Netbooks: Moving in Right Next Door to Useless

Yay! More e-crap to carry around

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Netbooks are apparently surging in popularity.  Some of the more recent data suggests that some 30 million netbooks will be sold this year.  That’s a fair amount of hardware.  Clearly, people are hot for netbooks. I just don’t see why.

Are you interested in buying a netbook?  Share why or why not in the comments.

Netbooks are... well, small.Netbooks are like like a regular laptop except they are smaller. Kind of like the iPhone or one of the 20 Android phones coming out. They aren’t as powerful as a regular laptop, but you can do basic web surfing, texting and Twittering. Kind of like iPhones or one of the 20 Android phones coming out. They are a smaller form factor and easier to lug around than a full fledged laptop. Also kind of like the iPhone or one of the 20 Android phones coming out.

So, what the heck is a netbook? Is it a phone with a bigger screen or a laptop with a little brain? Either way, is there a real reason why I am supposed to want to drag yet another gadget around with me everywhere? What am I missing here?  Where’s the draw?  I can check my email on my phone. I web surf on my phone. I can update Twitter, catch up on sports scores and read articles all just fine on my phone — and my phone sucks (I am upgrading soon). What do I need a netbook for?

More to the point, what does ANYbody need a netbook for? Today’s phones do a pretty good job with the web.  Over the next 2 or 3 years, assuming technology progresses like it always has, they will get even better. I guess I just need somebody to explain to me the netbook’s ‘niche’ here because to this point, I see no ‘need’ for their existence whatsoever.

Hardware and service providers are definitely on board.  Most telecom providers have announced or already launched some sort of subsidized netbook program. Your telecom providers love subsidy programs.  They typically involve lengthy contract extensions. Maybe there’s more to it here… I just don’t see it.

Google has even announced a new Netbook oriented open source OS. MS has invaded Google’s search turf with Bing.  So, it’s only natural for Google to want to fire a shot across Microsoft’s bow and announce an open source OS for netbooks.  Of course, this new open source OS isn’t due until late next year which is pretty ‘forward looking’ even for Google. 

I’m not saying anything, but some people might think this announcement had as much to do with Bing’s impressive (early) numbers than anything else. I don’t think Google really believes they are going to be snatching much of Microsoft’s OS business with this thing for netbooks, but it probably gives the hardware vendors the semblance of some bargaining chip with Redmond for a price break. I hope that isn’t the rationale for the 10 month advance notice for the Chrome OS though, because that just sounds desperate.

But back to the actual gadgets. Somebody explain to me how these things aren’t the the epitome of a useless ‘tweener’ device.  Not quite a laptop, not quite a phone but still apparently considered desirable by some 30 million people. Basically so they can do stuff they were already doing with their phones and laptops. 

Do you think a netbook is a ‘needful’ thing or just a redundant gadget? 
Weigh in in the comments.

I have used these things a little bit too, so telling me how the screens are bigger and the keyboards are nicer is only going to get you so far. We have one of these things floating around the office. The Sony P-Series even, one of the best you can buy. It’s not even a ‘real’ netbook because it has laptop-ish specs. Guess what? The screen is still too small and it’s sitting here somewhere collecting dust. Why? Even though it would be easy to carry around if you needed to, nobody needs to carry it around.

Netbooks: Moving in Right Next Door to Useless
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  • http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    here’s why netbooks are powerful it’s the only thing you have to carry. I get 7.5 hours of REAL battery life, not manufacturer battery life (they say 9.5), but 7.5 hours of me doing real work. So that’s all I have to carry, no bag, no power cord, no extra battery just a netbook the size of a paperback book.

    Most netbooks aren’t powerful enough for video editing, photoshop, or heavy music editing, so if that’s a big or important piece of what you do then yea a netbook will be useless for you.

  • SR

    I think you are missing the point. The selling point of netbooks is low cost, not functionality. You can get a computer for less than $300 with everything you need to be connected, and serve almost all the computing needs a non power user would have.

    If you are in an emerging market, you might not be able to afford a $1000 fully featured notebook or a 60$/month data plan for your phone, but you still want to be connected.

    Most of the people who buy netbooks are not going to buy them as an extra device, they will buy them instead of a notebook.

  • http://comingupforair.net Matt

    Do you leave the house?

    Do you write?

    Then you should see the point in a netbook. Try typing 80 words/minute on an iPhone. And lugging laptops around just plain sucks.

