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Designing The Ultimate Netbook

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the unique-blend-of-herbs-and-spices dept.

Portables 354

Harden writes "TrustedReviews has an interesting take on what the 'Ultimate Netbook' ought to be. From the article: 'How to solve a problem like the netbook? To my mind, despite nearly every manufacturer taking a stab at the thing, none has yet quite distilled my idea of what the Ultimate Netbook would be. This is partly because, until recently, not everyone had a clear understanding of what a netbook was meant to do, but also because manufacturers have all been far too busy jostling for market share to put a lot of thought into the finer details.' What would your Ultimate Netbook include?"

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An Apple (-1, Redundant)

squarefish (561836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183951)

I hope they enter this field and I hope it's priced competitively. I think Apple does things right, whether it's an established product/model or not, the majority of the time.

Re:An Apple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184043)

The good things about the netbook market are affordability, GNU/Linux and free software. Microsoft and Apple do not really have systems for that range.

An Apple Netbook wouldn't be affordable and it would include the usual Apple restrictions and digital rights violations. No, thanks.

Re:An Apple (3, Funny)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184219)

An Apple Netbook wouldn't be affordable and it would include the usual Apple restrictions and digital rights violations.

You're talking about Apple circa 1992. The MacBook is quite affordable and doesn't have any "digital rights violations" that I can see.

Re:An Apple (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184343)

The closest Apple has come to having a lightweight notebook was the MacBook Air. Yea... I'm sure they can somehow get that price down to be competitive by cutting out the whole slew of extra features the Air has... oh wait... it barely has any...

Re:An Apple (4, Interesting)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184243)

Ultimate netbook: Second hand IBM ThinkPad X40.

* Full size keyboard vs eeePC's absurdly unsable plastic thing.
* Very good screen quality vs eeePC's wristwatch reject.
* Over 4h battery time running Xubuntu (I timed this with average use, this is *not* with the notebook sitting idle).
* Not much bigger than the eeePC, and still very light at 1.2kg.
* Super durable vs eeePC's plastic trashy case.
* Half the price of an eeePC.

I wish people would cut out this rubbish Netbook phase. Netbooks, at the moment, are overpriced reject hardware.

Until a netbook is at least as powerful as a 3 year old laptop, has usable input/output peripherals and is durable enough to take anywhere (after all, that's the point of the size, right?) then netbooks will be in my mind a total waste of time and money.

Re:An Apple (2, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184481)

Heh, I was just going to write this, but you beat me to it. Writing this on my X40 here. I have 7 hours of batterytime if I stretch it (no wifi, just coding and playing simple games).

Re:An Apple (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184531)

Or for that matter - the ultimate netbook for a given individual is pretty much ANY nice used laptop less than three years old.

I was seriously considering one of the new 1.6GHz Atom based Netbooks. The one with 1G of memory and either the 16G flash drive or the 120G IDE would run me $400~$450 new (including a legit license of XP, so I could reinstall that after playing with Linux on it to see which I liked better.)

Ended up finding a used Dell Precision M90 on Craigslist for $350 - machine was owned by an engineer that took very good care of his hardware, so this 1 year old machine ($2,600 new - dual core CPU, 2G RAM, 7200rpm hard drive, GigE NIC, Quatro FX 1500 video card, wifi, 17" LCD on a magnesium alloy frame, license for XP Pro) looks brand new. Battery holds a charge for an easy 2 hours. For 1/4th less than the cost of a new 9" Netbook.

Granted, this specific machine is a monster - I'm guessing 4kg including the 130 watt power brick, and 17" laptops aren't exactly small in size either - but it is a LOT of machine for the money.

Good clean used hardware - it's amazing the deals that are out there to be had.

Rather Lenovo (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184071)

If it was all about the brand.

Personally I don't really see the problem with the 10" Intel Atom ones? Decent CPU, almost ok resolution, and so on.

I don't like the "oh let's make it like the Macbook Air except in plastic"-designs though. I'd rather take something sharp and boxy in metal over that.

Anyway, no, I don't have any good ideas. Aslong as it's Atom I'm happy.

Re:An Apple (-1, Flamebait)

terraformer (617565) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184097)

They have. It is called the Air. Just because it is large, doesn't mean it is not a netbook. I think the definition of netbook is wrong in that it requires something under a certain size screen (9-11 inches depending on who is talking).

Re:An Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184309)

"Oh hai I do not agree with the common definition so I shall be a dick instead."


Re:An Apple (3, Funny)

Kentaree (1078787) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184321)

They have. It is called the Air. Just because it is large, doesn't mean it is not a netbook. I think the definition of netbook is wrong in that it requires something under a certain size screen (9-11 inches depending on who is talking).

Fits in nicely with average price range too...

Re:An Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184449)

No, it's not a netbook. A netbook is 1.) 10 inches or smaller, 2.) 3 pounds or lighter, 3.) has an SSD, 4.) runs a full operating system, 5.) has WiFi and a keyboard, 6.) 2 hours + battery time, and 6.) is under $600. The point is to have something that is easy to carry around, will run most undemanding applications, boots up quickly, and that you won't cry about losing or breaking. The MacBook Air is sui generis: it meets most of the design requirements for a netbook, but is 5X more expensive (with the SSD that I consider to be a requirement for the form) and has too big a footprint.

