back to article Netbooks were a GOOD thing and we threw them under a bus

Packing for a week-and-a-half road trip to Silicon Valley and back triggered a moment of introspection over the impending end of netbook production. I had some devices to choose from for my journey. I could have taken my Alienware MX18, my first-generation Samsung Galaxy Tab, my Asus Transformer, my Samsung NF210 Netbook, my …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accounting

    A lot of people still need to do their accounts. Every cheap, good system runs on Windows. "cloud-based" systems mean Internet access, not always available. For this purpose the netbook was perfect. We still keep an MSI Wind as backup in case a main computer fails, and its performance on email, basic spreadsheets and accounting programs is perfectly adequate. It also runs all day on the big battery and cost under £300 in total.

    One of my wife's clients decided the other day he needed a new computer to do his book-keeping. He phoned up the local computer "specialist" and has ended up with £2500 spent on Windows 8.

    Problem in a nutshell. Netbooks were too good; they cannibalised laptops. So the industry decided collectively to sell expensive ultrabooks, and tablets that are not actually good enough for any daily work. Problem solved.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Accounting

      Tosh - if accountants needed to use Windows the accounts department wouldn't be the first with all the toys ... except W8 for some reason.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Accounting

        You are aware that many accountants are self-employed and that in many small businesses the book-keeping is a part time job?

        I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but your use of the term "accounts department" suggests you know little about how much of the world works.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Accounting

          It may also relate to the machine then being a "tool for the job", and thus being tax deductable anyway.

          Hence the importance of the cost itself diminishes when its effectively claimed back from HMRC.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Accounting @AC 11:25

            Even as a relatively high paid IT consultant, £2500 would represents well over a weeks total income. Justifying it as a tax deductible expense would still make it a considerable purchase for a one person service company. Even claiming back the 20% VAT will not drop such a purchase to below 2 grand, and that is money that could be used for other things (such as paying me), and one of the primary things it would have to be able to do was track it's own depreciation!

            Fortunately, I never had the need for that class of machine, as I have not needed to be away from power for more than my 2nd hand Thinkpad can provide.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Accounting

          I totally agree about the accounting package. A usable and supported payroll and accounting package with current HMRC tax tables was the only reason I kept a Windows partition on my Thinkpad. Since shutting down the company, Windows has never been started on it, and it's been Linux all the way.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Accounting

        whoops! not win8 - surface!

    2. oiseau Silver badge

      Re: Accounting

      "Problem in a nutshell. Netbooks were too good; they cannibalised laptops. So the industry decided collectively to sell expensive ultrabooks, and tablets that are not actually good enough for any daily work."

      Exactly ...

      Won't see mw with any of that useless overpriced kit they sell these days.

      My Asus netbook is just great, love it.

      Hopefully I'll be able to keep it running as long as I was able to keep my HP200LX, another victim of extreme IT industry voracity.

      Just my $0.02

      Cheers.

      1. Tommy Pock

        Re: Accounting

        I had an HP200LX. It froze once, not even CTRL/ALT/Del would work, so the only option was to take the batteries out and the CR2032 emergency backup battery; essentially a factory reset, wiping every byte from memory. Not ideal.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Accounting

      Yes obvious thread jacking but come on Accounting, really? My main problem with netbooks was many were built to break as soon as the warranty expired. I liked the Samsung NC10 I had but due to a so obvious it seem to be on purpose design flaw with the internal video cable being pinched by the hinge it stopped working. Pissed me off so much that I never bothered to buy another even from a different competitor.

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    I want a new netbook

    I want to update my current 10 inch netbook to a better, less power hungry, processor and decent screen resolution. Nothing exists. In a recent conversation with Dell they tried to sell me a W8tablet with no keyboard for more than twice what I paid for my netbook. I laughed at them, but really the manufacturers have the laugh, not the consumer.

    1. dogged
      Thumb Up

      Re: I want a new netbook

      I wanted a new netbook.

      In the end, I got a Thinkpad X220 off ebay for £300, added a RAM upgrade and an SSD. 8.5 hours battery life, 12" screen at 1366x768, slice battery available if I need it... bloody perfect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I want a new netbook

        Fair enough, but still cost twice as much as a netbook and presumably no warranty.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I want a new netbook

        I wanted a new netbook as I just couldn't live with the 1024x600 resolution on my EEE PC any more. It was and still is a great little machine, but the keyboard had taken a bit of a battering from me changing the hard drive a few times, so I needed something new.

        I loved the 10 inch form factor it was perfect for travelling, so I searched high and low for a replacement. Couldn't find anything higher end netbook wise that was still available. They did produce some 1366x768 models but they are really difficult to track down. In the end I decided to get an Asus Transformer Infinity, which I figured would give me the best of both worlds. A 10 inch netbook with a great resolution that can become a tablet if I need it to.

        The only thing it lacks is Ubuntu. I wish I could setup Ubuntu up on there to take advantage of the great screen resolution as Android doesn't really make the most of it with it being limited to one app at a time, but I've looked at the guides available online and sadly they don't make any sense to me

        I think that's the closest we'll ever come to seeing a netbook again. It's a shame there is no company out there willing to take a chance and produce them again without being forced to limit them by Intel or Microsoft by putting ARM processors in them improving the screen res and selling them with linux on. Some people just don't need a tablet they need a shrunken down laptop that can let them do typing and browse the web. Unfortunately the companies don't listen to us punters

        1. david bates

          Re: I want a new netbook

          No-one will put Linux on them.

          The Linpus that was on the EEEPCs was barely fit for purpose - you pretty much HAD to swap it out for another distro or XP if you wanted to do anything. Things like that killed Linux on the netbook sadly.

          Acer had a go with the Revo. Mine shipped with a Linux with a nice appliance front end, but sadly no wireless driver. If a non-techie had bought that they would have assumed the wireless was broken and sent it back. Ubuntu and Mint sort the wireless out without issue, so why a major manufacturer cannot escapes me...

          1. Chemist

            Re: I want a new netbook

            I've had a Asus 901 for years and binned the stupid travesty of Linux it came with almost immediately for Kubuntu. It now runs OpenSUSE 11.4/KDE , which installed perfectly from a USB stick and runs everything fine and that includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G dongle.

            1. Chika
              Linux

              Re: I want a new netbook

              Sounds very similar to the Aspire One I bought some years ago. I still have the recovery CD for what was shipped with it but with OpenSUSE 11.4 and KDE 3 (if you know me well enough, you'll know my opinion about KDE 4) now nicely fettled in there after a couple of false starts with its various predecessors, it's a fine beast and is never likely to see Linpus or whatever it was. Not bad for a sub-£200 machine, though the SSD in it is one of those early ones that runs a bit slow.

              It seemed to me (yet again) that whoever designed the package was attempting to dumb down the front end because they had no idea of the skill sets of the eventual users. This is a bit stupid given that the KDE front end isn't really that different that a user can't find their way around, and GNOME 2, MATE, Cinnamon or whatever aren't unfriendly either and would probably work well on a netbook (I don't have one to hand but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody else here could vouch for them).

              Too many companies are too eager to reinvent the wheel, and underestimate the user base too, whether from the GUI design side or the cost side.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Thumb Up

                Re: I want a new netbook

                > Sounds very similar to the Aspire One I bought some years ago.

                I bought one for my daughter, dual boot with Ubuntu. Works a treat. The problems that she has are not related to the machine but the interchangeability with the Microsoft shop that is her school. I don't think she has ever booted up Windows since I gave it to her.

                Nice big battery on the back from someone on EBay and 8 hours life, no problem.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: I want a new netbook

            Linpus on my AAO 150 was adequate for day to day activities.

            Had Firefox for Browsing, OpenOffice.org for Office activities. Few other apps, and you could enable a right click menu to get terminal and hack away.

            In fact it is still on it, running alongside XP and OSX.

            That little machine still sits as a media server of sorts, connected to the TV and running media off the 3TB external HDD (xbox and ps3 refuse to see it as is, unless it is FAT32).

            My de facto replacement for the Acer Aspire One was an Asus Transformer.

            I find Polaris Office decent enough for basic office-y tasks.

          3. dajames Silver badge

            Re: I want a new netbook

            @David Bates

            The Linpus that was on the EEEPCs was barely fit for purpose

            Some confusion, I think.

            The EEE PCs came with Xandros ... which wasn't a complete disaster as distros go (though I replaced it with Ubuntu on mine). The simple icon-driven GUI Asus put over Icewm was probably quite a good idea, given that most people buying an EEE PC would probably have been confused by any of the usual Linux desktops.

            Linpus is the distro that Acer habitually sling on any of their kit that they sell with Linux. That really is a pile of poo, and doesn't even support the all hardware that Acer ship it on (e.g. no WiFi support in my Acer Aspire Revo until I replaced the OS with a better distro).

        2. Mark .

          Re: I want a new netbook

          Comparing the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity to the upcoming ASUS x86 hybrids, just frustrates me.

          The Transformer Infinity is 10.1", and even has better-than-full-HD 1920x1200, but I'd rather have x86 - like you, I want to run something more than just Android. But their upcoming x86 options seem to include:

          Transformer Book - 13.3" (and it's i7, which whilst powerful, may not be as good as a netbook on battery life, though putting extra battery in the keyboard dock may offset this - but at that size, not to mention the likely cost, it's not really a netbook replacement).

          Zenbook - Another 13.3" i7 machine.

          Vivobook - Has an 11.6" option, 1366x768, not sure what the battery life would be like.

          VivoTab - Perhaps the closest option, with 11.6", Atom, and a whopping 19 hours battery life with the keyboard dock. 1366x768.

          So I think the VivoTab is a possible netbook replacement, but I'm left wondering, if they can produce a 10" machine with 1920x1200, why is their x86 11" offering stuck at 1366x768? As you say, it's this bizarre idea that people want to run mobile phone/tablet on-app-at-a-time OSs at super high resolutions, and desktop windowed operating systems at lower resolutions. Maybe it's because they think people are more likely to watch movies with an Android device, but then, it's also odd that the x86 Windows machine gets 16:9 ratio, with the ARM machine getting the more productivity friendly 16:10.

    2. David Hicks
      Linux

      Re: I want a new netbook

      Chromebook

      I mean, if you're not wedded to windows ands prepared to do a bit of hacking. Samsung's ARM Chromebook (XE303), with ChrUbuntu hacked onto it on a MicroSD card. This is serving me very well at the moment and is so much more capable than my long-suffering eee901. And ChromeOS itself actually works really nicely for what it is.

      The machine is thin, light, pretty and has decent battery life and zero moving parts. The casing is a little on the flimsy side but otherwise all is well.

      If you're not up for a bit of hacking or do want windows of course, this solution is not for you.

      1. Mark .

        Re: I want a new netbook

        I think that's the thing though - if you're okay with ARM, there are plenty of options that are much closer to being netbook replacements (in terms of size, battery life), whether it's a Chromebook, ASUS Transformer, or even the various Windows RT hybrids appearing. But even with Chromebooks, the x86 versions seem to be Intel Core or Celeron, putting them more in line with more conventional 11" laptops (or "ultrabooks") than netbook replacements.

        (Oddly, I'm sure the earlier generations of Chromebooks did use Atom, but they were more expensive than netbooks, and more like 12" IIRC.)

    3. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I want a new netbook

      Me too!

      My EEE 901 was ace as a backup PC, when used on the go I could live with the small screen and keyboard, and it had double the battery life than my wife's 'fake' Sony netbook*. I also have an ASUS transformer tab which is great for most 'consumer' uses, but, as article poits out, sucks at doing anything creative (and if you're complaining about the keyboard.... mine has a French physical keyboard, and Android steadfastly refuses to gracefully combine this with a virtual English keyboard layout, and complains vociferously every time I dock / undock)

      * 'fake' in the sense that since it had windows installed, it could only run more than a couple of hours by crippling performance. To do anything power-hungry like watch a movie - it typically would have JUST enough juice to get through a movie**

      **of normal running time, no LOTR etc

      1. Mark .

        Re: I want a new netbook

        "since it had windows installed, it could only run more than a couple of hours by crippling performance"

        If think it's more the netbook than the OS to blame. My Windows Samsung netbook easily gets about 8 hours of use.

    4. Mark .

      Atom still lives on

      Another Me too!

      Actually, it's worth noting that Atom still lives on, in the form of Clover Trail. It's just that it's not clear whether there will be basic Atom-based laptops, all the devices I've seen so far are hybrids (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - they're still ultra-portable, and have keyboards - but it's also more costly if you don't have any interest in that). Another annoyance is that 11" now seems to be a minimum for any device with a keyboard. E.g., something like http://www.asus.com/vivo/en/vivoTab.htm - with its whopping 19 hour battery life(!) - looks like it would serve well as a netbook-successor, but it does mean 11" minimum (and the extra cost is unfortunately to people who just want a basic laptop).

      It hasn't helped the way that the media (and many geeks) slagged off Atom and netbooks as being "slow", when they're still good enough for many tasks, and as good as ARM. Like ARM, they may not be anywhere as near as fast as Intel Core processors, but have the better battery life (and lower cost).