  • http://www.mactivist.com Mac’em X

    Netbooks would be useful for any task for which a pocket device is not well-suited, but for which a heavy, expensive laptop is overkill. Like writing

  • Tony

    A netbook is a laptop that is small and cheap. That means you can take it anywhere, do basically whatever laptop stuff you want, and not worry too much about something happening to it. Smartphones are great for checking email and light websurfing, but they’re not good for more intensive surfing or sustained typing. If you want to write something, you really should be using a laptop. But laptops can be heavy and bulky. My Asus Eee 901 weighs less than 2.5 lbs and is smaller than a textbook, so I don’t have to make a hard decision when going out about whether or not I might want to use my laptop. I have a much more powerful laptop, but since I stopped heavy gaming, there’s literally nothing I would do on it that I can’t do on my netbook.

    Plus, there’s a fair bit of novelty involved. I’ve always been fascinated by tiny computers, and lo and behold, the market has delivered a near-fully-functional tiny laptop for under $300! They’re not for everyone, but not everyone wants to pay $1,000+ for a word processor either.

    • Guest

      Oh, and the Sony P is not really a netbook. Sony doesn’t consider it one, and it’s really much too expensive to fit the classification anyway.

  • http://www.pioutsource.com PI Outsource

    You can get a 14″ laptop for $399. Full-Size, Full Power. Maybe 1.5 pounds heavier.

    I think Netbooks are for girls.

  • Mike McDonald

    I can see Graywolf’s point on battery power… but a couple extra hours of battery life, while cool, isn’t enough to get me hot for another gadget.

    I have been carrying a plain old Macbook for a couple of years now. With powersettings tweaked I can get a solid 3 or 4 hours out of it plus, it has enough ‘oomph’ to do pretty much anything.

    As far as form factor, the Macbook isn’t as small as the netbooks, no, but it’s hardly what I’d call ‘huge’ either.

    If the point of the netbook is, as SR suggests, replacing a laptop… I think a lot of people are going to run into some hardware capability barriers pretty quickly. These machines are much cheaper than laptops for a reason…

    Matt, lugging around my Macbook isn’t all that much tougher than lugging around a netbook, plus, if I write an article I can actually edit an image in adobe or something on the Mac to put up with the article.

    Tony, your argument makes a lot of sense. Some folks (I guess) just need word processing, email and the size and price point of the netbooks make sense in this case. My mother for example, might fit this description.

    The Sony P series we have here at the office isn’t a netbook per se because as we mentioned it’s neither cheap nor limited in power. That said, it can’t do everything my Macbook can and while the P series is definitely easier to carry around the screen just feel too teeny for me. As a guy that does have to write a fair amount while out and about, I would not want to have to rely on something that size to be my ‘laptop’.

    Michael McDonald
    Follow me on twitter.com/mmcdonald”>Twitter!
    Managing Editor
    iEntry, Inc.

  • http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    I’m a windows guy so most times my battery lasts 90 -120 minutes maybe 150 if I go into extreme mode. So the battery life is huge beneft. My netbook is only for travel or when I go someplace and don’t want to carry a big laptop. So it’s not a replacement it’s a lite laptop.

    They aren’t for everyone for sure, but for me it’s been a really really smart decision

  • Guest

    My 10-year old LAPTOP is running Windows98 on 128MB of RAM with a sub-1MHz processor and a 5GB hard drive, and I use it to do Photoshop, audio editing … whatever. If a netbook comes with anything more than those specs (which even the tiniest of them does), then it IS possible and even viable to consider using a netbook as a laptop substitute.

    When I went on vacation, last year, all I had with me was my Palm Tungsten, whose keyboard is arguably much easier to use than the virtual iPhone keyboard and most physical smart phone keyboards. As I checked our servers and repelled attackers, I found that a larger screen and better keyboard made a HUGE difference in how quickly I was able to work. The small keyboard was simply too time-consuming to type anything more than a URL on, and copy-and-pasting IP addresses and whatnot between applications was nowhere near as simple as doing the same thing on a larger device.

    Netbooks absolutely DO fill a need. Bigger than a cell phone is very important to anyone who is not satisfied with tweet-length text. And don’t even get me started on how much storage a handheld device has: 16GB < 160GB by a long shot, especially when a 16GB handheld is orders of magnitude more expensive than a 160GB netbook.

    This article strikes me as being more of a “look at me” bit of fluff, rather than any sort of serious attempt at journalism.

    • Mike McDonald

      I am pretty sure even the most stalwart proponents of netbooks would tell you pretty quickly that they are NOT intended or even really capable of being a ‘laptop replacement’. They are a tweener device. Do more than your phone maybe but less than your laptop.

      Michael McDonald
      Follow me on twitter.com/mmcdonald”>Twitter!
      Managing Editor
      iEntry, Inc.

      • Guest

        I agree with you that they are not a laptop or desktop replacement. My comment was simply that, when a power user like myself can use an antique laptop to get work done, the complaining about what a netbook canNOT do sounds whiny. Especially when even the lamest netbook far outpowers/outspecs my antique. Your article contained a lot of whining, although of a different sort than those 68% or so who misunderstood what a netbook consists of … sorry, but it’s true.

