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Netbooks Have a Huge Impact On the PC Industry

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-can-has-netbook dept.

Hardware 416

Xbm360 writes "A report from researcher Canalys said 13.5 million netbooks were sold globally in the 1st half of 2009. Telecom companies have several bundling deals, with about 50 operators selling netbooks. The success of netbooks also surprised Microsoft & forced them to lower the prices of their XP Home licenses, to regain marketshare over Linux."

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It's fairly obvious why they are so successful... (5, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29414923)

You don't need the latest CPU or graphics chip when all you do online is watch porn.

A netbook does fine, heck you can even hold it up with one hand while keeping the other busy!

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (5, Interesting)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29414993)

I wouldn't have stated it that way, but I agree... people are realizing the race for powerful chips now exceeds the necessity of most people by magnitudes; most people just want to stay in touch and have access to the web. Even the usual word processing and home finance applications, which few average-Joes actually even use anyway, don't require squat for processing.

There was a netbook on display at Sam's Club that had a "is a netbook right for me" app running on it, so I took the test... the first question is if it was going to be your primary computer, and I said "yes," which ended the test with "this isn't powerful enough for your main computer, and the keyboard and display are too small!!!"

When I use a laptop as my "main" computer I don't like the keyboard or display, either... both external. Same thing I'd do with a netbook. I don't see the problem.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (5, Interesting)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415463)

I'm currently using a netbook as my primary computer, following hardware failure. I plugged in a real keyboard, mouse and speakers, which solves the biggest usability problem, and I'm running Ubuntu using the Maximus window manager to get the best use of the small screen. I've also customized Firefox to avoid wasted space. The biggest hardware limitation is the ram size. It's hard to go back from 4GB to 512MB. Hopefully I'll soon be back on a better computer, but the netbook is tolerable.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415945)

What netbook? Many of those have upgradeable RAM, and RAM is damn cheap nowdays. Might be worth $50 and some time to get the machine a bit more usable.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415995)

Indeed. People are keeping older computers longer now, and newer computers no longer require the purchase of top notch hardware to be useful. I can't remember the last time I bought anything other than the cheapest CPU Newegg offered for the motherboard I was looking to pair the chip with. For general usage there's barely any difference between the fastest chip they sell and the slowest - most home users would never tell the difference. RAM has also gotten cheap. $40 or so will buy you 4gb, which I'll not go so far as to claim is "all anyone will ever need", but realistically it's plenty enough for most desktop users. Heck 1GB is still plenty for most of them and that's been a very attainable number for nearly 10 years now.

Truthfully, despite having upgraded my processor and ram several times in between (mainly for stuff like gaming, video encoding, source compilation, etc), for BASIC usage my newest machine, a 2.5Ghz Phenom with 4GB of RAM, doesn't really feel any faster than my old Athlon 1.2Ghz with 1GB of RAM felt. I still want my faster machine for those times when I do just need to crunch some numbers (and most of Slashdot will need the same from time to time), but for your regular old users out there, they just don't do that sort of thing, and older (or in this case smaller and cheaper) will do them just fine.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (4, Informative)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415267)

Actually, an Atom N270/N280 has a pretty hard time playing back Flash video... so online porn isn't actually all that accessible on netbooks.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415361)

Try a Nano based 12". better display but still small enough. With reading glasses it is more usable too. Video plays fine one mine.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415939)

I watch Hulu all the time on my EEE 901 running XP. In 480p mode it can drop frames, but never in standard mode.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (2, Informative)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415321)

Maybe, maybe not. My netbook stutters a bit on high res youtube videos, and it stutters a good deal on HD h264 videos.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (2, Informative)

missing000 (602285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415383)

It probably had more to do with the ultra-cheap SSD that came with it than the CPU, something you can remedy for ~$40.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (3, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415577)

No, it is not fixable. Atom sucks at video playback and costs too much.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (2, Insightful)

missing000 (602285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415725)

Hmm, seems to work fine for me. Guess my Atom proc is special or something.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415983)

Do you happen to have hardware accelerated codecs by chance?

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (2, Informative)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415501)

if watching porn is all a customer wants then even a netbook is not necessary, just get one of those portable DVD players.

i think netbooks fill a niche, for those that want to read a website's text and don't want all the high end audio/video media, like slashdot or other websites with news and information, plus netbooks are good for email & basic office tools (school & work environment). it dont take 3D accelerated graphics to read text but most all high resolution video (and games) require a good quality video card and driver along with some decent screen realestate...

