Beware of the "premium" netbook cash grab

Beware of the "premium" netbook cash grab

Summary: Netbooks are hot, but the problem for OEMs is that the profits margins from these devices are razor thin. Enter the "premium" netbooks.

TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware

Netbooks are hot, but the problem for OEMs is that the profits margins from these devices are razor thin. Enter the "premium" netbooks.

N310Given that netbooks are the fastest growing PC market segment today I've been waiting for OEMs to start using chic designs and stylish colors to pad out profit margins. Here's an example of such a premium netbook - the Samsung NC310.

Here's the tech spec on the N310:

  • Processor: Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.60GHz, 533MHz, 512KB)
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home with SP3
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Display: 10.1 “WSVGA (1024 x 600) Super Bright glossy, LED Backlight
  • HDD: 160GB (SATA 5400 RPM)
  • Network: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
  • HSDPA/WiMAX/WiBro; 10/100 Ethernet
  • GPU: Intel GMA 950
  • Battery life: Up to 11.5 hours (6-cell); up to 5 hours (4-cell)
  • 3-in-1-card reader
  • 1.3-megapixel camera
  • 3 USB ports
  • VGA port
  • Integrated mic, microphone input and headphone jack
  • Antibacterial Keyboard with SilverNano Technology
  • Weight: 1.23 kg
  • Dimensions: 262 x 184.5 x 28.0 mm

N310Pricing of the N310 are a bit sketchy at present but it seems that rounded edges, edge-to-edge display, tweaked keyboard and a style injection could bump the price of what is essentially an NC10 netbook (which retails for $428 on by around $150 to somewhere in the region of $580. 

I think that it's only logical that OEMs add "premium" netbooks to their range, but it's also important for the buyer to realize that style is only skin deep.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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  • 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM, and 160GB hard drive... Meh!

    I got that for $300...
    Grayson Peddie
    • Yes, but

      for an extra $200, you can get cool rounded edges and a red shell! ;)
    • For example, my Advent 4211

      They will lose the plot, again!

      Netbooks are not premium, they should be functionality exemplified.

      They need to remain task-focused, whichin the real world is browsing, email and minor games, but above all else - portability and usability.

      In teh real world it doesn't matter whether they are running Linux or XP, hacked OSX or whatever, because it is really about connectivity and lightweight/small footrint.

      At the prices you quote here you may as well buy a laptop with 14 inches of screen, because a "premium" netbook IS a laptop.

      If the manufacturers really want to improve margin they need to look at reducing the software load cost (I know, points towards Linux)
    • exactly! ASUS 1000HE eee pc

      Samsung sounds like a Johnny-come-lately netbook. They are just spinning their wheels and charging way too much for something that is already out there.
      I almost went for the Acer Aspire One, but it had no more features than the ASUS 1000HE. The tie-breaker was the reviews about upgrading. ASUS built a netbook that actually encouraged upgrades, i.e. simple panel removal to access what you need, and no warranty-voiding seals or labels over screw holes. It is as-if ASUS wants their customers to ENJOY their netbook!! You know, that is certainly a marketing concept that hasn't been tried yet by the other computer manufacturers. LOL.
  • RE: Beware of the

    A premium Netbook or a entry level notebook? This line is starting to only be defined by the Atom and a smaller keyboard.
  • Charging for style

    A couple of years ago, perhaps getting a premium for 'style' might have been possible, but, like Dell's new "premium" line, I fear this is a dumb idea.
    The one thing that does catch my eye is good battery life, but....
  • Kinda like a Toyota with cardboard velour ....

    and extra tarpaper insulation and metalflake paint for $60,000 = Lexus
    • wait a minute

      I guess you wanted to say Volkswagen - Golf, Rabbit, Audi A3, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia ARE the same cars with different bodies, but the mechanics are EXACTLY the same.

      In this sense, Lexuses don't have direct Toyota relatives. Nissan/Infiniti did that as European Nissans were actually Infinitis in North American and European Honda Accord sells as Accura in NA.
      • The funny thing about Lexus is...

        ...their advertising is very Apple like. I remember an add for the RX330 that showed the "German" automakers very worried. What floored me was that the "tough" RX330 SUV has a [i]lower maximum carrying capacity[/i] than the Volkswagen New Beetle according to Transport Canada. In a nutshell, this large Lexus SUV can carry less passengers and cargo than a 2 door compact car.

        The main reason Volkswagen uses the same platform on many of their cars is that they have been engineered to be safe and they have gotten it right. Germans have been practicing forensic accident analysis since the 1960s, and the knowledge gained is passed on to the national automobile manufacturers. This makes German cars among the safest to be in an accident.

