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"Netbooks" Move Up In Notebook Rankings

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the changing-mix dept.

Portables 139

Ian Lamont writes "For the first time, a list of popular notebook reviews shows three 'netbooks' in the top 10. The netbooks use Intel's Atom processor.'s editor says there has never been more than one netbook in its monthly ratings. The reason for the netbooks' sudden popularity no doubt relates to the price and basic functionality, but there's a catch. Despite calling Atom a 'high-performance' chip, Intel cautions people not to confuse netbooks with notebooks, as netbooks will be unable to take on video editing or other processor-intensive tasks. This leads to the question of how netbooks will be able to handle demanding Web apps — or whether Web apps will have to be slimmed down to accommodate millions of netbook owners."

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Yuppies (4, Insightful)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | about 6 years ago | (#25259771)

This is sort of like comparing these netbooks to that Apple sub-notebook that has only one USB port and a power port, no other externally accessible I/O devices. Except that these netbooks are affordable and that Apple thing is, well, for yuppies to show off at the cafe.

Vaginas (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25259821)

Vaginas are tasty.

Hairy ones, however, are gross.

Re:Vaginas (0, Offtopic)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | about 6 years ago | (#25259841)

Only in your dreams, since you have never been within a hundred miles of one in real life.

Re:Vaginas (1, Funny)

Reikk (534266) | about 6 years ago | (#25260131)

Palin's cunt smells like Alaskan salmon

Re:Vaginas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260481)

Uh, wrong. He passed through his mother's vag-ina.

Re:Vaginas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260135)

Please let's not turn Slashdot into a home for pedophiles.

Re:Vaginas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260521)

Uh, no. Lets. And we should plaster the place with shitting dick nipples [] .

Re:Vaginas (1, Flamebait)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 years ago | (#25260537)

"Please let's not turn Slashdot into a home for pedophiles."

That stuff should be kept in Church where it belongs.

Re:Yuppies (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | about 6 years ago | (#25260033)

This is sort of like comparing these netbooks to that Apple sub-notebook that has only one USB port and a power port, no other externally accessible I/O devices. Except that these netbooks are affordable and that Apple thing is, well, for yuppies to show off at the cafe.

No other I/O, except for audio, video, WiFi bluetooth, camera, microphone. Oh, and the "Apple thing" runs a full Core2Duo, not an Atom or C7.

The MacBook Air is like a "netbook pro". Very much like the Lenovo U110 (which is priced similarly to the Air).

Re:Yuppies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25262149)

The macbook air is a Big ass overheting POS,have you ever tried a eee 901 or something similiar, small and cool to the touch. Great battery life. The air has nothing compelling over a real netbook and it's certanly not a "pro" one.

Re:Yuppies (1)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#25260047)

As a Mac owner I agree that the Air is completely stupid for 99% of the people, and probably would have never made it to market if the eee had come out a little earlier.

But how about you stop your fucking trolling and not bring Apple into a discussion where they're completely irrelevant. /just got a sandwich, can afford to tear off a bit to feed the trolls.

Re:Yuppies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25261649)

I personally find the thread starter informative. Chill.

Re:Yuppies (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | about 6 years ago | (#25261879)

Why do I need other I/O ports, exactly?

We can only hope (5, Insightful)

martinw89 (1229324) | about 6 years ago | (#25259789)

We can only hope that the popularity of netbooks will slim down web apps and speed up JavaScript implementations. There's so much bloat that some websites feel slow (after fully loading of course) on my Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM. That's just unacceptable and we can all reap the benefits if netbooks lower the performance expectations of web developers. Nowadays hardware is cheaper than good development, but a little extra development can go a long way.

Re:We can only hope (4, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 6 years ago | (#25259963)

Nah. I think it's going to be something more dramatic. I've got this idea for local apps: natively compiled code that runs independently of a browser. Should be nice and fast, even on a "netbook."

Re:We can only hope (3, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25260159)

i know a lot of people complain about certain sites with AJAX interfaces being unbearably slow and resource-intensive, but i just haven't observed this.

i'm running a 4-year old Dell 2.8 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. it was a top of the line desktop when i first got it, but it can't hold a match against today's PCs, and i've rarely had any slowdowns due JavaScript alone. sure, if there's a digg discussion with 900+ comments, it'll take Firefox a few seconds to load it all, but those are extreme circumstances (though a little pagination would easily solve the problem) and not due to inherent complexity of the JavaScript implementation.

even a modestly powered netbook should have no problem with most AJAX interfaces. the YUI framework has some pretty slick JavaScript & AJAX UI implementations that really push the envelop in terms of responsive web interfaces, but even those interface elements aren't that resource intensive. the WYSIWYG editor control is a little heavy, but even a netbook should be able to handle it just fine--assuming they're not using a bloated and naturally resource-consuming browser.

there's a huge difference between not being able to do video editing on a system, and not being able to run web applications on it. but then again, i don't have a netbook. so we'll have to see what netbook owners have to say on this issue. personally though, i don't think web apps have gotten to the point where they require a dual core workstation to run smoothly on. if anything, it's the OSes and browser clients themselves that need slimming down.

Re:We can only hope (2, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | about 6 years ago | (#25260251)

i'm running a 4-year old Dell 2.8 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. it was a top of the line desktop when i first got it, but it can't hold a match against today's PCs, and i've rarely had any slowdowns due JavaScript alone. sure, if there's a digg discussion with 900+ comments, it'll take Firefox a few seconds to load it all, but those are extreme circumstances (though a little pagination would easily solve the problem) and not due to inherent complexity of the JavaScript implementation.