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415561)

With a portable DVD player you have to buy DVDs, versus getting free new porn every day.

Re:It's fairly obvious why they are so successful. (3, Insightful)

Rennt (582550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415749)

Obvious is right. Consumers (me included!) had been hanging out for netbooks for at least 5 years before they actually appeared. The market was there all along, there was just no product. The fact that it took Microsoft + the collective OEM industry so long to figure it out is staggering.

In other news...... (0, Troll)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 4 years ago | (#29414961)

...."After trying everything else short of rape at gunpoint, thousands of geeks SUICIDAL after discovering that owning a Netbook will indeed NOT get them laid."

Taken with a grain of salt (1, Insightful)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29414977)

I'm tempted to classify this as a slashvertisement. I'm currently a major university and I've yet to see anyone with a netbook in any of my classes.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (5, Funny)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415037)

What were you in your former life? A library?

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (5, Interesting)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415065)

a slashvertisement for who exactly? i'm not a major university, but i do have netbook running archlinux

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (2)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415073)

And yet I have at least two or three students in each of my classes carrying a netbook and treating it like a notebook. Anecdotal stories work both ways because what is true for your university is not true for every university. For all you or I know, we are minorities. Your university could be the only one that has no netbooks, or mine could be the only one using them.

So, don't take it with a grain of salt. Just understand that an article saying they are used in college != every single college in the world will have netbooks exploding out of the chalkboards en mass.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (5, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415111)

Yeah but he *is* a major university. I'd say his data is more then just anecdotal.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415163)

We should probably be less concerned with his data on netbook usage in his classes, then, and more concerned with an intelligent campus. Think about it: several buildings under his control, several dozen super powerful computers all obeying him...Howl's Moving Castle mixed with HAL intelligence, methinks.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (2)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415103)

and I've yet to see anyone with a netbook in any of my classes.

Don't know where this major university is, but step off campus sometime and go to a Starbucks, Caribou, whatever.

Or go to an airport.

They're all over the place. What I would note is that owners are typically not college-paged. Mostly middle-aged.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415639)

Im a student at a community college and Ive seen at least half a dozen people with netbooks (Ive got an eee 1000h)

i love the damn thing, and keep telling people about it.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415307)

i'm currently a ferrari, and I say with me, you will get layed... ohh yes.. you will get layed.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415315)

I'm not a major university, but I've worked at one of the largest ones for 10 years now in the IT sector.

On a stroll through the student union / food court on any given day, I see dozens/scores of them.

I finally picked one up myself. I love mine. Its a refurb'ed winXP/hhd model which cost less than the wireless co's charge for one with a contract - now dual-booting w/ Ubuntu 9.04 quite happily.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415339)

Probably because only assholes use computers in lecture. And netbooks aren't really meant for all around use, mostly just the net and a few other things, I had a laptop at college, and while it was fairly bulky, I wouldn't have bothered with a netbook in addition, just because it wasn't necessary. But then again, I wasn't raised by parents that would shell out 5k a year to me either, so I might not be the best judge of what is and is not a waste of money.

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415553)

dude, you can get a used but decent laptop on craigslist for around 100 to 200 bucks, any more than that you might as well buy a new one (with included warranty)...

Re:Taken with a grain of salt (2, Funny)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415917)

Okay, not all people using laptops in class are assholes.

I've had professors that would cover 100+ slides in a 50 minute class. I can't write fast enough to keep up, but I *can* type fast enough. I sat in the back so I didn't disturb anyone.

With a netbook, the noise is minimal. The keys are usually pretty quiet, and there is no fan noise.

I do recall one asshole, though. He sat two rows ahead of me, and had a laptop. He used to watch porn in class. I don't remember a single lecture =)

NetPhones? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415025)

Add a port for a SIM card and with Bluetooth support they might have something even more people would want.

Re:NetPhones? (2, Insightful)

TBoon (1381891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415467)

But that would probably "classify" them as "phones", and thus either be terribly expensive, or be bundled with rip-off phone plans. Just look at the features of the Nokia Internet Tablets (N800/N810) vs an equally feature-rich "smartphone", and you'll notice that the N810 is roughly half the price simply because it's not a top-of-the-line "phone", and therefore has to be prices according to actual specs as an ultra-mobile "computer" and not "super-fancy phone"...

