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back to article Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015

Proving yet again that fame and fortune are fleeting – even for computer hardware – the analysts at IHS are projecting that the netbook, the New Hotness just a few short years ago, will disappear completely by 2015. "Once a white-hot PC product that sold in the tens of millions of units annually," IHS writes in an email release …

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My hypothesis

Just a random thought, but does anyone else think that tablets are gaining in popularity because you can hold them in portrait and finally get a screen that's tall enough?

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Irk
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Re: My hypothesis

Form factor's a thing all around - most people toting around tablets are holding them like clipboards. The portrait angle definitely helps for that. You can't really stand up and hold a netbook and still work with it, it's still forcing you into desk mode even if you don't have a desk. Someone in the elevator this morning pulled a tablet right out of his jacket pocket and tapped away. That's not really convenient with a netbook.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My hypothesis

Definitely. Now if I could only auto-rotate my TV too when watching holiday snaps and videos...

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Spot on

Would anyone buy a tablet that you could only use in landscape? Even if i want to wath a movie, I find the thing in portrait and then turn it round to play it.

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Re: My hypothesis

No. :)

Without exception, I never use my iPad in portrait mode. I also could never find myself doing any serious work on it. It's a toy for me - nothing more, nothing less. In fact, if I see myself having to type more than I am right now, I usually put the iPad down and head to my desk, where things get done five times faster.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My hypothesis

Bought my wife an Asus EE netbook thingy for £175 two years ago. Ok battery is not fantastic, but for her it does everything she needs it to do. Why would I want to spends hundreds if not a thousand more on an Ultrabook?

The consumer has wised up to this now, hence PC sales are down, and the true successor to the netbook is a tablet....

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Re: My hypothesis

I spent that much on an 11.6" laptop last year. I's 64-bit windows 7 home premium with 2Gb RAM and an ad-supported version of office (now dual-booting ubuntu). It's far more useful than a tablet for many things, but the tablet has the benefit of "lean back" usage (and better speakers). It also lets me play media which the providers have deemed not to allow on "mobile" devices (such as my 10.1" tablet docked in its keyboard).

I don't know if this counts as a netbook though. It's cheap and light but it's also quite powerful and larger than the original netbooks. I think in reality the notebook didn't die, it just got bigger and better (they were small to be cheap, not portable). I'm more than happy having this and a 7" tablet (total cost: £385).

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Re: My hypothesis

tall enough for what - stupid paper shaped documents? It seems a shame to reject 21stC technology to accommodate 19thC office technology.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My hypothesis

Tom, its to do with the way the human hand works and the field of view etc. of our eyes, physical factors that also influenced 19C technology but are just as true today.

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FAIL

Re: My hypothesis

How do you use office on a tablet? You can't use photoshop on a tablet. Netbooks are small and very handy fully functional computers.

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Re: My hypothesis

This is more a problem of the iThingy and other "finger only" toys and less one of the tablet in general. Penables work fine in portrait mode with the right software that can handle handwriting entry and post-entry(batch) handwriting recognition for longer texts. Say MS Journal or OneNote

Writing in a forum works nicely with Windows HWR as well

Send from my Win8 upgraded EP121

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Re: My hypothesis

Actually you CAN use PS on a tablet. What you can not do is use it on a finger only toy. But WACOM equiped tablet pc work just fine.

As for Office - depends. If I want to type lengthy text I pop up the stand and switch on a BT mice/keyboard turning the tablet in a notebook (1). If I want to review/correct text, presentations etc. or draw the basics of a PowerPoint I use the stylus. MS Office is penable and has been so for a long time. It even supports some special modes for adding comments/notes.

(1) Or put the convertible in a dock, have not turned it to notebook mode in a year

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19thC office technology

While we still read top to bottom it is quicker to scan through a document in portrait. You are right that we could do with improving our efficiency, but we'll have to start with a whole new system of writing.

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Re: it just got bigger and better

Bingo!

Which is why the netbook was always doomed to fail.

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My contribution to this article is that whilst I agree that netbooks have had their day, small form factor laptops have not...

Im writing this reply from my beloved Dual Core HP Pavilion DM1 with a 9hr battery life, 11.6"inch screen and 730p resolution (1366x768)... I frequently use it to stream 1080p movies (XBMC installed) to my spare room LED tv...