Turn JavaScript off, then re-open digg, and you'll notice the difference. It might not be enough to bother you, but it's very obvious on a side-by-side comparison.

Re:We can only hope (1)

scottschiller (1020773) | about 6 years ago | (#25261779)

At this point, RAM is in my opinion one of the larger potential bottlenecks for web apps.

Browsers can eat up a lot of memory while running JS-heavy "web apps", and leaks can result in hundreds of MB being used over time, causing excessive disk swapping etc.

On a laptop with WinXP and 512 MB of RAM, even Firefox using 200 MB of RAM (not an unrealistic number if you have a few tabs with mail, maps and other big sites open,) can start to hurt the overall system performance.

Re:We can only hope (5, Interesting)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 years ago | (#25260337)

We can only hope that the popularity of netbooks will slim down web apps and speed up JavaScript implementations.

At least that one's a solved problem: V8, TraceMonkey, SquirrelFish - the next generation of JS engines in the major browsers (with the obvious exception) are orders of magnitude faster than the current releases (in the literal 10 or 100 times faster sense). No idea what's going on with IE8, though.

I've heard claims that some of them are approaching the performance of unoptimized (ie -O0) native C, for what that's worth.

Also just saw some demos of GPU-accelerated animation in the <canvas> tag - it's really looking like we are in for a major shakeup as far as browser performance goes.

Re:We can only hope (4, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25260591)

now that's the direction we should be moving in. instead of ever more bloated software to cancel out any increase in hardware performance, we should start seeing cheaper and lower-end hardware sufficing for casual daily computer usage. as a result, we should see web browsing capabilities cascading down to smaller and smaller portable devices.

the rise in netbooks and the surge of other web-accessible smart appliances should transform the traditional web browsing experience into a transparent function of daily living. but this requires that netbooks and other smart devices provide the same intrinsic web browsing experience as desktop computers and laptops.

the WAP/WMLHTTP/HTML (mobiledesktop) divergence model proved to be a failure. this was because WAP browsers provided a crippled web browsing experience with no resemblance to the useful and convenient web experience users were accustomed to on their computers. people don't want a stripped down version of the web for their mobile devices. the whole point of smart devices is so that you can use the genuine web, in all of its original glory, anytime and anywhere you want.

people don't want to pay exorbitant fees for a cellular data plan just so they can find out that their favorite sites don't have a netbook-optimized version. until the day people are using their browsers to edit videos or do CAD work, there shouldn't be a separate tier of web applications just for sub-laptop devices.

Re:We can only hope (1)

aztektum (170569) | about 6 years ago | (#25260751)

Amen, brother.

I wonder how much bandwidth is wasted on Flash and Javascript? I have a chuckle when I goto Verizon, Comcast, etc. sites and see all the Flash on there, and then they turn around and bitch about bandwidth hogging web services.

Boo urns

Re:We can only hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25261157)

The whole point of good web apps is to keep all of the processing at the server, not at the client.

I have an Aspire One reloaded with Ubuntu and it is fantastic as what I need it for - remote terminal access. Citrix client, SSH, serial terminal and web.
It can also do OK at movies and music, and once I get the larger battery pack I have ordered will be good for a full working day away from power.
Once I jailbreak my iphone, it will also not need a wifi connection 8)
Oh, and not a single piece of MS software is required for all this to work 8)

Re:We can only hope (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#25262079)

I would imagine most of the blame here rests with Flash, and not with Javascript.

I just bought my eee pc 900 today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25259801)

I paid 1600 dollars for my vaio sr series and 350 for my eee....I love what asus has done to the market!

Re:I just bought my eee pc 900 today! (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | about 6 years ago | (#25260059)

Same. Just got my eee pc 900 (the 20gb model, not the slow 16gb) for 288. The xo was nice, and a great e-book reader, but the limited screen size, speed and capacity as well as the difficulty of installing various os's made it not worth it for me. I figure the eee 900 will do me just fine until a via nano or arm a8 or a9 netbook comes out. Something like the Pandora with higher specs (0.5 to 1gb RAM and a 1.1ghz ARM ) and a netbook form factor would be bliss.

Re:I just bought my eee pc 900 today! (2, Interesting)

Noodlenose (537591) | about 6 years ago | (#25262409)

I just bought an Acer Aspire One [] after the eee I wanted was pretty much out of stock everywhere. While the Linpus apps are mostly rubbish compared to the EEE's Xandros, the machine is well built and does what it says on the tin (albeit with rubbish batterylife). I bought it to replace my destroyed Macbook, and I have to admit that I don't particularly miss it. FB

Acer aspire one all the way. (5, Informative) (1124133) | about 6 years ago | (#25259839)

The listed top 10 are hardly all "netbooks". Acer Aspire One is the best of the bunch IMO; and the fact that you can customize (even Mac OS X ?) to your heart's content, gets added brownie points. Most popular Linux OS can be easily installed on the aspire one if Linpus doesn't cut it for you. Here is a list of "hacks" (whatever you wanna call it) []

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (2, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#25260017)

Agreed, I can't recommend the eeepc 701 anymore. My eeepc 701's limited screen seems like working with a Nintindo DS compared with my Acer One. Not to mention the hardware bugs of the 701, like the USB ports staying on when the netbook is off: this *kills* USB powered hard drives when the batteries fail. The Acer seems to have much higher quality than the Asus this time.

