Netbooks – those compact, underpowered, inexpensive notebook PCs once hailed as the future of mobile computing – are set to disappear from retailer shelves in 2013, as the last remaining manufacturers of the devices prepare to exit the market. According to Taiwanese tech news site DigiTimes, Acer and Asus are the only two …
Well the point is that with the original "netbooks" you could just run any OS you want, while with tablets/convertibles you are stuck with whatever OS they come with.
So in 2016
The laptop will be either be a "desktop replacement system" with a big screen.
Or it will be an ultrabook, lighter and with a smaller screen.
A rose by any other name...
Still think Netbooks have a life and for me and I use a Lenovo Windows 7 ideapad 7 which is great. Got 2Gb of memory upgrade for little money and it runs swiftly
- Indeed not good for number crunching but when did I think it could do that!
- Ultra Books lovely but over priced
- Tablets do not replace the full QWERTY which I can use just as well as a full keyboard on my Netbook. Got full MS Office and Photoshop and run lovely
- I can watch films on it but I never expected full HD
- Is light and easy to carry around
- Got a better selection of PC games and apps that will run fine and far better quality than iOS/Android offerings
Netbook is not dead for now.
cheapskates better to go for 2nd hand
I think if I was a student on a limited budget say, I would buy a second hand laptop from a trusted source. Then you get the reasonable performance of a laptop for the price of a netbook. The 6 year old Toshiba I'm typing this on could be had for 100 GBP, cheaper than any netbook or tablet.
But Atom lives on! Death of netbook in name only
There are certainly plenty of ultra-portable laptop/tablet hybrids being planned that are based on Clover Trail, the next generation SoC Atom, that will be a lower cost lower powered (and also better battery life) alternative to the i3/i5/i7 devices. It will be interesting see if we also get Clover Trail devices that are pure laptops - anyone know?
Part of the problem is, what is the definition of a "netbook"? If we define it as a machine with Atom CPU, 1GB RAM, 1024x600, then I'm glad that spec is finally dead - but that makes no more sense than saying a tablet is a device with 512MB RAM, and saying tablets are dead. If we define it as a low cost ultra-portable, then is it still true that netbooks will disappear?
If in 2013, I can still buy a lower end portable laptop, I don't care whether it's called a netbook, ultrabook, ultra-portable or whatever else - it's still the same thing. But if lower end portable laptops no longer exist, and the only choice is tablets, much more expensive (and poorer battery life) high end ultra-portables, or the remaining stock of old netbooks, that's a bit sad.
I love my Samsung N220, and have no desire to replace it with a less functional tablet. What will the upgrade path for it be?
"Meanwhile, the original netbook concept of a compact, ultraportable PC has reemerged in the form of Ultrabooks, Intel's attempt to encourage PC makers to develop devices to compete with Apple's extra-slim MacBook Air."
Well high end ultra-portables existed long before Apple joined the market late (as always). The key new thing about netbooks was the lower cost (and better battery life). Ultrabooks were nothing to do with Apple, they were a continued trend of ultra-portables, with Intel making up a trademark for better marketing. Ultrabooks are falling in price so could well eventually fill the place of netbooks anyway.
"by 2016 virtually every notebook will resemble an Ultrabook, leaving the netbook era as little more than a quaint and whimsical memory."
Or rather, the netbook was the immensely successful revolutionary device that later evolved into the devices we'll be using in 2016. By 2016, I suspect ultrabooks will be at the same price as netbooks - the reason for calling them ultrabooks will simply be a matter of marketing ("ultrabook" is an Intel trademark; netbook is simply a generic name, and one that's now become old fashioned).
Not to mention Chromebooks, effectively netbooks too (low cost, portable, good battery life). Ironically Chromebooks used to be viewed as pointless as you could just get a netbook, but soon Chromebooks might be the only thing in that market you can buy!
tablets aren't a substitute for netbooks.
No supported version of flash on any model of android or ios tablet. Way too many websites still using flash. Flash works on all netbooks. Therefore, tablets are not a substitute for netbooks even for casual browsing.
Wife recently got a Kindle Fire HD. Found that the browsing capabilities are largely useless, as everything she was trying to do required flash, which the Fire HD does not support. All she can do is read books with it, and she could already to that with her original Kindle. Total fail.
Re: tablets aren't a substitute for netbooks.
