Almost since the start of the PC industry's "race to the bottom" with netbooks, computer makers have been attempting to reverse course, or at least slow the pace.HP tried painting peonies on the Mini 1000 and charging $700 for it (you can now find the Vivienne Tam Edition for less than $500).
Laptops & Desktops
John Morris and Sean Portnoy deliver straight talk about notebook and desktop computers.
Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.
<p>John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are disclaimed.</p>
There are two ways to address the limitations of netbooks: 1.) offer less-costly notebooks, or 2.
Laptops have long since overtaken their desk-bound brethren in terms of revenues, and more recently unit sales. In the first quarter, desktop unit sales dropped 23 percent, while notebook sales actually increased 10 percent compared with the same period last year, according to iSuppli.
Market researcher NPD says that consumers are confused about the difference between a netbook and a notebook. It's no wonder.
Everyone knows that PCs get faster and cheaper every year. For a while the shift to laptops seemed to slow things down a bit, but those days are over.
The tech industry is always looking for the next big thing: Bing is gaining on Google, the Palm Pre will dethrone the iPhone, and so on. One of the latest "next big things" is the duo of ARM and Android which, if you buy the hype, will wrest the PC industry from Wintel's grip.
Despite all of the hype about ARM-based smartbook and Android netbooks, you had to look pretty hard to find them at Computex 2009 in Taiwan this week. Ultra-thin laptops based on Intel's new ULV processors, however, were all over the show floor.
AMD has many challenges, but lately its ATI graphics business has been on a roll. Now the company is trying to capitalize on the momentum.
Intel announced its latest ultra low-voltage (ULV) processors at the start of the Computex trade show in Taiwan this week. The announcement was no surprise: Intel and computer makers have been talking about the chips (previously known as CULV for "consumer") for months, and in April MSI even announced a laptop, the X-Slim series X340, supposedly based on one of the new ULV chips.
Intel thinks business may be starting to pick up, but computer makers aren't as optimistic. Sales are slow in all categories and even Intel now concedes that one bright spot, netbooks, is cutting into sales of higher-priced laptops to some degree.
The battle over the role of netbooks appears to be escalating. Computer makers, aided by Nvidia, are broadening the features and performance of netbooks--adding larger displays and more-capable graphics.
No one claims that netbooks can match the performance of laptops that cost hundreds or even thousands more. The real question is whether the performance of a netbook is good enough.
There is no denying the popularity of netbooks, but there's still much debate about who's buying them and for what purpose. Netbooks were conceived for emerging markets--along the lines of the OLPC's XO laptop and Intel's Classmate PC--but they turned out to be more popular in developed countries.
When Asus announced the first netbook back in June 2007, the company said it would sell for $199. That turned out to be too optimistic, but two years later prices are really starting to drop.
There are plenty of laptops that cost well under $1,000. And there are lots of ultraportables and thin-and-lights for frequent fliers.
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