I think Apple's best response would be a flat tablet device, about 10 inches, with a touch screen and bluetooth to match up with the existing Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse, running a full OS X, 64 GB of solid-state memory, 2 GB RAM, a single USB port, and with a docking station that acts as port replicator and stand, turning the tablet into a small iMac. Probably cost $899, so it wouldn't be a netbook, but would act as a bridge between the Air and the iPod Touch.

Re:An Apple (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184149)

The question was asking what you would want in a netbook. Your only answer was Apple? They could make it out of cardboard and you'd still buy it.

Unfortunately I'd expect many would buy it...

Re:An Apple (3, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184441)

But..But... It would be... environmentally friendly! Yeah, that's it! How can you not see that whatever Apple does is ultimately good for all of us?

Easy (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183953)

one that can transform into either a Decepticon or a Hooker bot, and is smart enough to know when to turn into each of those.

What if it has a bug ... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184113)

... and transforms into a Hooker while you are giving a presentation?

Re:Easy (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184521)

I better start practising my delivery of the lines

"Back off, pal. She's with me."

Didn't realize it would become a netbook requirement.

The OS is obvious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25183955)

Windows Ultimate of course.

Thus sayeth Bender (1)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183963)

What would your Ultimate Netbook include?


...and hookers!

Re:Thus sayeth Bender (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184167)

in fact, forget the netbook!

Re:Thus sayeth Bender (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184215)

and forget the blackjack too...

Re:Thus sayeth Bender (1)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184391)

Ahhhh... Screw the whole thing.

Cheap. (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183965)

The Netbook needs to be cheap. Preferably in the $150-250 range. It should have a low to medium-end CPU, at least 256 MB of RAM and should run Linux (or if it has a high-end CPU at at least 512 MB of RAM, XP). It should have Wi-Fi out of the box, and a decent video card. It should have a minimum of 3 USB ports, and should be relatively shock resistant.

Re:Cheap. (4, Insightful)

Zashi (992673) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184073)

Bingo. On top of what the parent said, it should also be small (less than 12.1" screen) and lightweight with a battery life of at least 3 hours.

Re:Cheap. What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184089)

A "low to medium-end CPU" and a "decent video card"? What's the point? If all you've got is a low end CPU you aren't going to be doing any serious graphics anyway.

Re:Cheap. What's the point? (2, Insightful)

Curtman (556920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184295)

What's the point? If all you've got is a low end CPU you aren't going to be doing any serious graphics anyway.

I thought the point was to be small and portable with long battery life. Get a Nintendo DS if you want to play games. The most "serious" graphics I expect are some desktop effects, and maybe watching a movie.

Re:Cheap. What's the point? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184331)

yea, what's a decent video card for a $150 laptop? anything mid-range would cost almost as much as the laptop itself. integrated graphics would be good enough for anything you'd look to do on a netbook.

Re:Cheap. (2, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184107)

I'm not sure how much of a PC you're going to get for $150. I'm in the UK, and that's currently roughly £75. You'll get fuck all for that.

For £200-250 you can get something like what you're after. I went for the Acer Aspire One - £250 ($500) for a 1KG, 1gig ram, 120gig hd Intel Atom based PC running a customized version of Fedora on a 9inch 1024x600 screen. It has Wifi and a webcam, a well usable keyboard and a touchpad, and the OS has been made extremely easy for non-nerds to use (ie single click access to brower, email, open office etc. There's a rapidly growing community working on ports of the major Linux distros to it, although it'll be some time before those versions boot in the 20-odd seconds mine takes, or support the hardware out of the box. You can always plump for a Windows version but for me this was a chance to kill a few birds in one go: portable access to my work pc; gain familiarity with Linux; a cheaper (!) alternative to the black and white ebook readers sold by the likes of Sony and Amazon; handy way of dumping photos from my camera when on the move etc. I can't recommend it enough. The battery life could do with improving (2 hours or so isn't too hot) - they're working on a more powerful battery but you can wait forever with tech stuff, can't you!

Re:Cheap. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184385)

Keep in mind UK prices are atrocious on any imports, compared to the USA.

For $500 you can buy a cheap full-size Dell with a lot more horsepower than the Aspire One or any other so-called netbook. That's the problem.

Everyone still thinks portable means expensive, but the fact is today's laptops are mostly empty shells with cut-out motherboards. If we could do without I/O connectors on one of the sides, they could probably cut the board down to half the size of the chassis! There's no extra cost in "miniaturizing" the notebook, because the standard-sized guts are already small enough to make into EEE's and Aspire One's.

Once the netbooks are priced similarly to a used notebook of similar performance, that's when they will take off. For me, that's $200 or less. It's a laptop, I don't need it to do much... today's laptops are mostly used as thin clients - VNC, RDP, SSH, Citrix and web apps. That's not worth $500 to me.

Re:Cheap. (1)

amdpox (1308283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184153)

Yes, the original concept was to keep it cheap, and all the manufacturers seem to have thrown it out the window... I think it would be possible to get a 9" Atom model retailing for $200. However, personally I prefer the upper end of the netbook market - if I could get an 11" 1280x800 screen to suck up the 1000H's bezel, it would be an excellent machine. I'm surprised none of the manufacturers have pushed into the 11" range since Microsoft lifted the 10" limit on XP licenses - I can understand Asus not wanting to intrude upon their high-end U1s, but I would expect a move from someone else. 11" is the sweet spot, really - it's the point at which the keyboard becomes fully touch-type-able for just about anyone.

