back to article 2012: The year that netbooks DIED

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 …

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  1. Jordan Davenport

    I bought my Dell Mini 10v (from which I'm posting now, actually) for one reason: taking notes in my university courses. I didn't need a lot of horsepower, just something lightweight that had a long battery life. An Ultrabook would be a bit spendy for what I needed even if it existed at the time. Android tablets were all but nonexistant, and I also needed a physical keyboard. I do however now own an Asus TF300T for media consumption and for when I need to spend a long term on battery.

    Do I regret buying my netbook? Not at all - I certainly got my money's worth out of it, and I still use it from time to time, primarily as a testbed for various Linux distributions and configurations. VMs are great, but nothing beats actual hardware for real life testing environments.

    I knew the netbook form factor's days were limited when the first models launched, but I must admit I am a little sad to see them die off completely.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. K Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: sad to see them die

        "puts Linux or Android on them"

        I'd question your experience with said hardware and OS's. What makes me say that? well

        Linux - When Netbooks were first introduced most came pre-installed with Ubuntu (or another Linux variant). But there was no appetite for it, so when M$ eventually introduced Windows 7 Starter, nearly ever manufacturer dropped the Linux and moved to Windows.

        Android - Is a touch screen OS, 99.99% of Apps are designed to be used this way. So to make any success of this Netbooks would need to come with Touchscreen which massively increase production costs.

        Chrome OS - While you never mentioned this, its probably a better fit for Netbook hardware, the actual Chrome Books cost about the same as Net books, yet there very little demand for them.

        1. dajames Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: sad to see them die

          Linux - When Netbooks were first introduced most came pre-installed with Ubuntu (or another Linux variant). But there was no appetite for it, so when M$ eventually introduced Windows 7 Starter, nearly ever manufacturer dropped the Linux and moved to Windows.

          When netbooks were first introduced they came with Linux to keep the price down -- these were £200 PCs -- because the cost of a Windows licence would have made them too expensive for their limited functionality. The distros were poorly chosen, and didn't show Linux in the best light ... so people put (usually pirated) copies of Windows XP onto them instead. Windows was the obvious choice, once the factory-installed Linux had been found wanting, because it was familiar. I put Ubuntu onto my original Asus EEE PC 701 and it was more than adequate for that hardware.

          This prompted Microsoft to offer XP Home licences very cheaply to netbook OEMs, and later to bring out the restricted (2GB RAM max) "Starter" version of Windows 7. This meant that the OS licence cost was a much smaller proportion of the unit cost, and Windows became a more realistic option.

          Many netbooks were (in theory) still available with either Linux of Windows, but the Linux version was usually no cheaper than the Windows one (some manufacturers sold Linux models with more flash storage than the Windows model, but at the same price ... so I guess the equal pricing may have been an MS licensing term). Retailers never had the Linux models in stock, believing (perhaps with some justification) that the buying public would buy what they were familiar with, especially if there was no cost differential, and doubtless also afraid that if they pushed Linux they might have to learn to support it.

          Linux would have been more successful earlier on if the manufacturers had chosen a more polished distro, but it was never really given a chance to blossom.

          1. Blitterbug
            Happy

            Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

            Dajames, some of your recollections are fairly accurate. But what actually happened to force Windows on the market was people bringing back 'broken' netbooks to the shop in droves: My Windows is broken, there's no Start button' etc.

            Microsoft spotted an opportunity to get into the market (thankfully - my netbooks have all been wonderfully useful as a result) by offering licenses at heavily discounted rates to OEMs. Around $25 per seat as opposed to ~$50, iirc.

            MS weren't some corporate monster killing the lively indie netbook scene - they pretty much saved its arse - the EeePC (Linux editon) and its ilk were failing and thwere was no alternative. Many of us felt it was a huge shame and a massive missed opportunity. And then PC World et al started offering the first XP netbooks with microscopic HDs, which rapidly expanded to massive proportions.

            Obviously their time has come now, and I've just succumbed to a shiny iThing Mini, which I adore. But there is still a market for tiny form-factor, CD-less, x86-powered keyboarded devices. Just please God, without Win8.

            1. Kevin 6

              @Blitterbug

              Funny you mention that where I worked at the time someone bought a Eee with ubuntu on it came in the next morning asking that Wheres the start menu question.

              1. YARR
                Stop

                Re: @Blitterbug @Kevin 6

                "Funny you mention that where I worked at the time someone bought a Eee with ubuntu on it came in the next morning asking that Wheres the start menu question."

                Then they're gonna be very confused if they "upgrade" to Windows 8 or use a Mac, iOS or Android.

            2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. serendipity
                FAIL

                Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

                @Eadon - talk about don't let the facts get in the way of your prejudice. The higher return rates of Linux based netbooks are well documented. See this article for example;

                http://blog.laptopmag.com/ubuntu-confirms-linux-netbook-returns-higher-than-anticpated

                "In reality windows notebooks were returned in larger numbers due to their being slow."

                Care to back that up with any facts?

                If you mean in terms of absolute numbers rather than return rates, well that wouldn't be all that suprising given that the vast majority of netbooks sold came with Windows.

                I recently had the misfortune to try and sort out one of the early Acer 7 inch screen netbooks that came with Linux and a tiny SSD. What a dog slow machine!! Fortunately, my netbook is one of the later Samsung 10" NC10 with good ole Windows XP on it. I've used it for all sorts of tasks over the last three years - Its even got a full version of Visual Studio on it which runs tolerably well. Its still going strong and is really handy to sling in a bag for when a real Keyboard and a good selection of ports are needed.

                1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

                  Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

                  >> "In reality windows notebooks were returned in larger numbers due to their being slow."

                  > Care to back that up with any facts?

                  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/12/dell_reality_linux_windows_netbooks/

            3. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

              > But what actually happened to force Windows on the market was people bringing back 'broken' netbooks to the shop in droves

              This is just FUD that was never really substantiated by anyone including the alleged source.

              1. Lars Silver badge
                Linux

                Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

                This is of course only history but when you say "they came with Linux to keep the price down" it is more, I think, about keeping profits up. Xandros was the first and biggest failure, disgusting even for hard core linux lovers.

                The reason for Xandros must have had something to do with money. But the real problem is and has been that it is so difficult to have, in your store, people willing and experienced both in Windows and, what ever like, linux.

                I have met some, but generally, it is just easier and simpler to sell Windows.

                Apple, should I say Jobs, understood this, years ago. So there are those Apple only shops. And if you cannot grasp this then have a beer on me.

                Linux on the desktop is not in these pipes, no matter how better, secure, faster, you name it, it is not available for the father mother, teenager who wants to bye a computer.

                Servers, supercomputers, embedded devices, yes, linux is strong and stronger, but the clientele is different.

                Does it really matter, I have used linux on the desktop for more than ten years, and I feel happy about all the energy around it. A very interesting and rewarding adventure, full of fan and some tears, never boring.

                The desktop is very occupied bye Windows and increasingly by Apple. That is just a fact, and has nothing to do about who is better or worse. Linux will grow in markets and devices where (as to day) the word linux is not important. There will probably never be a channel, to the vast population, for linux on the desktop.

                If I am wrong, I have nothing against it.

            4. K Silver badge
              Linux

              Re: they came with Linux to keep the price down

              Blitterbug,

              Yep spot on!

              Love the way you've been voted down so much though.. must be 1 or 2 linux-tards who can't handle the truth! :)

          2. K Silver badge

            Re: sad to see them die

            Umm thats mostly what I said!

            You mentioned about a more polished Distro - well they don't come more polished for "Newbies" than Ubuntu. So if that failed, then while I love Linux (I'm a sys admin! Penguin power and all that) I'm afraid to say, Linux just does not cut the mustard for your average entry level user.

        2. David Hicks
          Linux

          Re: sad to see them die

          "When Netbooks were first introduced most came pre-installed with Ubuntu"

          If only!

          No, they came with Xandros, and it was set up in such a way that after about a month it would fill its system partition and start failing software updates. Also the desktop was very, very limited, you couldn' edit the menu structure, it was difficult to install more stuff etc etc. And it sometimes killed ipods if you plugged them in (for instance to charge).

          Various *buntu, debian and mint distros popped up pretty quick, thankfully, and my eeepc 901 has been an awesome miniature debian/GNOME2 laptop for the last several years, though it does struggle at times. Yesterday I replaced it with a chromebook, which (AFAICT) is basically the same as a netbook, only with chrome OS and a slightly larger form factor. Soon, it too shall run debian!