I agree with that. I have an Asus Transformer tablet and it's great as a tablet but the keyboard and mouse support in Android is pathetic compared to Windows. I can't adjust the trackpad sensitivity. I don't get contextual hints in the mouse pointer as it hovers over stuff. Focus and tabbing are frequently bolloxed. Keyboard shortcuts are an afterthought. Selection and cut / copy is designed for fat fingers and totally wrong for mouse selection.
The tablet also feels *slow* compared to a netbook and netbooks aren't exactly processing animals. If android is doing more than one thing at a time (e.g. syncing, updating apps, running a games) it's not hard to get the foreground app to freeze and display a "not responding" dialog.
I would be quite hopeful that a Windows 8 tablet could be pretty awesome - proper mouse and keyboard support and a tablet form factor. What I would not be so hopeful about is the price of such devices.
Typing on one right now
I'm sitting in a villa on holiday at the moment and wasn't going to lug around a large laptop. So I took an HP Mini 210 with me. This is a really basic netbook but it still manages to let me run eclipse, games, word processors and other stuff and fits into a smallish zip neoprene case which in turn goes in my carry on case. It's a fantastically useful form factor made more so by the price.
If the netbook market is disappearing its not because these devices are not useful, but because manufacturers sense more profit in other markets where they can charge an arm and a leg - tablets and ultrabooks. When this netbook packs in I'll probably forced to get an ultrabook, not because I want to but because the netbook market will be barren by that point.
The real reason
I didn't bother reading all the comments to apologies if it has been said..
Asus wanted to release a small form factor laptop with limited RAM & SSD. Asus wanted XP on it but Microsoft wanted to kill XP and was pushing Vista. Vista was too pricey and bloated.
So Asus threatened to ship them with Linux installed. Messers Ballmer and co laughed and said "go ahead, it'll flop".
Asus sold EVERY SINGLE One. Returns were on a par with any windows offering. It was a runaway success.
Microsoft had to back peddle before Linux got traction with the public. So they extended the life of XP and gave Asus the deal it had wanted originally.
Now a campaign of disinformation was started.
Why would you want a tiny 8mb SSD when for the same price you can have a 130gb ? In other words, the usual Ms tactic of newer, faster, bigger (more expensive)
This of course completely defeated the whole concept of the Netbook being a cheap but robust (no spinning HD) computing device.
Asus were no fools either. They deliberately chose Xandros instead of any major distro so as to not completely alienate MS.
Yup, Microsoft wanted this little upstart dead. Looks like they finally won.
Re: The real reason
Xandros was somewhat a turkey for me, my original 701 had it ditched after a few weeks in place of EEEbuntu, which was good whilst it lasted. My upgrade to a 901 was an improvement, the size meant you could use it on public transport sensibly using their free wifi. Storage was never really an issue - use SD card and work is transferable between desktop and portable. Likewise just how much music/pictures/video are you going to store on them?
I suspect the M$ turned the screws on the manufacturers to kill them off. Tablets aren't a replacement, they're not as practical as a netbook, a small keyboard is better than none. Currently using 12.04 with Unity desktop on it, it's much better than the W7 "severely limited" edition one of my firends has on his netbook.
Netbooks will be sorely missed.
Re: The real reason
I actually bought 3 eeepc701's. Two I have at home. One I donated to a Kenyan orphanage (being unemplyed, that was a big bite!). That, as the other, runs Xandros. Mine runs 'easy-peasy' Linux.
I was sickened by Asus's advertisising statement "It runs better with Windows". The orphanage can't possibly afford to upgrade. Teachers use it to prepare class material, etc.
I can't imagine what they were thinking of, unless it was a HUGE bribe from MS.
Re: The real reason
> unless it was a HUGE bribe from MS.
Or a huge threat. MS 'Loyalty' discounts and advertising 'partnerships' depend on the OEM being 'loyal'. Loyal means installing Windows on every machine that is capable of running Windows. When Netbooks first came out they had cheap 7inch DVD player screens, Flash 'Disks' and small RAM. There was no way that they would run the then current Vista.
MS brought XP back to life at a cheap licence fee (alleged $25) and speced out what Netbooks could, and could not, be. eg max 1024x600 10inch screens. 1Gbyte RAM etc. The price of netbooks went up to account for XP and the required resources (such as hard disk), meanwhile small laptops came down in price. This decimated the netbook market and then iPad killed it completely.