        A friend of mine was in a serious accident driving a "loaner" Jetta (his car was in the paint shop) when a truck failed to stop at a light and broadsided him at 60MPH. He walked away with only seat belt bruises and scratches from the flying glass. The ambulance crew told him that based on their experience, had he not been in a Volkswagen he probably wouldn't have survived, even in a newer car with airbags. He just recently bought a Rabbit GTI.
  • Why Not?

    Apple has been charging premiums for form-over-function systems for years.
  • huh?

    Why do people bring Apple into non relative conversations? Troll.

    I understand companies wanting to make a more profitable netbook, problem is when they start charging over $500 I'm better off sacrificing the size and just getting a 14" with more performance.

    I can't believe manufactures can't keep a good margin though as long as Moore's law is still in effect these things should be cheap because they are using older slower technology. Yes the Atom is a new processor, but it's really on par with a pentium running in a smaller package so I wouldn't consider it new, 533mhz bus, no disc drive, really there's not much to netbooks. And with general purpose computing most low end copmputers can serve peoples needs.

    Until software catches up with harware, PC companies aren't going to make good profit margins, or else they will over charge for technology to try make those margins and people will just buy used or keep their old pc's. So it's really just a bad time to be an PC manufacturer.
  • Here's an additional wrinkle in price/performance...

    Best Buy is selling Acer Aspire 4730Z notebooks (dual core Pentium 2.1GZ, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD, 12" x 7.5"--14" diagonal screen, wireless b/g/n, wired E'net) for $399 preloaded with Vista Home Premium. This may be a closeout price. But compare these specs and price to a netbook. It's heavier than a netbook, with shorter battery life, and a little larger than, say, a Dell Inspirion Mini 12--but heck, it's a real computer and a fairly muscular one at that.

    I flushed Vista, loaded Ubuntu 8.10, works great. There's even a feature on the touchpad that panned the desktop--so perhaps this box was originally built to be preloaded with Ubuntu. Vista, during the few milliseconds I ran it, didn't seem to support this touchpad feature.

    Ultimately I loaded OpenSuSE 11.0. Getting the wireless to work would have been easier if I had not been installing a new, unfamiliar, wireless router at the same time (confusion about 64- vs 128-bit WEP keys).

    This box is an unbelievable price/performer and getting two different Linux distros to run on it was no big deal at all.
  • still waiting for better netbooks

    im staying put for nvidia ion coupled with the new atom@2ghz. that way at least you can play decent movies and even some older games, like wow on medium details. 6cell battery and im sold.

    right now, all i see is this intel gma crap and the cheapest atoms. imo they are not a great buy, regardless the price.
    • Hell if you want that

      Buy a notebook. You know what netbooks are for right? They are not for everything. Im typing this on an EEE PC 900. While I have issues with the slow SSD, its a fine machine for Web Surfing, Email, anything net related. Not WoW.
      • WoW on a netbook

        To get better WoW performance on a netbook:

        Go to and download the latest chipset drivers.. They support shader model 3 and my friends tell me it's liveable and if you don't believe me go to youtube and check out the videos..
  • skin deep is important for some

    I have no problem with charging more for style, if people want it, it will sell.

    Netbooks are selling from $300 to $900 (sony) already, so I'm sure we'll see lots of netbooks ranging in between.
  • samsung photo


    Do you have the original source for the samsung
    promotional photo?

  • netbooks are low margin machines

    not surprised they'll figure out how to get a little profit from them.
  • Our shop expanded it's netbook line.

    I had a day off last week only to come back in to a new netbook display that included a $899.99 Sony netbook! We all had a good laugh at Sony's expense. Sure it has mobile broadband and a built in GPS but the 8" wide screen is horrible to read and the lid hindge feels like it can barely hold itself up. I imagine with a little use it won't stay where you want it.To top it all off it runs Vista hence the 2GB RAM installed! <br><br> To make it really stand out as over priced it is surrounded by other brands of netbooks ranging from $299.99 - $499.99.

    My netbook (Acer AspireOne) is currently selling for $299.99 with the same memory, same hard drive, much easier to read screen, & larger keyboard. For $80 - $100 I can get a GPS adapter and mapping. If I want mobile broadband (G3 etc..) I can get a free adapter if I sign up for a 2 year contract and <b>I</b> get to choose the provider not Sony. The final laugh we got is when we found that Sony included <b>Windows One Care Live!"</b> hahaha the worse A/V on the market and they put it in their premium netbook what a joke!
  • Total Cash grab

    With prices creeping into laptop-range, I think people are starting to expect laptop performance that happens to come in a small form factor.

    Instead, so far, we have the so-so Atom processor with it's absolutely PATHETIC chipset graphics capabilities for any resolution beyond 800x600.

    How hard is it to design a GPU that can provide basic video on battery, but also have an enhanced cooling system and higher clock rate when plugged into AC power?