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (2, Interesting)

orkysoft (93727) | about 6 years ago | (#25260861)

this *kills* USB powered hard drives when the batteries fail.

Could you please explain? Does the battery failure actually break the drive?

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (2, Informative)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#25261253)

Could you please explain? Does the battery failure actually break the drive?

Yes. Run a USB powered hard drive from a USB port with too little current and the drive will start clicking as it malfunctions. It can fail to start up after that. Data cannot be recovered.

Which brand? (0)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#25261359)

Run a USB powered hard drive from a USB port with too little current and the drive will start clicking as it malfunctions. It can fail to start up after that. Data cannot be recovered.

Which brand of USB-powered hard drive fails to cleanly shut down on insufficient current, so that I can buy the competitor?

Re:Which brand? (1)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#25261723)

Toshiba, IBM, Seagate... I have a collection over the years.

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (3, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 6 years ago | (#25260075)

Definately. When my old Windows laptop croaked a month ago, I was on the verge of finally breaking down and getting a MacBook or MacBook pro to replace this 12.1" Powerbook. I happen to be at Best Buy, saw the Acer Aspire One with 1GB of Ram, 120GB HDD, and XP home for $350 and brought it home with me.

I only need to test compatibility with MSIE for webpages and there are 2 windows-only applications that I love to use for rapid development/deployment of database driven sites and the Aspire One handles them great. True, I have to carry around two machines, but it is nice to be able to write code on my 12.1" Powerbook and view the changes on the Aspires screen or the other way around. I can fit the two small laptops on a small table at the coffee shop I usually work out of side by side and it's almost like having a dual monitor set up that is 7lb total.

My only problem is going from an apple keyboard to the netbook's keyboard layout side by side. That can cause some copy paste errors when I'm tired.

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (1)

Daniel Weis (1209058) | about 6 years ago | (#25260253)

try synergy :)

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25261627)

Would Synergy help out with this?

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | about 6 years ago | (#25260079)

I think the Aspire looks like one of the best out there, but it was a competition between an A1 and a eee 900 for me as to which I could find a sub-$300 deal on first. The eee just won out at 288. I'm not too keen on the Atom in the A1 though - I'd rather get a Nano-based HP 2133 (Aluminum and Magnesium case FTW) if/when they become available.

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | about 6 years ago | (#25260267)

I don't know; even though the Acer Aspire One with 8GB SSD is only 300$ (although I can't find it at WorstBuy/PrehistoricShop anymore) and it also comes with an option for a 120GB HDD, LED backlit screen...

The Dell E is passively cooled. No moving parts whatsoever. Sure, it's 80$ more here to match the 8GB of the Aspire One... But passively cooled! For the screen and keyboard, HP has everybody beat. So I don't know anymore. Can you stand a winey fan? (and I hear Dell's E keyboard is not too bad) Not to mention, you'll be trying to match Dell pricing, and I'm hoping the price will fall down to 300$ very fast.

Re:Acer aspire one all the way. (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 years ago | (#25260379)

Seconded. I recently bought one and was very with the performance and build quality, for something that costs $320.

Way better experience than the EEE, and at this point, it's what, less than half the price?

Haven't tried the MSI Wind yet, supposedly it can give Acer a run for the money.

Lose the fan, improve battery life (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 6 years ago | (#25262353)

Acer and Asus are doing great. MSI Wind is also nice. I'm only slightly disappointed to see all those netbooks still requiring a fan for cooling, and still achieving about 2.5 - 3 hours of battery life.

I could settle for a much slower processor, if that would mean a cool, slim and silent machine that would also run for 8 hours on battery.

I mean really, isn't it basically a reader / typewriter? If some websites may get slow, so be it.

I think there is a market for two varieties of netbooks: "long play, cool" ones, and "high power, hot" ones.

Going to buy one any day now. (1)

germansausage (682057) | about 6 years ago | (#25259849)

I ride a bus about an hour to work and back each day. I've tried bringing a laptop, to see if I can't get some productivity out of that 2 hours, but the regular 15" laptops are too big and heavy for me. I was looking at the sub-13" laptops, but those were always uber premium executive toys with the high prices to match. I'm thinking a netbook is just what I need. Hey, for $350 I can afford to buy one and not be out too much cash if it turns out not to be what I'm looking for.

Re:Going to buy one any day now. (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 6 years ago | (#25261189)

Generally, yes, sub-13" "notebooks" are quite pricey compared to their 15" equivalents.

I just bought a HP 2230s [] . Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM with a 12" 1280x800 screen. Unlike certain netbooks it has bluetooth, which should be standard in any consumer device. It also has a HDMI port for when I purchase a 24" LCD!

For around $US1K, it has similar specs but in a smaller form factor at less than half the price of a notebook I bought 18 months ago - which has sadly just died, out of warranty :(

It's powerful enough for my professional uses (Java coding) and I couldn't imagine going any smaller with respect to keyboard width. YMMV but for me the netbooks didn't have enough grunt but around $1K seems like a sweet spot, price wise.

And, yeah, there's heaps of extra space in my old backpack!

Not the big deal... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25259887)

The problem isn't if Netbooks can handle web apps, it is the question of if they are usable on a tiny screen. For example, Google maps, though "usable" usually requires me to zoom out a bit on Firefox 3, go to fullscreen mode, and hide the sidebar in order for me to use it on my EEE (701, 4G Surf running eeeXubuntu).

Re:Not the big deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260003)

I have a similar problem, I've alleviated it a little by doing the same as above, ramping the DPI for fonts up so it's just readable and sometimes running at 1024x768 and scaling it to 1024x800, which helps a lot but kills graphics performance.