      Also "netbook" seemed to get stuck as "1024x600 with 1GB RAM" (despite the fact that they can all be upgraded cheaply to 2GB, which really helps with Windows 7). I'm more than happy to see that spec die. On the one hand, I'm glad to see a wide range of choice of Atom based machines with better specs now finally appearing; on the other hand, it seems odd if absolutely no one decides to make a pure Atom based laptop rather than a hybrid; or 10" rather than 11" minimum.

      1. firu toddo
        Unhappy

        Re: Atom still lives on

        Much of the Netbook's demise was down to manufacturers sticking WinXp on the thing. Not that WinXP was bad. More the licensing restrictions from Micro$oft around WinXP and Netbooks limited the hardware it could run on.

        But the price was good and cheaper Windows Netbooks meant competition for the Linux Netbooks. An opportunity missed for Linux? For sure, but the manufacturers were their own worst enemy. Weak OSs and/or weak hardware. Xp was always going to clean up. Box shifters loved it 'cos the punters knew XP and were happy to blow a couple or three hundred quid on Windows Netbook.

        WIth Win7 those hardware restrictions are gone. Along with the 'competitive pricing' that was available with XP on a Netbook. So no more cheapo power efficient Netbooks.

  3. Charles 9 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Personal testimonial--realtime

    The sentiments of this article are echoed with this writer, who is in fact doing the exact same thing. Personal experience has shown that practical remote computing, even web browsing, requires a decent computer with decent software. Tablets are all right for occasional reading, but I type a lot, and the Bluetooth keyboard I brought with me was hit or miss, not to mention the battery life was an issue since you don't have options for them. OTOH, my Acer Aspire One had the option of tacking on not only extra batteries but also a bulkier triple-capacity one that gives me about nine hours of casual use and several hours on more serious stuff like video playback: not bad in my book, and it's proved genuinely useful in an environment where access to wall power is iffy due to my remote location. At least the wireless service is decent and they don't seem to have an issue with mobile hotspotting. For a small investment, I can stay connected for the duration of my trip.

    And I thought I was one of the few who actually got genuine use out of these netbooks: small enough to transport easily (note: you don't have to open up netbooks at airport checkpoints) yet just good enough with its SD slots and USB ports to do honest computing work (including handling a TrueCrypted external HDD for the bulk storage).

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Personal testimonial--realtime

      Yup, couldn't agree more. My own Aspire One with similar triple-capacity battery goes all day (9-10 hours, maybe a bit more if frugal and not doing video or too much wifi) and even still fits in its old soft slipcase with enough room to slide my Nexus 7 in there as well. And the chunky battery even gives the keyboard a nice slant, making typing on it much more pleasant.

      Has SD slot, HDMI output and virtually everything else that may be needed with the arguable exception of a DVD slot (which is missing on many newer and bigger machines anyway) and built-in bluetooth, and even that was sorted by a thumbnail dongle from the pound shop.

      Will be a shame as and when it does need to be replaced, as noted there's nothing on the market now which would fit the bill as well for the couple of hundred notes that one cost (including the battery and a RAM upgrade to 4GB).

    2. SDoradus
      Thumb Up

      I even used one as a server

      I agree completely with the article and for much the same reasons as you mention, with one exception: I don't really understand why Mr Pott writes: "The only perennial non-Android manufacturer-supported Linux endpoint OS is Ubuntu".

      After the fuss with Unity I abandoned Ubuntu for the Linux side of my netbooks, and used Fedora. (The Windows side is rarely used). It's perennial, it's non-Android, and hey I didn't miss the factory support. All worked perfectly except GNOME was rather slow so I use KDE, LXDE, or something like RazorQt instead.

      Of course one could also do that in Ubuntu, so not much was gained; but LibreOffice was available and everything Just Worked. I haven't changed back. Oh, and an Asus Eee PC 1001HA with standard battery got six hours of use.

      In fact at one point that prompted me to replace an offsite backup-server-in-a-closet (minitower with UPS) with an Eee PC running Fedora. Only the external hard drive used the UPS. This far exceeded the old machine for longevity. Also it could fit in a shoebox (the clamshell lid stayed closed).

      1. pepper
        Unhappy

        Re: I even used one as a server

        What the author means is that the only off the shelf linux laptop you can buy is one with Linux Ubuntu from Dell.

        And yeah, I agree with the article, its a bloody shame...

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: Personal testimonial--realtime

      Many a true word!

      Several years ago I bought my mother an atom powered Lenovo S10e netbook. She wanted something small and portable just for checking emails. It even came with a large (6 cell I think) battery. It seems to last forever even when set on performance.

      Despite owning smart phones and tablets, guess what happens whenever I go away? Yup, I go and borrow the S10e. As the OP said, it's small enough to slip in hand luggage on the plane, it has blue tooth, wifi, a couple of USB ports and a whopping 160gig hard drive for storing all my 12Mb raw photos from my Nikon collection (this accounts for the rest of my hand luggage!).

      I've even been known to do a bit of photo post processing on the netbook - although it's not something I wish to make a habit of! Slooooow! However, at least it's an option if I really have to.

      All for less than £300 new. Bargain.

  4. Jason Hindle

    Ahhh, I mourn the NetBooks passing

    My Eee used to go in the checked in bag, a spare laptop and got me out of trouble on a number of occasions. I've had one HP and two Dells develop plumage issues in bits of the world where getting a replacement is difficult/expensive and the Eee (900, if I remember) was a life saver in a way the tablet would struggle.

    For the author's problem, the 11" MacBook Air would probably be perfect albeit an expensive solution to the problem. Just buy a pre paid, LTE MiFi device in the US perhaps?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ahhh, I mourn the NetBooks passing

      The problem with netbooks was simply power and keyboard (not power as in how long it lasted power is in they had single core first gen atoms that were slower than treacle on a winters morning)

      People saw them as half the cost for quarter the power. Now a lot of tablets seem to be pushing us back to netbooks though. Tablets like the surface or transformer are right now effectively eeePCs with processors that can actually do something in less than half an hour. Not to mention that, despite being the same form factor, the keyboards feel like full size keyboards, rather than things designed for kiddy hands.

      It's more like netbooks and ultrabooks were a step in the road.

      Netbooks shrank the size down to 10 inches, but lacked the power

      ultrabooks shrank the thickness down to ludacris amounts, had more power but felt too big (seriously, just buy a laptop, it's cheaper and you get pretty much the same thing only 2mm thicker)

      Convertible tabs have the size of a netbook, with the power of an ultrabook and a touchscreen, it's win win win.

      1. Abot13

        Re: Ahhh, I mourn the NetBooks passing

        My son has a HP netbook with an AMD processor, ideal for most work. Enough power and enough battery life,

    2. Philip Lewis
      Happy

      Re: Ahhh, I mourn the NetBooks passing

      That's what I did when my MSIWind keyboard wore out. I had that as a Hackintosh anyway so the change was no issue. The 11" MacAir Mk I is used constantly and a great machine, worth every penny I paid.

      If Windows or Linux is your thing, bin OSX and use them on the Mac with no issues AFAIK.

    3. Mark .

      Re: Ahhh, I mourn the NetBooks passing

      But that doesn't fulfil: "Intel still doesn't grok that "all-day battery life" means a minimum of eight functional hours, realistically 12."

      Which applies to the Apple Air just as much as any other Intel Core device.

      But this is the question - how do Intel Core and Intel Atom compare on battery life? I went for an Atom netbook rather than Intel Core ultra-portable not just for cost, but also I was worried about the battery life not being as good, but since then, I've seen some claims that Intel Core has become a lot better. Part of the problem is that you can't really compare manufacturer estimates, as some quote "best possible maximum, with minimum brightness, sitting idle", whilst others quote say, how long it can play a movie for. Anyone seen any benchmarks that fairly compare the two kinds of processor?

      If Intel Core is almost as good these days, then all the Ultrabooks and other Intel Core ultra-portables are possible options as netbook replacements, albeit not as cheap.

  5. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Linux

    Chromebooks are (effectively) the new netbooks...

    ....as long as you install a decent distro instead (recent bricking issues notwithstanding).

    Note that even with stock Ubuntu, you can always install something usable like XFCE or LXDE to use instead of Unity.

  6. nematoad Silver badge

    Unlikely

    "Is there a hardware maker brave enough to provide not what the tech giants envision, but what users actually need?"

    Probably not, or at least not at a price point where the consumer is prepared to accept some compromises in the spec.

    As I haven't been around the OEM scene for a while I'm not certain what the margins are for bare laptops, netbooks i.e. not loaded with "crapware" and so on are these days. If they are as thin as they used to be then it is probably not in the commercial interest to move against their real paymasters i.e. the likes of Microsoft or Intel, with their "marketing" slush funds and other assorted inducements to toe the line.

    Mind you, if the current trend of ever increasing size in mobile 'phones is anything to go by, by the time my good old Asus 701 heads for the scrap heap there will be a phone with a large enough screen to allow me to use it as a replacement.

    Remember those "portable" bricks that used to pass as mobile 'phones many years ago, we just might be moving back in that direction.

  7. GloriousVictoryForThePeople

    Pixel Qi Display

    I love my Samsung N145/150 netbooks - got about 20 for work use, a couple for the kids at home.

    Cost nothing.

    Run for ever.

    Weigh nothing. (well theres no bloody metal in there for sure)

    Runs Matlab, LOffice, etc.

    Don't really care when the missus stands on it and smashes the display.

    Don't care if a dirt bag flogs it when I'm travelling, or I fill it with beach sand, or drop it in the sea.

    Get a pixel Qi display. Costs a couple of hundred $, but you can read the screen in full sunlight, and the battery life is even longer. Piece of p**s to change screens in my Samsung N150's

    And Windows 7 Home - brilliant.

    1. dogged
      Windows

      Re: Pixel Qi Display

      Is there a 12" Pixel Qi screen that would fit my X220? I quite fancy fully-sunlight-readable with a 12 hour battery life.

  8. The Indomitable Gall

    eee 4G

    I've just ordered a new charger for my 4 gig stock 1st gen EEE. I suspect I might find I need a new battery shortly, but I'm sick of classes being held up because my vastly-more-powerful 2012 laptop doesn't want to display the video I'm trying to show my students. It's small, light, with good codec support and an SVGA port. Job's a good un.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eee 4G

      My eee 4G kept going for over 5 years as my main PC at home, but now has a flakey power socket on the motherboard. Up till now, it's had Gentoo Linux for 4 of those years, and it's probably only spent a couple of months compiling (including nights!) in all that time... :-)

      Just swapped my SD card to an eee 900 that was barely used by it's original owner because windows XP ran so slowly on it, so now I have more pixels and 50% more processor speed, Woohoo!

      And lastly, we recently picked up an acer inspire one with windows 8 from Comet's closing down sale, which is now running Sabayon linux from an SD card.

      In my house, the netbook is not yet dead!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eee 4G

        I also have a EEE 7 4G, though I'd have the Android on it if it supported TuneIn Radio I could so I use it as an simple internet radio

        I also got a Win 8 Acer Aspire from Comet going out of business. I kept Win 8 on it to get used to it as the work is moving to Win 8/Server 2012, but I like your boot from SD idea. I might do thaT FOR NORMAL USE

        tA

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: eee 4G

          Why not just run Debian & Streamtuner if you want to use it for internet radio? That's what I do on my Raspberry Pi (with VLC as a player).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eee 4G

        A flaky power socket usually means that the solder joints between the socket and mainboard have cracked from cyclic stress. Find a repair shop with the skills and self-confidence to open up the beast and resolder the socket, and you've a good chance of several years more untroubled service.

        I cannot count the number of gadgets I've resurrected in this way...

  9. Gordan

    Battery life and ARM

    "I have a feeling that despite all the hype, Chipzilla's Haswell processor will ultimately not turn out to be the miracle that we've been promised. Those of us who value battery life are going to miss those small, cheap Atoms - or start turning to ARM for salvation."

    There are two points to be made here:

    1) ARM is the way forward anyway - the new Chromebook is _awesome_ once you put a proper Linux distro on it. It's spiritual predecessor, the Toshiba AC100 is pretty awesome, too, and smaller to boot.

    2) The problem with battery life on that grade of machines is increasingly becoming the power draw of the screen. Technologies like PixelQi are hopefully going to address that in the near future but until those displays are available in at least a decent range of standard sizes and are drop-in compatible LVDS replacements for the current generation of LED backlit TFTs, I doube they'll see much market penetration, especially while they are unable to compete on cost.

    1. qwarty

      Re: Battery life and ARM

      "I have a feeling", "miracle that has been promised" is just FUDspeak/sloppy writing. We just don't know enough about the Haswell design decisions to have an opinion beyond being confident Intel are releasing lower power parts.

      Agreed about screen, also wireless esp. with increasing use of cloud, LTE.

