, in case we have forgotten what a typical Asus netbook user might look like?

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hmm

But, (and I could be way off the mark here) isn't the ultrabook market not really selling that well either?

And also, with the Trinity APUs surely you'd be able to knock out some pretty cheap and half decent netbooks and still be able to turn a profit?

Seems a bit short-sighted to me...

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Silver badge

That is a shame.

I still use my Eee 900's an a daily basis for video playback and web browsing because they're still great little machines to use, small, lightweight, low power consumption, proper keyboard (I actually like the small size of them).

I got a 7" Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet last week, which was the first time I've used a tablet device. Native Nook's are locked to B&N's own store so I rooted it to install apps from the Android Marketplace. After coming from a Windows environment I have to say the whole tablet experience feels somewhat restricted, like trying to compute whilst wearing boxing gloves, even with a rooted device.

Quick examples; web browsing, I'm used to having multiple tabs open on many websites I read/interact with and the tablet version of FireFox makes this a chore trying to quickly dart from one site to another. And another example is Android WinAmp, it's a joke compared to the original PC version.

It is a nice toy I'll give it that, things feel quite fluid, the screen is especially nice, the number of easily installable games are a nice distraction, but I certainly won't be ditching my Eee's in favour of it anytime soon.

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Re: That is a shame.

At least you've got a tablet version of Firefox on Android! I'm making do with Chome on iPad but it's pretty poor & bug-ridden.

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Re: That is a shame.

When I got redundancy, I bought myself an android tablet to play with. The OS is different from any Unixy, Mac or WIndows I've ever used. It does feel very restrictive. That could be just because I'm still learning how to make it do what I think I want it to. I don't know if anyone has tried running the Linux version of Crossover, under Android. It runs WinStuff well on real Linux boxes, and the Mac version runs everything I've thrown at it on the wife's Macbook. If no one else has tried it, I might, if I ever get time.

I have dropped 60 hours per week of employment and I'm busier than ever...

I prefer my Win7 notebook, an HP Mini, to the Android box. The Win7 machine has a real keyboard and I find that is more than sufficient advantage to make up for the shortage of RAM and graphics. I use the HP more than I do my desktop.

It might be small, slow and weak, but it *works*.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Falling sales

Any surprise when netbooks now cost the same as cheap laptops?

Netbooks haven't been small, cheap computers since the days of the original Eee PC. Without the cheap is it any wonder sales are down, especially in developing markets? After all "small" PCs like the ultrabooks aren't exactly top sellers either.

Asus "transformer" style cheap Android tablets will probably inherit their place but it's a shame the industry seems so blind to the real reason for their netbook woes.

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Anonymous Coward

Workaround

7" / 9" Tablet + a cheap case with built in keyboard, works for me.

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Linux

Get 'em in while stocks last!

Not difficult to understand the commericals - when a good Netbook can be had for ~220, but a tablet costs ~400. And that's without Windows Tax!

However IMO a good netbook with a 7 hour battery running Linux Mint13 is a waaay better solution for mobile users than either an ipad or ultrabook

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Unhappy

So what

"Windows 8 pricing is also said to be persuading manufacturers that there's no longer money to be made in netbooks."

I've got an 701. It came with Linux, (the only reason that I bought it) and it still has Linux on it. Crunchbang as it happens. It does what I want and is really only used for long periods when I go on holiday. Then it's perfect, small, light and easy to use.

So the bloated cost of Windows 8 is making the economics of netbooks unrealistic. Why not go back to Linux? After all that's what they were originally designed for and only pressure from MS made manufacturers put XP on them.

Or could it be that Win 8 on a netbook might take sales away from the "Surface" and the aforementioned pressure is being applied again?

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Linux

Re: So what

I still like my 701 - running Arch Linux, with Fluxbox to eke out better performance (it's certainly quick). I also maxed out the RAM to 2GB, which really made a difference.

Linux is well-suited to netbooks, but I think it needs to be the "right" distro - one which isn't likely to be abandoned at any time (e.g. the original Eee-customised version of Xandros, or Linpus). Perhaps one way to do it is to preinstall a "mainstream" Linux like Ubuntu (so updates will be ongoing), but with the installed packages tailored to a netbook's needs (lighter versions of applications, no unneeded stuff, etc.).