  • Abe

    Let me help you out here mike….

    No phone has the os abilities of a laptop. Try saving an mp3, rename it, then move it quickly…. It’s not going to happen.
    Save your photos from your memory card to your phone… Not going to happen.

    My mom and dad have basic cellphones. My dad is lost on computers. Mom just got a cheap laptop that I would consider a netbook. It does everything she needs and it’s cheap. That’s what netbooks are for, the older nontechy demographic. This age group will die off but then next books will just be the title of the cheap laptops to market them better. It’s working real well right now.

  • http://www.affiliationcash.com HarveyJ

    Netbooks are for people that want to do work wherever they are.
    Not system intensive work, like 3D rendering or video editing. Not people that want to game. Not people that want to watch a movie to while away the time, or listen to music and ignore people, or make phone calls, even though they can do most, if not all of these things.
    They’re for people that want to work, while on the go, on basic things like documents, spreadsheets, databases, programming, minor graphic design or audio post editing (the last two being tasks that formerly required beastly machines).

    Have you opened your laptop on a plane or a train?
    It doesn’t fit in your lap. It precariously balances on the armrest of the chair that’s supposedly wide enough to share, or the folding tray from the seat in front, and encroaches into the space of the person on one side of you. Both sides if it’s a large screen one.
    This pisses people off in a major way. I know when I travel I tell people in the rudest terms possible to put it away, or magically shrink it down. I have barely enough room as it is.
    Not encroaching on other people’s space is a basic courtesy that most self-obsessed people have forgotten… often while they’re twittering about the rude schmuck telling them they’re the rude schmuck for taking up so much room.

    Laptops are massively overpowered nowadays.
    They are basically portable desktop computers, with all the grunt to match. That’s great if you’re a gamer or a video editor, and totally unnecessary and over priced for the rest of us… Especially overpriced and unnecessary if it gets damaged or stolen, and you need something ASAP to continue working before the insurance pays out.

    If you want to twitter, and play poker on facebook, watch a movie, or play mindless games for a few hours…. great, here’s an iPhone! Some of us have crap we need to get done, and we’re polite enough not to take up your space to do it in.

    • Mike McDonald

      I dunno… my 13″ Macbook fits pretty readily in my lap. I’m not bothering anybody with it. It’s light, portable and has a LOT more storage, processing power and functionality.

      Michael McDonald
      Follow me on twitter.com/mmcdonald”>Twitter!
      Managing Editor
      iEntry, Inc.

    • Guest

      My netbook does everything my laptop does (I’m not a gamer), and since it is all solid state I can take it in the field to work without worrying about the hard disk damage. I can access the net for free whenever wifi is around (many places that have no cellphone service), make cheap calls anywhere on skype, do word processing, statistics, spreadsheets, etc. Even watch TV and movies on a reasonable size screen. I can carry it around like a paperback book, and its battery lasts for many hours (unlike my laptop). In short, why would anyone need a cellphone or regular laptop when they have a netbook?

  • http://fundupage.blogspot.com/ Guest

    In Asia, south America, and Eastern Europe its the cost factor with a note book costing at least 35% less its far more affordable and the pricing penetrates into a space where volumes suddenly surge, though the greatest demand will be in the sub 300 USD and closer to the 200 USD pricing space.

  • Guest

    Not everyone has a computer and this is their low-cost entry. Not everyone has an iPhone or one of the 20 Android phones coming out, and do not want one with their monthly charges. Not everyone wants to work on a screen as small as an iPhone or one of the 20 Android phones coming out, but would like a smaller form than a regular laptop.

  • http://ashtonhar.blogspot.com ashton

    1/ Try to carry an non netbook laptop around for your work, or if you are a traveller… And furthermore try to carry it in a backpack on your motorcycle for a big ride… Your back will heart, and it’s too bulk & heavy…
    2/ Ok one can surf with an iphone… But… How much does an iphone costs, and how much does 3g web surfing costs ?? Can i plug an iphone somewhere with NO wireless access point and get internet connection without 3g/gsm and its cost ? NO..
    3/ Netbooks are quite cheap. It’s more possible to get stolen of your iphone, or your big laptop…

    • Guest

      reminding me of an old friend’s favorite saying -my needs are pure and simple- i can crawl under the covers and i’m in wifi heaven. everything ashton said and creature comfort too.

  • Guest

    I work full time “in” Internet, I own 3 desktops (the latest a icore 7 with 6Gb of RAM), a smallish laptop/”tabletop” with an Athlon64 x2, a WindowsMobile Samsung Omnia with 8Gb and finally a EeePC 901. Guess what I get with me for holidays, or to presentations, or to conferences or to anywhere I get… my cute EeePC.