      ARM v Intel makes for interesting competition of benefit to users, you may hope that ARM is the way forward Gordan but hope doesn't mean we won't see Intel products dominating personal computing again on mobile devices if they make the right calls on the 14nm shrink designs and pricing models. We shall see. I, like most people, simply welcome competition if it brings down prices and improves functionality.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Battery life and ARM

        Indeed, Tomshardware have the impression the ARm vs x86 race is far from over. The fact that Intel are inviting investigation into power efficiency is in itself telling:

        http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/atom-z2760-power-consumption-arm,3387-5.html

        Although the results we're looking at today are generated at Intel, we were on-site looking at and playing with the company's test equipment as the numbers were being run, observing the results. We’ve also done enough of our own analysis from previously-published reviews to confirm that these numbers make sense. Intel is picking the easiest competitor to beat (Tegra 3 running under Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface), but our own preliminary estimates suggest the 32 nm Atom is going to be roughly equivalent to Qualcomm's 28 nm APQ8060A in the ATIV Tab, and more efficient than the 32 nm Exynos 5 Dual in the Chromebook Series 3 XE303C12.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

    well all mis the demise, we all say how it's a tragedy and should be allowed to happen, but last I know these are businesses. If you don't buy the products, they don't sell them. It's called economics.

    Syadmins etc are not 99.99% of the buying public.

    Oh and Eadon, can it! Still waiting for the evidence that M$ (sic) went round and threatened to kill the 1st born of the manufacturers families unless they banned Linux from going on netbooks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

      Can I down vote myself for such an appalling use of grammar and spelling?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "threatened to kill the 1st born of the manufacturers"

      "M$ (sic) went round and threatened to kill the 1st born of the manufacturers"

      The evidence you're looking for would lock up MS execs for years if it was readily obtainable in black and white. Even MS aren't usually that stupid.

      Read between the lines.

      XP was dead.

      Netbooks came along, some people found them useful.

      A dead OS was miraculously revived in order to compete with products based on an OS (and a chip) that allegedly nobody wanted to buy.

      Nothing to do with any particular contributor round here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

      "Still waiting for the evidence that M$ (sic) went round and threatened to kill the 1st born of the manufacturers families unless they banned Linux from going on netbooks."

      You been living under a rock? Plenty of ex-OEM employees have testified (sometimes in court) on this subject.

      10 seconds Googling found this story on the Reg:

      Microsoft ‘killed Dell Linux’ – States

      Microsoft have rarely produced anything anyone would want (did you ever use Windows 1, 2, or 3? Other companies would have gone to the wall for that level of consistent fail); their entire business model for many many years has been to force people to buy their products.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

        I worked for an OEM until the mid-90s and was part of my companies licensing negotiations with Microsoft. Never experienced any of this dirty dealing Microsoft have been accused of, either in writing or during meetings here or in Redmond. Wild conspiracy theories have been alleged in court as well as the net for that period, some of which I know to be false from personal knowledge. I know nothing about the netbook deals.

        Windows 3 was an incredibly successful product, not a fail as you claim, started from a very low base (Windows 1 and 2 never got much traction), welcomed by most PC users at the time as a step forward.

        1. serendipity
          Stop

          Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

          Don't waste your time, Robert Long 1 is just a rabid anti MS troll. There's no reasoning with these people.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows 3 was an incredibly successful product....

          Indeed it was an incredibly successful product. It was crap, especially given known computer science at the time, but it was succesful crap.

          Furthermore, it was sold to ordinary people. Like pharma companies advertising their drugs to the end users, Microsoft succeeded in starting user demand for Windows. It wasn't that hard: it only had to compete with dumb terminals on many people's desks.

          That's what got the ball rolling. The dirty tricks followed.

          EDIT: and yes, sorry, nothing to do with netbooks. One gets involved in a side issue and forgets what the thread is about. I'll try to save my rabid ranting for a Microsoft thread. Or hey, maybe people will start on about Unity, in this thread soon!

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

          Windows is an extension of MS-DOS.

          Attempting to fixate on Windows while ignoring MS-DOS is just dishonest. Microsoft was already using dirty tricks to bury everyone else and getting slapped by the feds for doing it.

          When Windows 3 was first released, the common PC wasn't able to handle it very well. It was not quite as bad as OS/2 or Unix but it still really required more machine than what most people had. In the end, Microsoft's legacy relationships with OEMs and 3rd party vendors is what won the day.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

        Followed, read and understood the link. An internal memo, went to another internally. Nothing showing it went externally, from the evidence, it went to Ballamer, then what?

        Also check the fucking dates. Memo's & accusations 2000 / 2001? Story 2002.

        What has this to do with Netbooks?

    4. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Ah the Woolworths syndrone....

      > If you don't buy the products, they don't sell them. It's called economics.

      They can't sell them if they don't bother showing them.

      These machines were too cheap. No one except consumers wanted them. Both merchants and manufacturers want to sell you something MORE EXPENSIVE. The local Best Buy just plain hid machines like these and Frys was always out of stock.

      You would be hard pressed to buy these things from a B&M store even if you wanted to.

  11. CatoTheCat
    Linux

    ee1011px + MINT. Does everything my desktop can and fits in the small pocket of the rucksack.

  12. Prof Denzil Dexter

    Come back Netbook

    Couldn’t agree more with most of this.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a resurgence in Netbooks a few years down the line. Tablets are all well and good, they definitely have their place, but for so many applications, a keyboard and a few more ports is so mightily handy. Maybe a few years of people trying to do their accounts or proper photo editing on a tablet will remind them how handy a keyboard and trackpad can be. And I don’t need to worry about free disk space etc.

    Just gotta hope my Acer Aspire does me until then.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Come back Netbook

      I actually suspect that tablets could provide a genuine second wind for the netbook. If you Google "android mini laptop" you'll see that there's a white-label device or two out there using cheap tablet parts to built up 7" smaller-than-eee netbooks. Cutting the touchscreen makes it cheaper than a tablet, apparently. If tablet users do start using keyboards and mice to use their tablets for something more, we might start seeing better pseudo-desktop support in Android. If the manufacturers can build a range of netbooks and tablets off the same production line will minimal retooling, then the netbook might make its comeback in the form of Android.

      If this comes it will start in the Far East, as the no-names have nothing to lose by challenging Wintel dominance, and everything to gain.

      And finally... why do I think this is realistic?

      Even Microsoft is trying to merge the mobile and desktop experience. If the public is given the choice between the Android mobile experience or Windows Phone, which would they chose? ...what has the reaction to W8 been like so far...?

    2. Mark .

      Re: Come back Netbook

      I do wonder if touch-only tablets will follow a similar line to netbooks.

      Despite all the doom and gloom, netbooks were once selling well, and IIRC at one time made a significant proportion of all PC sales. I'm sure if people had done tablet-style extrapolations, they'd have concluded that everyone would be using netbooks by 2012. But no, what happened is the market reached saturation - everyone who wanted one, had one, and there was no draw to convince additional people to buy them.

      With tablets, we see massive growth, and the media extrapolate that to say how we'll all be using tablets in 2016. But at some point, we may hit the point where everyone who wants one has one, and sales start getting eaten by the next thing that comes along (e.g., who'll need a tablet, when you can just fold open your flexible-display Samsung S6 smartphone?)

      Netbooks also had the price plummet so manufacturers made little profit, and so wanted to move elsewhere, like conventional laptops, high end ultrabooks, or tablets. Tablets started off as high priced, but since last year, we've seen the start of the price war.

      And some people got annoyed with netbooks when they weren't as powerful as they thought; similarly you have people buying tablets, then realising they can't do as much as they thought, or wondering what to actually do with them.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Saturation

        @Mark .

        "But no, what happened is the market reached saturation - everyone who wanted one, had one, and there was no draw to convince additional people to buy them."

        I'm not convinced this is strictly true, I just think the current market for the netbook is a bit "niche", because I'm teaching in a university, and there's three types of devices on my student's desks: tablets, Macbooks and netbooks.

        The student market is somewhat niche, but it's nothing to be sniffed at. I'm surprised it's not enough to keep two or three models in production, because I figure a lot of students might opt for the tablet this year but decide they need a proper keyboard next year....

  13. Dave Fox
    Go

    Acer W510

    What you need is an Acer W510.

    A truly remarkable little machine - a full Windows 8 tablet/convertible, with epic battery life. Docked, you can get 15+ hours and 9+ as a pure tablet.

    Sure, it isn't perfect. Like an Atom based Netbook, desktop performance is exactly stellar but still very usable, as in tablet form running Metro apps it is very speedy, so if Atom netbooks are ok for you, the W510 will be too.

    The keyboard is small and cramped and isn't of the highest quality (I think the Asus Transformer keyboards are better), and the trackpad is quite frankly an exercise in frustration but that is slightly mitigated by touchscreen and a bluetooth mouse is always a good thing to have.

    I take mine wherever I go for work, along with my Macbook Pro Retina, and use both simultaneously, though I never need to plug in the W510 in unless it needs a charge because I can easily get two to three days usage out of it when I'm using the Macbook as the primary device, and the W510 essentially as a second screen, perhaps RDP'd into a server, or showing a spreadsheet or emails. When I'm back at the hotel, the W510 comes out and usually undocked and then I can lay on the bed bed and watch movies, surf the web etc, which previously I'd have been using an Android tablet to do.

    For a road warrior who wants a small laptop with excellent battery life, the Acer W510 is a very good choice. The fact that it is a tablet too makes it an even better choice.

    1. Prof Denzil Dexter

      Re: Acer W510

      Just googled, you're talking about £500+ for one of those. I'm sure it is very nice indeed, but £500 buys a lot of laptop.

      Half the allure of a netbook is they were usually decent value for money in an industry that often isn't.

    2. zebthecat

      Re: Acer W510

      All well and good and sure it is lovely little machine but it is five hundred feckin quid. Hardly netbook territory,

      1. Dave Fox
        FAIL

        Re: Acer W510

        The original article never mentioned a price point - it was talking about a particular type of machine for use by Roadwarriors, and lamenting the demise of the Netbook!

        Most Netbooks are single core, 1GB RAM, 1024x600 screen and an mechanical HD. The W510 is a dual core, 2GB, 1366x768 screen with touch, and uses an SSD, *and* it's a tablet, so making comparisons to a Netbook purely on price isn't really fair because whilst the W510 might look like a Netbook when docked, it is in reality a far more capable and versatile machine.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Acer W510

          The point was that 1024x600, single-core ;power-sipping netbooks were plenty good enough AND they kept the price down: which is another check for the netbook as well. I got mine used for $125, and most netbooks of the type run in the $125-150 range used depending on wear and tear.

  14. Cosmo
    Thumb Up

    Samsung N120 still going strong

    Literally 2 days after I bought my house, my old laptop died. I needed something cheap and reliable to tide me over for a year or so until I got some funds back. I bought the Samsung N120 in September 2010 and it is still going strong as my primary computer.

    I've filled up about half of the 320GB hard drive, the battery life is still "OK" (get around 3 hours), it's light, portable and great for doing little things such as touching up pictures, firing off a long e-mail etc. etc.

    I have a Nexus 7 now which has taken over some tasks, but I will probably keep the Samsung going until I run it into the ground.

    1. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: Samsung N120 still going strong

      Samsung NC10 with 'shoe heel' large battery. 9 hours if careful using Debian Wheezy and the Samsung tools package.

      Not my main machine, but very useful for days out away from power. This little bugger can also drive a 1920by1080 monitor and run with lid closed and external keyboard (power switch on end of hinge).

      1. serendipity

        Re: Samsung N120 still going strong

        Me too, I have an NC10, had it for 3 years + I still get over 5 hours running XP. It might be just plastic but fantastic build quality for such a cheap bit of kit. Its not my main machine either but I still use it regularly when I have to visit a site and need USB ports and a decent crop of mature applications to work with.

        I'm beginning to wonder myself if in a few years when everyone is so over the iPad etc whether cheap tablets might go the way of the Netbook. Perhaps decent (ie. by that I mean they have a useable selection of ports and 100's of gigs of internal storage, proper multi-tasking etc) netbook-tablet hybrids will be the next big thing.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    Are the libroffice crew working on a port?

    If not they should be...

    I find Polaris/KingSoft OK for most things, and it should certainly suffice for bashing out some copy, but libre office (supporting a BT/USB mouse and keyboard) would be rather useful.

  16. Paul 139
    Thumb Up

    Quite right.

    Another person in strong agreement here.

    My old battery Acer Aspire One is still after 5 years my primary choice for travel. Although only £210 new, it's been treated to a few upgrades over the years; a new 1366x768 screen to bump up the resolution (£75) an SSD when the rotary rust failed (£80), an extra gig of RAM (£10),Windows 7 (£50) and a bigger battery (£20).

    Adding this up, I see I've got a £500 device now rather than a £200 one - not too far off the cost of a similarly specced new device.

    1. Abot13

      Re: Quite right.

      Indeed the price is almost the samen with your upgrades, but....

      You have been working on it for all that time, thats a value and

      you can do the upgrades incremental, so you dont have to spend that lot at once and can buy an upgrade when funds allow

  17. SantaFeWolfman
    Pirate

    I also thought I was alone...

    Da-yum - and here I was thinking I had the "minority of one" problem b/c I actually liked netbooks and found them useful. Acer Aspire One and Lenovo S10-3, both great for checking out infrastructure, basic troubleshooting, even touching up switch/router configs when remote wasn't available or practical - that plus a touch of typing on an actual, usable keyboard instead of a screen which reminded me of my childhood poking at an Atari 400's useless membrane crap. The S10-3 has in typical Lenovo fashion taken 3 1-meter falls totally in stride w/o even a dent.