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: sad to see them die

            Yes, Xandros was a big mistake. But what killed the two in my family was the keyboards loosing keys or just stopping to react properly.

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: sad to see them die

          When netbooks were first introduced, they included hardware on which XP would not run.

          Subsequent XP netbooks were more powerfully equipped. Linux netbooks often weren't upgraded.

          So any preferences there aren't purely about the operating system.

        4. Fred Down

          Re: sad to see them die

          I have two netbooks they both dual boot Linux Mint and Windows 7, upped memory to 2gb,.

          My son put Mint on his netbook.

          Mint runs very well, more responsive then Windows 7, I have the Windows 7 for Netflix,

          Netbooks are great when travelling.

          Most people take to Mint straight away, For surfing the net, e-mail and videos it is are great. I have a tablet but prefer having a real keyboard and netbooks are cheaper.

          I used mine when touring the UK on a motorcycle, the size was a great advantage.

      2. Bush_rat
        Meh

        Re: sad to see them die

        And no f*cks were given....

        I got a relative of mine a $400 netbook, it performed worse than the iPhone of that same year and had a white line across the screen. While my $480 laptop which only weighed slightly more still runs crysis well and has the advantage of not needing to carry 4 peripherals to make it useable.

      3. csumpi
        Stop

        Re: sad to see them die

        "but if someone puts Linux or Android on them, then they will sell, as they will be faster"

        Faster? On linux? In a terminal, maybe. But in a desktop setup? Not in my experience. I love linux, but all my computers run nicer with windows. Not sure if this is because the windows drivers are better, the OS, the window manager, but windows wins on the desktop.

        Then there's battery use. I have yet to see linux run near as long on a laptop as windows. Again, this might be due to better drivers, but whatever kernel settings or userspace settings I tried, linux eats up the battery much faster.

        Now you might say they could develop better drivers. But who's going to invest millions of dollars into development, when we all know how the last linux on netbook experiment ended.

        Maybe 2013 will be the year of the linux laptop. But I'm sorry, as of now the linux desktop is not ready for the masses. It works well for development with something like xmonad (which is how I use it), but not as a replacement for windows or osx.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: sad to see them die

          With it's better memory management and scheduuling, you should have tried the 'betamax' of unix -- i.e. FreeBSD, (although unlike betamax, linux won't kill bsd!)

      4. serendipity

        Re: sad to see them die

        @Eadon - you've got that the wrong way round. Initially they were Linux only and the market rejected them. It was only when they came preloaded with Windows did they sell in huge numbers.

    2. LarsG
      Meh

      Bought my wife a £179 Asus notebook, works for her, keeps her off the main computer, she can email, Skype, Facebook, Google etc.

      Why pay £1000 for the same functionality?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. ACcc
      Linux

      @jd I use my Sony netbook to hardware test Windows 8 when I found the hot corners a passion on avm without full screen running. Running Lubuntu as the alternate os, but has also run xp, x/ubuntu and open suse. great little machine for not overly complicated tasks and downloading from iplayer, basic camera work with Shotwell, gimp, ufraw. If I need instant web access i've got a tablet, but for some tasks a keyboard is just better

    4. Arthur 1

      Similar to OP

      Similar story to the OP. I bought a netbook for my lady for similar reasons. Battery life, portability, small size, keyboard, etc. It's still lighter, smaller and longer life than a high end ultra-book, and it cost only $200. What's the downside? It does everything asked of it and more without having to spend a stupid amount of money.

      I think a big part of what killed netbooks was the Atom. The netbook I bought her was based on AMD's fusion, and it can even do basic gaming tasks in reasonably modern games. More CPU and GPU grunt than any Atom, same battery life. Also had a 1280x720 screen. Aspire One 522 for anyone who is curious. If more netbooks were speced out this way I bet they'd still be around.

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I bought my Dell Mini 10v (from which I'm posting now, actually) for one reason: taking notes in my university courses.

      Indeed. I would have purchased a netbook for the same reason, except that I also needed to do software development for some of my academic work, and I wanted a more powerful machine for faster builds. (This is purely a convenience - I've done plenty of programming on machines where even a partial build was an excuse to go get coffee, and we'd schedule the full builds for lunchtime or after-hours.) Many of my classmates had netbooks.

      I suppose the tablet + stand + keyboard makes an adequate substitute for the netbook for this sort of use case, but it's not the direction I'd have preferred, if I were looking for something just for classroom note-taking and the like.

  2. Goat Jam

    Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

    Can anybody name one?

    Before you go crazy, please note that anything that includes a vertical resolution that was considered commonplace in the late 1980's does not count.

    1. Steve Knox
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

      I agree that common 1980s vertical resolutions should not be considered premium. So why did you provide a link to a page with a picture of a monitor from the 1990s, where said page does not even include information on the maximum supported, let alone commonly used, resolution of said monitor?

      Given that the common vertical resolutions for the late 1980s were all under 500 lines, I doubt any ultrabooks will fail to exceed that standard -- I don't think I've seen one with less that 768 vertical lines.

      I'd love to see evidence of a system in common usage from the late 1980s with a standard vertical resolution of, say, 768 lines. But I lived through those times, so I highly doubt you'll find one.

      Wikipedia claims that the common PC resolution from 1990 to 1996 was 640x480, but even they admit that they have no source for that. The best data I could find, from W3Schools shows 800x600 holding the resolution crown up until 2003.

      1. Goat Jam

        If they do

        It was a model from 1990 and it was the first one I found doing a web search for "NEC Multisync 3" which I recall from the time being a must-have monitor from those times. Yes I lived through it too. By 2003 I had a 19 inch monitor with 1280 vertical resolution and I was by no means an early adopter.

        Although while I am prepared to accept that the off-the-top-of-my-head recollection may be out by a year or two it does not alter the point of my comment at all.

        1. NogginTheNog
          Thumb Down

          Re: If they do

          What monitors supported, and what the average video card could chuck out at a decent refresh rate, are two different things.

        2. Steve Knox

          Re: If they do

          @GoatJam: 2003 is 15 years past the date range you expressed in your original "point".

          My point is that from the late 80s (your date range) through at least the mid 90s, the most common vertical resolutions were significantly less than what ultrabooks offer, and that even into the 2000s, over half of the systems out there were still at 800x600 or less.

          I will agree that by 2000, 768 lines was a common vertical resolution, and so it would be reasonable to expect a premium device to have more lines if a) vertical resolution above 768 lines was still a primary factor, and b) there were no other significant premium factors.

          But the premium factors for an ultrabook are, in an order somewhat resembling the apparent priority of the market:

          1) portability (i.e, thinness and lightness)

          2) long battery life

          3) performance (incorporating both processor and storage performance)

          4) display resolution

          So while you may not consider an ultrabook with 768 lines of vertical resolution "premium", enough people* involved in the market do. As for ultrabooks with greater than 768 lines, try (in order of quick web search):

          Acer S7 1080p

          Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook

          ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A

          * and by "enough people", I mean at least the vendors. Definitely their marketing departments, at least.

          1. Gordan

            Re: If they do

            @Steve Konx:

            My first Pentium 60MHz in 1994 had a monitor capable of 1280x1024 (but it was a cheap and nasty 15" lump that was a bit too blurry at more than 1024x768). I certainly wouldn't have considered using anything with a lower res than that back then. 18 years of Moore's law later, we have a situation where most laptops (netbooks being even worse) still have the same vertical resolution. Not exactly a sterling example of progress.

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: If they do

          What you are talking about was an overpriced DESKTOP monitor. It wasn't even terribly common.

          This is LAPTOPS we're talking about here. They are different beasts for obvious reasons.

          Some of us REMEMBER this stuff firsthand and don't have to grope Google for it.

      2. Gordan

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        @Steve Knox

        My Sun 3 in mid '80s had a 1152x900 monitor on it.

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          Dell Latitude had optional hi-res screens. The standard screen was 1024x768 but if you were important you got the better screen. Something like 1280x1024 if I remember. This was models like the D600 and even earlier. IBM Thinkpads were also available with high resolution screens. It's only been the last few years that it's been hard to find a laptop with a nice screen.

        2. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          > My Sun 3 in mid '80s had a 1152x900 monitor on it.

          It also was generally not purchased by individuals and was more than an expensive car.

          That was probably also just a Mono monitor.

          You're not the only person that used SunOS in the 80s.