    Why? Very simple:
    1- 30 seconds boot time to start working
    2- 7 hours working time (battery life)
    3- very light to carry around
    4- very easy to type on (although some people complain about keyboard size for me is perfect)
    5- big enough screen to do work and navigate internet

    My “tabletop” does not meet points 1, 2 and 3. My WindowsMobile does not meet points 4 and 5.

    I’m surprised that you do not get it, many people get it and they are right.

  • http://www.winzero.ca Akos Sandor

    Dude. As you stated why lug all those devices around. DON’T.

    One netbook, with bluetooth headphone enabled, Skype installed, an app like GOTOMYPC and mobile internet connection and you have it all…

    Internet access, phone, computer without the cell phone charges, hotspot charges etc. and the bonus you can work on any computer from anywhere…sweet.

  • Gemini

    The main draw for most people who buy netbooks is that they do what they are supposed to do – and nothing more. I have both the smartphone (Blackberry) and the highpriced laptop and they each serve a purpose. My laptop replaces a desktop for me, and I do all my design work on it, use it for personal things as well, and my smartphone I use if I want to reply to a quick email, or make calls.

    My netbook, however, does save me quite a bit in time and space. I can slip it into the side pocket of my normal bag, no need for a huge laptop bag with all of the bulky components. I can edit spreadsheets directly on Google Docs, type lengthy emails much easier than I can on my BB, and with my flash drive, I still have access to all the images, forms and everything else I need to show and print for clients. Plus, it was cheap. Very cheap.

    As for the gentleman who thinks that “netbooks are for girls” well, I am a woman, so close enough. Besides, I don’t see the point in paying $399 instead of $199 for features I just simply don’t need on the go. Pointless if you ask me…

  • Tinomun


    From a Business Micro Economics perspective the market place is voting. The overwhelming market acceptance results dictate a power vs. need acceptance point. Even in the wake of Moors’ law there is a point were the consumer reaches a point of “diminishing returns” with respect to more power, more storage, etc. I agree however from a pure Techie perspective this makes little sense.

  • Terry

    I need the ability to access our business network via VPN 24/7/365. My new netbook let’s me do that inexpensively. The basic unit was $225. A nine-hour battery was another $75 and it required an upgrade to XP Pro. Now, I have a small, light device that can do all the normal web functions that an iPhone can do, but I can also connect via VPN with the office, use RDP to connect to the many servers I am responsible for administering and not have to carry my old laptop that required a really large bag to carry.

    If stolen, the device is protected by an elaborate password and I would be out less than $400. My old laptop was over $3000 new and was a constant worry.

    So, my reasons are low-cost, easy portability, reasonable size for work and the ability to perform the tasks I needed to perform. You can probably argue with each of these, but the bottom line is that there are many, many people in this world, each has their own needs and likes. The netbooks may not fit your lifestyle or work environment, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. To each his own.

  • Bob

    Did you wake up with nothing to write about so you decided that you would write a piece about not understanding netbooks? You should have handed your space off to someone with something to say. Better yet, something worth reading. I am not going to re-hash all of the very good examples of why someone might want a netbook. You try to work on an Excel presentation on an airplane with your iPhone. See how everything looks then.

    • http://www.serendipitycollections.com Jan

      Great comment! I couldn’t agree more!

  • Robert

    As a sysadmin I am always “on call” even on vacations etc. There is a LOT that I cannot do remotely or with any efficiency using an iPhone, BB, or any similar handheld based device.

    A netbook is a great way for me to be capable of handling whatever might arise sans lugging around a full size laptop.

    I’m fairly confident that there are enough folks in other “high availability” vocations that could benefit from the same small size with full functionality that a netbook provides.


  • George Norman

    I have a hard time working on a laptop keyboard with my extra large hands, and when I buy a cell phone, I look for the most basic phone with the largest keypad available. I am a Philistine; no camera, no texting, no surfing, no mp3 player, just phone. Don’t get me wrong; I love technology–that’s why my desk is adorned with an up to date Mac Pro with all the latest software. It is just that when I am away from my desk (such as when walking to the bank with a cheque), I try to use my brain for thinking and planning rather than twittering–because as much as I love technology, I love walking to the bank with a cheque even more.

  • John Admin

    As a person that flies 4 out of 5 days, my netbook is esential to my business, I can type word documents and work on excel files on my netbook. Thank God I don’t have to do this on my Touch Pro. I can watch movies on my netbook while flying at 9″ not 4″ on my phone.

    Hell if I had an Iphone the battery would be dead by the time I arrived.