If the OEMs did not go to XP then they would have lost the discount across _all_ MS products costing them tens of millions.
It also seems likely that MS's WindowsOnARM - Windows RT - was also to kill off HP's WebOS in the same way: 'You not installing WOA on tablets is losing you your loyalty discount, here's an extra bill for $100million this month'.
Re: The real reason + Intel
Don't forget Intel's part in this too. Intel paid OEM's to limit their use of AMD netbook processors, IIRC to a maximum of 10% of the product-run, otherwise they lost their Intel preferred contracts.
The early Atom netbook processors had a power-greedy chipset that I don't think Intel has corrected until their latest combination CPU/GPU Cedarview SOCs. This limited battery life, and presumably Intel had to price match the better purposed AMD netbook chip combinations for netbooks at lower profit than Intel wanted. It was in Intel's interest too to kill off the 9"/10" netbook.
It seems to me that Intel have only got their fingers out after being found out about their trade abuse, and when they saw the writing on the wall about future use of ARM based CPU/GPUs.
netbook v windows 8
Very happy with my eeePC for use on the road. However the maximum screen resolution is insufficient to launch from 'Metro'; have to click through to the traditional desktop in order to run anything. Bit annoying.
2009 9" 1024x600 Toshiba NB100 going strong - replaceable battery - Win7, 2Gb RAM, Samsung SSD
Still like my Toshiba NB100 netbook - while many netbooks have 10" 1024x600 displays, the Toshiba has a 9" display at the same resolution, with a thin bezel/border around the machine making it a dinky little machine indeed. It has a 1.6Ghz single core Atom. It's handy when spare is restricted - e.g. on train journeys.
It's still in use by me today and I have upgraded the RAM to 2Gb from Crucial and replaced the harddisk with a Samsung SSD 840 Pro 128Gb. It runs Windows 7 Professional 32 bit competently with Norton Internet Explorer. The Samsung SSD I fitted means boot time is fast, and once booted, less "settling down time" so that apps can start quicker.
While today's tablets and smartphones are capable of doing many tasks of the Netbook, I still find this netbook relevant for running well known full-blown content creation and "housekeeping" applications. My Toshiba runs Adobe Audition 3.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0, Beyond Compare 3.0 file comparison, ImgBurn DVD/CD/Blu-ray burner, LibreOffice as well as Chrome for browsing the web. Its VGA out means that I can extend the desktop to a 1920x1080 monitor which it shares with my other machines via a KVM switch.
Another great thing about this netbook is the replaceable battery, which many tablets and some smart phones don't have. Once one battery gets low, I can swap for another one, which means I can be away from a mains charger for longer. Ebay still sells such batteries, including double capacity ones.
Like some have said and for me, the netbook is a handy secondary PC and for while travelling. At home/office, I can leave it doing a job such as backup to a blu-ray writer while I do something more intensive with a main machine.
Has been relegated to the position of a server, I saved a fortune in electricity from using that over having my standard desktop on 24/7. A slightly fancier NAS than i have would likely eliminate the need altogether though.
I had high hopes for it, but as stated in the article its just too small and with a rubbish screen. It's pretty much been replaced as my portable machine by a thinkpad x61 I picked up off eBay, better screen, better keyboard, better processor and about half the price.
Quad-core netbooks - virtually?
I love my Dell-Mini-9, but for IPTV it needed replacing with a dual-core processor at about the same 1-6GHz, an upgrade from WiFi b/g to WiFi-b/g/n, where both the contemporary AMD-Fusion and Intel-Cedarview SOCs have inbuilt hardware video decoders for HDMI 1080p video out.
Getting rid of the bloat-ware on an Intel N2600 netbook, before updating the pre-installed Windows-7, I routinely install CPUMon.exe and DUmeter.exe to see the progress of what is happening. Choosing the option of showing the CPUs separately in CPUMon - I was surprised to see four CPUs being graphed. That cannot be right I assumed, so I opened up Device Manager/Processor and sure enough it was showing 4x N2600 processors. Must be something wrong here I still thought, could be wasting my time, so I rebooted with Puppy Linux from an external DVD. Same again, in Linux, the Device Manager showed four N2600 processors. Most people wouldn't notice this, no yellow-triangle with exclamation-mark against the processors in Device-Manager, so why look at it.