      3. ~mico
        Holmes

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        I've got my first PC a bit late, in 1995, so it indeed could only properly work in 800x600 in its windows 3.11, and choosing the maximal supported resolution of 1024x768 slowed it to a crawl. That said, professional machines could easily handle 1280x1024 even then.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

      Macbook Air.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        As I'm sure you are aware, the Macbook Air is not an ultrabook, "ultrabook" being intel marketing speak which is intended to be used by PC OEMs who want to make bad copies of the macbook air.

        I deliberately didn't preclude the macbook air from qualifying because I wanted to see if some numbnut would throw that up as an example.

        Congratulations, YOU are that numbnut.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          Think most people would class a Macbook Air as an ultra notebook style machine - heck it even runs Windows if you want.

        2. Mark .

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          And "MacProBookAir" (or whatever they call it) isn't a marketing trademark?

          Apple are just yet another PC OEM, and all PC manufacturers, Apple included, use trademarks to sell their products.

          As for "bad copy", I disagree. The Apple Air's have crap specs too (e.g., Intel integrated graphics). Personally I prefer to have a powerful laptop like a Clevo for main use, and a lower cost portable with better battery life (what used to be called a netbook) for travelling, rather than a device that does a bad job of either. I'll also take the laptop without a tacky light up logo.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        Macbook Air.

        That's not a computer. That's a diamond-encrusted masturbatory device.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Diamonds?

          Mahatma Coat, There are no diamonds on a MacBook Air. The rest of your post is accurate though.

          1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

            Re: Diamonds?

            Oh, you can get a diamond encrusted Air if you want something bling....

            http://stuarthughes.com/newdawn/product_info.php?products_id=83

        2. Armando 123

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          @Mahatma Coat - I still have my version 1 Air four+ years later and, in spite of being beaten to death by others in the house, it still runs fine. People might scoff at the engineering, but it's been dropped onto concrete/tile more than once while open and running, but other than the sound card occaisionally getting twitchy, it's fine. I'll definitely replace it with another one, and this time keep others from using it ...

    3. MacGyver
      Holmes

      Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

      I like the small 10"&11" inch form-factor so I'm always looking for one that fits my needs. I can tell you that 99% of the time I ignored a "Netbook" release it was because it didn't have a minimum vertical resolution of 768. Most only went to 600 some stopped at 480, and that is worthless nowadays. I have a Sony Vaio W10 and I love its size, hate its CPU and its non-standard Shift keys and a lack of a Break key. Its screen is perfect for most things at 1366x768 (they are also not for sale anymore). I'm currently wanting for the ASUS Taichi 21-DH51 to be released, 1.7GHZ i5, 4GB RAM, 128SSD and two 1920x 080 screens, all in a 11.6" form-factor. It is the best of all possible worlds for me, fast CPU, small, normal mouse, normalish keyboard, and a second touchscreen that lets it be used as a tablet (I just have to find a nice Linux distro that can run its hardware as I hate Win8 and 7 with a burning passion). Sony has a nice VAIO DUO 11 in a sliding form-factor, but it uses a J-mouse so that's not option. If you're looking for decently powered Ultrabooks Samsung has some nice models, but their 11" model has bizarre rubber covers over every port so I'll never buy one. If Asus ever decides they want to sell me a Taichi, I think it will last me for quite a while, but for some reason they keep pushing the release date back and back. I guess they don't like money.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        "I can tell you that 99% of the time I ignored a "Netbook" release it was because it didn't have a minimum vertical resolution of 768."

        If the resolution was too small for your needs then you needed a laptop or equivalent not a netbook.

        I got one of the first Asus 701s, It is small, limited and the resolution of 800×480 is maybe not the best one can find, but for my needs is acceptable. I use mine when I am away from home and just need to check my e-mails and so on. As it is so small it's ideal to just slip into my flight bag and lets me watch a film or read an e-book from a USB stick during the flight.

        It's "horses for courses" and obviously a netbook is not what you needed.

        As for the Linux versus MS Windows I think that it was a big mistake to stop loading Linux on to these little machines, but then the mighty MS dollar has a lot of power in the world of the OEM.

        Mine still has Linux on it which one of the reasons I bought it in the first place. Crunchbang at the moment but I may change to something else if I find anything better.

        1. Gordan

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          @nemafoad

          "If the resolution was too small for your needs then you needed a laptop or equivalent not a netbook."

          I call bullshit on that, in the day and age where Google is shipping 10" tablets with 2560x1600 screens.

          Screen resolution has been the single most awfully limiting factor on laptops for the past decade, with only a tiny handful of notable exceptions:

          IBM ThinkPad T60 15" 2048x1536

          MacBook Pro Retina 13" 2560x1600 / 15" 2880x1800

          That's about it. Decent 1920x1200 15.4" used to be reasonably available, but even they seem to have become a lot less common in favour of the bigger, lower res 15.6" 1920x1080 screens with a 10% reduction in pixel count. Most disappointing. So much so that I am finding myself looking into getting a 10" tablet with an external keyboard/mouse to use as a laptop with reasonably decent resolution.

          Linus made a most excellent point about this in the following post:

          https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/ByVPmsSeSEG

          1. Gio Ciampa

            Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

            I call bullshit on your bullshit - specifically the "is shipping" part, given that you're comparing modern-day laptops with five-year-old 701s - and your quote from Linus is just a reiteration of that

            Oranges, apples, etc...

            1. Gio Ciampa

              Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

              Just spotted that the T60 is also 5 years old...

              ...and about 8 times more expensive than the 701 from the reviews i could find from that time

            2. nematoad Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

              "Oranges, apples, etc..."

              Thanks to Gio Ciampa for that, it saves me the bother of replying to Gordan's ranting.

              Hint to Gordan, read the post before replying.

          2. jaduncan

            Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

            Heh, I'm the guy in the first few comments telling him to hack up a 10" tablet. Great minds, etc.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Screen resolution

            As far as I'm concerned the screen resolution of netbooks is the problem - why can I buy a tablet with 7" 1280x800 screen but not a similarly specified netbook? Or a 10" netbook which has that ppi screen?

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: Screen resolution

              > but not a similarly specified netbook

              That is really simple: Microsoft would remove loyalty discounts on all machines if netbooks weren't installed with XP or 7, and to use those OSes the specifications were laid down by Microsoft.

              Do you think that the OEMs are free to make what they want, or what their customers want ?

    4. General Pance

      Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

      Sony Z: http://www.sony-asia.com/product/vpcz128gg

      Nothing comes near it.

      1. Stacy
        Happy

        Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

        Re: the Sony Z

        I got one this summer and it's an amazing little machine. Full HD with a 13" screen (but so pin sharp that readability is not compromised), quad core Ivy Bridge i7 and an SSD that I have never seen anything else get near to in terms of performance (esp on a consumer machine).

        Add to that it's size (MacBook Air, albeit not curved at the edges) weight (makes the air look heavy), ports galore (GB Ethernet, VGA for projectors at work, HDMI for the living room and 2* USB 3) and 6 hour battery life I don't think that you can ask for more! And that is without the PMD for the extra graphics power, BluRay and ability to drive three monitors.

        My only gripe would be that I couldn't load it with more than 8GB (I would have liked 16...)

        1. HipposRule
          Thumb Down

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          @Stacy - how can anyone downvote your post?

          1. Stacy
            Happy

            Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

            @HipoosRule

            Because they have nothing better to do?

            Honestly, there's far worse things in life to worry about though, it is quite literally the least of my concerns :)

            I suppose it was partly an opinion and people are allowed to disagree...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ultrabooks with "premium specs"

          For that size you may as well get a Macbook Pro Retina 13".

  3. Mikel
    Windows

    Ultrabooks...

    "Ultrabooks won't be a race to the bottom for manufacturers."

    Snirk. Leaked a little beverage on that one. Nicely done.

  4. Oninoshiko

    I have one

    I use it. It makes a nice combination of the features I want in a size that easy to carry, sacrificing power isn't an issue for when im on the road. The issue was people didn't understand the limits of this type of machine.

    When I go to replace it in a few years, hopefully Ultrabooks will have filled my niche need as nicely.

    1. keithpeter
      Boffin

      VGA -> External monitor - Re: I have one

      Samsung NC10 runs Debian Wheezy out the box no problems, 7:30 hours on the large battery, and can be plugged into a 1920 by 1080 no name monitor OR a data projector via the VGA cable (I know, ancient technology but still works). Decentish keyboard, spinning rust storage, cheap on ebay. Shove it in a bag and don't worry about scuffing the brushed aluminium.