    So word to this writer. You stick to your iphone or whatever you use and try to be productive and I’ll just blow right past you.

    P.S. written using my netbook and not my Touch Pro

  • Guest

    lots of words for nothing worth reading. Go ahead use your phone that sucks so much but don’t bother us with your personal opinions of gadgets you personally have no use for. Ever thought about other people then you who do not like writing emails on a 2 inch touch screen or a mini sized keyboard or maybe need to open up e.g. Excel sheets and work with them on the go?

  • Guest

    1) Its a back up to my regular laptop, in case it dies, and I can carry both in the same computer bag.
    2) 1 netbook is less cost than 4 months of digital service on my phone that I don’t need – a phone is for talking on, not texting and surfing the net.
    3) I can actually do work on a plane while travelling with a netbook, which I can’t do with a regular laptop, nor with a phone that is supposed to be turned off.
    3.5) The phone won’t run my word processor, my proprietary software, etc, so it CANNOT function as a backup computer in case the lap top dies.
    4) Don’t need additional “services” for the netbook, just connect through the same ISP, etc.
    5) The netbook can run my slide shows at a vendor table while I am in the conference room with the laptop
    6) The netbook runs XP, not VISTA, which is more compatible with most of my software.
    7) The netbook is less of a “tweener” than your i-phone, or someone elses Blackberry …. and isn’t locked in to proprietary software.

  • Doug

    I don’t know why you’re so oblivious to the necessity of a netbook when it’s pretty obvious to millions of other people. I don’t own a netbook but at some point I may purchase one because I can see how useful it would be.

    You trumpet all the great things you can do with your cell phone like surfing the web and Twittering but the fact is cell phones and smart phones have a lot of shortcomings.

    * The screen is tiny. Are you telling me you wouldn’t like to web surf with a larger screen?
    * The keyboard is tiny. You can’t type as fast on a cell keyboard as you could with the average netbook. For some of us that’s pretty important.

    Netbooks have advantages over laptops.

    * Lighter weight – maybe 2 lbs compared to 5-6 lbs.
    * Smaller size – a netbook can fit into smaller spaces like a briefcase where you can’t put a laptop.
    * Full size keyboard allows most of the functions and ease of use that a laptop keyboard would offer.

    The average computer user uses a computer for the things a netbook was designed to do – email, chatting, and websurfing. Most users don’t need all the high powered applications you can run on a laptop. If they need them then they’ll buy a laptop.

    The netbook’s advantages to the average user over a smart phone are obvious even if they aren’t obvious to you.

  • Howard

    If your Sony is sitting there collecting dust, why not send it to me!
    I promise I’ll use it to write you a review.

  • grobin

    I doubt if anything could convince you to like a NetBook since you are so in love with cell phones. Obviously many of us aren’t.

    And my NetBook – Asus 8.9 inch screen beats a cell phone to hell and gone for Multimedia, eBooks, surfing the web, and remote desktop protocol specialized work.

    Generally an eBook is for entertainment. If you want to do a lot of serious work get a laptop or desktop. If you want to be connected (albeit with a teeny weeny screen) all the time and don’t want to carry much – get a cell phone. If you want a great multimedia and internet machine that runs a LONG time on a battery and has a decent screen AND costs less – get a Netbook.

    I don’t need a laptop, don’t want a cell phone, and I only use my Pocket PC for reading in bed. I do serious work on my Desktop. I do all else on my eeePC Netbook running WinXP and Lunux in a dual boot config.

    the right tool for the right job!

  • http://www.headwrap.us John

    Hey Mike,

    I can see where you’re coming from and there are no wrong answers. Here’s some of my own decision factors when I bought a Notebook.

    First though, I am a professional webmaster, and I run my business online, every last bit of it. I travel alot. Some of it is business, some of it is personal, but all of it requires that I be able to check in online daily, play the occasional movie, and get some work done when I do not have wifi access.

    So here are my pro-notebook decisions:

    Phone VS Notebook: I thought seriously about a web phone. I don’t want to receive a monthy bill for service (I have 4 lines coming into my office, which is plenty), I need to be able to see what I am working on to a smaller scale that you can get on a phone’s screen (such as making changes on a website’s content), and I already make telephone calls through my computer.

    Laptop Vs My Present Laptop: My existing laptop is a clunky monster, and requires its own separate bag for it + peripherals. I can just chuck my notebook between my trousers in my regular luggage. The laptop is heavy, carrying it for 3 hours straight even with a strap hurts. The notebook has a battery life of 5 to 9 hours, vs an hour-ish for the laptop, especially if you want to view a DVD. The Notebook does NOT have a cd or a dvd player… but I can transfer a dvd onto a flash drive (or anything else) and watch movies anyway. Also, people steal Laptops, not so much so Notebooks.