    I checked out the iPad and it just won't do what I do with the Lenovo; it may be OK for storing approach charts and have a ton of aviation apps, but piloting's my hobby, not my income generator (yet) and I need something for my IT work when the Lenovo gives up the ghost... and for that, the fruit company's offerings (and all other tablets) are just big toys.

    I think the real reason netbooks were universally cancelled has to do with low profits instead of market share; "gaming" rigs are a part of many a vendor's offering, despite a niche share at best. Alas, we sysadmins are never a good marketing target. RIP the little lifesavers.

    1. Andrew_b65

      Re: I also thought I was alone...

      Me too. Retired my first gen MSI Wind last August for an end of line Acer Aspire One 753 @£240. A few more pixels on the display, and the slightly better gpu can now handle HD video with HDMI out to a TV if I need it. Figured I had better get it before netbooks ceased to exist. Not Win8 compatible, but who cares? Best of all, it's still too puny to run Minecraft so the kids won't touch it.

  18. Hope Spirals
    Coat

    Dead men walking

    I recently took a Toshiba NB550D away for a week of meetings on a clients site. After the second day I stopped taking the power brick (itself only a few 100gm) just didn't need it even though power sockets were not an issue. Not a recommendation - I was happy, but I'm easily pleased.

    I agree with "... I don't care about winos macos linux etc etc - just want to do stuff"

    But I have to face it, just wanting to do stuff makes me a dinosaur - the market is now 'mature', owned by Joe Schmo the average consumer who has a different set of requirements and owning this years shiny shiny fondle stuff is something he can be convinced of.

    1. zebthecat
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dead men walking

      Got one of these little beauties too for a princely £220.

      Excellent keyboard, plays HD video, battery lasts for yonks and surprisingly good speakers.

      With a clean WIndows 7 64 bit install (thanks to work) and 4 gig of RAM it doesn't run all that shabblily either.

      Am going to miss it when it goes bang.

  19. Detective Emil
    Flame

    Throw it under a bus? Great idea.

    The amount of time that I have wasted waiting for an Eee PC to do something useful for me does not bear thinking about.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Throw it under a bus? Great idea.

      Windows version, then? Here's a nickel, kid, go and buy yourself a real operating system.

      Me, I used to fire up my Linux eee pc at the same time as my Windows PC and use it to check my email while I was waiting for the other PC to boot up.

      I also found it a handy video phone as Skype on my 3-or-4-times-as-powerful machine kept stalling due to something or other running in the background.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eee PC?

      ee --- Tamil for housefly.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Eee PC?

        Also mosquito for "your blood smells nice."

  20. GreenJimll

    Work bought me an Asus EeePC 1018P a couple of years ago, to replace a Libretto that I'd run into the ground. I don't drive and have to walk all over the site (and elsewhere) so something small and light that slips in a backpack with decent screen, keyboard and battery life and USB ports to run serial consoles were the main requirements. The 1018P has all these, runs Debian Linux like a champ (I believe it came with some version of Windows pre-installed but that got nuked from high orbit using the Deb installer the first time I turned it on!), and has a decent enough dual core CPU to make watching videos, etc perfectly possible.

    For a network tech/sysadmin/programmer/webby chap on the move, a netbook like this is a definite requirement. I've tried tablets from various manufacturers (inc Microsoft's Surface RT) and the only one that comes close is the Asus Transformer, which seems to try to give you the best of both worlds. Now if it could just have Debian sneaked on there instead of Android....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Where's the consumer? *rant warning*

    Excellent point about the OS vendors value-add undermining the product.

    This isn't just limited to notebooks.

    What I want in an OS:

    - No config. Install and that's it.

    - Privacy. If I want to load and play a game I don't want to dole out my shopping, texts, political affiliations to a soul-less minion of maketing.

    - Usability. An OS a 5 to +65yo can use.

    - Ownership. I paid for it, I own it. Not: until I swap out the graphics card or until the 6th re-install. If they want to sell me another OS they have to do better than the one I have.

    - Functional. If I want to play games, write code, write a letter or e-mail it will all just work.

    - My OS. I can install or delete what I want. If the OEM has stuck some crap Facebook/Twitter app on I would like the choice to remove it.

  22. ian_from_oz

    We didn't throw netbooks under the bus, Microsoft did

    The first netbooks were a no-frills mini-notebook running Linux. They weren't great, but they were stable and reliable. With a huge amount of arm-twisting Microsoft were able to get the BestBuys of the world to only sell the Windows versions of the netbooks. As soon as the obligatory virus scanner was installed, the things ground to a halt. It was even worse when the Win7 Starter bloatware was forced onto the unsuspecting public. Add to that, the hardware specifications were very tightly controlled. If a reasonable screen resolution was to be had, then the full version of Win7 now Win8 had to be installed.

    The tablet computers run an OS, which better suits lower performance devices. The truth is that people don't want Windows, but it was rammed down the PC user's throat. The result is that netbooks have become very unappealing. In fact, if the numbers are any indication, PCs have become unappealing.

    Once again corporate greed and a whipped distribution channel have acted against the best interest of the computing public. Such behaviour is so common place that most people hardly pay attention.

    Ian

    1. Colin Tree
      Happy

      Re: We didn't throw netbooks under the bus, Microsoft did

      My MSI Wind100 started life with WinXP, now has an over-sized battery, SSD drive and Linux Mint.

      I dual boot XP, it also serves as my dual channel oscilloscope and OBD2 engine diagnostic, both proprietary.

      Pads don't do it for me, I'm still waiting for the new technology which will be more useful than my netbook.

    2. MCG
      Thumb Down

      Re: We didn't throw netbooks under the bus, Microsoft did

      Nope, sorry, the truth is that nobody wanted the original Linux netbooks, because they didn't run the users' familiar old apps; the average user wants MS Office, not half-baked tat like OpenOffice or LibreOffice or whatever that shoddy old abandonware calls itself these days. And neither did they "grind to a halt" when "the obligatory virus scanner" was installed; I had one of the Acer netbooks and it ran just fine under Win XP and just as well under Windows 7 as well, certainly better than the peculiar variety of Linux it came saddled with.

  23. The FunkeyGibbon
    Thumb Up

    They are out there...

    It's just the majors have quit the market there are options out there:

    H6 10 Inch Notebook Android 4.0.3 4GB Laptop PC Black (http://www.pandawill.com/catalog/product/view/id/45080/s/h6-10-inch-notebook-android-403-1g-ram-4gb-laptop-pc-black-p65515/)

    MTL0701W 7 Inch Notebook Android 4.0.3 4GB HDMI Laptop PC White (http://www.pandawill.com/mtl0701w-7-inch-notebook-android-403-4gb-hdmi-laptop-pc-white-p71558.html)

    The problem is expectation. Consumers generally want a device that does it all rather than a couple of devices that suit a particular usage. Trying to make the 'does it all' device at £200? No wonder the majors quit.

    1. Jan 0
      Stop

      Re: They are out there...

      Nice try, but you don't seem to have read the article! I see no evidence that you can install any OS suitable for Systems Administration on those devices.

  24. Kevin Johnston

    Options

    Since the manufacturers clearly know where they are headed, and they expect us to meekly follow, this surely opens an opportunity for some small company to produce a recharging station for laptop batteries. I know that there seems to be more battery types than there are laptop types but the bigger companies such as Lenovo and Dell have at least a hint of commonality and it should be possible to create a 'smart clip' to put onto the battery prior to connecting it to a standard 20v supply lead so that the clip handles the regulation and any interfacing for smart batteries (if such a thing actually exists).

  25. Mage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Agree totally with Author

    Not only about Netbooks,

    But it's almost impossible to get 1600 line high lap top with 4:3 Screen. I don't watch videos on the Laptop or netbook. I have a TV for that, or a 4.3" WS 160G Byte PMP for long flights etc.

  26. Dr Trevor Marshall
    Happy

    I still have four Lenovo S10 netbooks

    I started with four - and all are still going strong. Running XP Home. An excellent and solid OS, once I stripped out all the bloatware. I switched off half the silly services that MS provides, which improved security, and these netbooks can do all my odd-jobs. One is monitoring the IP security cameras all day. One travels with me wherever I go, and two do odd jobs such as run test equipment software and interface with my Li-Ion battery tester.

    The strange thing is that the low-end i3 rubbish being sold in many ultrabooks right now really isn't that much faster than these old atoms... and a lot more expensive. But then, they have to run Windows 8, don't they. I quite forgot...

  27. Andrew Oakley
    Linux

    Me too </aol>

    I love my netbooks. My PC World Advent 4211 (rebranded MSI Wind U100) ten-incher has a surprisingly spacious keyboard for a netbook, and I've added various bits and bobs to make it fit my needs. The nice thing about the MSI Wind, other than being cheap (I got mine free off a relative, but they can be had in good condition second hand for under £100 if you look hard enough), is that it has a LOT of user-replaceable components that adhere to standards, that you can easily upgrade. If something breaks, or you don't like it, chances are you can replace that bit. You can even upgrade the BIOS to overclock the CPU at the touch of a function key.

    First up, replace Windows with Ubuntu 12.04. Works much smoother. 3D accelerated desktop also works just fine, although I can't think why I'd need it. Free.

    Second, swap out the awful R8187SE mini PCIe wifi card which is unreliable at keeping hold of a connection. Swapped that out for a nice reliable Intel one. Five quid. Two minutes with a screwdriver.

    Next, the hard drive. Swapped the spinny-platter thing for a 60GB SSD. Super-fast boot and far fewer worries about receiving bumps when thrown into a backpack or briefcase. 35 quid. Two minutes with a screwdriver plus reinstall/copy.

    Fourth, battery. Being second-hand the battery held only 4 of its original 8 hours. Swapped that over for a high-capacity battery that gives me TEN HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE including wifi permanently on and display brightness set to three-quarters. With wifi off it gives over 11 hours. Twenty-five quid, two clips and ten seconds work.

    Finally, removed all remnants of embarrassing PC World Advent branding. Replaced BIOS with genuine MSI Wind BIOS (which gave an additional advantage of opening up the CPU overclocking settings) and covered up the lid branding with a Linux sticker. Job done!

    It's a Proper PC with a Proper Keyboard. LibreOffice/OpenOffice is a joy to use on it. SSH sessions are perfect. The GIMP is, well, as usable as it is on any other PC. Web browser is a Proper Web Browsers, with all the search extensions and plug-ins that I demand.

    Downsides? Would have liked HDMI (only got VGA for output to a real monitor) and a higher resolution (the default Ubuntu printer dialog spills below the 1024x600 screen, but that's easily worked around). And I guess I would have liked a better 3D card so that it could play Torchlight at an acceptable framerate (it manages 8-12FPS, which isn't).

    And for those who say the Atom is underpowered... well, stop using Microsoft Windows. Ubuntu runs full pelt on it with all the bells and whistles turned on, no problem at all.

    I also have three Asus EEE 901 netbooks for my children. Their childreny fingers make short work of the tiny keyboard, and the two tiny 4GB + 8GB SSDs can be joined into one small-but-acceptable 12GB drive using LVM under Ubuntu (plus there's the shared drive on the home network server). The 901 has the proper 1024x600 screen, plus wifi and Bluetooth. Battery life is 5 hours with a new battery, dying back to 3 hours after 5 years heavy use. The 901s seem to go very cheap on eBay due to keyboard failures (a new keyboard is only 6 quid and a doddle to fit) and Windows running out of space (firstly, don't use Windows on a netbook, and secondly, use LVM to join the two tiny SSDs into one larger drive).

  28. jason 7
    Meh

    Netbooks were fine.....

    ....and quite the novelty at first.

    Then after a while the usually crappy trackpad and 600 pixel depth screen just really got on your nerves.

    I'm no longer a fan of netbooks. My heart sinks if I go to see a customer and there is one sitting on the dining room table.

    My own Acer netbook with its 8 cell mega battery sits collecting dust in the corner. Every time I do bother to switch it on the version of linux has totally changed.

    However, my new Samsung Chromebook turned up today so that will be interesting. Gives me a few more vertical pixels after all.

  29. RonWheeler
    Thumb Up

    Mine still works

    MSI Wind U100. Upgraded the RAM and bought the bigger battery. About 4 years old now and still nothing can touch it. With USB 3G dongle makes perfect travel companion.

  30. DrXym Silver badge

    I love my netbook

    It's small enough to throw in a bag, cheap enough to not shed tears if it's stolen / broken, and (just) fast enough for stuff like browsing, casual gaming. I'll mourn netbooks when they're gone though I think in time that small laptops will creep back down in price soon enough especially when manufacturers realise people are not going to pay stupid money for an ultrabook. Asus are already tentatively going that way with their Vivo book devices.

  31. Wookie

    MSI WIND ftw

    Went looking for a cheap viable option for the girlfriend a couple of years back and got her an MSI WInd - not least because it came in hot pink apparently. Throw in the USB 3G Dongle and she was set. Survived everything until she ran it over with her car. Shes now using my i5 Toshiba laptop.

  32. Lamont Cranston
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't you just charge your phones overnight, too?

    Other than that, I agree wholeheartedly - netbooks were a good thing, and I don't really want to see them go.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Couldn't you just charge your phones overnight, too?