My biggest issue with it is how hard they keyboard is to adapt to, I suppose for apps like Google Maps this isn't a problem, but any app that's used primarily for content creation will be difficult to use on a netbook, a problem that can't be fixed without making the netbook bigger to fit a better keyboard.

I bought my Eee with the intention of using it as a quick reference tool and for taking notes in lectures, if I need to do any heavyweight browsing chances are I don't need to do it when I'm away from a full PC, either in a lab or at home. For apps that are primarily for creation of content (google office etc) I think a lighter version might only be needed for viewing or very light editing, I can't imagine anyone wanting to type out an entire document using a netbook.

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25260069)

Myself, the EEE's keyboard is at least usable if not decent for typing out documents, etc. I can type close to full speed on it and not make any more typos then I would on a full sized keyboard. But, it could just be me, I have very small hands, so it would naturally be easier for me to type on it than someone who has larger hands. But the one thing that annoys me about the EEE's keyboard is the lack of a Caps Lock light, which, isn't much of a problem in Xandros as an icon shows up in the taskbar, it is a pain on any other OS as it doesn't have that built in.

Re:Not the big deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260629)

That never bothered me since I stopped using caps in favour of shift a long time ago, it's come around to bite me in the ass now though; I keep moving the caret up instead of capitalising whatever I type.

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

Provocateur (133110) | about 6 years ago | (#25261275)

a problem that can't be fixed without making the netbook bigger to fit a better keyboard

Wish that IBM or Lenovo would ride this bandwagon too. They have a good-sized case in the workpad z50 back then (not the palm, the subnotebook wannabe [] ), so why not resurrect it. This way, they got the "low-end" covered too :-)

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

pherthyl (445706) | about 6 years ago | (#25260085)

Well since most of the new netbooks have significantly bigger screens than the 701, that's not really a problem anymore.

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25260111)

But most aren't as cheap as the $300 701 though. A lot of people who don't know much about computers may just go for the cheapest laptop.

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

ColaMan (37550) | about 6 years ago | (#25262487)

Tried getting panning working? I whipped up an app for my 701 eee (based on i810pan) to do this. Gives you 1024x768 panning, which is rather handy. i810pan needs software cursors enabled which buggers up hardware acceleration, hence my version.

it's here. []

It's still a little clunky round the edges, but it works and fills a need for me.

I turn it on when I need to use big-screen apps - mainly VirtualBox and XP for development for a particular embedded device, but Google maps is definitely another reason for it.

Re:Not the big deal... (1)

xs650 (741277) | about 6 years ago | (#25261433)

I just got an ASUS eee 1000h with 160G hard drive. 10 inch screen and weighs a hair over 3 lbs. Google Maps and Earth are very usable and I'm an old phart with bad eyesight. The keyboard is 92% of standard size and is easy to use. It's big for a netbook but way better than a normal notebook for travel.

It came with XP Home, I just added a Ubuntu eee which is Ubuntu optimized for the eee. Price was $470 at Amazon.

It's what I was waiting for since the first rumors of netbooks were leaked.

Acer and MSI make comparable models.

Video Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25259945)

I'll bet you can actually do video editing just fine on the Atom. I certainly had no trouble editing video years ago on a 650mhz cpu with Adobe Premiere 6. Of course, there's probably no way you could run the latest Adobe premiere on a netbook, but then again, they haven't really added anything to the software in the past 8 years other than bloat.

Re:Video Editing (1)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | about 6 years ago | (#25259997)

Well, Atom chips are in-order and it's been shown that the 1.6ghz one in all the netbooks these days is actually slower than the Celeron 900mhz in the original EeePC. And I'm pretty sure you weren't editing at a very high resolution on a 650mhz CPU, which is the main problem with video editing.

Re:Video Editing (1)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#25260145)

I believe the Atom is underrated by Intel's marketing just like the Celeron was when it was introduced as a "budget" processor. I'm running Gentoo on my Acer One and compiling is many times faster than the eeepc 701. Its a very fast chip with high IO bandwidth. I believe all the bad hype is deliberate from Intel to steer consumers towards the higher dollar models. This chip is a cool cat as it runs more with far less power.

Re:Video Editing (1)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | about 6 years ago | (#25260217)

What? Benchmarks don't lie. I can't find the ones for the 900mhz Celeron, but look at this:,1981-15.html []

It's way slower than a 1.2ghz Celeron, which makes it seem like you're full of BS. Also, there's been a tremendous amount of positive hype behind the Atom, and I'm sure Intel makes a pretty decent margin on these chips since they aren't very expensive to make.

Re:Video Editing (1)

dattaway (3088) | about 6 years ago | (#25260299)

I don't know much about benchmarks, but here's how my Aspire One seems quite impressive running from three small lithium cells:

localhost dattaway # hdparm -tT /dev/sda /dev/sda:
  Timing cached reads: 1262 MB in 2.00 seconds = 630.53 MB/sec
  Timing buffered disk reads: 184 MB in 3.00 seconds = 61.29 MB/sec

That's the first time I've seen a netbook transfer files around that quick. Copying directories confirms it. The IO of my eeepc is a magnitude slower. And integer performance seems much faster too:

bogomips : 3193.99

Way slower on floating point.. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 years ago | (#25260387)

But only about 10-20% slower on integer code.