      I'll miss them.

  5. Haku

    Asus Eee's forever

    Regarded by many as the first truly affordable mini laptop, they still have lots of life in them, especially as they're so cheap 2nd hand, even if they're not being made anymore and superseeded by 'ultrabooks' they still continue to chug along as useful devices.

    My Eee count now resides at 6; my original 701 from the first batch that entered the UK which is still going strong along with another 701 which doesn't have a working touchpad but otherwise is fine, two 'dead' 900s that have failed onboard 4gb SSD's and missing screens (I broke 2 sceens by mistake so had to salvage), a fully working 900 (still very useful), and a 901 with a cracked screen I was given which has been upgraded to two SATA 2.5" drives with SATA connections (60mb/s read/write) to become a basic VNC controlled HTPC with a Microvison SHOWWX+ pico projector pointed at a 6 foot wide screen.

    I do have a 7" Nook Tablet which is a nice toy for media consumption but is not always substitute for a 'proper' computer - even an Eee, I dislike the fact that current computing technology is moving away from multitasking to singletasking by having programs (apps :P) running in fullscreen.

    1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Asus Eee's forever

      If you haven't already done it then update* the BIOS to the newest version, the fan will be running a lot less.

      My 900 boots Xubuntu to a fully working, wifi connected state in 38 secs.

      *To save you searching :)

      Rename 900-ASUS-1006.ROM to 900.ROM.

      You need a USB stick less than 512MB formatted to FAT16.(make a partition if your stick is larger)

      Copy 900.ROM to it and press Alt+F2 when booting up. The EZflash utility will do the rest.

      If you have the BIOS "Boot Boost" option enabled then don't forget to also copy the 900.ROM file to the SSD "BIOS" partition.

  6. Ed Vim

    I remember the whole matter differently

    I see a little revisionist history in this article. From what I recall, it wasn't the low cost and minimal resources that made the netbook market dwindle, those two factors are what made netbooks so popular. It showed the PC manufacturers there was actually a huge market of people who wanted cheap, affordable devices to do things like check their email, write a letter, and listen to music. A lot of non-techie people simply didn't want or need a full blown laptop. I also recall back around 2008 when we all were coping a global economic downturn, it was the surge of netbook sales that helped keep a lot of computer manufacturers going.

    Both Intel and Microsoft hated netbooks because the limited profit margin didn't fit in with their typical high-markup business models, and they also took steps to minimize netbook adoption (i.e. putting artificial caps on hardware specs). Despite the Intel/MS hate on the netbook line and the manufacturers odd choice to use only minimally functional Linux distros when much, much better options were available, netbooks were still quite popular, more in the EU than in America. In retrospect, netbooks did have their limitations but there was also a lot of bad marketing that helped confuse a lot of consumers by making netbooks out to be some kind of cheap laptop option when they clearly were not, by design they were NOT supposed to match the functionality of any typical 'laptop'. MS bullying the manufacturers to turn netbooks in Windows PCs (quite a mismatch) and Apple bringing out the iPad were two big factors in the death of netbooks. Hard to diminish the impact of tablet devices on the PC market as whole even.

    1. Mike 125

      Re: I remember the whole matter differently

      Agreed. It's an odd article.

      Also- "Underpowered Intel Atom processors made netbooks useless as number crunchers..."

      Well, duh. The clue is in the name.

      Netbooks died because the functionality 99% of people want is now standard in phones and tablets - even cheaper and more portable.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Certianly have a use...

    ...for professionals. I use them instead of lugging around something bigger on the field. They make excellent network troubleshooting devices. As long as I can get some small, light, with a long battery, no cdrom, some ports and cheap, call it whatever you like. I buy those. In retrospect, netbooks never existed. Nice small laptops did and continue to exist. I get the feeling that laptop and notebook have a more natural etymology, while netbook seems to be pure marketing goober.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Certianly have a use...

      Stopped carrying my laptop and have an HP-mini instead

      Keyboard is almost fullsize and apart from the silly touchpad button placement it's great.

      Going to pick up another one for when this dies.

      My boss replaced his laptop with a new MS surface for only $1000 more, and I can run proper Office!

      1. LarsG

        Re: Certianly have a use...

        You Boss replaced his laptop with a Surface, and he is the BOSS?

        Has your business gone bust yet?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Certianly have a use...

          Nah, his boss is just self-selecting for disemployment.

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        3. JDX Gold badge

          @LarsG

          You could walk into a job as a comedy writer with that kind of material. Sadly, only at BBC3.

        4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Certianly have a use...

          Lets just say he is a bit of a MSFT fanboy - he did replace his iPhone with a WinPhone

          On the plus side online managed Sharepoint everything really really works well for very little money.

      2. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Certainly have a use...

        I've been using an original HP mini for just this purpose (highly portable network troubleshooter / configuration tool) for several years now and it's been superb.

        All the connectivity you could want, very, very good keyboard (the trackpad buttons looked like they might be a problem but actually have been fine), high-res screen, plenty of RAM and all encased with a nice solid metal top (which has gathered quite a few dents over the years.) The only downside is the somewhat glacial C3 CPU.

        Sadly it recently got semi-immersed in neat coolant / anti-freeze which has made the Ethernet port unreliable, though with a proper cleaning (that stuff is incredibly difficult to dry out with normal amounts of heat) I'm hopeful it will come back to life.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Certainly have a use...

      I used my Asus 1000HE yesterday to go and sort out a network that was causing problems.

      It is quite a handy piece of equipment that cannot be replaced easily with a tablet without add-ons, which IMO defeat any advantage they may have..

      Mine has a faster larger hard drive than the original, is slightly overclocked and has 2GB of RAM.

      It has Debian, Backtrack and XP Pro on it making it pretty flexible for field work.

      It is not suited to replace a desktop, full spec. laptop or a media centre, but for me a lot of the time it fills a niche that the others do not.

      If mine was to die today, I guess I'd probably replace it with a small screen laptop.

  8. Jerry
    WTF?

    Netbooks are the perfect travel device

    My household has three units, two Toshiba NB-550D and an Acer netbook (only because we couldn't get the Toshiba).

    For travel they absolutely ideal. With the Toshibas at least you can plug the unit into your hotel HDMI screen and watch movies in full HD 1080p. Add a small wireless mouse and they are perfect for just about any task (the keyboard is fine even for my big fingers).

    We all have larger older laptops but wouldn't dream of taking them on any trips. Tablets are not an option because the screen is all you get. No expansion to a monitor.

    I think the main appeal of the tablet is the touch interface. Wouldn't it have been so much easier to release a version of a nettop with integral touch-screen?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

      Yup, they are starting to do that. Probably the next computing device I buy will be one of those or a new (smart???)phone.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

      There are tablets that can drive an external TV/Monitor available now. The Kindle Fire HD is just one.

      I use mine for exactly this purpose when I'm on the road.

    3. dssf

      Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

      Nobody? Well, I am in the minority. I traveled to Asia with THREE laptops: two 17" and one 15" the 15" being the newest. I use them for CAD mostly, and when I do word processing of long documents, the 17" screens are more useful than the 15". But, in full disclosure, I actually only regularly used ONE, the 15", but one 17" stayed bagged up for months. The other 17" only got fired up to check some old files I had not transferred.

      The WEIGHT is the biggest drag. And, the accessories for each weigh in second. Planes are tighter now than I seem to recall 8 years ago, and the Air Canada 767 tightness nixed my use of even my 15". Another thing that nixed my using my 15" was that my mouse is bluetooth. Verbotten in-flight are bluetooth and wifi. :-( My Galaxy Tab was low on juice, and so I charged it via the back-of-headrest 3-pole outlet, and then watched The Bourne Legacy and then slept the rest of the way.

      I saw people on the plane using iPads and Galay or other tablets, and they preferred those to the "in-flight entertainment".

      If 15" and 17" laptops could in the next 3 years stay at their current pricing, but go thinner, lighter, and sport longer-lived batteries, it might slow the uptake of tablets for some users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

        "Nobody? Well, I am in the minority"

        Damn right you are, why not buy a more powerful laptop to start with and, if really required, either dual boot or carry a spare bootable HD.

        Why on gods earth you feel the need to carry 3 lappies is beyond me.....

        "but one 17" stayed bagged up for months" which proves my point...

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

          You can even get Dual screen laptops if your CAD requires the extra real estate.

        2. dssf

          Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

          I already partly explained that.