Re:NetPhones? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415689)

A top of the line smartphone has something like an OMAP3 with an OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU running at around 600MHz. The N800 has an OMAP2 with a fixed-function GPU and runs at around 400MHz. The N800 also lacks the hardware for communicating with the mobile network. It's not surprising that it's a lot cheaper than a modern smartphone...

Re:NetPhones? (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415623)

Quite a few of them now have HSPA hardware and a SIM slot built in. If you walk into a high-street mobile phone shop, you'll see a few examples on sale. They're often 'free' with a two year data contract, but you can also buy them with pre-pay plans for a more reasonable total cost, especially if you're mainly using WiFi and just want the HSPA as a fall-back.

Re:NetPhones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415887)

the HTC shift is almost like a netbook and it has built in Bluetooth/wifi/sim slot. it came out 2 years ago. the only problem is it is more of a tablet and has a terrible slideout keyboard.

Warning (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415031)

TFA is one of those that have a big photo, very little text, and is continued on page 2 (of how many I don't know; I refuse to slog through sites like this).

Re:Warning (3, Funny)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415957)

And this is what happens to people who serve big photos to Slashdot:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@itrunsonlinux.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2 Server at eeepc.itrunsonlinux.com Port 80

9" linux netbook was perfect (5, Informative)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415041)

I bought a 9" model with linux earlier this year.
Soon after, the linux models dried up, then the prices rose and the screen size crept up.

I should have bought 6 at Jan 2009 price. Baring a change of architecture which increases the battery life 5 fold, I conciser it to be perfect.
It doesn't need any more power because it does everything that I want from a computer the size of a hardback book.

Re:9" linux netbook was perfect (5, Interesting)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416047)

Seconded - I don't know if the model you bought was the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, but I bought this in March/09 and the went EOL shortly after. A contact in the industry (very large national reseller) says there is a concerted effort coming from OEMs and Intel to bump up screen size, features, but most importantly *PRICE* on netbooks and this very much appears to be taking place looking at today's offerings compared to what was available at the start of the year.

Seems the early Atom netbooks (as opposed to the earlier Asus eeePC with a Celeron CPU) did a little *TOO* good a job of providing everything you need for $300 or less.

Slashdot Users (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415051)

I wouldn't socialize with someone who went to junior college for 6 years, I wouldn't socialize with someone over 22 who worked at Best Buy, I wouldn't socialize with someone who was over 100 lbs. overweight... ... and I would never socialize with a Slashdot user! Sorry, guys. :(

Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (3, Interesting)

mprindle (198799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415071)

I have talked to several people that own or have owned netbooks. Most of the people don't like them. One person in general got a netbook from there husband. He got it since it was the cheapest thing he could buy. She hates it with a passion, but it does sorta what she wants just slowly. If I had to guess this type of story could be repeated over and over again. It was the cheapest thing so it was purchased even though the person that actually has to use it doesn't like it.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (5, Insightful)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415303)

One person in general got a netbook from there husband.

I don't even know where to begin with this sentence...

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415891)

One person in general got a netbook from there husband.

I don't even know where to begin with this sentence...

What sentence?

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416095)

I, for one, appreciate the explicit acknowledgment that the GP is extrapolating from a single data-point. It may still be foolish, but at least it's intellectually honest.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415323)

So, all this means is: try it before you buy it. Many retail stores have display models of netbooks these days. Try using it before you spend $300+ on it. I tried three models before getting one for my sister. On one, I could not type more than a few words on the keyboard without hitting the enter key, which was in a weird spot... or something like that. On another, it didn't look too great. I settled for the third. The touchpad buttons are too stiff, but other than that it's been working great. Would *I* want to use one? No, not personally.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (2, Informative)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415367)

Your post is full of nothing (the atrocious spelling aside...).

Without knowing what it is that this women tries to do with her netbook, it's pretty hard to judge whether it's the netbook's fault or the husband's for being a cheap bastard.

Sure, if she's surfing the net over wifi in her garden with several sturdy walls between her and the AP, then the netbook obviously will be slow. If she tries to play games, it's going to be way too slow.

So without giving any stats concerning the hardware and the use to which it is put, your post is just a pile of stinky whining. Oh and seriously, learn the difference between there, their and they're...

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415549)

WomAn. Jesus...