Re:Video Editing (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 years ago | (#25261311)

"And I'm pretty sure you weren't editing at a very high resolution on a 650mhz CPU, which is the main problem with video editing"

I'm sure that HD editing would suck; but I edited a feature-length DV movie on a PII-350 with 256MB of RAM... I'd hope that an Atom would be faster than that was.

Re:Video Editing (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | about 6 years ago | (#25262041)

HD native would be intolerable - but for limited stuff using low res proxy formats, sure, it'd work just fine for the basic clipping/timeline work. Of course, it might not be very practical though :-).

Based on Click Counts (4, Informative)

vitaflo (20507) | about 6 years ago | (#25259975)

FWIW, the rankings are based on click counts to the reviews of laptops on the site mentioned in the OP. It has nothing to do with actual sales.

Re:Based on Click Counts (1)

gravesb (967413) | about 6 years ago | (#25260027)

I wonder if the high click throughs are due to the low price.

Of course web sites can't ignore netbooks (1)

steveha (103154) | about 6 years ago | (#25260035)

Over time, computers have become more and more powerful. And people always find uses for the additional power. If anyone tells you that we "don't need more power", ignore them.

But the netbooks show that there is a solid niche for people doing basic tasks wherever they want to go. I love going to small local espresso shops, and enjoying some sort of coffee drink while reading Slashdot. Even my OLPC XO is adequate for this, let alone an Atom-powered netbook. If anyone tells you that netbooks "aren't powerful enough", ignore them.

In fact, netbooks are powerful and have huge screens compared to PDAs and phones, and web sites shouldn't ignore PDAs and phones either. All the major web sites need a three screen strategy [] : their sites should work on TVs for living-room users, the site should work on PCs, and their sites should work on phones.

P.S. I was amused by the example from the summary. Video editing? Oh noes, my netbook is underpowered for video editing. How many people thought otherwise?


Re:Of course web sites can't ignore netbooks (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 6 years ago | (#25261063)

Oh noes, my netbook is underpowered for video editing. How many people thought otherwise?

This is becoming standard notebook-vendor marketing B.S. Think up some activity that used to require the full processor power of a desktop PC but can now be done with the specs of your average laptop. Advertise, explaining that beginning this year the top of your line of laptops can do everything that a desktop can. Next year, pretend everybody has been clamoring to do this activity on their laptops and that they will no longer settle for less. Never mind whether anybody really wants to do it or not.

I mean, seriously. You've just shot a digital video of your niece cutting her birthday cake. And while everybody else is sitting down for a much-needed glass of wine, you scuttle off to the den to trim off the botched shots, add a 3-D rendered credits sequence to the video in Adobe Premiere, and burn DVDs for the other parents. All before 6pm. Right?

video decoding (1)

fermion (181285) | about 6 years ago | (#25260071)

My main worry about these netbooks is video decoding. I have had trouble decoding flash video on a few years old. The same holds true for the HD like movies with DRM. I know that the primary use of these machines is not to watch video, but you know it will become a dominant use. The net book makers should learn from the mistakes Apple made in the late 90's and the class action lawsuits from the DVD player that almost worked.

Re:video decoding (1)

Broken Toys (1198853) | about 6 years ago | (#25260221)

For video decoding use VLC. I installed VLC on an Acer Aspire One running Linpus and it works quite nicely.

The greater problem is that you can drain the battery in about two hours and that can be a problem if you're planning to watch videos on a long flight.

Re:video decoding (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260353)

I do the same thing. VLC is the greatest thing next to white bread. VLC will work perfectly with the same content that iTUnes chokes on. As many nice features as iTunes has, and for audio it really revolutionized the way I listen to music, for video it is junk POS.

But, one not everyone knows that it exists and should be the player of choice. Two, VLC does not always work well with flash media. It will play, but it sometimes crashes when using the foward/backwards. And, of course, it does not work with DRM media of the kind of content delivered by the likes of Amazon, which often are the exact media that imposes the overhead that kills many machines.

Re:video decoding (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 6 years ago | (#25260821)

The other option would be SMPlayer, a nice frontend to mplayer, which also gains popularity in circles that are already using VLC (I use one of the other, depending on the situation).

Has ridiculously low cpu usage. And generally feels much lighter/snappier.

Re:video decoding (3, Interesting)

raistlinwolf (1365893) | about 6 years ago | (#25260317)

I wonder what flash advertising is doing for battery life. I'd like to view a site through a notebook portal to address these 'battery life' concerns, to stop all of the moving pictures. While they are at it, web developers could put all of the text on the same page (like Tom's Hardware, not that I've been there in years...), also to extend 'battery life'.

Re:video decoding (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260567)

(insert obligatory Firefox + AdBlock Plus advertisement here)

Re:video decoding (2, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 6 years ago | (#25260393)

> My main worry about these netbooks is video decoding
Video decoding is fairly easy... it's ENCODING that really sucks down the CPU cycles. Old computers didn't have problems decoding video in realtime because they were too slow... they choked because they didn't have enough RAM to keep everything related to the video buffered in physical RAM, and keep it there while doing other background tasks. The moment you start getting page faults and swapping things out to hard drive, all bets are off... even with a dual-core CPU.

I just bought a MSI Wind a few days ago (with second SoDIMM for 2 gigs total). It's surprisingly fast, even for things like Netbeans and Visual Studio. The key? Lots and lots of RAM. Avoid swapping, and everything else falls into place... even with a "slow" CPU. A Vista/XP/Linux-with-Compiz notebook with 2 gigs, 5400RPM hard drive, and a 500MHz Pentium III will probably provide better real-world performance than a "modern" budget notebook with 512mb, ~2GHz Celeron M, and 4200RPM hard drive because the "faster" new one will run out of RAM almost immediately and be shackled to its slow hard drive, while the "slower" old one will chug along nicely because it doesn't have to keep violently lurching back and forth as it swaps things between physical ram and the hard drive.