I ditched my Eee's "native" OS within two months, purely because by 2009 it had been abandoned by Asus for some time. I replaced it first with Eeebuntu, and then 18 months later (when Eeebuntu in turn was abandoned) I went for Arch. I had the tech knowledge and the willingness to tinker and explore new Linuxes, but the average consumer probably wouldn't - probably best to choose a distro which wouldn't be left out in the cold within a year, I think...

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Linux

Re: So what

Bodhi runs nicely on my 701 - Ubuntu core (and repos) with a very light, fast and pretty E17 front end.

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Bronze badge
Stop

Re: So what

Because no one will touch them.

Not being facetious but the general public aren't going to buy one if it doesn't have Windows.

And as Windows 8 doesn't come with a "Starter Edition" (the version that had the cheap licence for OEMs), there's no way the likes of Acer and Asus aren't going to bother with it.

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Linux

Re: So what

What about a dual core netbook running Xubuntu,? am looking for one now to run Mixxx for a DJ system, so bye bye windows. Any ideas of a suitable xcandidate?

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could you show us a picture of a bird using an Eee Pc at the beach?

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Silver badge

My main computer is a 901. That with WiFi means I can go anywhere...it is small and sturdy. I will miss it when its time comes...

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Anonymous Coward

You can hear the process now:

1. Kill netbook.

2. Make netbook a bit larger.

3. Make netbook higher in specification.

4. Make netbook slimmer.

5. Multiply netbook price by 4.

6. Stick "Ultrabook" sticker on it.

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Silver badge

Ultrabook... new name for UMPCs?

I remember seeing the 5" screen Fujitsu LifeBook FMV-U8240 and wanting one http://www.reghardware.com/2007/05/17/preview_fujitsu_fmv8240/, but the price tag put me right off. When the Eee 701 came along I pre-ordered one almost instantly, I still have it and still works great, only superseeded by my Eee 900's because I wanted a screen a bit bigger/higher res.

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7. Watch market move to ARM tablets

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Bronze badge

Of course the original Netbook was the ARM based Psion - still have one - so how long before we get a Windows 8 on ARM machine with a keyboard and go full-circle.

Is it worth putting Windows 8 on a very slow Dell netbook?

Simon

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Silver badge

The keyboard

Have some, but the keyboard does not last. That I think is Asus failure with the hardware.

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Touchpad buttons went on my 901. I'd still be using otherwise. Great machine.

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Bronze badge

Some Assembly Required

I suspect part of this is the assembly cost.

You maybe can get less expensive parts than go into the small laptops, but the cost at the factory gate becomes dominated by the assembly costs.

Yes, I still have an Eee 701SD. A new battery is worth getting, and replacement keyboards are worth it too, though fitting them is a bit of a fiddle. The high-capacity batteries are a little ungainly. I wonder what the life of the SSD is, but I have a big SDHC card storing my data, so if the thing bricks, I'm OK.

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Unhappy

Transformer please place of Eee

So are they going to reduce the price of the Transformer then? (with keyboard dock) otherwise that's a very expensive Eee PC!

There is still a market for Netbooks at the right price, its just companies are greedy and want too much for them, the EeePC 901 and alike would sell all day long at the right price.

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The one problem with tablet hybrids like the Transformer is storage space, I am looking for a replacement for my 4 year old laptop, but until they come out with a Transformer that can store 128GB+ it's going to be nearly impossible for me to switch over. In order to pay 3-400 pounds for a device it needs to be able to REPLACE my laptop not be a supplement to it, I'm going to wait another 6 months see how the market develops.

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Anonymous Coward

The comments above are all you need to know

"My netbook is great now that I've removed Windows and the rest of the bloatware it came with, and installed my favourite Linux distro"

Not exactly a mass-market strategy, is it?

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Anonymous Coward

Mines's going to Grandma

Eeepc 901

Supertalent 64GB SSD

SLIC added to some Japanese blokes mod that enables AHCI and overclocks it by 200mhz

2GB RAM

Windows 7 pro running quiet nicely, Boots in under a minute and chunters along. I've hooked it up to a 20 inch LCD and it's a great little computer.

Grandma will be pleased.

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Anonymous Coward

No loss IMO

Asus has been cranking out half-baked crap for years and the naive fools just lap it up. Asus is about to get a lot smaller in scale soon as their empire of crap is closing in on them.

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Joke

Apples response to Bruce was:

EULAaaaaaa mother flucker.