Re:Cheap. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184247)

What is a decent video card? I guess something integrated? Because kind of even those are overkill vs 256MB ram.

Re:Cheap. (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184283)

Being cheap is always a good thing but notebooks have always been more expensive than equivalent desktops. Mobility and lightness come with a price premium. For this reason I think that netbooks will always be more expensive than an equally powerful notebook.

Said that, I agree with most of TFA but I really can't use track points. I'll never buy anything that doesn't have a touch pad. Bluetooth is a nice to have feature but not strictly necessary. The single most important feature is a 4+ hour battery life followed by lightness (max 1 kg) and a matte display for outdoor usage. Disk space is not so important: I may want to watch movies on a plane or a train but I don't have to keep them around for long. That makes 100+ GB HDs pretty useless and only detrimental to weight and battery duration. IMHO SSDs are a much better choice for this class of devices.

Re:Cheap. (1)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184489)

I know you'd love to keep it as simple as possible, and thats great...but... Can I atleast have a 2GB of RAM option on atleast one of them?!?! I know the cost would go up, but I could use it and would definitely pay for a netbook then. My ideal system would be 500-600$, Medium cpu, 2gigs of ram, the option to have preinstalled linux, xp, or both. Nice Wirless-N support out of the box, and a decent video card (that will never happen though...its either Intel junk or Via junk). I'd also love to see a system with 8gb of flash storage and a CF slot. I guess its a normal mini-notebook, just without a cd drive and has flash storage, but i'm not willing to pay 1500$ that they offered for those a few years ago just to have a small one.

macbook nano (3, Interesting)

eobanb (823187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183977)

A Macbook nano. $699, 10" screen, dual-core Atom, 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB flash drive, 6-cell removable battery, Airport/Bluetooth, Snow Leopard; no CD/DVD drive. Many manufacturers already have models similar to this; with subnotebook sales at an all-time high it's only a matter of time before Apple jumps onboard.

Re:macbook nano (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184075)

Well if you're going to call it a nano, you might as well use the nano processor.

I for one... (1)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183983)

...welcome our new netbook overlords.

Power Consumption / Battery Life (5, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183985)

Why is it that the 'original' netbook - the XO1 [] - can get 9-10 hours of battery life, even with a basic NiMH (rather than Li-ion) battery, and yet all the followup netbooks seem stuck at 4 hours tops? Even with the new ultra-efficient Atom processor, most new netbooks seem to have a relatively heavy power draw. I wish somebody would sort that out.

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184087)

I have seen that 9-10 hours claim before, but my XO-1 only lasts the usual 3-4 hours.

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184099)

One important reason is because the XO-1 has a really, really weird, very low power-usage screen. That accounts for most of the difference, but it's also something that was designed for the XO-1's field and might not be immediately adaptable to more conventional uses.

Also, the Atom may be efficient, but the only Intel chipset you can get to connect to it (it's a closed platform) draws significantly more power than the Atom processor. The platform won't really take off until a much more efficient, lightweight chipset comes out for it, but that can't be a third-party chipset, the way Intel currently plan it.

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184223)

Have a look at the history of the PDA. Apple came in with the Newton (in 1994), which failed to capture a sustainable market. Lots of competitors also dived in, but it wasn't until the technologically inferior Palm Pilot came along (in 1997) that the market took off. Palm Pilot made the four main use cases (address book, memo, date, and todo) easy to use. No more, and no less. It used inferior technology, but superior design.
The X01 is good enough, hardware wise, but it is an educational tool, not a netbook. We haven't seen a netbook yet, but an iPhone style browser, google maps, an office system that is usable on a small machine, and a communications system (texts, rss, email, etc) with appropriate hardware support (possibly specialized controls, though apples trackpad is pretty cool) would establish the new design of what netbooks are meant to be. Sorry, was I rambling?

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (1)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184355)

The X01 is good enough, hardware wise, but it is an educational tool, not a netbook.

Thank you for pointing this out! I have an XO, and the first thing most people do when they see it is compare it to the EeePC. There are some compromises, like the rubber keyboard, that were made differently on the XO then on the EeePC due to the target market, and people need to realize the target markets aren't the same!

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (5, Informative)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184339)

The XO gets its 9-10 hours of battery life when reading ebooks by turning off everything but the LCD and DCON (display controller). The system goes into suspend-to-RAM but leaves the screen on so you can read it. If you use this with the screen in reflective mode (no backlight) it can last a hell of a long time. Doing anything else, though, it gets a normal 2-4 hours of battery.

Re:Power Consumption / Battery Life (1)

hyperz69 (1226464) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184487)

The Intel 945 Chipset does NOT help! The atom platform thats coming out should GREATLY improve battery life and heat issues.

I want one that *I* can build. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25183997)

I want to be able to walk into Microcenter or whoever, pick my board, pick a case, pick a screen, pick the drive, etc... and then build it. And that way, when something goes wrong, I can go and get the frick'in part(s) a fix it - without having to send it away for $50+.

And WTF is it with Apple of to have to wait 3 or more days to get a hard drive - at their stores?!?

Modularity FTW! (1)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184179)

Yeah, that's a really good point - I'd want a netbook (or any laptop for that matter) to be modular. If I can swap out parts (or blocks of parts) upgrades can be done gradually, repairs are made much easier, and reconfiguring your system would be that much less of a chore; imagine being able to swap out processors with a couple of actions, doubling the running time! Or swapping out a color, "gaming" display with a very high res grayscale "reading" display for work or ebooks...