Sure beats the expensive "Subnotebooks" (4, Interesting)

PhotoGuy (189467) | about 6 years ago | (#25260077)

I've always been a fan of the "subnotebook." I had the first model of the Toshiba Libretto, the size of VHS cassette, circa 1998. The odd person would laugh at its size, but meanwhile I was using it at restaurants, comfortably on a plane while eating a meal, and so forth.

(One time on a plane the stewardess pointed at my lap and said, "wow, that's the smallest one of those I've ever seen!" Man, did she ever turn red when she realized how that sounded. I held up the laptop to make it quite clear what she was referring to :S)

When Toshiba announced a new version of the Libretto, I jumped on buying one. Updated specs, wifi, bluetooth, 2ghz, yadda, yadda, yadda. I even bought the three year SystemGuard with it; even if a drink spilled on it, they would cover me.

Unfortuantely, I had a few hardware problems with it, post warrantee, but within the 3-year system guard. I had it to two different service depots, where it sat for months. When I got it back, nothing was done to it. Dropped it off again. The bluetooth and wifi weren't working. The DVD dock never did work right. I wrote a frustrated noted to the President of Toshiba Canada, and have been playing phone tag with someone ever since, trying to get this damn laptop working again. It's a good chunk of a year I've been without it.

I see these EEE PC's kicking around for a few hundred dollars. I could have bought a few of them, with what I spent on the Libretto (and not been without a tiny laptop for months). The System Guard warrantee alone would have paid for one. If I can't get half decent service on a more expensive "subnotebook," which I mainly use for wireless web access, email, word processing, and other lightweight tasks, I might as well pick up cheap and semi-disposable netbooks.

Toshiba, if you're listening, I would love to regain my trust and dedication to your brand; when I had a big company, we bought dozens of your laptops, but I don't think I'd ever touch them again, after this terrible service experience...

If I don't get some resolution before my System Guard is up this December, I'll likely just dispose of the Libretto on eBay, and pick up an EEE PC. A sad demise for a rather pioneering legacy by Toshiba. If the EEE PC dies outside the warrantee period, I'll just grab another one, or whatever else has come out since. It really is becoming a commodity item, which I welcome.

Re:Sure beats the expensive "Subnotebooks" (1)

scottschiller (1020773) | about 6 years ago | (#25261755)

I'm a subnotebook fan also. I got a Fujitsu Lifebook back in 2006 for about $1400 (USD). 10.6" (diagonal) LCD, 1280x768, 512 RAM with XP, no fans, suede material on the bottom - no, really - 3 pounds, and from 3 to 4 hours of battery life thanks to some nice power management features.

It also ran variants of "Hackintosh" from what I'd heard due to the Intel GMA chipset. It's pricier than the more modern machines out there, but it's a great little laptop given the balance of size/features/price. I regularly get people asking about it when I'm out at coffee shops, etc.

Been seriously considering one myself for coding (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | about 6 years ago | (#25260105)

Anyone have ideas on what the best netbook for writing code would be? All of the reviews look at them from the perspective of web browsers, media viewer and document viewer/writers. I'm more interested in a super-portable machine for writing code and using as a remote desktop viewer.

To me the Dell Mini 9 has the best specs as far as build quality, features and price but while the keyboard is nice and "large" (relatively) it puts the braces {} and brackets [] plus some others in very awkward places that seem like it would make code editing a pain. I wish you could buy the discounted Linux version with a webcam (even if it won't work in Linux).

Next on my list would be the Lenovo S10 but it's a bit more expensive and uses a hard-drive instead of SSD. Seems like a better keyboard layout but the keyboard itself has a cheap/poor feel.

Neither of those two have very good battery life. Not what I would expect from something that uses so little power. Plus they all could benefit from a higher vertical resolution (or a rotatable screen).

Re:Been seriously considering one myself for codin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260445)

I'm using an Eee PC 701 every day for coding and server maintenance. These little things are great for that. Mine is of course all tricked out with 2GB RAM, 16GB SD card and Mandriva Linux. You won't be sorry if you get yourself a new 901 and Mandriva fully supports it.

Rotatable screen (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 6 years ago | (#25261025)

Plus they all could benefit from a higher vertical resolution (or a rotatable screen).

I don't know if this is widely known, but the Asus Eee PC (at least the 901, the first Atom processor model) has a "rotatable screen," at least in the software sense. Hit Ctrl-Alt-RightArrow and it goes into portrait mode. Hit Ctrl-Alt-DownArrow and it will even flip upside-down. Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to use in these modes because the screen itself has no pivot. The fact that the touchpad doesn't change orientation makes it doubly difficult. It is handy for viewing certain kinds of documents, however.

That said, I don't think I'd recommend an Eee PC for any kind of serious coding. The braces and brackets are in the right places, but the keyboard is unbearably small for most people. I can type on it well enough, and I've used it to compose long documents, but I do not recommend it to other people sight-unseen. Worse, the Atom processor really is poky, and the solid-state drives perform poorly. I imagine that compiling something on the scale of a Linux kernel on a Eee PC would be pretty arduous and frustrating.