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Facepalm

Re: Apples response to Bruce was:

Realy need an edit option, would be even funnier had it been EULAaaaa Mother ducker. But there again i'm assuming everybody has seen the Die Hard films and knows his catch phrase.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apples response to Bruce was:

And why are you saying this on an article about netbooks?

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Facepalm

Re: Apples response to Bruce was:

Becasue I somehow posted to the wrong article like a muppet who just walked in the door, I'll add it to my list of reasons I'm human, sorry.

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Bronze badge
Coat

Boo!

I always stick up for the netbooks on here and generally get panned for it and downvoted to oblivion. But to me they are the perfect device. Not those early netbooks with a cut down OS, joke SSDs, poor battery life, tiny screens and keyboards. But the 9"-10" devices were ideal IMO. I've had an Asus 1005HA-P for 3 1/2 years now and it's the best £250 I've ever spent on an electronics.

Netbooks are light (1Kg), small (ultrabooks tend to be slightly thinner but larger in width/length), better battery life (still getting 9+hrs, ideal for a transatlantic flight and a day in airports), replaceable battery, have great connectivity without needing stupid adaptors for network connection or display, cheap (ok so not as cheap as those chud £100 netbooks) but still cheaper than many smartphones and tablets and under half the price of an ultrabook.

So netbooks aren't the most powerful devices in the world but they do exactly what I need when I'm away from a desktop. Word/excel open like stink (Office XP still works), firefox for web browsing is great (don't expect HD on web video), VLC plays videos, GIMP can edit pictures etc.

I won't consider a tablet until there's one with: a full keyboard, can run a choice of operating systems that run proper programs, 9hr battery life.

Having said all that my next device will probably be an ultrabook (Novatech nFinity N1402 at just over £500) as I wouldn't mind something with a little bit more poke. There's not been many netbooks released with much more poke than my Asus 1005HA-P as the Intel Atom's pretty much been brushed aside. If someone made a modern netbook though I'd buy another in a flash.

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Unhappy

Re: Boo!

I have an NC-10 and the main reason for buying it was because I didn't want to lug around a 3KG laptop and I wanted something that I could chuck in my back-pack for hand luggage etc.

The fact that the spec's for these machines have stayed static more or less since they were released (once we hit 10.1 screens and ~ 160GB HDD), with no major differentiation in price over the same time period.

One of the best tech purchases i've ever made and certainly not something that i'd look to replace with a tablet (even with a keyboard).

I guess once it dies i'll have to just deal with the weight (no way am I paying the price for an "ultra" book).

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Silver badge

Even the Elonex WebBook.......

...has its uses.

The one that Orange were "giving away" with 3G dongle and contract.

Mine turned up in a dumpster minus power cube with a passworded Ubuntu installation.

Dug out an old HP PSU, added some memory, swapped hard drive, plugged in a USB CD drive, put a new OS on it. Looks like a toy, but terrific. Wireless and ethernet socket means it's ideal for sorting out friends' internet issues.

When the battery eventually dies, I'd gladly buy another netbook.

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Unhappy

Pity

I bought a Samsung NC10 at the airport once when I realised my gf wouldn't be able to use my lappy whilst I was in meetings (durr) and it was one of the best purchases I made. Compact and lightweight with lots of battery life and fine for Facebook, e-mail and web stuff of an evening with the occasional leap into work documents. And without the drawbacks of an iPad (before anyone says "iPad").

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WTF?

Watch out for Yankee Hegemony

One thing that routers tell you - at least when you get to the Set-Up Screens - is what 2.4Ghz Channels they can be set to!

I have an Asus TF101 Tablet - and NOWHERE can I find ANY reference to the fact that Yankee Hegemony has apparently demanded that Asus restrict operations to Channels One to Eleven.

I live in Asia - occasionally travel to Japan - where Channels 12 *&* 13 are valid options - but NOT for this crappy Asus TF101. Not only won't it operate up there, but also masks those channels too!

My Chinese Lenovo S10-2 functions from Channel 1 to 13 !

Also, it isn't too surprising that my old Yankee IBM T60p [Made in Commie China] is similarly Wi-Fi restricted too - but at least, it does work on Channel 44 on 5GHz band.

I've not tried any other channels on 5GHz - I chose "44" 'cos in - Chinese "44" sounds like "Death, Death" - and I already have "One foot in the grave at almost 72 years old. <Wry smile>.

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