    Notebook Vs Newer & Smaller Laptop: Prices were around twice of one for the other when I purchased mine. The Notebook was not that much less memory and power than a low-end, smaller Laptop. Mine is an Acer EeePC, runs Vista at 160 GHZ with 2 GB RAM and a hard drive of 142 GB. I have several dvd/movies on there right now for an upcoming trip, Dreamweaver/Flash, several full websites (including rough images and PNGs) and plenty of room to spare. And 5 to 9 hours to actullay use them.

    General and other: Traveling is alot less of a hasle, I get to be entertainmed a little, I don’t worry as much about theft, I can make customer service calls by phone/wifi and I get my work done, either directly on the Notebook or through PC From Home (Citrix).

    Great article!

  • http://www.dbs-webdesigns.com cfrazee

    With the right netbook you can get things done at home, in the office and on the road.

    The netbook I use is great on the road, in the air, and in the office. Light weight and with a screen that is small but not to small it is great for a one on one presentation on the road. At the office with an external mouse/keyboard/monitor it has sufficiently power for daily computing.

    The big market for this piece of hardware is baby boomers who travel and the road warrior.

    • Guest

      No argument here.
      I travel a lot. Business, personal and humanitarian. I use my phone to talk or text. It has all the capability including a qwerty keyboard but I don’t bother with a data plan. In my industry I am considered a professional; if I am going to respond to an email etc. I want to be able to use spell check, wordsmyth, translation software etc.
      Over the years my laptops have been getting continually smaller. The smallest being an IBM X62. Since I purchased a netbook a little over a year ago I haven’t even opened the X62.
      If you sit at a desk all day and view the global village on a monitor; it might seem that netbook are impractical.
      If you actually live in the global village; netbooks are great for communicating professionally with those that don’t.

  • http://mycreativityblog.com Terry Holliday

    Wow! You really got some people stirred up. I guess I have no right to comment because I don’t have a phone with internet capabilities. But, I do have a laptop that I travel with and I stay connected that way. It would be nice to have something smaller to carry, but I am not going to buy one. It seems that there is always going to be a new gadget out there so people will spend more money. I guess I am a little old-fashioned. I can see that people in the corporate world might need something like a notebook when they are traveling all the time.

  • http://www.thewritestuff.be Michael

    Coming from a writer, I’m surprised. The real question for me is why in God’s name should I pay

  • BriggsGuy

    I have a new phone with a camera.
    My wife has an iphone.

    She loves her phone she can access anything almost anywhere.
    I hate my phone. People can find me almost anywhere.

    I don’t need to be productive every where all the time.
    I need some time away from work and any electronic technology.

    Call me old fashion or just call me rested. Now how the hell do I work the radio in my car any?

  • James P

    I assume you didn’t type that article on a phone? Presumably your employer provides you with a nice shiny PC for the purpose? Or did you do it on a big, hot, lumpy laptop full of spinning discs and fans? How 20th century…

  • http://www.vafta.com Asif N

    Okay, so I agree with all of your comments, but I’m not enitrely sure they are totally pointless.

    Yes, I could use my laptop for the same thing, but a laptop is great for carrying around the office or the house and I don’t want to lug it around in a city like London, where you’ve got to travel in excessively overcrowded trains.

    So, so sum it up:

    – Easier for presentations and software demos – can’t do them on my phone
    – Remote Desktop Access – Can’t do that on my phone either (well, I can if I want to get spectacles within the next 30 days)
    – I can type up documents and respond to tenders or proposals on the go. As great as it is to office MS office type software on your phone, it’s just really hard to type up 30 page documents that need certain types of formatting.
    – It’s light! I have a powerful notebook that weighs quite a bit and I’m hesitant about lugging it around with me; why risk losing data when you can avoid it for

  • Tim

    He wanted respond, rating, comments…


  • http://itsmepaul-lifechallenge.blogspot.com/ Paul Edwards

    The reason why Netbooks have taken off is simple…





  • Guest

    Having an iPhone that never gets used for calls, my other regular cell phone does that, I long for more full functionality. I love my iPhone and it’s portability…but would sacrifice a little size and weight for the more standard functions. I would like the ability to just keep doing what I was doing at home or office on a real keyboard. Printing when I want, hooking up an external mouse, playing a DVD/CD etc etc. But size and weight are important because you don’t want to expose to ‘purse grabbers’ that you’re carrying it with you. Then again I don’t want a bee-bee sized trackball either.

  • http://www.custompcblog.com/ Paul

    So good I couldn

  • http://www.moonlightsales.com MoonlightSales

    Hey Mike…

    The original premise is to get even more folks connected to the internet at entry level. What’s the enticement over these notebooks? Price! More of the ploy is to increase sales… which is no doubt the primary reason. Gotta cash in on the almighty local currency. (I would have said dollar… but it’s pretty weak right now.)