Re:I want one that *I* can build. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184453)

The problem is that there is no standard design for laptop motherboards so cases and motherboards have to match. Until manufacturers agree on a standard, you won't be able to do that. Desktops have the ATX standard.

Re:I want one that *I* can build. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184515)

Manufacturers have every incentive to avoid standard form-factors (except within their lineup, witness the various IBM accessory bays) because it is better for sales if users shitcan broken machines instead of fixing them.

I'd love modularity myself, especially the ability to easily pop out the SSD and carry that with me.

A "double-ended" SSD mount sleeve with a SATA connector on one end and a USB connector on the other would be even better.

captain obvious? (2, Insightful)

vajorie (1307049) | more than 5 years ago | (#25183999)

it would include a price tag of below $300... And linux please.

Re:captain obvious? (2, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184039)

it would include a price tag of below $300.

Exactly. Before, when the sub-notebooks were selling for US$1200+ (many models being US$2000-3000), there wasn't a thriving netbook category. Asus, whether you like their first models or not, broke the ice, bigtime, thanks to the low price of the Eee PC.

What worked then, will work now: keep the prices low. Most people don't give a shit about high-end graphics and fingerprint readers, in a netbook. They want it small and cheap. And that's pretty much it!

The ultimate netbook should have: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184003)

1) Gentoo 2) A quantum processor

Re:The ultimate netbook should have: (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184101)

--no-decoherence --many-worlds --fuck-upstream --unsafe-math --unsafe-compiler

Re:The ultimate netbook should have: (1)

igny (716218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184269)

1) Gentoo 2) A quantum processor

Doesn't one of these require the other?

Mine would have... (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184017)

...An e-ink display (several generations ahead of what we have now, grayscale or color doesn't matter, just needs a decent refresh rate) plus integrated light (something along the lines of the thinkpad thinklight, but for the screen), wi-fi/bluetooth, a trackpoint (screw touchpads), be small (maybe along the lines of an eee701, just wider to accomodate a full-size keyboard), have a 5+ hour battery life, run a very light OS that is easy to customize (and preferably open source), enough storage for basic documents/a few additional programs (I am not seeing more than 20 GB here), be very durable (able to survive a spill or a drop from a high place), and probably within the $100-$300 range.

Also, it would be real nice if it had an integrated ATM that gave access to Bill Gates' bank account ;-)

Why just one? (4, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184021)

Everyone has different needs and tastes. Some want a smaller package at the cost of features and screen size. Some of us want a little more hardware available and can't see a 7" screen anyhow. Many Japanese would be happy with a 4" netbook even if it had a 200Mhz arm processor. Most Americans would complain. This is why Asus etc have so many models and sizes. Trying to jam everyone into one model is like Henry Ford with the model T. He lost market share because he thought one car would be enough choice for everyone.

grrr (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184029)

[Buy a laptop!]

I think that . . .


Re:grrr (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184041)

[Buy a Toshiba TV]

this article . . .

<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 >>

Re:grrr (2, Funny)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184577)

[Buy more Ovaltine]

has too many ads.

<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 >>

If cost is no object... (4, Interesting)

slk (2510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184031)

I'd say the ultimate netbook would be a slightly ruggedized version of the Lenovo X61s I already own, plus the built-in 3G that I wish I had ordered. (not that 3G via a USB 'modem' is bad)

For that matter, how about an X200s? Starting weight of 2.5 pounds, but a 'real' computer. The only disadvantage here is that they are expensive, but the article said 'ultimate', not 'ultimate when compromised to make it cheap'.

It would fit in a jacket pocket... (4, Interesting)

MythMoth (73648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184033)

The Psion clamshells seemed pretty popular in their day. I don't understand why that form factor went away and didn't come back! One of these [] with a color screen, a modern processor, WiFi and running Linux would definitely appeal to me.

Netbooks at the moment seem like the worst of both worlds - too large to be conveniently portable, too underpowered to do serious work, too small to be productive for heavily keyboard oriented stuff. They're light at least - but I don't really follow why that's a big deal. Obviously I'm wrong because Netbooks are popular. I just don't quite understand it.

Re:It would fit in a jacket pocket... (2, Insightful)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184231)

If I worked in marketing and was given a netbook to sell, I'd probably target non-laptop users - people who don't own a computer at all right up to those who have a modern desktop at home, but no mobile solution for casual web browsing and email. People who don't have a real need (or the budget) for a smartphone, but would quite like something that they could carry around the house with them rather than being tied to a desk.

I think trying to market it as an out-and-about internet and email solution is a non-starter. You'd be better off with an iPod Touch.

Re:It would fit in a jacket pocket... (2, Interesting)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184539)

I agree. Right now, I am using a laptop as a desktop replacement. It's not working out for me with the non-standard keyboard, hitting the touch-pad when I type, etc. It just isn't that easy to use for real work. So my next machine will be a real desktop, and I will get a netbook for mobile connectivity.

Please tag "andapony" (0, Troll)

moshez (67187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184037)

I suggest the "andapony" tag to apply to this, and similar, fluff pieces.

Easy (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184045)

CPU would be a TI OMAP 3530, and at least 256MB of RAM. It would have a smallish 200dpi screen and both composite video and HDMI out (with a small HDMI to DVI-D adaptor provided) for driving an external screen and a secondary eInk display. Apart from this, all of the standard things (802.11n, Bluetooth, USB and ideally a FireWire 800 port). Battery life would be at least 8 hours with WiFi running and the screen at a sensible level of brightness. No hard disk, but at least 20GB of flash. Oh, and it would run OpenBSD.