The Intel N2600 specification says it is a dual core processor with four threads. Not hyper-threading as I understood it to be, and whatever Intel have done makes the N2600 appear to the Windows OS and Linux as if it is a quad-core processor. There's more to this than meets the eye because although Intel specify the N2600 as a 64-bit CPU, Intel does not provide any 64-bit drivers for the integrated 3650 GPU, only 32-bit drivers. Looked like price gouging to me at first, simply that Intel didn't want this processor being used in 64-bit motherboards, whereas its predecessor the N570 could be. But there has to be a physical explanation, that I cannot proffer.
To the point, with the N2600's virtual quad-core and WiFi-n, a netbook goes like the clappers compared to the first generation Atom netbooks. And Cedarview SOCs have at last got comparable power consumption to the corresponding AMD netbook chipsets. To be fair, the N2600 does not seem to be any faster than the AMD E450, that is also specified as dual-core with two threads per core, but appears to both Windows OS and Linux as a two-core processor.
So, for most people who have commented here that they value their netbooks, my advice would be to get an upgradeable to 2GB, dual-core, 10" model AMD-Fusion/Intel-Cedarview while you can. It's a pity that they are still limited to Microsoft screen specifications, but netbook lovers have accommodated to that, and the position is not getting worse as web-sites generally now provide for lower screen resolution smartphones. But if that ever changes, you will still have an ersatz IPTV/PVR at 1080p HDMI-out standard that will last for many years. That's actually why I paid £130 for a refurbished netbook from Argos-Outlet, to use for IPTV, and discovered the above; that I have not seen commented elsewhere.
Netbook - underpowered?
underpowered for running windows xp complete with all the bloatware maybe.
Mine is perfectly ok for mobile office work. You know spreadsheets and docs - for which tablets are almost useless.
Msft blackmailed their oems l, pushed up the spec and reduced the price advantage. What Msft really wanted (and still want) was a Windows monoculture that the could administer from a afar like a tax man (but without any democratic accountability).
Still, they reaped what they sowed: it's pretty obvious that the original non-windows netbooks influenced both Apple and Google with ios and android. So the monoculture has gone anyway.
Here's to fragmentation, competition and democracy - just as with every other consumer technology!
I like my eeePC 901!
Runs Windows. And a bunch of development stuff. And a RISC OS emulator with full dev kit for that. Plus plenty of songs/animé on a 32Gb SD card. It didn't cost a lot, it is small enough I can pop it into a backpack. It runs for ages on its battery. And I can use it in the car on rough country roads without worrying about trashing the harddisc going over potholes and the like (BTW, I'm not the driver, before anybody wonders...). Although, to be honest, it's main use is to sit on my stomach while I'm in bed so I can watch movies and generally be a lazy lump. (^_^)
I know its specification is not the best. I had to up the memory to 2Gb to get Firefox and Thunderbird running side by side without stuff falling over. It isn't up to H.264 HD (but can cope with HD XviD okay). I can't say about games as I'm not really a games person. It runs VisualBasic and various other compilers without too much struggle. I figure it might take the machine a little longer to do things (like transcoding to XviD for recordings from my Android phone) but, you know, it is older slower hardware. I live with it.
One of the very best features, by far, was the adaptive WiFi when my older Livebox only offered the b/g types. The eeePC 1001 I got my mother, and both of my Android phones, would lock in at 54mbit and stay there. Given this is a rural property with metre-thick stone walls, it is quite feasible that I can be in my bedroom approximately eight metres away from the Livebox, and struggle to get any sort of connection. The 901, however, would adapt, dropping the speed as low as 2mbit and raising it as conditions require. This is less of a problem now that my newer Livebox offers b/g/n and the other hardware seems to realise that it too can adapt, but even so my phones don't live to go below 65mbit. My eeePC, side by side with the phone, is running at 13mbit. Guess which one can stream reliably and which one cannot.
All in all, I have been very happy with my netbook; and when its is time for an update to newer hardware, I will have to search around for something that offers a reasonable specification in a form factor as close as possible to that of the netbook range. I accept that netbooks were not for everybody, however for those who took to them, they will be missed.