    Although this isn’t the best choice for most seasoned computer users, like ourselves, as we are more inclined to use heavier software apps… with all the bells and whistles that would eat up the memory and hard drive space of these very limited and basic units, they are, however, perfect and more suitable for children, bloggers, shoppers and beginners alike. Not to mention those gotta have it… it’s the current fad folks.

    We tend to take advantage of what we are already use to… but remember, we are in the post-beginning stages of the internet and techno-electronic age. Many folks who grew up seeing the invent of Telegraph, Automobile, Amberol Records, Victrolas, Silver Screen, Portable Power Tools, Black & White Television, Crank Phones, Microwave Ovens, Beta & VHS Recorders, and Apple IIe’s, have yet to experience many of our creature comforts of today.

    It just warms my heart seeing 80+ year old women, walking throughout the mall, talking on their cell phones for the first time.

    So folks, let’s be a little more sensitive & supportive and dig deep in those economically hard hit wallets, because these deprived youngster, elders and technologically deprived folks all around the world need your help to get connected to world wide web. They deserve the opportunity to surf and shop, just like you.

    Oh… and here is a little extra on conspiracy theory… we’re watching and tracking you through your e-crap.

    • http://www.kiss-honeymoon-and-wedding-ideas.com/ Susanna from K.i.s.s Wedding Ideas

      I think the netbook is relevant for a couple of reasons.

      1. If you have a family and can’t afford 2 or 3 laptops/desktops it’s a great “Extra”. It’s not like it’s fun surfing the web or doing research for a project on an iphone! And, with google docs, it’s not like people need a destop application to do their projects anymore.

      2. If you have a tv with computer hookup, you can leave the netbook attached to the tv so that you don’t have to wait for the kids/wife/husband to finish what they’re doing so that you can download a movie and watch it on the tv. You can’t do this with an i phone.

      3. It’s great for older people with poor vision who can’t afford a desktop or laptop and just want to surf the web anyways. Seriously…my parents have this crazy expensive laptop….why? They never ever do anything other than search the web.

      4. It’s great for people with little patience for iphone web surfing. Seriously, it’s annoying and takes forever to do anything on an iphone. I only use it for desprate surfing or if I’m really really bored and need to check gmail.

      It’s an affordable “extra” computer, even though at first it seems a little silly.

    • Big Dog

      That’s so funny! But you’re right… there is an untapped open market which in now targeting newbie computer users.

      If they didn’t buy a computer at $500 – $1000, maybe they might jump on a $150 – $300 netbook.

      There’s a gold mine to be harvested with newbies and vanity.

  • casey c

    I live in Eastern Oregon where we do not even have cell service. A lot of rural America does not have cell service to have iphones and such.

    I happen to have DSL, but other towns in the area are still on dial-up. I have a friend that does not want a computer but needs to be connected to the internet as so many businesses are asking to e-bill their clients.

    I am going to suggest to her that she get one of these netbooks because they are inexpensive and will deliver just what she needs.

  • http://www.luxedesignnyc.com Guest

    beware, someone stole my netbook recently; make sure that you have tracking of some type on your netbook because some people have NO clue how cheap these things are still!

  • http://myCardStories.com Debbie

    Obviously, you’ve gotten the answer about why people like Netbooks. I have one for a lot of the same reasons already recounted over and over.

    However, for me, even with all of those reasons, I didn’t really NEED it. I could make due with my laptop.

    The real reason I got a Netbook was for my daughter. She’s a first grader with special needs. Among other things, she has great difficulty writing, to the point that she can’t really express herself in handwriting because so much effort goes into letter formation that there’s not much bandwidth left over for expression. The typical solution is an AlphaSmart, which gives you two lines of tiny text at a time. Since she also has visual issues, the AlphaSmart won’t work for her.

    A Netbook seems like the perfect solution: It’s light enough for her to carry around (she weighs less than 50lbs; 2lb v 5 lb is a big difference to her!); the screen is big enough for her to see using a large font; the keyboard is small for her small hands; the battery life is long enough to last all day at school; it’s inexpensive enough for this purpose.

    So, there you have it – probably the one reason you haven’t heard yet in these comments!

    By the way, what a great advertisement for Netbooks your article was (including the comments)! :)

  • http://KirkhamsEbooks.com Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

    Simple, portability. As a writer and programmer I need a full size keyboard and an OM with which I can test software. The wife is working out at the YWCA and I’m in the courtyard getting work done not having to wait till I get home


  • http://aboutfacts.net Ken – Webmaster About Facts Net

    In my case portability and being able to meet certain criteria of use were the important factors. I have a lot to carry and my MSI U123 fits the bill. What many reviewers don’t understand is that most people only need a machine that will allow them Internet use and basic office features. With the Netbook, all this is present with a fairly large screen and keyboard. It is the perfect addition for allowing working while on the road, without carrying a massive notebook. Mine has a bonus, the battery is a 6 cell job that allows me about 5 hours on a charge. Movies also play great on it as does streaming video.