          Also, it should be obvious if you really are a computer user of more than a few years that when doing CAD, it is wholly convenient to be able to open multiple instances of an app not just on one machine, but on as many as you have a license for if the need is to use a machine as a reference. Also, some apps are not worth actually reacquiring a license for, but the contenet generated in them is. Hence, again, a reference machine. Any new machine can bugger up and die, and it has happened to me at least twice. It is a crippling event to have working drives, but a dead machine.

          Why do you assume that I have whatever runes or magical powers you might have? Great for you, and I do applaud you if you have that band with and can cast spells or draw upon deep powers of recollection. Some of us do not, and it is justt not an option to leave a machine 6,000 miles behind, or even to buy a new one at the destination.

          Also, some VERSIONS of the apps I run won't run on the new machine, and are not worth the hassle to try to virtualize in the cramped disk space I have. Plus, I tend to do some amount of troubleshooting for some maritime related apps, and if I can avoid corrupting or changing the OS or other versioon underneath them, then my comments to developers are not moving the goal posts or changing the environment on them. And, haven't you experienced the frustration with having to too many times Alt+Tab just to look at something? Sometimes, it is easier to just run two laptops side-by-side. Before my trip, I had 3 side-by-side, and planned on a much longer-than-8-months trip, and figured on replicating my before-travel workbench environment. It just happened to turn out that my main laptop is still working just fine, was not stolen, and that all the files i DID transfer were good enough. But, in IT, in documentation, in CAD, what are we if we do not plan for redundancy or disaster?

          (I guess now had I written all that out, i could have averted the down vote, but then again, had I included it, I'd have gotten one for being too lengthy. Or, for bringing up fully-fledged laptops, despite others broaching non-Netbooks. Not trying to spar with you, mind you... )

          Netbooks are great -- for those who need them. They are great for some of my Korean friends who are highly accustomed to carrying LIGHTWEIGHT devices. One was aghast in 2008 when he saw my 17" Gateway, referring to it as "nanjango", or "refrigerator" in Korean. But, after I pointed out that I was editing multiple docs, doing how-tos, and using multiple CAD or CAD-like systems, he didn't laugh as much anymore. Another Korean friend had one Netbook stolen from him when his car was broken into. He went out and replaced it with yet another Netbook, for cost , size, weight, and battery charge duration reasons. But, whenever I had to help him with his papers, it was murder on me because for me Netbooks FEEL too small, and some of the keys are in confusing locations... It is bad enough dealing with full-sized laptops never having keys consistently in the same place...

          Segue here: (one reason why one laptop is less used, but 17" Gateway display aspect ration is too square, the battery is shot, and RAM is maxed at 2GB. The 17" HP has a NICE aspect ratio, but the keys are too slick and snag on my sleeves, and snag my wrist hair (very little, but it hurts like a bitch when that laptop snags my arm hair), and the screen is too reflectiive, it is as noisy as a racing engine, and is almost 8lbs, but both STILL are useful as reference machines for drawings that cannot be or are best not transferred, and/or because I need to preserve their state based on the limitations of the machines and the versions of the software versions....). End Segue

          ... So, sometimes, when time was not an issue, I had him micro-usb me a file, then we'd edit it on my machine, then put it back on his. I cannot type quickly enough on a Netbook (well, not his at least). But, it was quite enviable to see how LONG his netbook lasted. I know: smaller screeen, fewer energy vampires, tightly-integrated MS-battery vendor algorithms....)

          I really do hope you understand now why I had taken three machines. If you still cannot, then so be it. We probably just are using machines in different contexts.

          Cheers!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netbooks are the perfect travel device

      "Tablets are not an option because the screen is all you get. No expansion to a monitor."

      Unless I've misunderstood you I have an 18 month old ASUS TF-101 tablet, it's now old by today's standards but it's got a standard mini-HDMI output socket on the side.

  9. bwalzer

    A narrow definition of "netbook"

    So a netbook needs to have an x86 processor in it? Chinese makers are churning out 7" ARM based devices running Android for around $60US. How are those not netbooks?

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: A narrow definition of "netbook"

      I believe they should be classed as netbooks (Assuming you means the ARM devices with a dedicated keyboard attached)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tablets with keyboards

    Just to clarify, how easy is it to knock out an email on a tablet with keyboard while standing on a train and thus holding the device in your off-hand? That's the kind of thing netbooks were good for in my experience. I have a bad feeling the tablet equivalent wouldn't be as easy to set up on something other than a flat surface.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Tablets with keyboards

      Depends how strong the clips are, seen some of our work smaller notebooks hinges took a beating (Although staff lugging holding them by the screen >_> didnt help and using the keyboard and screen bit as a file-o-fax), to me they dont look that strong.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tablet plus bluetooth keyboard is the way forward as you get the best of both worlds. Netbooks were cheap and if we are being honest pretty nasty - slow and these days if you need that level of portability you would be better off with something like a Macbook Air / ultra notebook which at least is fast enough. If you do not need the portability you may as well get one of the (many) normal notebooks.

    1. Raumkraut

      > these days if you need that level of portability you would be better off with something like a Macbook Air / ultra notebook

      For the price of a netbook, though? You're more likely to find yourself with a box of spuds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        I truely hope

        you're not trying to insinuate that fanbois are in any way stupid or gullible enough to fall for that old trick..

        Oh, hang on, being a fanbois proves just how gullible they already are...

        Icon 'cos i am.....

    2. MacGyver
      Devil

      I'm all for it, if it has an x86 processor and at least 768 vertical resolution, if not, it's basically a big broken phone. I want choices in my "computer replacement" and a non-x86 CPU limits my choices of not only OS but of Apps compiled to run on it. Give me a Surface tablet with an x86 CPU, the cool little folding keyboard, and the ability to load whatever OS I want on it, and I'm sold, otherwise its just a big awkward broken phone.

    3. Julian Bond
      Facepalm

      Recreate the netbook?

      Are people still self-assembling laptops at the start of meetings? By the time you've got the iPad, psu, keyboard, mouse, stand, iphone, out of the backpack and plugged everything together so you can use cut down "App" versions of your desktop/laptop programs, wouldn't it have been easier to just open a small laptop?

      Rather than netbooks, or ultrabooks, or pads with add ons (or high end desktop replacements), I'm sure there's still a market for a small, full function laptop focused on portability at a reasonable price. Can we just get back to that please, rather than continually trying to stretch the laptop away from it's sweet spot.

  12. Dr Trevor Marshall
    FAIL

    My four Lenovo S10 are ideal for travel -- and around-the-house

    My main Lenovo S10 is perfect for travel. Small, light, and dare I say - disposable - (easily replaced if stolen or seized by customs). Its new SSD makes it run beautifully fast . Its new USB3 expresscard makes it really fast to external mass storage. Another S10 is used to monitor the IP-based security system around our house. One is currently used to log output from battery chargers and miscellaneous test equipment. They are reliable, and perfectly capable of acting as functional backup to my quad-core desktops. If I need a better monitor or keyboard, I have only to connect them to the S10 I/O... But I don't use them for writing books...

    An Ultrabook? With a Core 3? what does that offer me?

    Oh - the S10 all are running Windoze XP. I initially equipped them with a dual-boot to Linux, but ended up rarely using that capability... And now I suppose you are going to tell me that a decades worth of XP app development is going to instantly vanish in 2014 ???

  13. John Fairhurst

    Perfect Net Books

    I've an Asus eEe along with a standard notebook and a variety of desktops. The netbook gets used on bus or train journies so it's been subject to quite a bit of battering. It mainly gets used for word processing whilst on the use and I don't notice the lack of power re games (rather boringly, I don't generally play them :-/).

    I've used it to play streamed TV shows and radios and while the speakers are awful, the sound itself is actually quite good (through earphones). Given the fact that even CD/DVD installations are quite rare these days, the lack of a DVD player hasn't been a problem.

    1. alpine

      Re: Perfect Net Books

      Yes, still using my perfect Netbook daily, a Dell Mini 10v with the 1366x768 HD screen option, now running Win 7 Pro, full Aero with a 120GB SS disk. And built in DVB TV. The only addition has been a bluetooth mouse. Runs Office 2000 perfectly well and has a good keyboard. What more can be asked?. I'm sure I'll keep it forever!

  14. msage
    Joke

    Sure the Asus EEE PC girl should have made an appearance on this article... I am disgusted!

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      Bet you're from Tunbridge Wells too.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Happy

      Definitely a retrospective article on Asus EEE girls* is needed!

