Where's Netbook's niche?

Where's Netbook's niche?

Summary: ZDNet correspondent Sumi Das talks with Editor in Chief Larry Dignan about Netbooks, the "mini-me" of laptops. Dignan discusses the gadget's intended use vs. the everyday reality and how Netbook sales are shaping up this gloomy shopping season.


Topics: Hardware, Enterprise Software, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Re the netbook video

    I bought a netbook for the portability. You do more than a smart phone, and better to carry than a laptop. I'd buy the next generation when it has discreet video processor strong enough for games. I tweaked my Asus EEEPC 1000H and it performs quite well enough just about everything with what a normal laptop can do. Better power consumption too, giving me up to 5 hours.

    Janeil Arlegui
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    I have a Sony laptop with a huge display. I like it,
    but it is heavy and BIG. I take it ONLY when I need
    to run Windows based software.

    I work at an airport that has free wifi, but our
    company computers are so locked down, there are no web
    sites I can get to, even ones that would benefit my

    I bought the Acer Aspire with the solid state drive
    and Linux OS just to have a computer to get to the
    web, do email and IM, and the odd document here and
    there. It is the perfect solution for me.

    The smart phones are nice, but the type is too small
    for me to view easily. I get way to much email to
    ever want it to be sent to a phone type device where I
    pay by the byte.

    So, I have a Razr for my phone, and my Netbook for
    everything else. Perfect!
    • Netbooks are fine, IF

      You are only going to be doing light tasks: downloading off the internet, surfing the internet, light watching of videos, etc.

      If you are doing any hard-core photo editing or game playing..... get a better PC. Gateway has one that met all my expectations and THEN SOME, that only costs 1300 dollars.
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    I've been using the Asus 701 for about 6 months. The two things it does for me is boot up really fast and travel light.

    My Windows laptops take FOREVER to boot up. If I want a quick look at my email, the Asus is the one I use.

    If I want to use a laptop at one of those tiny coffee house or Barnes & Noble tables, Asus is my choice.

    The 800 pixel width screen should be OK for most websites, but isn't. A slightly wider screen would be better.

    I don't touch type, so the keyboard is no more of a problem to me than any keyboard. I did buy a foldup keyboard for my wife to use since she does touch type.

    In general, I'm moderately pleased.

    -- Barts
    • Forever to boot up?

      I've got Windows PC's, and they take less than a minute to boot up to Windows, to the point where I can start doing the things I wish to do.
      If your Windows laptops are taking longer than.... 3 minutes to boot up..... run a Disk Defragmenter like PerfectDisk. It will put EVERYTHING necessary for bootup (if you haven't cleared your pre-fetch logs) in the front of the drive, so it will boot up much faster.
      • 3 minutes s what out I mean

        I should have mentioned that my Asus has Linux installed. We're talking about 30 seconds vs. 3 minutes. ALL of our Win PCs take forever (3 minutes) to boot. They've ALL been defragged ad nauseum. Win machines come with or collect a lot of garbage.

        -- Barts
    • Long boot times.

      I purchased a Dell Mini 9, and found that the boot
      partition on the Flash based hard drive was fully
      compressed with Windows compression. ACK! After
      uncompressing the whole drive, XP booted as fast as I
      would expect any computer to boot XP. Not the fasted
      boot ever, but not bad either.

      I can see why they compressed the whole drive, it is
      only 16 Gig in size, which is paltry compared to other
      modern drives. But this step only saved about 1/2 of
      a Gig of space. Not enough to put up with the slow
      response of the OS. I did re-compress only the My
      Documents folder, as that's where it makes the most
      sense. But for the OS, compressing is murder on
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    How about the K-12 market as a student device?
    • How about the College Student, While We're at It?

      Not as a main computer, certainly - but honestly, have you [b][i]seen[/b][/i] those monstrosity desktop replacements most college kids drag to class? For notetaking and writing term papers, a small, durable SSD drive Netbook would do more than well enough - anything they need to keep they can transfer via USB key to their main laptops.

      While we're on the subject, how about long-haul truckers (like my kid brother)? All he needs is a Web browser, e-mail access and a spreadsheet template for logging trips that he can run as easily in OpenOffice as MS Office. A couple games and a [b][i]legal[/b][/i] way he can watch videos would also be nice...but not necessary....

      The same goes for quite a few road warriors. Most of them don't really [b][i]need[/b][/i] much more than Web/e-mail access and a simple office suite, and some ways to entertain themselves during their downtime.

      It seems to me that the first company to come up with a easy way to install games more sophisticated than Solitaire or Tux Chase, and a legal way to watch movies and television on a Netbook, will rake it in big....
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    It's totally a replacement for a laptop due to boot
    speed and it's far more portable. Why we are using
    smartphone and laptop or netbook in the same sentence
    is unclear as I have never seen anyone holding a
    laptop to they're ear and talking.?. What exactly does
    a laptop do for the average user that a netbook won't
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    Does she type on her smartphone? Couldn't believe that video. I have a Palm wifi with an infared keyboard. Practically useless. The price for both? About $75 cheaper than a good netbook. My thoughts about this video? Practically useless
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    I have a Palm PDA with an infared keyboard. Practically useless. The combined cost? About $80 less than a decent netbook. My opinion of this video? Practically useless
  • Why is everyone insisting on "niche".