      No. Internet access in San Francisco is essentially a fraud. Cellular coverage is made out of failure and the tears of little girls. Your cell phones have to expend 3x the power here as back home in Edmonton just to hit the tower, and you have to push a steady stream of virgins into the nearest lava flow in order to eek out a few measly megabytes of data from the telecommunications companies that extort "the most powerful nation on earth."

      Even swapping SIMs from device to device, the power cost of keeping the cell tower reachable, of popping up a MiFi point so your netbook/tablet/whatever can be tethered and then using the GPS to navigate around the tentacle monster that is the bay area travel infrastructure you are going to flatten those batteries right quick.

      Native San Franciscans might have adapted to the fact that this entire city wavers betwen "designed with malicious intent" and "designed by an autistic child with crayons," but visitors simply need to get from A to B while Getting Shit Done. That means relying on those smartphones in such a manner that - at best - you get 4-6 hours out of the little buggers, and that's having tried more models of the things than you can shake a stick at.

      I fear charging my cell phones are an absolutely nessecary part not only of "getting shit done," but "finding my hotel afterwards" and even "not dying a horrible, gristly death by knowing somewhat in advance what the hell lane I am supposed to be in."

      That, of course, is if and when the maps application is doing it's job and telling me to "turn right" directly off an onramp. But that's a rant for later…

  33. blades
    Angel

    i have two and a half netbooks at home...

    a first generation aspire one with an extended battery that easily does me a full day. got rid of windows, installed arch linux, bumped up the ram, and there's a small, light, and reasonably quick machine to play with. added bonus: fits neatly into the pannier bags on my bike, so perfect for day trips to client sites.

    my only complaint was the woeful resolution, so i picked up a sony vaio netbook with a better resolution. as of yet, it's stock, but i'll boost the ram and battery on that, too. currently, it's a dual-boot between windows xp and arch, but only because it came with xp and i found that my harmony remote software only runs on windows, and i'll be damned if i shell out for something that i only need to use for one program when i've got a freebie that works just fine.

    the other netbook... that's kinda special. it's actually only half a netbook - no screen. i thought the original netbook's motherboard was toast, so i bought a replacement. turned out it was a cable, so after replacing that i had a perfectly functional motherboard. so i bought a shell for it, and a pcie video decoder card, and put xbmc on it: perfect for watching 1080p movies from our server in my daughter's nursery back when she still needed night-time feeds.

    so, yeah, i'll miss netbooks a lot. but i still have hopes that the next generation of tablets-with-docks will finally be able to give them a run for their money.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nostalgia overload

    I didn't think anyone still said "WIMP" in that way...*

    * As opposed to merely casting aspersions on your rugged physique

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Nostalgia overload

      I didn't think anyone still said "WIMP" in that way...*

      That could be part of the problem ... the handy acronym WIMP encourages us to think in terms of those four foundations of modern GUI design: windows, icons, menus, and pointers. We should use it more.

      Microsoft, however, would rather that we thought of WART.

      Windows, Animations, Ribbons, Touch ...

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: Nostalgia overload

        I think I just figured out why everything is supposed to be full screen now... that makes the acronym ART, which is what there commercials make me think of... all form, no function, and a purpose made up on the spot.

        "This piece represents the intrinsic fatality of modern consumerism. The round top makes reminds us of the reuse that the chaff of our society could be taking and..."

        "dude, it's a trash can"

  35. 404 Silver badge
    Trollface

    oh yeah? OH YEAH?

    With my $300 Craigslist Hp 8440P EliteBook with it's 1600x900 resolution, Intel Core i5 M520, 6GB ram, 320GB HD, running Win8Pro - I can beat the client to death with it, wipe it down, and use it at the next stop.

    Take that, you netbooks/tablets/ultras!

    ;)

  36. Tim Walker
    Linux

    I am still using my Eee 701SD...

    It's probably difficult for some to believe that anyone above primary-school age could get on with "the original netbook", but I really like my Eee 701 (that's the one with the 7" screen, huge bezel and tiny chiclet keys). I was lucky enough to pick up a refurbished 8GB model in 2009, for barely more than £100, and it's still going strong, except for the original battery which wore out (I'm currently running it off AC until I can get around to sourcing a bigger replacement).

    Actually, I get on pretty well with the 701, but then having been an owner of two Psions (3c and 5mx) and a Stowaway keyboard for my old Nokia N95 back in the day, tiny keyboards don't bother me. The 800x480 display can be a bit cramped at times, but again I work around that - for me, it's a payoff for owning a machine small enough to fit on a First Great Western train "tray-table".

    Software? A tailored Arch Linux installation, running the Fluxbox window manager and other lightweight applications. Runs surprisingly smoothly, but then I think max-ing out the RAM at 2GB probably helped there. Only thing I'd change if I could: a larger SSD wouldn't hurt, as the 8GB one in my Eee is groaning at the seams (constantly about 95% full; imagine what a big package update is like).

    When my 701 dies on me, I don't know what I'd replace it with - maybe one of those Samsung ARM Chromebooks, and try and install Arch/ARM on it?

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I am still using my Eee 701SD...

      I still have my 701, but don't use it since the left trackpad button died - a common problem with the switches it seems. Easily workable round with taps or mouse, but mildly annoying. If you need a replacement, I'd recommend a 901. Same size, bigger screen, twice as fast, twice the storage. Not a 900, though, as that has the same processor as the 701.

      1. Tim Walker

        Re: I am still using my Eee 701SD...

        @Ian Johnston - yup, my 701's touchpad left-button expired a couple of years ago (interesting that it's a not-uncommon problem with that machine, by the sound of it).

        Like you, I get around the dead button with pad-taps and (where possible) a mini-optical mouse, but it is mildly irritating, and would probably cost more than the worth of the machine to fix, so I live with it. Still fond of the little scamp, anyway...

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: I am still using my Eee 701SD...Same here

      Mine is a 4GB model, ordered in the first week they could be ordered, and now has Ubuntu 10.04 on it. I cannot see me putting 12.04, though (far too small and underpowered).

      The big problem is that a mainstream distro leaves an uncomfortably small amount of space on a 4GB SSD. I have to aggressively manage cached packages, multiple kernels and other things to leave enough space for the system to work.

      But otherwise, it is surprisingly usable.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone ever make...

    a 10" netbook with 1280x800 res and decent battery life?

    I think for the resolution > 1024x600 there had to be a non-Intel CPU. The best I can think of was the Samsung NC20 (12" 1280x800 with 1.6GHz Via Nano and 5 hours battery).

    The other VIA based netbook I can recall (not hard, 'cos there's one on my desk) was the HP 2133 that was a 9" 1280x800 machine but slow & with appalling battery life.

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Did anyone ever make...

      I think for the resolution > 1024x600 there had to be a non-Intel CPU.

      No ... my Acer with 11.6" 1366x768 screen had an Intel Atom Z520. It was a fairly early netbook, sold with Windows XP, though. 10" and 1024x600 became the norm once Windows 7 Starter became the common OS, because of the licensing terms.

      Intel did try hard to make a 10" display part of the definition of "netbook" in order to discourage manufacturers from making cheap "netbooks" that might compete with more expensive "notebooks" ... and Microsoft finished the hatchet job with their licensing.

      Some background here:

      http://techcrunch.com/2009/01/06/here-come-the-12-inch-netbooks-and-intel-isnt-happy-about-it/

      A pity, because around 12" is the sweet spot for a netbook.

  38. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    OMG winSXS. Microsoft "discovers" the bin directory.

    Who knows what other wonders await?

  39. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Coat

    You want....

    quick, cheap and battery life - you are only ever going to get 2 of those....

    By the sound of it, you really want a Mac Book Air....

  40. Martin
    Happy

    Why not a Chromebook?

    People here have suggested Chromebooks with Chrubuntu on it. But why even do that?

    For what you're talking about, I can't see any reason why a Chromebook wouldn't do exactly what you want.

    Battery life - check

    Office apps - check

    Internet and email - check

    and around £200 in the UK - and even cheaper in the US.

    Which is not to say I don't 100% agree that the demise of the netbook is something to mourn.

    1. Aldous

      Re: Why not a Chromebook?

      try it without an internet connection.

      I went from an EEEPC 900 to lenovo x61: lightweight,5 hour battery, powerful enough for everything except gaming and 120 quid! Added bonus there are always people with lenovo chargers if you forget yours or need a quick bost

    2. David Hicks
      Linux

      Re: Why not a Chromebook?

      Because a lot of the stuff I want to do with a little linux box is pretty low-level. Partition editing for example. I also use my chromebook as a development laptop so python, the ability to install arbitrary libraries from the Ubuntu repositories and all that good stuff is what I want.

      That said, yes, when I want (almost) instant-on browsing and mail with a nice bright screen, I use ChromeOS and it's great.

  41. yossarianuk

    Lightweight Linux (Bodhi Linux)

    I have a crappy Samsung netbook. It came with Windows7 starter, this was completely so slow it was unusable.

    Ubuntu faired a bit better but was still so slow.

    I tried Bodhi Linux (which uses E17) and its insanely fast! Really snappy, in fact its like your using a different machine - more responsive than most people's Win7/Ubuntu installs...

    If you have an old netbook try Bodhi Linux, you may surprise yourself.

  42. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Work gave me a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's unusably bad for all but the most trivial tasks, and for them it's just bad. So I splashed out £120 and got a NOS Asus Eee PC 901 from eBay. It runs Lubuntu with Chromium and a full LibreOffice install just fine. When I want something bigger I have a very nice Thinkpad X32 running Xubuntu. That cost me £13.50 on eBay, plus a HDD and a keyboard bezel I had lying around.

    Every couple of months I go to a faculty meeting with about 100 staff present. The first one after the iPad came out, the place was infested with them. Since then tablets have all but disappeared; everyone is back on proper computers.

  43. Julian Smart
    Facepalm

    No middle ground at the moment?

    I loved my Asus netbook and for a couple of years used it for software development in cafés, along with a clunky Dell laptop at home. Then two years ago I got a £350 Acer 8371 13" Timeline that had already been in the warehouse for a year. After installing a custom BIOS to knock the noisy fan on the head, it's almost the perfect near-netbook - light, matte screen, just enough processing power for my work, very good battery life, now running Windows 8 on a 750GB disk, and I don't need to switch between two machines. Good thing I bought 4 because there doesn't seem to be anything to replace it - ultrabooks are expensive, fragile-feeling, with (usually) derisory storage, and non-serviceable parts. What's the point in shaving millimetres off the thickness if it's going to compromise the functionality? I can't stand hot, noisy machines and Intel CPUs don't seem to be developing fast enough in the right direction.

    So, to me at least, there seems to be a gap in the market for a sensible, highly functional, small, light, quiet, reasonably-priced machine that doesn't try to follow all the latest fads. Better than a netbook, cheaper than an ultrabook. So basically an 8371 with just a little more grunt and resolution would do me fine. As it is, I dread having to buy a new laptop.

  44. b 3
    Thumb Up

    totally agree

    netbooks were one of the best things to come out of the i.t. business in ages (i'm typing on a dimension 11z with a nice 240gb SSD in it).

    dell stopped selling their 9" mini otherwise i probably would have bought another one by now, as this one (getting around 16 hours of use a day), is wearing thin, i already replaced the keyboard.

    i need at least 700px of vertical res tho (for serato DJ package), so my choices were rather limited anyway, but now way more so :(

    i have a sneaking feeling that they have not left for good tho, i have this feeling that they will come back ;)

  45. dajames Silver badge
    Alert

    What really killed the netbook ...

    ... was the screen.

    The biggest drawback to most netbooks is that the screens are only 10" and only 1024x600. That's fine for some things, for some people (my father in law is very happy with his) but it's smaller than it needs to be (in my view) and lacks the pixel resolution for real work. I gather that one reason for this is Microsoft's licensing terms for Windows 7 Starter edition (the cheap one designed for netbooks).

    The fact that computer is small and light shouldn't mean that it can't have a useful display.

    I was lucky enough to notice when Maplin were running a "£50 off" promotional deal on the Acer Aspire One 751h, and rushed out to get one. This is one of the few netbooks there has been with a larger screen (11.6") and adequate (just barely, at 1366x768) resolution. It came with XP Home, but I wiped that the first time I switched it on and installed Ubuntu. That required a little jumping through hoops as Acer had chosen to use the "Intel" GMA500 chipset (nice hardware, not made or designed by Intel, but poor driver support -- even in Windows) but thanks to a user-supported driver project it did all I needed it to. Great machine: very portable, good WiFi reception, built-in 3g modem, decent battery life for the time (realistically ~6 hours when new). It's only an Atom Z520 so it isn't fast ... but it's as fast as it needs to be and doesn't drink batteries.

    The latest LTS version of Ununtu has a built-in driver for the GMA500 chipset, and it works better than ever before.

    The Ironic thing is that I bought a netbook to have a cheap "dispensible" computer for travelling, but it would be so hard to replace this one with anything that approached it in features that I now look after it more carefully than my main laptop.

  46. Conor Turton

    They already existed but weren't cheap

    They already existed. We had the Dell Latitude D400 series, the IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad X series. However they' weren't cheap being typically £1200+.