      * girls in the plural - if I remember rightly there was the original blonde beach girl and later on the brunette.

  15. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
    Thumb Up

    NetBooks are dead! Long live the netBook!

    As posted by others, these are great devices if you have the right one and the 'limitations' are the reasons why you bought one. I have an HP2140 - near full size keyboard; it's quick enough (max RAM + Xubuntu); excellant for light internet use on the go/writing emails (much easier to write larger emails with a keyboard); watch films whilst on holiday (useful to have ability to link t a larger monitor albeit VGA); decent batery life (4-6hrs depending on task). I would never use or carry a laptop and an ultrabook is too over-specced/xpensive for my needs. The netBook is a perfect smartphone companion when travelling

  16. Mark Wilson

    Still using a 701

    I have two of the original 701s and one of them is still in use as a fileserver on my home network. Most of the time it just sits there consuming very little power allowing the other machines in the house to drag files off the bank of external drives. It does an admiral job too.

    Yes there are better options available but these cost nothing as a school I used to do work for gave me them along with a BBC Master which was about to be scrapped.

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
      Coat

      Re: Still using a 701

      From the deck of HMS Ramilies; I salute you sir!

      I think you mean 'admirable'

      Collects coat........

  17. Tommy Pock
    Megaphone

    This has to stop.

    Laptops are called laptops, not notebooks. Notebooks are called notebooks - books you put notes in.

    Also, while I'm on the subject, when was the last time you played a game on a video? Computers games are called computer games; only Telly Addicts and Knightmare (VHS) were 'videogames'.

    Can we have some standards, please? We're not Americans.

    1. elaar

      Re: This has to stop.

      "Videogame" is a generic term for a game played on a "video device" (typically on a monitor). Arcade games were called Videogames even before the widespread adoption of VHS.

      Whilst "Computer Games" sounds more appropriate in certain circumstances, it doesn't fit particularly well with Arcade/Console/handheld games. Nintendo went to great lengths to market the NES as an entertainment system, and not as a computer for example.

      "We're not Americans" - In this instance it seems as if we are, if we insist on creating a new name for something just for the sake of it.

  18. Avatar of They
    Unhappy

    Shame.

    I like my asus eee 1000, the one with the 40GB SSD, first gen thingy. With an added 1GB of RAM.

    Runs ubuntu 11.10 and windows xp dual boot fine, even plays things like homeworld & homeworld 2, the original C&C and diablo fine. And I can output via the VGA adaptor to a projector for meetings.

    Runs office 2003 fine and has enough ooompf to watch films. I have since got the transformer prime but that just isn't a replacement, it needs the internet all the time and the apps are just not mature enough to replace office with multi tasking etc.

    I might have to buy a replacement when the last prices start to appear.

  19. tempemeaty

    My netbook by Asus never agreed to become extinct

    Some times when you're on the go and need a key board the notebooks are just to large for it. Then the tablets don't have the key board you need. Best thing that ever happened in computing was a way to have my notebook functions and software in a package that isn't a clumsy in the way size. I mourn the fact I may not be able to get another netbook. These things rock!

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: My netbook by Asus never agreed to become extinct

      You know, reading through this thread a thought occurs to me.

      As many have said, netbooks are ideal for use when traveling, small and light I find mine ideal to use in an aircraft. As I invariably travel cattle class I wonder how those people talking about using their 15" or 17" laptops get on. They must be traveling business or first class, 'cos when I wedge myself onto the shelf the airline laughing calls a "seat" there is not much room to exhale let alone open up a 17" laptop. Unless that is they have a high aspect ration machine with a very wide screen, but then surely that would get in the way of the person sitting next to them.

  20. Nick Roberts

    I've always been a fan of the small form factor laptop, and my current Netbook has served me well in this niche - I bought it before Ultrabooks existed, and it gives me a small machine I can do image editing on in the field. It's obviously a bit slow, but it has a screen capable of running the software I need, a processor that's just about quick enough, and I've replaced the HD and maxed out the RAM at a massive 2GB - but it works. Will I miss the Netbook format? No, the Ultrabook was always closer to what I wanted.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price

    There's a lot you can do with a netbook and it makes a handy tool or portable notebook (for certain uses). I appreciate mine for what it can do but have no illusions about its capabilities : it is not a small notebook, but a limited notebook.

    Given their limitations, netbooks should have declined in price to between £100 and £150, but they are still generally being pushed at the £200+ level, so inevitably their sales have declined as notebooks have come down in price.

    Shame, really, but I'll be keeping an eye out for a replacement if the prices do drop as they should.

    1. Jonathon Green
      Thumb Up

      Re: Price

      You get an upvote for that. For me the compelling thing about Netbooks is that they can be treated almost as disposable and hence go to places and situations you wouldn't dream of taking an expensive Ultrabook or Macbook Air (particularly if we're talking of your own kit bought out of your own budget) - as an exampe I was always perfectly sanguine about chucking an Asus Eee in the tankbag of a motorcycle (and leaving it there as I refuelled either the bike or myself) and perfectly at ease with paying for replacement if it got nicked or fell out under a bus (don't laugh, this actually happened to me!).

      If something's small and light enough for me to take anywhere and use everywhere then that's what I want to do with it, this carries a risk potential that (for me at least) doesn't sit comfortably with the price tags on the current crop of Ultrabooks and tablets (I'm posting this from an iPad by the way), particularly inexpensive tablets, don't offer the functionality I get from a Netbook with it's (albeit cramped) physical keyboard and range of standard applications...

    2. justincormack
      Linux

      surely?

      Somehow the prices managed to go up I think. My Eee cost around £135 from memory and used it for many years. £200+ was ridiculous. I think that was to pay the Windows tax plus the higher specs Windows needed. If only the Linux distros they shipped with hadnt been so bad, as most people do not know how to install Ubuntu or whatever to make them work.

  22. pierce

    re: premium Ultrabooks, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbons are 1600x900 in 14",

    there are Acer Aspire S7 11.6" models with full 1920x1080 HD video. Samsung and Asus have similar ultrabooks.

    these start around $1100 and up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      11.6? Too big.

      1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

        Having a work-issued 11.6in ; I'll second that (from my 10in 2140)

  23. Chloe Cresswell

    Size

    I am also one of the people who finds a netbook the perfect size for trouble shooting.

    When someone shows me an ultrabook or laptop that I can put in my handbag, I'll replace it.

    I don't want to carry 2 bags, and my aspire1 and it's PSU both fit in with all my normal handbag stuff. If I need more power I'll carry my L and SL series thinkpads, but it's always a size/weight issue, the netbook travels with me all the time.

    Tablets don't have any apeal for me. I haven't seen one that fills my requirements (ethernet, rs-232, keyboard, etc..)

  24. Corborg

    Useful

    Netbook for me is used when I go on holiday and don't want to take an expensive device with features I don't need. I use it to dump digi photos on to from the SLR and then pop it back in the hotel room safe. Maybe check the email once in a while. I'm sure it will be used in this way until it pops.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netbooks are proper computers, tablets are not.

    True, netbooks had slow CPUs, but they were small and light enough to fit in a narrow Deuter sport back pack, and I upgraded mine with a 320GB 2.5" hard disks, and 2GB RAM, so it can still do a lot more than any tablet currently can, and I still use it occasionally to drive external monitors.

    I had a full development environment, a database server, and VirtualBox running on my netbook two years ago, for work outside; try doing that on a tablet, even now! Yes, I have Android tablets too, but only for instant on consumption use.

    Ultrabooks have always been grossly overpriced, and most laptops are still way too heavy and bulky for transport, and where I need more power, I always want a much more powerful desktop machine with multiple proper screens, and a decent keyboard and mouse, which a laptop is frankly useless for, unless you spend stupid money for one!

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Paris Hilton

      That "Microsoft" experience was so dreadful that it has now killed the entire Netbook market.

      Yep, what will it do to Nokia..."Sendo" off the planet?

      Still got my 2 Asus eee701's, still damn useful. Not powerful, but useable.

      (Pity we don't have a girl-on-the-beach icon. This'll have to do..)

      1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
        Pint

        Re: That "Microsoft" experience was so dreadful that it has now killed the entire Netbook market.

        Like it!

        Neat 'Sendo' reference there [for anyonw lost - just Google 'sendo microsoft mobile phone' and watch the muck fall into place.

        Yes MS did 'do' for the netbook - they trashed the whole 10in lightweight laptop idea [by leaning on the OEMs] while they tried to kill WinXP and put us all on Vista.