    Hey what is not to like unless you are a power user? This is the perfect portable for the average person.

  • http://www.zizinya.com Shareef Defrawi

    I agree with Mike for a few reasons. If you’ve ever tried to open a sizeable Photoshop file on a netbook, you would understand why they aren’t very convenient. There’s not enough real estate on the screen to be even reasonably productive, not to mention the lack of processing capabilities needed to perform even the simplest tasks. And good luck running Dreamweaver, Illustrator or inDesign at the same time! Granted, there are many people for whom a netbook may be convenient, as evidenced by the tyrades above. I, however, am not one of them.

    • Eric G

      I have a 2 year old HP laptop. My netbook that I paid $200 for has more memory, twice the hard drive, a web cam, and every feature the HP did. NO, it was not designed for you to do Graphic Publishing on… GET REAL! But it is a decent running PC with plenty of power for what business people need. It is lighter and since smaller it actually is more sturdy than a laptop.. If you need glasses, buy a real laptop. My vision is fine and this thing ROCKS! We use these to run our DJ programs and they work great for that! I was paying $100 to reload windows and do maintenance on laptops.. Now I get a new one for $200… Your summary said it.. you just don’t get it.. My phone is a phone.. This netbook does everything else. Try running Photoshop or Dreamweaver on your $500 phone. That won’t work either and it will cost you twice as much!

  • N Thomas

    It’s clear that this author has already made up his mind about netbooks before he even began writing the article. That in itself, it not negative — it is the actual reason for writing the article. There is a sense of anger towards netbooks in this article that is never fully expressed, and I’m curious what has brought about this pre-determined hatred.

    Netbooks are far more important that just setting your twitter status, or checking your e-mail..and for those of us who type more than 5 words per minute using a larger scale qwerty keyboard, the cramped style and forced hunt and peck typing that phones mandate is not attractive at all, never mind the fact that to purchase an iphone for full functionality requires changing mobile carriers, and add the fact that android phones don’t easily sync with outlook contacts and calendars, you have plenty of reasons to purchase and use a netbook than squinting at your tiny phone screen and scrolling back and forth simply trying to read a full sentence.

    I do a lot of traveling, and I do a lot of web programming. I have no desire to carry about a heavy laptop with full optical drive, when I can take my netbook and power supply totaling 2lbs, throw it in my carry-on bag and go. Conversely, try writing anything on a mobile phone for more than 2 minutes and claustrophobia begins to set in.

    I am not opposed to advanced mobile technology, and I am not opposed to full-scale desktop replacement laptop, but the netbooks fill a more realistic place in getting actual work done on short trips in the minimal amount of space. 8.9″ is too small for a netbook screen, but 10″ is quite respectable. As with any device, there is a trade-off and you must weigh the pros and cons before determining if a certain mobile device fits your needs.

  • Guest

    I use mine for a portable typewriter and occasionally for all those things I could do with a smart phone if I had one.

  • http://www.SearchGAMLS.org Guest

    Netbooks may be a good thing depending on the cost. I dont have a iphone and I don’t want one. I don’t want the extra monthly bill and don’t want an iphone attached to my hip. I like leaving my email at work, but sometimes instead of carrying my expensive laptop around town or on vacation a Netbook might work real well, depending on the price. Let’s say I go to a hotel and leave my netbook in the hotel room and someone steals it – I’d much rather have someone steal my netbook than my laptop. Laptop is very expensive and very important information stored on it. I’m going on vacation in 2 weeks, I wonder how much a netbook will cost and if it will meet my needs – my needs will be simple, probably just need to check my email, do some twittering, maybe some blog posts, surf web, and I’m covered. Netbook sounds really good to me.

  • jc

    I purchased a netbook because I write.
    My screenplay software runs well on my netbook.
    My netbook + cellular card lets me write on the go from pretty much anywhere, and if i need to get away and drive somewhere for inspiration I can do so without luggage and without worrying where the nearest wall outlet is.

    There’s plenty of room for improvement, but it is definately the tool for the job until laptops get smaller, thinner, lighter, more battery life, and a reasonable price. I need a “grab and go on a moments notice” machine.

    I can certainly see where it might not be clear why people would want one. I’d think that most people probably wouldn’t want one.

    I’ve almost stopped using my laptop since I got mine and carry my netbook almost everywhere.

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