Again, netbooks are on their way out yes, but not because of their size, because of their low resolution and overall underpowered graphics and processors

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hmm

At least netbooks had their day in the sun. Ultrabooks costing over a grand with crappy 1366x768 resolution were DOA. I personal moved to tablets after pissing away close to $400 on a POS Samsung NC10 that failed a few weeks after the short warranty expired due to a crappy video cable internal design flaw (hinges pinching cable). Many people didn't buy a second netbook after seeing how crappily built to fail the first generation was.

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@gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

>netbooks are on their way out...

Also because it was practically impossible to get hold of a netbook with built in 3G, Bluetooth etc. etc.

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Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

>Also because it was practically impossible to get hold of a

> netbook with built in 3G, Bluetooth etc. etc.

My Dell mini-10 has both. Shame that Dell never took the product line forward. Cost me £189 with ubuntu, and the only thing wrong with it is the hideous x600 vertical resolution - which they kept a deadly secret when they sold it.

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Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

You don't need 3g or Bluetooth as long as you also have have a phone to tether to

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Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42 @spegru

Yes you can get away without 3g, but you're forgetting that when netbooks first came out most phones weren't smartphones, many of the smartphones that were available had tethering disabled and were on limited data plans (compared to pure mobile broadband) and in general had appalling battery life. The 3 Mifi is an improvement, but even this only manages a few hours when used in earnest.

But this misses the point, netbooks were targeted as being standalone ultra-portable and "use anywhere" devices, however what vendors delivered to the channel fell short both of this ideal and what they made available to reviewers. For example whilst Acer had a product code for an Aspire One with UK keyboard and built-in 3g and bluetooth, and made this variant available to reviewers, I was unable to buy or order one. However, I was able to purchase a Czech 3g version, which after a keyboard swap worked without problem with a Three UK SIM - being a member of the EU does sometimes have advantages....

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Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

My Dell 1012 has the 1366x786 hi-def screen with hardware video acceleration, Bluetooth etc. It cost me £214 brand new from the Dell Outlet. I use it all the time, and I cannot see anything better coming along for the price.

The problem was Microsoft and Intel shortsightedly slugging the ram and cpu specs to prevent colateral commercial damage to more expensive products.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

Typo-1366x768 of course...

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Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

I have argued that way for some time. Lately I changed my mind. Having 3G (or LTE) on board will allow me to get rid of the smart phone and for most situations even the mobile. No more "instant contact", no more "break my concentration" bells(1). Instead if one wants to contact me he writes an eMail and I respond when I have the time. Mobile could go back to "emergency phone in the middle of nowhere" that can only do calls but lasts a week and costs 50€

(1) If I switch it off / silent - I could as well leave it at home

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Linux

eee-901, still going...

Netbooks may be dying - for those who didn't get the memo - small, cheap, wi-fi, bluetooth, internet, some writing, some simple games, 6 hr battery. My Asus 901, running Mint 14 xfce, does the job perfectly well.

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Re: hmm

"At least netbooks had their day in the sun. Ultrabooks costing over a grand with crappy 1366x768 resolution were DOA. I personal moved to tablets after pissing away close to $400 on a POS Samsung NC10 that failed a few weeks after the short warranty expired due to a crappy video cable internal design flaw (hinges pinching cable). Many people didn't buy a second netbook after seeing how crappily built to fail the first generation was."

My first netbook (acer aspire one) came with a ghastly, half arsed linux os on it that completely fucked up about 30 seconds after hitting the `update os` button and an ssd with a writespeed so slow it was pretty much useless. I ended up putting meego on it, which turned it into a really useful, fast little web browsing machine for slinging in my backpack. It booted in seconds and the really well thought out ui ran amazingly fast. Pity they abandoned meego really, it was really good on the netbook form factor, much better than chrome os.

That little Acer has survived many knocks, drops and misshaps like a trooper and apart from the battery, it still functions like new. The screen has a really nice quality to it as well, much better than the NC10 in my opinion.

So in my case it was well worth the £170 I paid for it almost half a decade ago. I wouldnt use it for anything other than web browsing though, the ssd really is painfully slow writing anything, resulting in a very juddery full windows/linux experience.

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kb
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Gotta agree

While my EEE 1215B doesn't get the battery life yours does (5 hours new, 4 hours after 3 years) it too is 11.6 and has an AMD APU that does 1080P over HDMi and I have NO problem using this as a day to day laptop, I've watched movies, played games, heck edited audio multitracks on the thing and its a great little portable. i tried one of those Atom 10 inchers and even with such a small screen it was just painful to use, everything just chugged.