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415389)

That probably depends a lot on which netbook it is. I just got a Samsung N140 and installed Fedora 11 on it and increased the RAM to 2GB. For most things i use it for (including web development, apache and mysql, and running XP in a virtual machine), it's not noticeably much slower than my Core 2 duo Thinkpad with 4GB RAM.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415411)

That depends greatly upon what you're planning to use it for. If you're actually using it for the ability to do low intensity work far away from the home or the office, then it's not so bad. But idiots that buy them as a replacement for a proper desktop or laptop have no business bad mouthing them.

Personally, I'm getting one, mainly for a bit of email and net access away from my desktop, and the ability to use it for shell access when I don't want to go down stairs to check on the machine. I wouldn't personally suggest using such a device for too much more than that, although, a lot of them are probably halfway decent for retro gaming.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415703)

Exactly, a netbook is not a cheap laptop, it was never intended to be. If you buy one expecting it to be, you're gonna be disappointed. The question for me comes down to how you came by that conclusion. Did you decide for yourself or did the sales staff decide to sell you the cheapest "PC" they had even though they knew it wasn't suitable just to make the sale? Many people falling prey to these sales people and stores will be unhappy with their purchases. This is a large part of the reason why netbooks are returned. They are being mis-sold.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

oblivionboy (181090) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415447)

Thanks for your statistically irrelevant anecdote from One Person in General. Sounds very convincing. Please don't repeat over and over. Thanks.

(Currently written from my netbook, which I love dearly)

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415503)

I know of two people who were unhappy with their netbooks, but after a couple of questions, it became clear that they were unhappy with Windows XP's performance in that hardware.

I showed them my Ubuntu Netbook remix netbook and they were impressed. One of them even switched.

I think people have forgotten how slow and unwieldy XP was when a mid-tier computer had specs similar to today's "low-powered" netbooks...

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (4, Insightful)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415573)

Personally, I love mine. But I did a ton of research instead of just buying the cheapest netbook out there. My Samsung NC10 was known as one of the best, and I spruced it up by adding a 64GB OCZ Vertex SSD and a draft-n wireless card.

And the thing is, I actually sold my beautiful (and ridiculously powerful) Asus G1 because I noticed I was using the netbook for everything. I ride the train every morning and every night as a commute, and really the netbook is perfect for on-the-go computing. I can do my pylons development, whip up some satire, or anything else. Ubuntu and Compiz work fine on here, so why not? Still get my six hours of battery life, so I'll be the last to complain. It's all the computer I need, and I'm something of a minimalist.

If they could increase the screen resolution to have greater height and decrease the thickness, I'd say they'll have hit the sweet spot for commuters. 2.8 pounds and 10" have no problem just being stuffed in any bag, and I think that's where they really win. No need for a dedicated backpack, or case, or laptop tote... just stuff it in a bag with the rest of your stuff, and go.

I used to only build dual-CPU rigs, then I moved on to laptops only, and now I'm a huge fan of netbooks. Not sure where they'll go after this, but I know what my next upgrade will be.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415669)

I have talked to several people that own or have owned netbooks. Most of the people don't like them. One person in general got a netbook from there husband. He got it since it was the cheapest thing he could buy. She hates it with a passion, but it does sorta what she wants just slowly. If I had to guess this type of story could be repeated over and over again. It was the cheapest thing so it was purchased even though the person that actually has to use it doesn't like it.

It's comments like these and an above comment about the N270/280 not playing flash well that has me looking at the 13" Mac Book Pro instead, rather than having both a "real" notebook and a netbook seperately. For me it isn't the price, just a compromise on screen size.

I can't wait until the multi-core Atoms and ARMs are out and in use in netbooks.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415671)

I dunno, I purchased an EEEpc 1000H (10 inch screen), dropped another gig of ram into it and it works perfectly fine. I purchased it specifically to use as a computer for college. I already have to carry around a god awful amount of books and large binders and wanted something that I could pop out at a moments notice and do everything I would do on a regular notebook (or for that matter, my desktop). Does it take a half a second longer to save or open a large document? Sure, mostly because there's still a 5400 RPM drive in it. Do I really care? No. Is it worth the tradeoff to have something that slips into the one pocket I have left on my backpack, weighs a shade over 3 lbs and still allows me access to everything I could possibly want? Absolutely! I paid a touch over 500 for mine at the beginning of last fall and it has easily paid for itself with the number of hours I've used it.

  I know at least 6 of my class of 30 (nursing students) purchased netbooks after I bought mine, and they all love them.