    But you can buy them used today for a little over 1/10th of that price. Because so many were used in business there are many on the used market that probably haven't been used at all.

    I use a 2007 Dell Latitude D430 I use which cost me £100 to buy and £60 to upgrade to SSD. Core 2 Duo 1.33GHz ULV CPU, 12.1" 1280x800 screen, 64GB SSD. Various capacity batteries available including ones that will do all day. A 5200mAh battery can be bought for under £15 and will easily do 5+hrs.

    1. keithpeter
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: They already existed but weren't cheap

      "Because so many were used in business there are many on the used market that probably haven't been used at all."

      My other laptop is a recycled Thinkpad x200s and I know what you mean, they are excellent for the money (a tad over £130 for this one). Battery life isn't up to Mr Potts' all day definition however.

      And all I can say is that the T42, T60 I have set up and passed on to relatives and this X200s have definitely earned their living! I believe antique dealers would call it 'patina'.

      Keyboard icon: not quite that bad but you get the idea...

    2. DanceMan
      Windows

      Re: They already existed but weren't cheap

      Using a second-hand X31 Thinkpad for at-work internet, almost always plugged in because of old weak batteries. This is my second, first lost its screen when I was punted off a bike. Another old laptop lost its screen to a fall off a bike while in the backpack about two years later.

      Appreciate all the tips on usable netbooks here among the posts. Going with some of those could get me the long battery life I'm currently missing, though my aging eyes would miss the 12.1" screen. Mine needs to have Windows at least on a dual-boot to occasionally run an Excel crew bill estimate program that won't run on OO.

  47. John Savard Silver badge

    Clearly

    "We" didn't throw netbooks under the bus, Microsoft did, by failing to make available usable versions of Windows with reasonable hardware requirements.

    Sadly, the option of using Ubuntu, for example, is really only a theoretical possibility for most of the market.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Well actually

      Microsoft killed the market with really shitty versions of Windows like "Windows 7 Starter" demanding shitty hardware like limited display resolutions.

      Another point was bad hardware quality. Since a Windows license still cost a relevant amount of money, the build quality of those devices sometimes was abysmally bad.

      Of course screen bevels also were a problem, some Netbooks had a tiny screen in a gigantic case, taking up nearly as much space as a normal 12" Notebook.

  48. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Rob Davis

    Agree - netbooks are still usable - love my Toshiba NB100 1.6Ghz Atom netbook

    Got it in 2009. Upgraded the memory to the max 2Gb and put in a 128Gb Samsung 840 Pro SSD. Runs Windows 7 Pro 32 bit very capably. Swift little dinky work horse. Can change the battery too, the larger expanded battery appears to give me around 6 hours of charge.

  50. Saul Dobney

    Do Microsoft/manufacturers understand the market any more?

    It seems to be becoming difficult to buy equipment now. Everything is a bit of a mis-mash. I don't think Microsoft/manufacturers understand that people now have several computers, tablets, phones and these are used for different tasks. Instead we still seem to be trying to shoehorn one computer for everything. I can't get a decent screen'd laptop for proper production work. I'd like something small and neat with a keyboard and a monitor connection for light travelling. I have tablets but they're for browsing/info gathering. And I have a phone. I don't need one thing trying to be all of these.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      No, but they never did

      The reason why there was more progress in the past was, that there were more manufacturers. And those manufactures were even taking bets producting new products which never before have been there.

      Today if you want to bring a new class of products to the market, your beancounter/investor will look at the sales figures and tell you clearly, that since nobody has bought that non-existent product yet, nobody wants it. They then suggest you to make a touch screen phone or a social network, since that's where the money is.

      Look at companies like Grid which simply made a laptop, though nobody has proven a market for it.

  51. Hel
    Linux

    Netbooks

    I bought my netbook based on size and functionality. Price was a lesser consideration because I wanted it to be my only mobile device, beside my cell phone. I got the then brand-new Dell Inspiron Duo (with the cool convertable touchscreen). It's not perfect, but it's a great size for use on an airplane, and battery life is adequate now, and pretty good compared to competition back then. If I was looking for a replacement, I'd probably go with one of Samsung's ATIV PCs http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativ_pc.html . Totally agree with your price comment. There's really nothing available on the market anymore that is cheap first and feature-filled second. Certianly nothing like the EEEs of (long) ago.

  52. This post has been deleted by its author

  53. Tim 69

    Used X-Series thinkpads are the way forward...

    Robust, small, the ones I've found have had a great battery life, generally available on ebay for £100-£150 and once you've stuck Mint on them, you have your WIMP. Had two of them and the first is still going strong two years later. What more do you need?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Used X-Series thinkpads are the way forward...

      That's actually where the smart money went. I have recently been camping at a festival with normal people. Most of them had various kinds of Thinpads, not only X-Series. I don't think I've seen any classical Netbooks. However there was about 10% macs (usually with stickers indicating they were company property) and there was even the odd Dell running some sort of Windows.

  54. mmeier

    What do you want the Netbook for

    The big question is: What does one want to do with a Netbook on a conference?

    If it is simply "Take notes, read email, do some minor work" than the "Netbook" still exists. Lighter, more compact, easier to use and with a better screen. Granted, it will cost more than the 450€ Lenovo S10-3 (after all needed upgrades) I bought IIRC in late 2010 but it delivers more in a smaller package. These things are called Win8 Tablet-PCs, more exactly the systems with an ACTIVE digitizer instead of the "Steve Jobs rememberance smear" finger only capacitiye stuff build into most ARM systems (IIRC the Note 10.1 is the only "in production" system with a WACOM - and the software like SNote on that is second rate compared to what Windows has out of the box)

    And if I need to type something longer I can lug around a BT keyboard/mice. CAN! not must. I use Tablet-PC for notetaking/mobile work/presentations for quite some time now (granted, a 1kg core-i system) and while I have a BT keyboard in the carry-bag I have rarely (1 day per month) pulled it out. Handwriting -> Text translation works just fine, either directly or "post writing" (something SNote lacks) and even the aging Cedar Trail has more power than the Quad-Core ARM in the Note 10.1 (Compared that to an ATIV500)

  55. danny_0x98

    One thing about the ancient MacBook, users could change batteries. But the version of OS X and, more critically Safari, are neglected and not what I think are secure.

    Could go get a PowerPC version of Xubuntu, but RAM limitations may frustrate. Besides, how much time does a busy person want to spend resuscitating ancient kit?

    Now, the problem wasn't that people didn't use netbooks, it was that the manufacturers couldn't make enough profit on them, and sales were usually at the expense of their higher margin products. They did not bring new customers to the marketplace. Microsoft considered Linux a threat in the sector and so XP's life as the OEM install was extended. Microsoft offered that XP with a discount pricing and subsidized the netbooks' marketing. That didn't work out so well because that meant the profitability problem transferred from the OEMs to Microsoft and it was all for naught as Linux, with the face of Android, became quite successful in mobile via phones, and Microsoft began to lose the crown as the platform one uses everywhere, and the crown as the choice OEMs make to profit. It also meant that as soon as Microsoft lost its motivation to carry the sector, the products disappeared.

  56. Pookietoo

    Not enough power sockets?

    Why not just chuck a power strip in your bag?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netbooks were/are toys

    Netbooks never made much sense but that never stopped marketeeeeers.

  58. Ilgaz

    We didn't throw them, Intel&Microsoft did

    Hats off to Intel for insisting on its incapable graphics junk and Microsoft for being lazy to shave off a modern Windows for netbooks.

    If you ignore PR, you can still buy a proper AMD netbook with up to spec ATI gpu. Install either win 7 or stable Debian, there you have a real portable computer.

  59. Dave 126 Silver badge

    An idea: daft or not daft?

    Hmmm.... What's the largest downside of netbooks? The screen (not enough vertical pixels!). What are ever more people buying? Tablets- some with lots of pixels.

    How about a 'screenless netbook' -an x86 machine with keyboard, designed to use a tablet as its monitor? I appreciate that tablets don't usually work as dumb (USB) monitors, and that setting it to work as a wireless monitor using software would present challenges (if the x86 base doesn't have its own screen to setup this configuration) ... but still, it would be nice. Hell, if Brand X offered a tablet, and Brand Y offered a similarly specified machine but with the option to use it as a dumb monitor, I would buy Brand Y- if only to extend my normal laptop's desktop on occasion.

    The x86 base would give you access to legacy software, choice of OS and allow all the usual connections and storage options. The ARM tablet / screen would give you instant-on checking of emails and whatnot.

    1. mmeier

      Re: An idea: daft or not daft?

      There are some "mobile monitors" so that part should be doable. OTOH the setup will likely approach the "Surface Pro" price-range (1000€+) and in that case - I can get a 10'' 1920x1080 tablet-pc that has a display port or two for the occasional "need a bigger screen"

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: An idea: daft or not daft?

      VNC might be a simple way of using a tablet as a screen...

  60. Bob Camp

    Netbooks not attractive for regular users

    Netbooks were always a niche market for geeks only. For a little *less* money you could get a notebook PC with much more power running an OS and applications most people already used. Almost every post here is how somebody modified the BIOS or changed the OS or installed more storage or more RAM. Most people aren't that geeky. Netbooks tried to price themselves cheap but even geeks had to modify what was being sold to make them more attractive.

    I really wanted to buy a netbook, as I liked their size. But I realized that it was too little product for too much money, and I too would have to spend a lot of time tweaking it. In the end I simply couldn't justify it.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Netbooks not attractive for regular users

      Get yourself to a university. Stick your head in a few lecture theatres. Netbooks have a reasonable chunk of the student market. Small and light enough to take to class, cheap enough to afford. I did once write to the Open University complaining about their mandating of .DOC files and suggesting that telling everyone to install the *totally free* OpenOffice.org wouldn't be onerous. They replied saying they had chosen MS Office because most people already had it and they didn't want to force people to install new software. (!!) I also suggested to them that IT support would be much easier if they offered a standard OU netbook offering a completely uniform operating environment, while also opening up an alternative revenue stream. They didn't go for that either.

      1. Bob Camp

        Re: Netbooks not attractive for regular users

        In the U.S., there are few netbooks in lecture halls today. They're all budget notebook PCs, sometimes provided by the college. Students want to use them for work during the day and for playing games at night, and professors don't want to worry about incompatibility problems. They also want the big display -- so for a while students bought a desktop and a netbook. But notebooks are an all-in-one device and cheaper.

        Also, tablets are now just as powerful as netbooks and are just as portable but have a much bigger display. Touchscreens are in.

        And you can find cheap notebook PCs here in the states. If you want something small to check your e-mail or surf the web, well that's what smartphones are for.

        In my job, I had to use a Windows VPN client to connect back up to the mothership and had to use Microsoft Office. No netbooks allowed. Most companies here are like that -- they want a one-size-fits-all solution and the notebook PC fits that role.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did you know that the best current 11.6" netbook is the HP-dm1?

    "Best" here used as a price point that commentators seem to be preferring, but the commentators here seem oblivious of the HP-dm1.

    Probably because HP describe it as a laptop, rather than a netbook.

    The description "Netbook" and its limited specifications were made by Intel and Microsoft, the 2GB maximum RAM, 1024x600screen, and special-edition 32-bit OS. In practise the initial production runs included b/g WiFi.

    It is obvious that a small portable computer should have moved on to be dual-core (in the region of 1.6GHz+) running a 64-bit OS with a 1366 x 768 screen (11.6" popular size makes it cheap) have b/g/n WiFi, and although supplied with a HDD, should be able to be readily converted to a SSD (when the HDD then becomes used for an image back-up) with 4GB RAM to run Windows 7/8 that can be easily upgraded to 8GB (speedier for multiple applications running simultaneously).

    In addition to 1920p HDMI out, the APU should flawlessly handle BBC iPlayer at HD specification if your Internet connection is up to it.

    The above "netbook" exists - currently on sale at £299 from HP-UK as the HP Pavilion dm1-4341sa Laptop. It is now supplied with Windows-8 64-bit OS that I guess most of the users here might want to change with an app to have the "Start" appearance of Windows-7. Using WiFi /n makes the most significant difference to Internet use compared to the first generation netbooks. And it's HP- there's a maintenance manual and readily available parts.

    I still have my Dell-910 (Mini-9) with built in 3G running XP - but it's a thought about how prices have moved that the 32GB SDHC card that is now permanently in place, and the 32GB button-USB stick, both used as if extra drives, would each have cost more than the initial selling price of the Mini-9, if they had been bought at the launch. Although the Mini-9 SSD was notoriously slow and also upgraded to 32GB - it's the dual core CPU running at about the same speed and the wireless/n that makes all the difference to the latest netbooks - my upgraded Mini-9, based on comparison with an MSI Wind U180 2GB Atom N2600 running Win-7 starter (also recommended if 10" size wanted, and the 1024x600 screen is acceptable).

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Did you know that the best current 11.6" netbook is the HP-dm1?

      Ahh shiny display. That's why we are ignoring it.

      Otherwise it would be OK, though not much different to a refurbished and upgraded Thinkpad X40 which costs half as much.

  62. M. B.

    Gonna miss netbooks...