        Those of us who 'got' the netbook ethos will mourn their disappearence [but eBay will probably be a great supply for years]

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Netbooks were popular when they had Linux on them

      I for one will never forgive MS for that.

      And the rest.

    3. Mark .

      Re: Netbooks were popular when they had Linux on them

      The thing that killed it was the spec staying still for 5 years. 1024x600, 1GB RAM! I agree it's a shame that Linux netbooks disappeared, though I find my Windows netbook fine. The experience is only poor compared to more powerful laptops, but tablet are less powerful too.

      The experience would have also been far better if they hadn't stuck the specs at 2007 level - e.g., 2GB RAM makes Windows run much better (even phones have this now), or higher resolution (again, phones are fine for this).

      As for Apple - *snort* - all those markets existed for years before Apple joined the market late. The ipad is a larger smartphone, not a new market (or is the first 7" or 11" tablet also a new market then?) This is The Register, not for people who think Apple invented phones (the first iphone wasn't even a smartphone - couldn't run apps). Not to mention that Apple are competely irrelevant, as their only ultra-portable laptop is way more expensive.

      The "desktop" is a mature market - I don't see Apple taking it in any new directions either. Yeah, MS are really killing it with their 90% market share. Do you have a source for your last paragraph? The evidence doesn't support it - sorry, I live Linux and run it on my Clevo dual boot, but I actively chose Windows for my netbook.

  27. Ian Emery Silver badge

    EeePC901 all the way

    Just because M$ forced the manf's to uderspec them, people lost interest; but open the case, max out the RAM and slap in a decent SSD, and they become good little machines. There are even on-line plans showing how to fit a 3G card internally.

    My 901 has 2Gb Ram, a 64Gb Patriot SSD and runs the full XP Pro package loaded with EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM my desktop runs; sure it wont run modern 3D games (and it isnt keen on .mkv files), but it does everything else - including running as an eReader and mp3 player for the 10 hour coach ride from Guangzhou to Nanning.

    Getting back to the UK after more than 6 months in China, I didnt get around to switching on my desktop until nearly a month later, when I needed some old email contact details.

    Cold boot to working environment is 35 seconds, the same as a friends new "top of the line" Alienware (which can run for as long as an hour on batteries!!)

    Asus lost the plot when they followed the others up the size ladder, the 901 is the IDEAL size, small enough for a largish coat pocket, but with a usably sized keyboard and screen, although a slightly higher rez would have been nice.

    (Where is the "Prise my 901 from my cold, dead, hands" icon??)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    real shame

    I need to replace my netbook and I was holding out for another one to emerge with a retina style display rather than the 1024x600 they all seem to come with. I don't understand how they could put that screen in a tablet but not a laptop. I figure it must be a real battery killer and that plus Intel wouldn't give you more than 45 minutes on battery...

    Ah well. Now I need to find a laptop with a respectable resolution that will run a Linux distro. Everyone I look at seems to be x768 though which is pathetic.

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not forgetting the VIA options

    The VIA based netbooks didn't have Intel's artificial screen resolution limitations - I'm still happily using an HP 2133 which has a 9" 1280x800 display and a pretty decent keyboard. Just not a very mobile netbook, due to appallingly short battery life.

    The Samsung NC20 used a later VIA processor which is competitive with Atoms in performance, and had a 12" 1280x800 display... and about 4-5 hours battery. But sadly was not sold at typical netbook prices!

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Re: not forgetting the VIA options

      Buy an extended battery for it - I did for mine and it really was worth it [you can still get them via eBay and some replacement battery suppliers]

  31. Mick Stranahan
    Thumb Down

    Too simplistic

    the wife and I have had several Dell and Samsung netbooks but now I have an AMD-driven HP Pavilion dm1 and she a Chromebook 3 as our second/travel machines. Neither is technically a netbook but both have 11.6inch screens, no optical drive and cost £290/£220 respectively so really they occupy the same market nich . The "netbook" is only dead if you are restricting the term to 10.1 inch 1024 x 600 Atom powered mini-laptops.

  32. h3

    There is a pretty good netbook made by HP with an i3 processor afaik it is still made.

    Ultrabooks still look flimsy as hell. (Maybe there is a Toughbook one ?).

    No reason that decent netbooks couldn't be made using AMD Fusion (Or the next in the range of Bobcat etc).

    Problem with Netbooks is they won't give you enough vertical pixels. (Or even horizontal).

    1650x1050 would probably be ok. 2G RAM. SSD.

    If you are the only one in a market you should be able to do pretty well.

    (I don't want another tablet or an ultrabook).

    They all seem to be set in such a way that for what I want I have to pay a fortune for things that until relatively recently were standard features.

    I am looking for a replacement for my IBM Thinkpad X31 but I want similar build quality and a Matte screen. Not bothered about weight (As long as it is the same or less) or thinness. I have had this for at least 5 years (Maybe a little longer) years and it is just about starting to need replacing. (I don't put any effort into taking care of it never have). Not many choices for someone like me. (Might just get a second hand semi rugged Toughbook).

    1. Johan Bastiaansen
      Angel

      Not bothered

      "... about weight (As long as it is the same or less) or thinness."

      So you're looking for a regular laptop then?

  33. Richard Lloyd
    Linux

    Mini 9 - one of the best netbooks

    I picked up a brand new Dell Mini 9 - with Ubuntu pre-installed no less - for 149 quid a few years ago (not long after their launch in fact). Wireless, wired, touchpad , 3 USB ports (external keyboard and mouse therefore should I want to), VGA, reasonable keyboard, runs any Intel OS (I've ended up with Fedora and Windows dual booting on it) for a pretty cheap price.

    Of course, I upped the RAM and swapped out the SSD for a bigger/faster one over time to give it longevity, but it served me well and was probably the best portable device I'd bought over the years. Nowadays, I'm on a Nexus 7 which is great as a media/entertainment device, but nowhere near as productive as the Mini 9 was.

    The closest you get to a Mini 9 nowadays are the Transformer series, but they are much more expensive and come with Android as default, which isn't really conducive for productivity/development work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mini 9 - one of the best netbooks

      I'll second that - add fan-less and silent to the attributes too, but with the qualification that the Mini-9 with the built in 2G/3G modem was even more useful. Battery life is not as good as contemporary netbooks, but nothing else was at the time, so I carried a spare battery if anticipated use required it.

      Mine is still working, and it became more useful as memory prices dropped - 2GB RAM, and bigger 32GB SSD fitted first.

      What has happened since the Mini-9 was first sold is that the 32GB SDHC card that now sits permanently in the slot as an extra drive, and the 32GB Sandisk Cruzer Fit 'buttton' USB that is semi-permanently in one of the USB slots extended the storage to 96GB, as much as I ever needed. The point being that at the time the Mini-9 was first sold both these 32GB storage options would have each cost more than the Mini-9. So I also endorse the point others have made, that the Microsoft specification limitations effectively killed the netbook, probably in cahoots with Intel who paid OEMs to limit use of AMD netbook processors/chip-sets/SOCs.

      Much as I love the Mini-9 the WiFi b/g and single core processor is only just up to IPTV, and earlier articles about the imminent demise of the netbook, prompted me to look for a dual-core replacement, before the latest ones were likely only available supplied with Wndows-8. Closest was the Asus Eee PC X101CH, fanless, matt-screen, and required Wifi b/g/n, but couldn't find one with 2GB RAM, and the 1GB is soldered to the MB without a SO-DIMM socket. Settled for a MSI-U180 in the end which can be upgraded to 2GB RAM.

      Which prompts the thought why don't the OEMs make the netbooks we want - nearest thing to a modern netbook specification seems to me to be an HP-dm1, that I upgraded to 8GB RAM. It cost extra because it came with 64-bit Windows-7 Home Premium, but with an 11.6" screen it's not the portable size of a Mini-9. Mine's the one with an AMD-E450, same as the 11.6" MacBook-Air, but half the price.

  34. Mole5000

    Only one advantage?

    What bollocks. Netbooks had price, weight and, most importantly, battery life.

    Price was the least of it's advantages. The cheap Shitty end of the laptop compuetrs was with £130 of, say, an eee901 so hardly a huge leap if you are just buying one.

    No, the true advantage came with the 1 kg weight (compare to crippling 3.5 KGs for your £350 laptop) and the battery life measure in hours rather than minutes for a laptop. A 90 min battery life is not a f'ing 'portable'. A battery life of 6 hours (now 9 is typical in a netbook) is.