I think we'll see a comeback of the 12 inchers once the ultrabooks have bombed, i think many of the OEMs are afraid of competing with their ultrabooks but I just don't see many people paying a grand for a mini, I just don't.

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Re: eee-901, still going...

Hey, me too!

added a 128GB SSD and it's been solid since 2009.

Now looking at an Asus Chromebook to replace it.

I've got servers with horsepower, why stretch my arms (and wallet) carrying a ton of battery and screen around?

Bye, bye PC, you were fun in the 90's.

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Actually this "Netbook" will run Skyrim and Eve Online happily in decent resolution

Just stick 8gb of fast Ram in there and a decent SSD and it will beat almost any laptop available under £700 quid for an outlay of about £400, as well as being actually portable.

The onboard Nvidia chipset, although not the fastest thing in the world, really beats any of the intel equivalents (or indeed the Ion platform from NVidia) for games.

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Irk
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They were good airplane companions

Have an old Asus Eee PC with flash drive, ended up disused due to Ubuntu doing some weird things with partitions after several installs and me not wanting to fuss with it. I should probably do something with the thing, it's nice and sturdy and still a good machine for writing on airplanes with. I'll take this article as a reminder to give the install another go.

I had a lot of hope for the netbook market but the best models were stripped-down travel companions that weren't really focused on bells and whistles. Manufacturers seemed to be chasing the higher margins with larger screens and higher functionality that ate up battery, which sort of defeated the point. Also the weird custom flavors of Linux that came installed were a bit of a turnoff. When you make someone have to install a different OS right after purchase, you turn your product into a niche hobbyist market.

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They have been killed off.

Intel and friends don't want to sell you a netbook, they want to sell you an ultrabook.

I have an NC10 that I use quite a bit, but at 2-3 times the price I'd pass on an ultrabook.

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Re: They have been killed off.

Same here. I plan to put Linux on my NC10 someday soon before XP goes EoL to keep it going. Ultrabooks just don't prove bang for buck for simple WP needs.

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Re: They have been killed off.

I've also got an NC10, which I use for game dev on my commute. Visual Studio's just usable on the 1024x600 screen. It has the best keyboard ever too. I just wish the trains had more tables.

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I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

Crap screens

Crap keyboards

Crap trackpads

Crap processors

They were good for surfing but not much else. No surprise that they're being played out of the game by tablets...

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Meh

Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

@Ross K.

I never owned one, but I was never under the impression that they were supposed to be hardware superior. Were you under this impression?

I agree with whoever believes they have their place and won't go away completely. Shit, they still have a keyboard of some type, which is more than I can say for a lot of recent contraptions.

BTW, are they really going away? Didn't Microsoft just release one under the buzz word "tablet"? I think it came with a flimsy detachable rubber keyboard, or maybe you had to buy it (I really don't know or care).

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Happy

Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

I don't agree. I wrote the entire project document for my company's first seven figure deal on my trusty Acer XP Netbook. It couldn't run AutoCAD but it did perfectly well in crafting the 1,300 page document & all the stuff that went into it. I also built the project website using old school Macromedia products and Photoshop.

Yes it would have been nice to have something bigger & better but the little guy got the job done & that's all you can ask of your tools.

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

"... all you can ask of your tools."

That about sums it up. Unfortunately most folks want toys not tools so netbooks were finished when they didn't play the latest whatever perfectly. Add to that nobody ever wanted to build and promote an "ecosystem" of apps designed around the limited capabilities. I do find it funny that Windows 8 has gone with the Metro Modern UI that reminds me of the original EeePC UI only instead of tabs it wipes to the side.

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WTF?

Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

I never owned one, but I was never under the impression that they were supposed to be hardware superior. Were you under this impression?

Hardware superior to what? Most of them were rocking a 1.6GHz Intel Atom and 1Gb RAM shared with the Intel GMA graphics driving a 1024x600 screen resolution?

Like I said, they're good for surfing the net. I dunno how that that guy who posted after you claimed to run Photoshop on one.

There were tablets before Microsoft's shitty Surface RT. The iPad? The Nexus 7? Countless Android devices? And what's your point about a keyboard? Grandma can check out Facebook or Hotmail just fine using an onscreen keyboard...