    Lenovo x120e. I have this little AMD Fusion-powered netbook, 4GB RAM, cheapest 64GB SSD I could find running Win 7, and 1366x768 11" display with extended battery. Totally usable as a road warrior. Has been all over North America with me for work and family vacations and works brilliantly for what I need. Charges devices. Long battery life. Plenty of performance for office apps. Usable screen resolution and keyboard to get actual work done, especially when RDP'ing back into work machines. Runs all my tools. Got it for about half the cost of an Air, including extended warranty and the SSD.

    They just hit a sweet spot for a lot of people, they have enough performance to play movies on long flights and enough grunt to get "work" done without being tied to a power source for any significant period of time. And they're small enough to go into a laptop bag sideways, saving room for important stuff like my son's LeapPad.

    Gonna hang on to this one. My wife has mostly taken it over anyways, such a small footprint it easily fits in chair pockets so she can get the latest celeb gossip and Youtube idiocy without moving too much and her 8-month pregnant belly makes a perfect table for it since it's so small and gives off almost no heat.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Gonna miss netbooks...

      That unit is a nice one. But quite a bit more powerful than a classic "Netbook" could ever be:

      + 4GB memory (Atom has max 2GB)

      + Full sized SSD (Atom used a slower variant)

      And a useful screen resolution. That is more a small notebook

  63. J. Cook Silver badge
    Pint

    I occasionally miss my Mini-9...

    Seems the drive controller on mine went bonkers to the point where it will eat whatever SSD gets installed on it. it won't boot from the SD card (hardware design limitation) and booting from USB was... painful.

    So I lug around my dilapidated and ancient D600, which despite it's age and the fact that just about everything except the processor and the wireless card have been replaced on it still manages to chug along without a complaint.

    Might look seriously at a chromebook though, if I can squeeze the turnip hard enough.

  64. John Navas
    FAIL

    Lenovo ThinkPad X220/X230 and Chromebooks

    1. Lenovo ThinkPad X220/X230 powerhouses run for up to 13 hours on the extended battery (over 8 hours of typical use), much more with the add-on battery slice.

    2. Chomebooks can be used without an Internet connection:

    http://goo.gl/JFj8e

    http://goo.gl/Ezu2w

  65. David Fetrow
    Happy

    Unity Works for Very Small Screens on Underpowered Netbooks

    When I mostly only run a handful of apps (stick those in the dock)

    When I mostly run one thing at a time (underpowered will do that).

    When I have very few pixels and turn on dock hiding.

    Unity works well for me.

    On anything >=12" screen and > 1GB RAM Unity drives me insane but it does seem to have a place.

  66. Kazriko Redclaw
    Go

    APUs are much better than Atom and Bobcat netbooks

    I don't miss the Netbook, because we have much better laptops now. Sure, they may not go all the way down to 9 inch screens, but the 11-15 inch range A6 systems can be had for less money than your average tablet and perform much better than any Atom based netbook ever could. I paid less for my Acer A6 15" system than I did for my EEE901 9" back in the day.

  67. rproulx

    Netbooks were never given a chance to succeed.

    Netbooks needed 2GB RAM with Windows Home and a 120GB SSD. I can live with a 600px high screen. But with 1GB Ram, a slow HD, and a crippled OS the user experience was pretty poor.

    I'm using a old Gateway LT2016u (aka Acer Aspire One D250) in which I installed the above upgrade and I now find myself without an upgrade path. It's hard to find anything with similar specs at a reasonable price.

    Had the user experience been better I'm sure Netbooks would have been much more popular.

    R.

  68. Tony22

    I have an answer for you - laptop with battery life of 16 hours (!) for $700

    Few month ago I bought Acer w510 - 10in tablet on Intel Clover Trail processor, and I also bought keyboard-dock it plugs into. When plugged into keyboard-dock it becomes essentially a mini-laptop with 10" screen.

    Tablet itself has 9 hours (realistically-8) of battery life on typical office apps, keyboard dock has second battery and doubles the battery life to 16 hours. Because it is a standard x86, all applications work fine.

    This is the first time I have a laptop with this kind of battery life, and it is amazing - when you use it whole day and at the end of the day you find 50-60% battery left - this is unheard of. And it is not expensive - just $700 or so.

    Perf is pretty decent - not as fast as Core CPUs, but more than adequate for office apps, web browser (easily open dozens of tabs), video, games.

    Honestly - this is the best portable device I ever had (and I have iPad and many other devices).

    1. mmeier
      Unhappy

      Re: I have an answer for you - laptop with battery life of 16 hours (!) for $700

      That and it's bigger 700-series brother looked nice - until I realized the <string of swear-words and hints at genetic ancestry of the developers/decision makers> only used a capacitive digitizer. Knowing that Windows has some excellen scratchbook software on board (MS-Journal) or available as part of office (One Note) that accept handwritting just fine makes a inductive digitizer a "must have" for me. Only with that the tablet pc can really shine, replacing handwritten notes, A4 pads and even a smartphone.

      Too bad the designers went for cheap instead of low price

  69. elaar

    "I had some devices to choose from for my journey. I could have taken my Alienware MX18, my first-generation Samsung Galaxy Tab, my Asus Transformer, my Samsung NF210 Netbook, my Acer Aspire 5110 or my ageing 2006 silver Macbook Pro. Which to choose?"

    Any, who cares? How did journalists cope 5-10 years ago? Write stuff on dead trees. Netbooks were great, but marketing told people to go out and buy tablets, zero productivity but lots of (limited) fun.

  70. bag o' spanners
    Happy

    Hourses for courses. As a comms device with much better wifi and sim reception than the average phone, a 16gig SSD and a useable keyboard, I still take my eee901 on the road with me in preference to a 15" laptop.. A de-bloated version of XP runs fast enough for comms, entertainment, and a couple of corporate web extensions, and gives me a reliable link to the webslaves at the hollowed out volcano via email, text or Skype, without filling my manbag. My banana fingers are allergic to fiddly multipress phone keys, but can somehow type perfectly on a netbook. Four years on, it's still giving me five hours of video when I can't find a power socket.

    I have a dumb phone just for shouting at people who phone me out of working hours, but for the mobile data side, the humble sim-equipped netbook craps from a great height on any smartphone, especially in terms of power, cost and versatility. And it doesn't give me eyestrain or distract me when I'm crossing the road. Utility trumps shiny every time.

  71. heyrick Silver badge

    Random thoughts

    "have a spare USB port to charge my phones" - problem is, the power taken to charge a phone is less power for you to use. Could you not plug 'em in overnight?

    "Office packages for Android are embarrassingly terrible." - it is hard enough to find a text editor worth a damn. I think it speaks volumes that an ancient Psion 3a outperforms Android in nearly every office-like application. Useful word processor, useful spreadsheet, workable (if a bit crappy) database....why is something like this not available for Android out of the box? I need a rudimentary word processor that understands basic formatting a hell of a lot more than I need a Facebook "share my music" app. I guess I'm just not the usual target demographic.

    "Bad for us because it cripples the OS in order to achieve this goal." - which is one of the reasons I will never touch it. Living out in the country, you get used to eccentric broadband. Plus travelling etc. A good OS will use connectivity to supplement itself, not be reliant on it in order to do anything. Before anybody replies to this point - contemplate using an EDGE network running at ~12Kb/sec flat out. Wait, ADSL you say? Well that kills portability then doesn't it? Not everywhere has 3G/4G...

    "I hope that by the time this netbook of mine is ready to give up the ghost, the answer is yes." - I also do not understand why the netbook is hated. I'm writing this on an eeePC. It is my "main" computer. On my lap in bed, on a table, in the living room, out in the garden on a sunny day, even in the car - it is there and ready and does what I ask. I don't need a 21" monitor, I just hold the ~9" one a little closer (being short-sighted helps blur the picture so you can consider it to be biological anti-aliasing). For its age it is quite a capable machine. If I was in the looking for a replacement, I would want something similar but more modern. Running Windows would be preferable (most of my software...) however I could be tempted. I also don't want something big, or a dopey tablet. I write stuff, I code, I "play" with a MIDI sequencer, I watch videos, I do internety stuff. I want a small friendly device with good battery life, respectable connectivity (one lame USB port doesn't cut it, even a Raspberry Pi offers better), a usable keyboard, and most of all something I can take with me and just put it down and start using it. My eeePC fits the bill. I will cry buckets when it is time to retire it and replace it with something that isn't a netbook 'cos they won't exist by then...

  72. Al Jones

    Battery life isn't a selling point in the consumer market

    Once battery life isn't a design consideration, why would the ordinary consumer choose a low power cpu instead of a faster one for just a few bucks more? When you can get an Asus notebook with an i3 processor and 4GB of RAM for $400, it's a lot harder to sell an Atom based system for $300. (The netbook that you got 3 years ago for $300 never dropped much below $300, somehow).

    Road warriors have specialist requirements, but want to pay mass market prices. Sorry, they only way to pay mass market prices is to buy what the mass market is buying, and that's not a $3-400 machine with a 9 hour battery.

    Atom N2600, 1G RAM, 1024x600 for $244, or i3-2377M, 4GB RAM, 1366x768 for $400?

    They both weigh about 3 lbs. Do you want 8 hours of battery badly enough to give up the usable screen and faster process?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215667

    Acer Aspire V5-171-6675 Notebook Intel Core i3 2377M(1.50GHz) 11.6" 4GB Memory 500GB HDD

    1366 x 768

    11.22" x 7.95" x 0.82"-1.09"

    3.05 lbs.

    1 x USB 3.0

    2 x USB 2.0

    4-cell Li-ion Battery (2500 mAh)

    Up to 5 hours

    $399.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215442

    Acer Aspire One AOD270-26Dkk Intel Atom N2600(1.60GHz) 10.1" WSVGA 1GB

    1024 x 600

    10.1" x 7.2" x 0.9"

    2.87 lb

    3 x USB 2.0

    6-cell Li-Ion (4400 mAh)

    8 Hour

    $243.99

    1. mmeier

      Re: Battery life isn't a selling point in the consumer market

      I want 6+ hours of working time out of a mobile device (WLAN/BT on, no videos but Office, Handwriting and speech input) desperatly enough to either go Atom (< 800€) OR high end (> 1200€, 1+kg) to get it. Not having to lug around the charger for a typical work day is the difference of "just the tablet in the book-case" vs. "the notebook bag with the hole pile of stuff". Tested a Note 10.1 last year and while ultimately it "always tried hard to perform the task" and got sold off the low weight/high portability and long running times where nice.

      I was event (and still am for some reasons) considering the 2kg/2000€ "Terminator" (Fujitsu T902 with dock, 8GB, 128GB SSD, second battery) as a main maschine replacing the whole zoo (Desktop, Tower, Smartphone). A tad heavier than I like but I could still carry the maschine only. Currently waiting for Q3 and the Haswell and Baytrail CPUs and what that brings us (Vaio Duo Gen 2, maybe the Helix)

      If I go mobile I want to do so for a long time and without looking at the charge indicator or thinking about "how to conserve battery". This is the main "dislike" I have with my current tablet pc - power lasts 3-4 hours so long meetings get tricky.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kubuntu

    You do know that unity/gnome are not the only option you have with ubuntu right? Just grab the kubuntu version.. it's linux, you _do_ have a choice ;)

  74. Michael Kean
    Happy

    Battery and Inverter...

    Heh :)

    This reminds me of 10 years ago when I wanted to keep the Compaq Armada 1500c (400MHz Celeron) going for a day. A 7Ah UPS battery and inverter in a backpack sure helped! Just weighted a lot :( Now you can buy 2Ah USB charging batteries on eBay so for many tablets, phones, and digital cameras; there is a cheap portable solution.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lamenting the eventual death of my netbook...

    I'm lamenting the eventual death of my Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook because there is simply no substitute in the same price range nowadays. I purchased it in spring 2009 and expected to use it just for traveling, but I instantly got hooked. It quickly became my primarily machine both at home and work, and it sees between 12-16 hours of use every day. It is still running stunningly well to this day on WinXP--what a nice and lean OS! At both spots, I just plug it in to a 24" monitor, and use wireless, full-size keyboard+mouse combos, and voila, a perfectly capable computing environment. For certain, it is slowish, but for 98% of my activity it is perfectly sufficient. I am a scientist, and do work with large data sets and images occasionally, so when I need to do really heavy number crunching I do it offboard. But to be honest, this is very infrequent--I usually prefer to just do everything onboard even if that means seeing the hour glass icon a little more frequently. Sure, I could do the same thing with an ultrabook, but at 3-4x the price!!!

  76. Coldwind104

    "Is there a manufacturer brave enough? Is there a hardware maker brave enough?"

    It's not a matter of bravery. It's a matter of profit. These are businesses.

    The problem is that we're now locked in a circle: the companies provide sub-optimal devices designed fully for their own, and not the user's, advantage. And since they're all there is, and they're usually nice and shiny, we lap them up as they are.

    And while I'm sure most people reading El Reg could quite easily manufacture their own ideal device using a two matchboxes and a spring, and then create the ideal efficient, compact, capable and secure OS, the vast majority of users wouldn't know where to start. So they'll keep buying the overpriced, under-functional, privacy-threatening, just-about-passable tat; which means the companies have no motivation to venture into the expensive and risky territories you're talking about. After all, what if another company has a better idea than yours? You might lose customers. Far better to lock the buggers in and keep them distracted with pretty.