    And given that I did python and flex development in Eclipse on my 901 I fail to see how they were underpowered. The thing that killed the netbook was the release of the iPad causing all the manufacturers to pull their (often very advanced) plans for ARM netbooks. Hacking another £60-£100 off the price of a netbook would have been huge.

  35. RonWheeler
    WTF?

    I'll be buying another eventually

    Will buy another netbook when my current 4 year old one dies. Looks like it may have to be from bargain bins or an ADM 450 based 11 incher. My aged MSI Wind still gets used regularly. Perfect for holidays / travel. Has Chrome,has a matte non-dirty screen, plays movies fine and has a keyboard /mouse so is actually useful too rather than a stupid swish-swish-swish-screened toy.

    Ironically it was the only device I considered upgrading to Win8, seeing as it is one application at a time on that size screen anyway. The upgrade advisor software said screen res too low.

  36. Richard Crossley
    Unhappy

    Cattle Class

    I hadn't noticed the width of cattle class seats (trains or planes) getting wider. My netbook fitted nicely on the tray tables found in cattle class. My old school 15 inch laptop was a total failure for that. I shall mourn the passing of these little wonders.

    Let's hop someone takes a leaf out of the Raspberry Pi (and similar), ups the RAM, adds a screen and keyboard. I'll happily run Linux on ARM.

    1. justincormack
      Linux

      Re: Cattle Class

      Thats a Chromebook then? You can wipe ChromeOS and install a normal ARM Linux distro. Although not sure exactly what size they are maybe they are too big for this as I have no yet seen one...

  37. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Ultrabooks have already failed

      Well they are conceived by people with no idea for people who don't care what they get.

      Seriously, there are people who want beautiful toys, and there are people who want tools. Those who want toys want status symbols. They don't care about technical details, they want a brand.

      And "Ultrabooks" were neither interesting for the people who want tools, neither for those who want toys. They are not good enough technically with low resolution displays and tiny batteries. (seriously 720 pixel height on a >12" display?)

      Those people who care about the thickness want some charismatic figure creating a strong brand, but Intel hasn't managed to do that.

      And then again, used Thinkpads are cheap and of high quality, so the tolerance for less than perfect laptops is pretty low at the moment.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget Hackintoshes

    I've got a couple of Dell's (9" and 10") which I bought specifically because they could be easily used to run OSX on them (including install from a standard OSX installation DVD).

    At the time, Apple didn't have anything in the form factor I wanted (the closest was the original MacBook Air).

    Stopped using them since I got a MacBook Air 11" - which I guess confirms the point about ultrabooks killing off netbooks (in an OSX kind of way).

  39. HBT

    Well there's a surprise

    More proof (along with the screen sizes fiasco) that the PC industry has completely forgotten how to serve its customers with products they want.

    Give me a better version of my HP Mini netbook (eg. back-lit keyboard, better screen, HDMI out, faster/cooler CPU) and I'll buy it..

    Give me an ultrabookish notebook with a proper hi res screen, and I'll buy it.

    What, you can't? Not buying anything then.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Well there's a surprise

      More likely you've got a split between n00bs and power users and both are cost conscious once you get beyond Apple users. Both netbooks and ultrabooks fail to compete against tablets on the lowend and more powerful laptops on the high end.

      PC users probably aren't interested in the expensive shiny shiny that an ultrabook represents.

      It's almost like PC users remain PC users because they aren't interested in the options Apple offers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well there's a surprise

        @Jedidiah:

        PC users probably aren't interested in the expensive shiny shiny that Apple offers.

        There, fixed that for you.

  40. Christian Berger Silver badge

    They should have gone further

    I mean Netbooks seemed interesting as they were small, yet had a proper keyboard. However today you can get second hand X-Series Thinkpads for about the same amount of money, and those will even include UMTS modules for mobile Internet. Netbooks were just simply small portable unixoid workstations.

    I estimate that the ideal point would have been somewhere near the Nokia Communicator. A device with a screen at least 640-800 pixels wide (so you won't have to scroll horizontally) and a keyboard.

  41. M.AD

    I still have my Samsung NC10 running Windows 7, does the job perfectly. Granted, it is not used half as much now that I have an iPad, but I still use it for Office and use TeamViewer to remote into my desktop media centre for maintenance tasks. Touch screens still don't quite have the right control over keyboard and mouse OS's

  42. Kevin 6

    My take on netbooks

    The intel atom is not a bad processor, and can run windows quite happily. Hell my parents computer runs an intel atom board (the 2nd version) with 1 gig of ram(it makes the last gen of netbooks look extremely powerful) and for what they need the PC for it works great, They never once complained about the speed of this one, but they complained all the time about the old board that fried as the comp had all that background junk installed that comes pre-installed(and the old board was a P4 2.5ghz on top of it)

    Also have a Dell 10something sitting here from my sister, as she got fed up with the hard drive cable falling out every 1-2 weeks(seriously why didn't they secure it in) which is the only reason she replaced it. She complained about how slow it was the day she got it as it had so many background trial applications running it wasn't funny. After I re-installed windows clean she never complained about speed.

    I don't see it as it was much of an issue with the processors speed with windows that caused its death. The issue as I see it was from the manufacturers had 4-10 programs running in the background that make the newest of processors run like shit on a processor not meant for it. So pretty much they destroyed the line themselves because lets face it the standard person doesn't know to uninstall everything that is running on a new PC to make it not preform like shit.

  43. MR J

    Old I Are

    Perhaps it is just an age thing.

    But to me Netbooks and Ultrabooks are just odd names for Laptops.

    Back in the day we could save money by getting Cheap underpowered Laptops, or big expensive gaming Laptops. Then someone decided to give those products specific names. Some Laptops are better than "Ultrabooks" and some "Netbooks" are better than Laptops. I think it was all just a marketing ploy. Now that they sold enough "Netbooks" they tell the world they are out of style and users now need to buy "Ultrabooks" instead.

  44. b 3
    Unhappy

    BAH! i love netbooks :(

    8" is perfectly fine for ultra-mobile computing, preferably with a 768 verticle res. with an SSD and a good CPU you can do most things on it (anyone who expects to game on a netbook is a bit naive). i use an 11" dell for DJing and really, really wanted to move to 8", but now the arse has fallen out of the market, i'm stuck! i don't want to go to 15" just to DJ, great big hunking things they are! 8" was perfect :(

    i think they will come back at some point. let's hope so.

  45. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Just want to add that my '901 is doing fine in an industrial environment. I run a very minimal debian on it which impresses our customers (no bad thing).

    The only problem I'm starting to get now is that it occasionally goes into 'supermarket' mode and gives me two letters for the press of one <- see what I did there?

  46. Number6

    Still in use

    I still use my Aspire One machines. Until recently, one of them was even my main Linux dev machine, albeit using a WinXP and then Win7 machine running Cygwin to provide a more usable daily environment. Until recently they were running Mint 9 LXDE, now they're running Mint 13 XFCE.

    With a few mods (max RAM expansion, internal Bluetooth, larger SSD and a 9-cell battery), it's still a reasonable machine for on the go, and indeed has been places I wouldn't want to take its larger brethren.

    Certainly not bad for machines that are four years old. A shame if the form factor is disappearing, I still prefer the netbook to a tablet.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semantics

    So the original "netbooks" were small, affordable devices running, at first, Linux and then Windows.

    And now five years on we still have small, portable devices running a sort-of variant of Linux (Android) and Windows, except now we call them tablets/convertibles.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Semantics

      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.

  48. Johan Bastiaansen
    Devil

    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...

  49. This post has been deleted by its author

  50. Chunky Lafunga
    Stop

    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.

    Rests case

  51. peterm3
    Happy

    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.

  52. Mark .

    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!

  53. Ron Christian
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      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.

  54. DrXym Silver badge

    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.

  55. Outcast
    Linux

    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.

    ie:

    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.

    1. Refugee from Windows

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

    2. Andus McCoatover
      Windows

      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.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        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'.

  56. Ian Grant

    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.

  57. Rob Davis
    Go

    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.

  58. Sooty

    My netbook

    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.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    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.

  60. spegru
    Linux

    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!

  61. heyrick Silver badge

    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.

  62. Carlo Cosolo

    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

  63. Bav

    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.

  64. redhunter

    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.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  66. Martin
    Unhappy

    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.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    RIP Netbooks

    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....

  68. Andy Fletcher

    Good riddance

    That's it really.

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