If I were you, I'd look into more traditional subnotebooks if you want a small laptop for coding. I've been very happy with models from Fujitsu in the past -- you don't find them in stores often, but Fujitsu makes a quality product. Mine took to Linux effortlessly. Sony also makes some very nice small machines, but I am suspicious of them because of Sony's poor track record with hardware support (short product lifespan, lots of proprietary drivers that can't be duplicated, etc). Panasonic might have something for you, also -- in any event, if you'll be running compilers I think you'll find that a more traditional processor and standard hard drives are what you'll want.

eee1000 (2, Informative)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | about 6 years ago | (#25261171)

Asus eeepc1000. I'm using the one with the hard drive. It's a solidly built machine with a 10" screen and a battery life which is about double that of the nearest competitor. They're going for $460 on some order sites.

If you can live with a slightly smaller screen and if battery life isn't terribly important, then the Aspire One looks like a pretty great deal with a lot of happy users and an 8Gb SSD.

I find writing on the eee1000H really easy. Nice, big keyboard, and a decent screen size. If the machine were any bigger and it wouldn't be comfortable or easy to use, any smaller, it would feel limiting. (I've owned a couple of other small machines over the years, and I find a good screen size is vital for comfort in writing; I don't know how it is for coding, but I find I need to see more than just the immediate line of text I'm working on to write effectively. SSD seems like a good idea, but the laptop hard drive in the Asus works just fine. A friend of mine dropped one while it was playing a video and it didn't skip a beat. --Though I don't know if that would be such a good idea if it was trying to write at the time, but then I don't drop my hardware.


Re:Been seriously considering one myself for codin (1)

wikinerd (809585) | about 6 years ago | (#25262093)

The ASUS Eee 900's keyboard is acceptable for coding.

Re:Been seriously considering one myself for codin (1)

wombat21 (1378555) | about 6 years ago | (#25262283)

If you are serious about coding, I strongly recommend that you invest in one of the more expensive full-featured machines. I found that the best option on the Aspire One was to kill X and use virtual consoles, but vi and the Linux command line wont be everyone's ideal development environment. The keyboard on the Aspire is quite usable, but the trackpad sucks bigtime. The other area where the Aspire shines is in the role of dedicated database and web server during development, assuming you aren't dealing with terabytes of data, and mine sits on my desk doing exactly that 8-plus hours a day. My requirements are modest, but given that you can set up a fully-fledged Java development environment - database, app server, IDE, kitchen sink - on a midrange laptop, its difficult to recommend the little guys for coding.

Real Web App Limitation (5, Insightful)

IPSection (226113) | about 6 years ago | (#25260155)

is the 1024x600 resolution of these netbooks. A lot of website and webapps are designed for a minimum of 1024x768. Those missing pixels do make a difference ....

Re:Real Web App Limitation (1, Informative)

Arngautr (745196) | about 6 years ago | (#25260381)

I also highly recommend the Tiny Menu [] extension for FF.

Re:Real Web App Limitation (1)

orkysoft (93727) | about 6 years ago | (#25261035)

How would you do that on the Dell? ;-)

Re:Real Web App Limitation (1)

Volatar (1099775) | about 6 years ago | (#25261675)

view -> fullscreen

Re:Real Web App Limitation (1)

wikinerd (809585) | about 6 years ago | (#25262031)

Ugh, those Dells! If they had put a regular keyboard I would be willing to become their customer, but with such a keyboard I am not going to.

XGA please (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25260875)

The real advantage to these netbooks is travelling around with them to give talks. You know, on those projectors they have everywhere.

The ones that


I'm sorry, I get a little emotional. To have the perfect solution for travelling and giving talks, but then have to resort to moving the mouse on the WVGA screen so I can see what the audience is seeing at the bottom of my slide.

Re:XGA please (2, Informative)

wikinerd (809585) | about 6 years ago | (#25262019)

Use a presenter and don't look at your computer's screen at all! When I give presentations I use a computer pointing and laser pointer device (presenter) which allows me to control my computer while looking at the audience or the wall. I can move the mouse pointer, go down or up a page, etc. In fact I have four such presenters.

Re:Real Web App Limitation (2, Informative)

Onaga (1369777) | about 6 years ago | (#25261065)

I am a web developer and also own a EEE PC. Websites with fixed height are declining. People are designing with the idea of "above the fold" and don't really care about the vertical scrolling.

Moreover, with my EEE PC I browse in full screen mode (F11), have a plugin to replace the menu-bar with a button next to the address bar, and also have a tiny-button theme which is even smaller than the default firefox "small buttons" option. I don't really care enough to do an actual comparison, but I think it's pretty damn close to a regular 1024 x 768 with menu bar + big buttons + windows taskbar.

Re:Real Web App Limitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25261213)

Sux in XP because you can really do nothing with the GUI to optimise it.
In Ubuntu I sue small fonts for window titles, maximus to hide the title bar completely when maximized, and a neat replacement task manager that is much more space efficient. Then in Firefox, hit F11 to go full screen when I really need it.

Re:Real Web App Limitation (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 6 years ago | (#25261293)

*If* this encourages web designers to make their websites more flexible w.r.t screen real estate, it's a good thing. It's not always just a reduction of height but width, also. e.g. Nokia's maemo devices using an 800x480 screen.

No more horizontal scrollbars!

At the other end of the scale, websites that use a fixed width narrow band of content surrounded by side ads are most annoying on a pixel dense screen - you're sometimes left with vast empty expanses either side and text too small to read in the middle. Increasing font size doesn't help if the width doesn't scale - you just end up with fewer words! Scaling (ctrl-scrollwheel) works a little better.