    For geeks, it is not a desktop replacement, however, 3 friends who have them now, it is their only computer. They IM, they listen to music, they search the web, they upload photos, etc. For now, the only drawback to it not being the primary machine for a very non "niche" portion of the population is the SSD sizes. (yes the windows versions come with HD drives, they are XP, they are not ideal).

    With WallyWord offering 2 4 GIG SD cards for $20 online, prices will drop pretty quick. Anyway, I use it and my desktop (work) and the D620 is gathering dust. It even works for on site work great when you are actually in a noisy lab, lol.

    I still ask though, why does it seem that industry keeps trying and hoping to make these into "niche" machines (well, I know the answer, $s rule, but customers will either use them all the time or they will die as a market).

    For me, 10" 1024x758 and 32 gig SSD drive (probably mainstream sub $400 bu next June), you have an entirely capable laptop and desktop replacement for non geek users.

    • True, for a lot of people

      This is a good computer, that will meet all their necessaries (minus a DVD burner) and then some if they have the memory maxed.
      However, for children, for adults who game (who are more of the market than you would think), for people who play even flash based online games...... these netbooks will not meet their needs.
      • Actually, Lerianis, I think you're wrong there

        Most of your notional "kids" (of whom my wife and I mentor several) prefer to game on a PlayStation 2, xBox 360, Wii or (for portability) DS rather than a PC - which the full-sized laptops they use couldn't really run games anyway. The lack of a DVD drive IS an issue, admittedly - but not an insuperable one, especially if the Netbook isn't their main PC to begin with.
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    I have a desktop PC at work, a HUUUGGGEEE dell laptop at home, and an ASUS EEEE PC. I love the netbook. It is my travel PC, my go to meetings PC, my take it to class PC, my I need to check my email really quick PC. No, it will never replace my desktop, and I can't do "real" work on it, like coding, or drafting user docs, long reports, etc. But it is a useful, usable machine that fills the gaps in my computing world.
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    I rEALLY liked the six-year-old-rejected-it angle, but I think you guys have missed the point. For many (most?) people, these things are good enough to do everything you need, most of the time. Thaf fact thet they are mariginally less expensive than entry-level "real" laptops, and their portability makes them ideal for a significant # of people.

    My personal perspective: I have a highish-end laptop that I spent a bit over a thousand dollars on six months ago. And I mostly use it as a terminal to log into my computer at the office. I'd love to carry something tiny, instead . . . all the other criteria are met.

    Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO
    <a href="http://answerguy.com">Virtual VIP</a>
  • 9" too small, 10" or 11" would be perfect.

    I purchased a Dell Mini 9. I love the idea of an
    ultra-portable, yet fully functional computer. The
    new Intel processor is a dream, and all the required
    features you'd expect on a notebook are actually
    there. But after using it for a month, I've come to
    the conclusion that 9" netbooks are too small. Not by
    much, but still just a little too small.

    First reason: They keyboard. I have normal sized
    hands, and the 9" netbooks are just too small. I've
    played with some of the newer 10" netbooks now
    available, and wish I'd gone with that size instead.
    The keyboards on a 10" network are much more standard
    and much easier to type on. The non-standard keyboard
    on the Mini 9 is just too off to be good for typing,
    even the smallest amount of information.

    Second reason: 1024x600 is not enough resolution.
    Many reviews state the netbook is great for web
    browsing, but since most web pages expect at least
    1024x768, the 9" netbook is still too small for web
    surfing. Even some of the pre-installed Dell
    applications had problems fitting properly, as the
    web-cam application did not show the "OK" button at
    the bottom, because it didn't fit the screen. A
    minimum of 1200x768, or even 1280x800 would be much
    more usable and still able to keep quite small. But
    you'd probably want at least 10" of screen real-estate
    to view this slightly larger size.

    If the netbook is going to fly, it has GOT to be a
    fully operational computer. With these two seemingly
    small, but still quite significant issues, it's just
    not the right mix yet for everyday use and everybody
    who would want something similar. The 9" models are
    cute and tiny. But moving up just a single inch would
    still keep it small, but make it 1000 times more
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    Nobody who buys these as laptop replacements. Or smart phone replacements. These are for students who can't afford plans for smart phones, want full sized keyboards, don't need optical media. This is for reports and communication in WiFi enabled areas. That is all.

    No there is another niche market: Adults with good eyes and bad backs.

    There is 1 trade off that should not be however. The resolution of the net book is 200 pixels too short on the width. This is a problem for those who use Microsoft Word. You can't legibly see 2 pages of text on 600 pixels wide. You need 768 or better. That is the only reason my client opted for an ultra portable laptop over a net book.

    My brother is overseas and needed a small laptop with wifi and a webcam. He got this with the Acer Aspire One. He couldn't be happier. He has a webcam, and a portable communication device. It isn't as annoying to use as a smartphone because of the keys being full sized. I have no idea what the guy in the video was talking about, as the keys ARE FULL SIZED. There are 2 buttons that are shortened, and they are rarely used.
  • RE: Where's Netbook's niche?

    A video/article about nothing.

    Let me summarize:

    So, what's this for? I don't know. I bought one. I think I'm going to wait for the 2nd gen. The end.