Re:Easy (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184127)

ARM CPU=PDA. x86 CPU=Netbook. Mind you a Snapdragon [] PDA/Phone with a QWERTY keypad would be a handy device.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184185)

If I can't use my favorite apps on it without recompiling, it's not worth a dime.

yeesh (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184051)

I like how the spin in the article description makes it feel like it's doing the industry a service when really it's just some guy politely ranting and daydreaming.

Re:yeesh (2, Insightful)

pomegranatesix (809489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184305)

Yeah, pretty much. I just bought a netbook for school, and there's really not a whole lot I could or would improve on. The article has some interesting ideas, but nothing groundbreaking. Yes, I too would like my car to come with a 3.5L, 300 horsepower engine with a turbocharger and get 40 miles to the gallon! But you know what? I drive a Honda. I have a 2.0L naturally aspirated engine with 210 horsepower, and I get 27mpg local/36 highway. That's frikkin' good enough. Yes, I know the technology is out there to get all those extra fancy doodads, but what I have now satifies everything that I really need in a car. Much like my Acer Aspire One.

The only thing that I've changed on my Aspire One is operating system. I switched from Windows XP to Ubuntu, and that was a fairly straightforward install for even a computer noob like me. I'm even happy about the price - I paid $350 for my Acer Aspire One with the 120GB harddrive and 1gb RAM. I haven't quite jumped on the SSD bandwagon yet - my brother works for a company who manfucturers SSDs, and in his opinion, the technology isn't sufficiently mature yet.

The build quality of this is great - I throw it in my backpack, and have been lugging back and forth from school almost every day. The hinges are stiff enough to feel sturdy, and there's no wobble, unlike my $1600 Fujitsu S-series laptop that I bought 4 years ago. I daresay that this is a much better purchase, and the specs aren't too different either. Granted, there Fujitsu is 4 years old, but this laptop is literally a quarter of the price, and yet the harddrive is 3x bigger! If we continue to compare my Aspire One to my old Fujitsu, it seems that even the keyboard on the Aspire One has a better tactile feel. Nothing I would change there.

People stop me to tell me "... that is the TINIEST laptop I've ever seen!" and girls squeal about how cute it is.

So based on the suggestions from the article, would a trackpoint mouse be all that much more awesomer? Not really. (It's a take it or leave it kinda thing.) 1280 x 800 resolution? Again, meh. Everything on my screen is already tiny enough with 1024 x 600. 1GB RAM, Atom processor, wifi, ethernet, usb ports, blah blah blah? Got that already, minus Bluetooth connectivity. Those are like "standard features" on a car. 6-cell battery? Already an option, and one I don't really find that I need. Last but not least, HSPDA? Dude, I don't even know what that IS, and I don't think I really even need it anyway. And the price of course - we would all like to buy a new Subaru STi for the price of Honda Civic - but dude... you know it just ain't happening.

Oh, and I LOL'd at the "Apple iPhone of netbooks" analogy. The Apple iPhone didn't blow anything out of the water. It just had a better marketing campaign. Considering most people at my school have never seen a net top before (they gawk at mine, and their eyes bug out when I tell them it was only $350), I suspect that the first company to really aggressively market the low-price net top will be hailed as the "the iPhone of net tops."

Depends on the needs. For me: (4, Interesting)

Enleth (947766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184059)

Lightweight (under 1.5kg including the power supply), 12h+ REAL battery life, built-in 3G modem, trackpoint or a *properly* calibrated touchpad, a sturdy case - steel hinges (but NOT steel fastened with screws to a plastic frame), titanium alloy or carbon fiber underside and cover - and proper space utilization (if there's space for a full-sized keyboard because the notebook is widescreen, then put this goddamned full-sized keyboard there, not a "normal" laptop keyboard and 10cm of padding on each side). Oh, and a matte screen. Glossy is OK for desktop monitors in a controller environment, laptops are being used where it's often impossible to eliminate direct, bright sources of light that make using a glossy screen almost impossible.

Actually, I think I've just described something similar to my X60, which is a very good design as far as mobility is concerned, but could be improved anyway. Sadly, I couldn't find anything better yet - Eee is nice but underpowered for my needs (no, not gaming) and too small (12.1" is optimal for me), Vaio feels too delicate and too easy to break, while HP subnotebooks are fine at first, but there's something about them that puts me off.

Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with the "desktop replacement" kind of notebook, which definitely has its place (small apartments, dorm rooms etc.), but is, in my opinion, out of scope of this discussion.

Re:Depends on the needs. For me: (1)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184517)

> Lightweight (under 1.5kg including the power supply), 12h+ REAL battery life, built-in 3G modem

Your first 3 criteria are at odds with each other. Weight is largely a function of battery size, and you can't do 12+ hours of 3G without a good chunk of battery.

Simple. Sub $300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184061)

and no, I don't mean $299. i would get an eee pc right now if I could get it for $150. since I can't, I'm just going to wait.

I actually RTFA... (5, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184143)

I read the article. I got about 2 paragraphs in and read this little gem:

we're still waiting for the Apple iPhone of netbooks - the example that blows all out of the water and sets a new benchmark for all to follow.