    (Written awkwardly and very slowly with lots of deleting on my overpriced, locked-in piece of shiny tat.)

  77. b 3
    Happy

    don't forget "high performance"/"always on" power scheme..

    ..and having the power lead plugged in get you a bit more juice for yer netbook, if you've got to do some heavy-ish work, always helps ;)

  78. xpusostomos

    ipad

    You didn't really say what you are trying to achieve, but an ipad with a bluetooth keyboard case, sounds like it fits the bill. I realise it may not, but like I said, you didn't really tell us why it might not.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
      Flame

      Re: ipad

      Because a iPad with a keyboard case doesn't have a mouse. It doesn't support proper keyboard + mouse full-bore multitasking interface. In fact, it doesn't have any sort of multitasking capabilities that aren't complete ass. I don't work on "one document at a time, then take 5 seconds to switch to some other, then 5 seconds to switch back only ever seeing one screen at a time."

      Even if you could overcome that - and it would require not only an office package that wasn't a piece of shit, but a damned-near complete redesign of the OS's input systems - an iPad with a bluetooth anything doesn't last 12 hours of continuous usage.

      You see, there's this small problem where actually creating documents requires things like a precision pointer so that you can select text, images, cells and other things that quickly, easily, and efficiently. Believe it or not, I might even require other things. Like both backspace and delete, which also render Chromebooks – and their broke-ass "offline mode" with their crippled hobo-office – completely useless.

      It's a complete shock to a certain category of techno-hipster, but there are some of us old farts who have jobs. I know, shocking; maybe if the younger generation pulls their pants up and starts learning to put effort into shit instead of thinking that hating on everything all the time is cool, they can have some one day, too. Part of this "having a job" thing is the requirement to actually work for a living, which means using the fastest, most efficient way to get something done.

      That isn't stabbing at some screen with my fingers, "pressing and holding" to highlight or dragging my digits around while cursing as the damned software moves my carefully selected text – NO, I WAN'T THE TEXT, NOT THE GODDAMNED ADDITIONAL SPACE YOU PIECE OF SHIT – to the line above. It means taking a precision instrument - like the fucking mouse, holy lordy look at that - and clicking right where I wanted the fucking selection to begin then dragging the pointer to exactly where I wanted it to stop. Then quickly cutting, pasting, moving, deleting, bolding, indenting or whatever operating I can imagine.

      For twelve solid hours.

      When your iPad, your Chromebook, or even my Asus Transformer can do these things, ping me. I'll give some fucks right about then. Until that time, I will stick with Windows, OSX or Linux to get the job done. Whichever one can run on hardware that gives me the requisite 12 hours of battery life.

      Cheers,

      --Me.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  79. RAMChYLD
    Boffin

    Problems is, I outgrew the netbook pretty quick

    Tried to live with one for a year and ended up chucking it for a more able laptop. Can't stand the fact that the darn thing can't even run anything that uses 3D like A Kingdom of Keflings. Even 2D activity like Youtube had issues like frame skipping.

    And then there were idiotic issues with Linux, like the WiFi radio not toggling properly...

  80. Chris Reynolds
    Facepalm

    The netbook was too good

    My wife has a Dell Mini 9, 9" Atom-powered Windows XP Netbook. We bought it for her uni studies and it was was excellent, allowing her to carry all her studies to work, Uni and home. She used OpenOffice, Chrome and Dropbox, which the Atom processor, 1Gb RAM and 32Gb SSD coped with easily.

    She could rely on the battery to last a few hours which meant she could leave the charger at home when going to work or Uni and thus is could fit in her handbag. The clamshell design meant no need for cases, stands, keyboards or other faffy paraphernalia.

    At home she'd plug it into a full-size keyboard, monitor and mouse using USB and VGA cables: no need for extra investment in connectors.

    When it dies, she'll want another cheap 9" Windows laptop to replace it. She's tried by 10" Asus Transformer Prime, but doesn't like the limitations of the Android (or iOS) operating system and finds the 10" form factor just too big to fit into her handbag.

    The current generation of 10" Windows tablets are pretty pricey too as people chase the premium end of the market and try to compete with the iPad.

    All-in-all, I suspect that somebody out there makes something that will fit the bill, but in short I agree with the sentiments of the article's author and find that I too lament the fall of the netbook.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The netbook was too good

      When she graduates from uni, I would recommend an 11" MacBook air. The expense can be justified for the many people who become more productive due to the no worries operating system and extra performance compared to the Atom. I hackingtoshed my Dell mini 9 before taking the plunge. Windows and hackingtoshed machines owe me way too much in tinkering time. Glad thats behind me.

  81. AGuyInEngland

    So... you want a Surface RT with a Type Keyboard then?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      No, because the surface doesn't allow for multitasking. It doesn't allow you to install any real applications besides the Office app - Metro apps don't count, without something like RetroUI I can't break them out into multi-tasking capable items - oh, and the Surface RT doesn't give me 12 hours of usable anything.

      Next.

      What I want is a 13" Thinkpad with both nipple and an old-school trackpad (with real fucking buttons). Instead of running off of Intel's latest every-so-slightly-rebadged combustible lemons, they could power the whole damned thing off of something wiht as much oomph as my HTC Desire. Run Windows 7 on it, give it an mSATA SSD. Give it a decent screen res - 1440x900 minimum, gov! - and then pack every remaining millimetre with battery.

      Actually, ideal ideal wouldn't have Windows 7, it would have Android, modified wiht the Wind River windowing system. It would be a hybrid (battery in both the keyboard section and the tablet section) and it would work as well with touch, mouse, keyboard or stylus. It would not treat ANY of these inputs as second class. It would support them all as separate events. It would support context menus as well as fondling, keyboard shortcuts as well as WACOM multi-pressure levels.

      What it wouldn't do is lock me down, limit me or otherwise force me into bullshit compromises like "33/66" or "fondle, stab and poke". It would let me work how I want to work, but give me the option to work in newer workflows when and where appropriate.

      It would be a Fujitsu P1510D, but made out of silicon that was nearly a decade newer. It would be larger, with more batter space. And it would be fucking excellent.

      "Fucking excellent" in no way describes the Surface tablets, and for the love of merciful monkey gods, it in no way describes the horrid abomination that is Windows RT. It does, however, describe that venerable old Fujitsu P1510d; an idea before it's time...and simply lacking the battery life to have made it truly game changing.

      Today, however, we could build it. We have the technology. We don't, however, have the will. A shame.

      1. WaveSynthBeep

        I'm feeling your pain - trying to spec out a work laptop that I want to be basically a netbook but with a decent screen and battery life, and ability to run the one x86-only Linux app that I use all day. The trouble with Clover Trial machines is they're only 32 bit (hello, we've had x86-64 for, what, almost 10 years now?) and thus only take 2GB RAM (the same limit as back in 2008).

        Currently looking at the Samsung Ativ PC Pro 700 - it's 11" 1920x1080, Core i5, same digitiser as the Galaxy Note 10.1 (ie decent for handwriting), with detachable keyboard (inc extra battery), 64 or 128GB SSD. It has 3G/maybe LTE (essential to get work done on the move - none of this 'please enter your inside leg measurement for wifi access' or 'welcome to 12 minutes free wifi, $15/hour thereafter, please buy in the airport business centre on the arrivals level' - bit tricky when I'm sitting at the gate and my plane is delayed *again*)

        Downsides: it's only got 4GB and that's non-expandable (maybe virtual memory will suffice for my app that regularly takes 8GB just to sit there idle). Battery life is unclear ('up to' 8 hours).

        Biggest downside is it runs Windows 8. Looks like Ubuntu will run OK, but I haven't found a touch WM that plays nicely when it's in tablet mode (KDE's Plasma Active looks interesting but seems just wierd).

        And it's £1000 (but I'm not paying).

        1. mmeier

          Did they finally manage to produce a WACOM driver for Linux that works more stable than sweating dynamite on a truck? Otherwise the Ativ 700 is "PAL" since you can get the same stuff without paying for the WACOM by buying one of the Acer units (touch only) for less money, slightly better runtime (Wacom eats battery power) and touch works more stable last time I looked.

  82. Alfie
    Thumb Up

    Born again

    I have an old Sammy NC10 which has been getting slower and slower on Win XP and as a result getting used less and less. Now that I have a smartphone I can get my emails and twit-tubes etc just by putting on my reading glasses. However some websites arent very smartphone friendly and after someone here mentioned LinuxMint I thought I'd have a look at that. The NC10 had already had Ubuntu 10.10 installed alongside WinXP but I found Unity less than helpful after years of occasional RedHat/CentOS use. Also it used to lock up for no apparent reason. I got LinixMint13 XFCE downloaded, burnt to DVD, installed (even recognised the Ubuntu install and overwrote it) in a few hours and not long after that had my wireless network setup and email configured. Now it boots in about a minute and shuts down in seconds, which is what I was after, so I can put the tablet purchase on hold for a little while yet. I still have my desktop system for serious work, but for everything else I can sit in my living room and pull out my old netbook.

    Thanks commentards for saving my old netbook from an early retirement of sitting on a shelf gathering dust! :-)

  83. david 63

    All that hardware and no backup power devices? I have a couple of Tecnet 4000mAH batteries that keep me going while I am out an about for about 5 days. Galaxy tab 2 turned on for a couple of hours a day and HTC smartphone on all the time.

    Not saying that there are other criteria for what you take but power doesn't have to be one of them.

    Personally I'd like to see a version of the galaxy tab three times as thick and heavy that would keep going for a few days between charges. I think the slimness thing has got a bit silly.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Transformer

    Is a bloody good device I love mine but you're right about the Apps available for android. It seems that android is Phone only as far as development goes which is a real shame.

    You do have more options than just thin client, Google Docs is reasonable for most needs, but Android really needs a better offline G-Docs to work really well.

    Fix that and it would be superb.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Transformer

      My guess is that Atom-based Tablet-PC will kill the Android tablets giving us the "next gen netbook". Unlike Android the devices have a lot of "tablet enabled" applications (All the legacy Windows applications) and the Modern UI apps are also "tablet enabled". Similar duration, equal or better processing power to the current-model ARMs (and the new BayTrail promises more on both) and a company with a well proven update/patch record (3 years after the next gen OS at least unlike many 1st gen Android tablets that are already out of support). And since the Android tablets lack the "Hippster" factor of the iThingy they can't even sell that way, at least not in the 500+ Euro price range.

      Add in that many corporate admins loves them (they ARE Windows so they can be easily integrated in the Windows-based network) and they have the "same software as my desktop" benefit and they have a lot going for them compared to Android. Offline Word processing - just add MS-Office or whatever you prefer

  85. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Yes, Gnome3 is awful

    Thankfully (unlike win8) there are alternatives

    Take a look at http://www.mintlinux.com - ubuntu with a fairly lightweight cinnamon interface that's perfectly functional on netbooks and old hardware.

    My wife loves it.

    1. Van

      Re: Yes, Gnome3 is awful

      also a good link

      http://www.linux-netbook.com/linux-distribution/linux-mint

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think I'll stick with my Psion 5mx.... too many choices!

    1. Dana W
      Meh

      I miss mine, a rare machine in the US, I never managed to get a second one when the first one fell to bits.

  87. regorama

    On THIS Planet...

    Dear editorial person posing as a news-writer,

    The entire premise of your article is invalid. I'm not sure about your planet, but here on Terra, one is allowed to purchase a spare battery. Problem solved, take whichever crappy Chinese electronics you wish to - assuming that it has not been designed by and for halfwits and therefore has a user-replaceable battery - and just pick up an extra battery.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: On THIS Planet...

      Dear derpy retard, on THIS planet, most of the damned ultrabooks, notebooks and so forth being produced today are unibody designs with no user-replacable batteries. On the other hand, if you want to haul around some notebook chiselled out a fucking rock by a hivemind of barbarians eleventy tech advances ago, you go right ahead. Me, I don't consider a 6 pound notebook with a knapsack full of an additional 40 pounds of batteries (required to get to 12 hours of usable battery life) to be "portable."

      Oh, and since you have added an inability to read to your list of personal failures; it wasn't a news article. It was a sysadmin blog; thus editorial. Don't trip on the imaginary carpet edge on the way out!

      Paris, because I'd rather let her into the server room than you.

  88. Martin Rogers

    Acer Aspire One still going strong

    Typing this on my trusty Aspire One which has been going strong for over 3 years now. Paid £150 for it on Amazon, upgraded the battery to the nine-hour version, and it's just about perfect. Agree with the author about Unity, but that was an easily rectified mistake. This brilliant little machine (8.9" version) has served as temporary desktop replacement for my parents, home browsing device for my kids, emergency machine for work colleagues whose laptops died, long battery life video viewer on flights and almost-daily-use email and browsing machine on 3G when I'm locked in on a corporate network. I have considered upgrading for a larger keyboard and screen but just not worth it. I'm sure an upgraded spec is possible for sub-£100 now, if the manufacturers wanted to do it.

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