User over-optimistic rather than netbook under-powered
I always thought anyone who bought a netbook and then complained it was underpowered was either missold or over-optimistic. It's an Atom with a gig of ram and a low res display. Don't expect too much!
I've had an Asus 1001P for a few years now. It's not my main machine; I bought it for travelling. I wanted long battery life, wireless, ethernet, USB, VGA out, SD card slot and most of all cheap! We used it to keep our then toddler entertained with her favourite TV shows on long haul flights (10hr plus). Once on holiday, it got plugged into the hotel TV and used for uploading photos from the camera, emails, booking the next hotel room, facebook updates etc. I don't like travelling with expensive equipment, always that slight niggle of where's-my-bag at the back of your mind, so the low-cost was important.
I'm not sure that there is anything out there other than a netbook that can replace the feature set above. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it revolutionised our travels (that and free wifi in budget hotels/hostels ;-).
With age, the battery died, the keyboard has some quirks and the mouse-pad only works if I enter the BIOS first on booting up (never worked that one out!). It still gets used daily though (writing this on it) despite being tied to the mains. It's the kids computer at home, the lounging around balancing it on one knee machine and it is still machine I reach for when packing the bags for foreign lands.
I think there is always room for such a device. Long battery life, proper keyboard, light, cheap, and with enough ports to be useful.
I'll still keep Mine
I've had an Asus Eee for a few years now. I loaded Ubuntu on it 3 minutes after it came out of the box. I use it as a system console on the computer floor if I have to get into a Sun box or HP iLo. Beats the crap out of lugging around a bloated Lenovo laptop
Just to pile on to this thread . . .
My little Toshiba NB305 has been my workhorse portable device for 3 years. Cellular internet, 40gb SSD, 2GB DRAM and Win7Pro has made this a very capable device for most all of my computing in spite of the little Atom CPU. Yes I have invested about US$400 on it (not counting the windows licence I have with MS ActionPack), but an equivalent ipad or small notebook would be much less functional for me. I know it is not sexy but that has its advantages as I'm far less concerned about this device being nicked. Hopefully the manufacturers were right about the lack of demand in the market and I'll be able to buy a couple at discounted prices.
My Dell Mini 9 with OSX Snow leopard, ran surprisingly well with only 1GB RAm and booted faster than a Macbook of the day due to it's SSD. OSX was £22 from Amazon.
4-5 years ago plenty of people were still using old Beige boxes for office work and light gaming. Those old boxes could happly be replaced with a Netbook attached to an external monito and keyboard. Netbooks were fine if you didn't mind keeping a couple of steps behind with software. Very convenient form factor at a cheap price.
Sadly Netbooks got a lot of bad press as vociferous newcomers to computing tested them, pointed and laughed as the Atom chip struggled to run the latest office suites, intensive web based apps and latest 3D games.
I imagine if a Raspberry Pi type Netbook scene was made possible, people would stop pointing and laughing and embrace cheap computing again.
The problem was price.
When they first came out, they were about £200-£250.
Here we are, about four years later. And what is the price? About £200-£250 for machines with basically the same spec. Why would you pay £250 for a netbook when you can get a perfectly good basic laptop with DVD, 15.1" screen and change from £300?
If they were being sold for £100-£150, you'd still see them fly off the shelves.
But then Dixons wouldn't be able to persuade people that they need these just under £300 lappys to do their facebook and email.
I had an Acer Aspire One till it died, and a Packard Bell machine. Both ran Ubuntu (the Packard Bell runs 12.10 perfectly well) and I still use it most days.
RIP the netbook. I for one will miss it.
I remember picking up my Acer Aspire One from a 'rollback-able' retailer for 150 quid 4 years ago.
Ran Linpus well, I upgraded the RAM and triple booted Linpus with XP and some fruit-based BSD OS.......
Still used that little machine until recently. Was nearly replaced by a Touchpad last year, except for when writing long emails, and eventually that tablet died just out of warranty, yet the little netbook soldiered on.
Got the other half a network over a year ago as she was always using the Acer. Some Toshiba with Windows 7 'starter' disabled version of windows on, put Ubuntu on but it always seemed a bit slower than the Acer.
Finally upgraded with an Asus Transformer, which in blue and in keyboard mode looks similar to the Acer.
I'll keep it about as a spare computer.
The Netbook I've been keeping an eye on ebay for is the IBM PC110....
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