Since when the hell was the iPhone the definitive Phone? I'm honestly not trying to troll here, but it's widely documented that although it's great for web browsing and such, the actual phone aspect of it fails on nearly all points. It doesn't do MMS, it doesn't have bluetooth for anything other than headsets - hell, the shitty Windows Smartphone I had 4 years ago did everything the iPhone does today (and more), with the only exceptions of a multi-touch screen and 3G (Because it wasn't widespread back then). Honestly, what am I missing here?

Re:I actually RTFA... (5, Insightful)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184563)

Honestly, what am I missing here?

What specheads usually miss: The secret sauce is usability not specs. Other smartphones can do the same things - on paper. Many people don't buy non-iPhone smartphones because they think those phones are too complicated to use.

The same might go for the netbook marked - people are talking about RAM amount, price range, 3G etc. Maybe a better user experience would be a good idea? How about a piece of easy-to-use software on a USB thumdrive that allows you to set up a home network complete with sharing? A _lot_ of people with netbooks also have a desktop. If they could access photos, movies, documents on their desktop then that might be a good idea. Or maybe even sync between those computers?

My take (2, Interesting)

subreality (157447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184147)

The categories are fuzzy, of course, but I see two main ones:

1) What I call a netbook, which is a reduced-functionality, super tiny notebook, with emphasis on wireless connectivity, startup time, and battery life, to give you a minimal terminal to access your online life from anywhere. It's cheap enough that you'd likely buy it in addition to a normal notebook, and between being rugged (SSD) and cheap, you wouldn't worry about banging it around as you take it everywhere. It doesn't apologize for not starting OpenOffice quickly, or other traditional things you'd do with a notebook (let alone gaming)... That's not its purpose, and if you miss those things, look at #2. The original Eee nailed it.

2) Sub-sub-notebooks. These are the "larger" ones, which work as super light notebook for people who travel away from their main PC a lot. More CPU, a little heavier, a much bigger screen, somewhat less battery life, and you get a tiny, convenient notebook. It costs more. It's more about "running applications" than "hop online for a second". See: Dell, or the new Eee.

For me, the perfect netbook starts with #1, and keeps going in the direction of small, light, power efficient, instant-on, connectivity everywhere, and feels no shame about its limitations. To improve, try adding one of those trick transflective flip-around displays from the OLPC, and an ultra-low-power display-only mode to make it a usuable ebook... Or just put an e-ink display on the lid. Some are adding cell data interfaces... Good move, though plan pricing will probably render it useless.

X86 under $100 (2, Insightful)

newsdee (629448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184183)

I'd like to see a brand that positions itself as the "under $100" Notebook and delivers at least the same specs as the EEE PC 4G.

In other words, instead of trying to replicate a laptop, just cram everything you can for the price. They could then update the product every year; at that price you can afford the upgrade often.

Probably not going to happen, as it would kill margins. But all the current machines will be available second-hand sooner or later and should reach that price point.

Pandora! (0, Offtopic)

Agilo (727098) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184187)

What, no mention of the Pandora [] ?
I know it's not really a netbook but still..

Nokia E61i (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184189)

I basically do all I need on my 61
-even writing this.
Read emaiks,RSS and googling combined with navigation: I seldom use my PC nowadays.
Ohh, and of course use it for SMS, VoIP and ordinary telephone.

/ Owen, Denmark

Re:Nokia E61i (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184211)

Can't touch type on it? No thanks.

Re:Nokia E61i (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184287)

You could touch-type on it, if you had really small hands.

(A comment that could be made about most netbooks, incidentally.)

I can't comment on the E61i [] , but the E61 [] 's keyboard is really horrible to type on. The E71 [] 's keyboard is a massive improvement.

I actually RTFA... (part 2) (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184217)

There's nothing to see here. The author doesn't put forward any good points about making a good netbook, he just whines about how the current ones don't suit him as well as they could.
"Do I need to play games? No" - really? Maybe I do. Maybe I don't necessarily want Crysis running on it, but I wouldn't mind the odd blast at COD4, which the Asus N10 actually runs fairly well.
"Do I need to decode 720p/1080p? No" Good for you! I actually quite like my Hi-def entertainment and considering some of these have a HDMI output, I can honestly say I'd love to be able to bring one over to my friend's house, plug it into his TV and watch some Hi-Def porn. Sure, it's not what the thing is really intended for, but if it's possible to add such a feature, give me the option for it.

I think the article proves that what we need is simply more customisation. Currently, you have to shop around for the pre-configured models that asus, MSI, etc. produce. Even Dell offers a single configuration on their site with no room for improvement. Why can't I say "Ok, I don't want bluetooth, but I do want Wireless-N. And take that tiny SSD out and put a real hard drive in there, I'm not arsed about the 5% loss in battery life"?

Notebooks are doomed (1)

jeepee (607566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184227)

Nobody needs a notebook because its too bulky and requires a bag of some sort to transport, the same as a small laptop...

A Good internet enabled Phone and a Good laptop overlaps the niche of the notebook...

Re:Notebooks are doomed (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184379)

"Nobody needs a notebook because its too bulky and requires a bag of some sort to transport, the same as a small laptop...

A Good internet enabled Phone and a Good laptop overlaps the niche of the notebook..."

That may depend on the size of the person carrying it.

I'm 6'2"/230lbs and don't mind carrying a laptop (if it has a HANDLE like the Toughbooks, I don't get the lack of handles...) but would prefer a netbook with phone functionality. To each his/her/its own.