Web 2.0 (5, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 6 years ago | (#25260385)

If your modern web apps can't run on a 1.6Ghz dual core or hyperthreaded CPU. then I think I'll blame the web apps and not the CPU. Does the Internet have to be this hard? What sort of supercomputer tasks does it take to render an interactive webpage?

Re:Web 2.0 (1)

the_raptor (652941) | about 6 years ago | (#25261073)

The Atoms aren't like other CPU's from Intel. They only really have what Intel decided was the most common instructions for their domain implemented in real hardware, the rest don't have dedicated hardware. So depending on what instructions a program is using, the Atom can perform slower then a much lower rated CPU (I have seen benchmarks where they get beaten by 400-500Mhz Celerons).

That said, I own an Acer Aspire One, and it feels faster then any of the computers I owned up until 2005.

Re:Web 2.0 (2, Interesting)

wombat21 (1378555) | about 6 years ago | (#25262197)

I have an Aspire One (1GB, XP/Ubuntu on dual boot, yada yada) : I dont expect it to have the same grunt as the 2.2GHz dual core processor in my Macbook Pro or the Centrino 2 in my HP dv9 : it seems that I may be in the minority. We want it all - a 500 buck laptop that plays Crysis at 80fps while wowing the latte set and impressing our corporate overlords with the our sudden increase in productivity. Like the 'perfect' programming language (or car/surfboard/whatever) it doesn't exist. Here in Oz, the Aspire is roughly 1/6th the price of the MBP and the HP : I dont see it as 1/6th the machine. Battery life is fast becoming my number one criteria in portable devices, whether its a music player or a laptop, and its an area where most of the current offerings fall down.

Re:Web 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25262209)

Javascript is still slow,lacks (decent)libraries,
and its doesn't allow novices to develop something that eats less megabytes.
Its not yet a rival to anything on the desktop or replace java."Web 3.0" is simply too wasteful to be practical.Don't even ask about DOM.

leads to the question (1)

Threni (635302) | about 6 years ago | (#25260403)

> This leads to the question of how netbooks will be able to handle demanding Web apps

Which leads to the answer "Yes, of course they can. They can run full versions of OSes like Ubuntu - why can't they run a script language like Javascript, or display video/animations like Flash?"

Acer provides shockingly bad support, but fortunately there are independent forums where you can go for help. I'm using mine to learn about Linux for the first time and I'm quite enjoying it.

Youtube works fine. (1)

pomegranatesix (809489) | about 6 years ago | (#25260715)

I'm a college student. My netbook is used mostly to take notes during class, and to check email between classes (and occasionally during class, if it's an especially boring class.)

I don't need a super computer here :P Though, I will note that it's plenty good enough to load Youtube so I can keep up with my buddies on the latest viral video. However, my screen is just a LITTLE too small for when I'm trying to watch porn on redtube.... no joke, the height of the video is more than my browser window can accommodate without scrolling. (Sigh.)

web apps? demanding? (1)

Furan (98791) | about 6 years ago | (#25260727)

There were no examples cited of "demanding" web apps. I can't think of a single commonly used webapp that is "demanding" enough for a netbook to show weakness.

Could someone point me in the right direction?

Planning on getting one (1)

motang (1266566) | about 6 years ago | (#25260741)

I am planning on getting one myself maybe next year. I love the Eee Box especially with Xubuntu on it and I have been very happy with it. I am leaning more towards the Dell netbook as It comes preloaded with my favorite OS Ubuntu.

Waiting for a "non-knockoff" manufacturer (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 6 years ago | (#25260897)

It's one thing to do it cheap, but I'd rather wait for the fine folks at IBM/Lenovo make a shot at making one with quality. Asus and such seem to just cut corners wherever and hope you don't notice.

As for the ratings:
Hopefully they do the right thing and separate them into their own category. Netbooks have done enough damage to kill off S-IPS and reduce quality.

Re:Waiting for a "non-knockoff" manufacturer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25261371)

Lenovo did make one, it's called the S10 and it's TRIPLE the price of other netbooks.

Netbooks for pentesting and such (1)

certain death (947081) | about 6 years ago | (#25261113)

I have been looking at both the new HP netbook, as well as the Acer One. I just can't get myself to buy one. I have been thinking about it because I currently carry my Dell D630 (Desktop replacement...kinda) and 3 Compaq EVOs when doing Pen testing. It would be nice to carry about 3 or 4 of the netbooks, but I need processing power, as well as lots of memory, so any opinions on how they perform in such a situation?

you want to video-edit with a netbook? (1)

alizard (107678) | about 6 years ago | (#25261155)

Learn how to use a remote control app and run it on your desktop from wherever you and your netbook is. The reason why your netbook is small, light, and cheap is that it doesn't have the CPU or storage to run demanding apps like video editing.

Despite this, I'm fairly happy with my Linux eeePC.

These performance claims are questionable (5, Informative)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 6 years ago | (#25261749)

Intel keeps saying that it's Atom processors aren't heavy duty, but I think that's marketing spin to avoid taking the bottom out of the market for the more profit-laden processors.

I recently compared the Eee PC to my laptop. The Eee PC was able to calculate prime numbers at about 90% of the rate of my existing three-year old laptop. So, on a processor-to-processor comparison, they are about even. But the Eee PC also has three years of better hard drive, bus, and memory technology, and I expect it to fully whoop my laptop there.

Basically, I view these netbooks as having the same power as a 2-3 year old average laptop, but in a smaller form factor.

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