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

On a recent trip, I had both and found the netbook more useful than the tablet. For one thing, only the tablet could handle the external hard drives (which were TrueCrypted, so the tablet couldn't read them). Even when it came to videos, it was just easier to handle. It was unbeatable for web browsing. Plus it had a switchable battery, so I kitted it with a triple-capacity battery, so it had plenty of legs even in places where outlets were few and far between.

Oh, it had one key advantage over a full-fat laptop. You didn't have to take it out at the security checkpoints.

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

Correction: Only the NETBOOK could handle the external hard drives.

PS. El Reg, PLEASE consider an Edit button.

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

There is an Edit button. And a Preview button ;-)

Edit: it might only be for Silver and Gold users. Back on topic-ish, I'm on a tablet at the moment so I couldn't hover over your badge to see if was gold or bronze. I had to long-press the image, open in a new tab and hope the url indicated the colour :-(

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook (core i5/4GB/1920x1080 graphics etc) not a netbook. Those where/are Atoms,

Now comparing one of the better Netbooks (Lenovo S10-3) with a current tablet pc (Ativ 500 or even Lenovo TPT2 without 3G) the new boxes cost more but offer more as well. S10-3 with 2GB/2500GB HDD and Win7 starter came in at around 400€ (including memory upgrade to 2GB) with a crappy 1024x600 screen and around 6h on battery. An Ativ 500 with Win8 (equivalent to 7 Home/Premium) and a SSD as well as a better screen comes in at 600€, the TPT2 at 700€ and better endurance (and a slightly faster Atom)

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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

Get a better tablet :)

Dell Latitude 10 for example can replace both your tablet and your netbook (Has a replaceable battery as well). The Fujitsu Q552 should work as well. Ativ500 might work (shorter legs, non-replaceable battery)

TPT2 has a fixed battery so this might be a problem, has some limits to the USB as well.

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Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

That should be Surface/Pro is actually a crap notebook.

Can't use it on your lap or any non-solid surface. Can't change the angle on a desk, and even the very expensive keyboard is not very good.

For less money you can get a nice notebook.

I paid $239 for my Samsung NC10 (came with a keyboard too) why would you want to compare that to something that costs about 4 times as much?

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Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

Currently writing this on the even bigger /heavier EP121 and this works nice on a sofa. That is what the Wacom pen is for.But you are a troll anywhay co mparing an Atom netbook with a core-i based tablet.And a lousy netbook to boot lacking even bluetooth

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Happy

Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long @Ross K

The specs you describe are far more than necessary to run Photoshop 7. It worked well enough for me plus it loaded so slowly that I'm probably the only person on the planet that has memorized the names in the start up credits & got to read what all those things initializing actually were.

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Re: PLEASE consider an Edit button

Just delete the incorrect post and post the corrected version.

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Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

Have fun typing one letter at a time with your pen.

I'm not the one posting "Surface is great" crap in a story about netbooks.

And for your info the NC10 has bluetooth (I often tether it to my phone with bluetooth)..

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@Ross K

"Grandma can check out Facebook or Hotmail just fine using an onscreen keyboard..."

Actually that is a problem for many older users. My mother has both an iPad and one of the Samsung Android phones and she has to carry around a stylus to use the touch screens because her fingers don't register well. One of her friends got a new Nokia with the super sensitive screen and it works just fine for her and my mother but I tried it and have the problem where I constantly wind up launching a bing search because when I move my thumb to touch a tile the base of my thumb comes close enough to trigger a 'touch' on the bottom right corner.

Perhaps phone and/or tablet makers could add a setting to make the screen more or less sensitive, preferably with a physical button combination, [home or power]+[vol-up/down] for instance, since an on screen slider would be useless to someone who may not register well on the base setting or doesn't want to take the gloves off. I suppose that this isn't a trivial thing else someone would have done it by now.

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Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

Why type when you can simply write? Windows has a working HWR

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Happy

Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

I take it you never tried any of the AMD ones? Because with those having an APU (and not starved for RAM like an Atom) they were and are quite nice. I have an E-Series and my dad's GF has a C-Series and both hers and mine just run like champs, flash, H.264, they are more like a little laptop than those pre-crippled Atoms. Heck go look at the $299-$399 USD laptops at any Best Buy, its the same APUs they were using in the netbooks just put in a bigger case.

And as far as the guy running PS...I ran Audacity and would do basic editing of the multitracks my band made...does that count? I wasn't running a bunch of effects but if something needed a little compression or verb to see how it would sound I could do that no prob.

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