Maybe not so much a netbook... (3, Interesting)

not-quite-rite (232445) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184235)

But I would be very happy with the following:

an Atom based machine, with
a USB host port, and an
SD card slot,
Bluetooth etc,
5 hour battery life

All in the form factor of an A4 sized(maybe even A5) iphone like device. Ie Glass screen, solid build, slim design.

If i need a keyboard for the thing i can use a bt one. It would be perfect for reading books, maps, basic games, browsing. And fit into a pack or bag nicely

Oh, and finally, it would run Linux of course

(if the price was around the 500AUD mark, it would be fantastic, but twice that would also be tolerable :)

Dream Netbook (4, Interesting)

archshade (1276436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184237)

  1. Battery life => 8hrs (with wifi)
  2. 20GB+ SSD
  3. 7"-10" screen
  4. 256MB+ RAM
  5. midrange(~1.5GHz) single core x86 processor optimized for increased battery life
  6. 802.11n. and wired Ethernet.
  7. 4+ USD port
  8. DVI out
  9. Well made rugged design


  1. light open OS optimized for hardware (such as *BSD or GNU/Linux distro)
  2. Decent browser (firefox)
  3. Simple Office (Abiworld etc)
  4. Decent Email client (Thunderbird)
  5. Frozen Bubble
  6. easy access to more software and large repositories already activated.

    All for £100-£150 ($200-$300)

Re:Dream Netbook (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184527)

1. Battery life => 8hrs (with wifi)

Agreed. With my IBM T61 with 9 cell and super-battery (fits in dvd drive slot), I routinely get 8.5 hrs IF the screen is off half the time.

      2. 20GB+ SSD

IIRC, SSD right now have no to negative effect on battery usage. There should be a fair amount of energy used to power these, but right now, they just were working on them to get them to work, not be power-friendly. That'll take time.

      3. 7"-10" screen

I'd like a screen in the same proportions that of 8.5/11 paper, so I can read all softs of material as I would read text. I'm thinking of journals, PDFs, PS, DJVU, and god knows how many other book formats.

      4. 256MB+ RAM

No argument there. I'd also settle with slower ram for more quantity.

      5. midrange(~1.5GHz) single core x86 processor optimized for increased battery life

My biggest argument here. Why X86? I'd go with whatever is highest on battery:compute time. And as you express with software (all OSS), it would be trivial to duplicate a repository for a different CPU type. The only thing you'd lose is WINE compatibility. And to regain that (I have a linux machine running on a Sparc lunchbox), just use X and execute on a X86 machine. Considering that this device will have nearly complete wireless connectivity, remote executing a X86 app would be trivial. Speaking from experience here, btw.

      6. 802.11n. and wired Ethernet.

Erm, more than that. First, the N standard isnt complete. I'd stick with G for the time being, and have the G as a removable module for when N is complete. This modularity would allow for future-N compat. We also need bluetooth for syncing with other devices. Wired-E is perfectly fine. Stick with 100MBps. After all, no need to go 1GBps unless it's a .10$ extra cost.

      7. 4+ USD port

You could do that. I'd rather like 2 USB, 1 Firewire, 1 eSata ports, 1 IrDA. With Irda, you could have a remote control driver for home consoles. Esata allows for big HD's, firewire for DVcams, and USB for misc devices. One could use BT for mouse/keyboard, though security is kinda wanting.

      8. DVI out
      9. Well made rugged design

Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184239)

Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

Even crappy netbooks like Sylvania's are getting good reviews for the software part. (1)

spinctrl (815494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184267)

needs to figure out what a netsite ought to be first!

The consumer electronics catalogue/blog fails to present the facts in a consistent way, search sucks, categories not tags, overly opinionated waffle misses that leaves out important facts... click through to read more!
<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10>>

Exercise in futility. (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184297)

Each person has her/his own idea of what the "ultimate" notebook should be. There is no one ultimate notebook for everyone, there is, however, one ultimate notebook for each person.

Must be a slow news day....

One thing I wish would start catching on (1)

bahstid (927038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184325)


Build in 3G (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184333)

Build in high speed 3G (7.2 mbps) would be a minimum for me to have a netbook be classified as "ultimate".

I think an Apple Tablet could kill here ... (1, Interesting)

RevMike (632002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184377)

Start with the iPhone/iPod Touch's design, and scale it up to about 10x7, the same size as a typical large format paperback like an O'Reilly book. Aside from built in WiFi and BlueTooth, he device includes an Express Card slot and several USB ports, so that it can accommodate the broadband network cards offered by both the HSDPA and EvDO providers. The underlying specs will be closer to a MacBook or MacBook Air.

In iTouch mode, it will be able to do all the things the iTouch does, as well as connect to the 3G cell phone networks with the appropriate adapter. Email, web browsing, etc. are all there. This mode will operate in a low power mode.

One of the "applications" available in the iTouch interface will be an option to boot a full os, which can be some combination of Mac OS X and Windows via bootcamp. Now it becomes a full laptop. A keyboard and mouse can be connected via USB or BlueTooth. An external monitor can be connected via a mini-DVI adapter.

In my view, this would work very well for digital nomads and road warriors. The small device would fit easily into almost any bag, and wouldn't require a true laptop bag. It could be used on a plane or a park bench. It could be whipped out at a moments notice and immediately be useful. At the same time, it is easy to throw a keyboard and mouse into a bag with clothing for a business trip, and have a nice environment to work on documents and presentations at the hotel. When visiting a client, it could be plugged into a projector and run the presentation just as well as a typical laptop.

The problem with this scheme is that the price point wouldn't be anywhere close to the netbooks. This would be a $1,500 machine that would compete with ultra-portables, potentially remaking that segment. I can imagine that the technology could quickly trickle down, however.

1600x1200 pixel screen (1)

yoghurt (2090) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184389)

My ideal notebook would have a 15" 4:3 aspect 1600x1200 viewing panel.

Homercar. (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184401)

That says it all.

It already exists. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184407)

I have an Asus EeePC 901.

It *is* the ultimate netbook.

It has a 1.8Ghz Atom processor, faster than my desktop's AthlonXP 1800+. It has no problem crunching numbers or playing highly compressed high-quality video.

The 1GB of standard RAM is fine. I'd rather 2GB in dual-channel, especially since ram only costs 12$/GB or so, but I also have no troubles running Windows 200 Server, Firefox with 50+ open tabs, thunderbird, Apache2 with 10 concurrent users, Trillian, Winamp, Filezilla, and a dozen other services on a local server with an AthlonXP 1800+ with 640MB RAM, so 1GB is fine.

It's 12GB of space, spanned over two internal solid state drives, plus a 16GB SD-card means I have all the space I want (and with the three USB2.0 ports, unlimited room for expansion) and can also simply leave it on all day while moving from room to room and place to place - just stuff it in my briefcase and go - as there are no moving parts (pick it up and shake it while it's running - no damage, no headcrashes).

Speaking of leaving it on all day, it averages 8h:30mins of actual use per charge. Longer when in self-initiated standby half of the day.

The screen is nice, clear, and not a glare screen. It has a slightly imperfect resolution of 1024x600, but that has not yet caused a problem in any application. The graphics card is fast enough to handle UnrealTournament comfortably, giving ~30fps @ 800x600, 32-bit color, all settings "High", dynamic lighting, etc. Since I've only installed a few LAN-games like GTA2, Starcraft, ete it works perfectly for everything I've thrown at it.

The wireless network card is not only "N"-compatible, but AiroPeek drivers exist for it, and it can put into passive mode and can be used for wardriving/wireless network analysis.

The webcam is fairly good quality, sharp, and clear.

With a 20$/month contract, I have a USB2.0 stick that provides wireless internet (3G/UMTS) flatrate between 2,000 to 7,000 kbps.

The only thing that could be better would be to use an NVIDIA Quadro 280 graphic chip instead of the silly Intel chip (compatibility and quality reasons) and to use a dual-core Atom processor (that will soon be available), and both I would consider a luxury.

Also the thing is so cheap I got it for free with a dirt cheap (15$/month) mobile phone contract.

I would just like them to be modular (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184443)

Netbooks are close to my ideal the way they are now. I would probably ask for a bit of flexibility by adding an area close to the USB ports where we could hide a USB dongle for 3G or other forms of communications.

The mass storage should also be a plug-in. I'd be happy with a 4GB SSD most of the time but going back to that other Slashdot discussion on what to take for a roud-the-world trip, a bigger HDD would be great for carrying photos.

Instead of the trackpad I'd probably prefer a trackpoint or a Nintendo style set of buttons, which would not be a bad use of the space around the screen.

As for OS, I like the idea of seeing Linux laptops at mainstream stores, I'm just waiting for Skype and hardware manufacturers to react to that and make voip truly ubiquitous.

Just say no (1)

Ophion (58479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184471)

to the clit mouse.

Compact, light, strong or cheap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25184475)

If it is cheap, I can just pick up a new one if I break it. If it is strong, I don't have to worry about it breaking so much.

I just want to throw the sucker in my bag and not worry about it.

What happened to the Tablet PC ? (2, Interesting)

pcairic (1231608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184511)

Something I am longing for is a cheap 9-10 inch tablet PC. Is it so hard to make a tactile screen and a hinge that will allow the screen to hide the keyboard? How about no keyboard at all? B/W screen is ok and e-paper would extend the battery life.

ideal netbook? here you go (1)

slaschdot (1184477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184549)

    good keyboard, at least 17,5x16,5mm
    umts, WLAN, LAN, Bluetooth, USB
    weight < 1,5kg
    VGA with different resolutions possible
not so important:
    big HD
    Display 10''
    battery time > 4h
    card reader
    mic, speaker
    color (design)

A non-Intel processor (5, Interesting)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25184555)

My ideal notebook would not be Intel architecture.

Let's face it, designing a notebook around an Intel processor is like designing a bicycle around a V8 truck engine. Even recent attempts to make them low-power are laughable; the Intel Atom may draw an unheard-of 4 watts, but the new generation of ARM chips have about the same processing capabilities and draw *0.3* watts (plus you get a DSP and a PowerVR 3D accelerator for free).

The only possible reason for wanting an IA32 processor is if you're going to run Windows; which is fine, if you want to do that, but I don't. So why should I, and all the people like me, be restricted to having to using hardware that's crippled by the need by a ludicrously power-hungry processor and all the heat-dissipation hardware necessary to make it go? I have an Asus eee 701; it has a *fan* in it. That's simply absurd in a machine that size.

Lose the Intel processor, and it'll be cheaper, lighter and you're probably quadruple the battery life...

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