For the record, mine plays video fine (though HD on hulu may VERY rarely stutter a small bit) and Guild Wars PVE is more than playable, even with a little wireless lag.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415757)

You need to tell us why the person didn't like it.

I wouldn't mind buying one, but fear my hands will be too big.

However, for my kids - who arleady use 100% Linux - they'd be great.

Re:Tons sold, how many ppl like them? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416027)

I currently own an HP model with a 10" screen and have no problem with the keyboard. Sure, its a tad bit different than usigna ful lkeyboard, but most laptop computers have that issues (Flat buttons and all).

take him to the store and have him try typign up a quick memo in word on the demo unit. It will take a bit, but shoudl be fine.

However, I would not want to be doing ample amount of typing on this (or any) laptop.

Kind of obvious (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415109)

So we have a story about a press release about a report by some unknown company. Big deal.

This is an important subject, though. The big issues are 1) will "netbooks" wipe out the notebook industry, 2) will "netbooks" become slaves to mobile phone companies, like handsets, 3) will Microsoft succeed in enforcing their ceiling on how powerful a netbook can get. The story addresses none of those issues.

The fascinating thing, and one that cries out for some good journalism, is how effectively Microsoft squashed the Linux netbook industry. The first netbooks all ran Linux. Eighteen months later, it's very hard to buy a Linux netbook. How did Microsoft get Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers to pay for a OS when they had successful products with a free one?

Re:Kind of obvious (4, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415205)

Technology doesn't move technology, the market does. People wanted windows xp on their netbooks and they got it.

Re:Kind of obvious (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416005)

No. Microsoft can't tolerate competitors. So they stopped
trying to IGNORE the product that people wanted. This
product was cheap small laptops. XP really had nothing to
do with it. Once netbooks took off, it was just another
market segment that Microsoft could muscle into.

They used XP because it was the only thing they had that fit.

Like always they were "last to the party". So their current
product was woefully inappropriate.

Linux alters the power dynamic of the OEM+Microsoft relationship a bit.

Re:Kind of obvious (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415777)

This is an important subject, though. The big issues are 1) will "netbooks" wipe out the notebook industry, 2) will "netbooks" become slaves to mobile phone companies, like handsets

I think miniaturisation and price reductions will continue, and netbooks are, at most, a minor milestone in that ongoing process. The migrations from mainframes to minis, from minis to desktops, and desktops to laptops were all more significant. Each shook up the industry, but progressively less so, since no generation completely kills off the last, and the stakes are getting smaller and smaller. Replacing a single mainframe with a minicomputer could save millions, whereas netbooks and cellphones are so cheap most individuals can own both. So, I'm not too worried about cellphone companies taking over personal computing, and dwindling prices for personal computers have been in force continuously since any of the current major players has existed (in other words, Dell can cope with low-end laptops / netbooks slipping into $200 territory).

Re:Kind of obvious (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415813)

How did Microsoft get Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers to pay for a OS when they had successful products with a free one?

Very easily. An OEM install of XP costs around $45. This is a lot when you are aiming for a $200 RRP; it's over 25% of the wholesale cost. Microsoft introduced a $15 license that is only valid for machines with specifications below a certain ceiling. I can't remember exactly what these are, but you can find them if you Google (single-core CPU with a maximum speed, 160GB hard disk or smaller SSD, 1GB RAM and so on). Linux isn't free, once you factor in the cost of producing a custom version tailored for your device, and so the cost savings are probably closer to $10, and 'runs Windows' is worth $10 to the average consumer so the manufacturers went this route. Expect this to change with the ARM-based devices, which are expected to be much cheaper and (obviously) won't run Windows. It remains to be seen whether they will sell well.

Look! It's a book, a phone, a camera, a recorder (5, Insightful)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415115)

My Aspire One running ubuntu is just great thanks. Cost me 250 loonies. Best of all, it's 8" screen means I can manipulate it almost like a medium sized book. I can kick back on the couch, at a table, on the subway, where ever and twist and turn it as needed. I stick with the SSD drive because I it affords me even less worry about jostling it around. With wifi and 10/100 built in, how could anyone go without one. $250 bucks, you can't afford not to own one. Best tech toy to come down the pike ever.

Re:Look! It's a book, a phone, a camera, a recorde (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415385)

mod parent up. Same here ( 8.9'' AA1, 8GB SSD, running currently Linux Mint Gloria and tentatively the Awesome windows Manager) I can use it as an e-book reader (albeit a slightly heavy one), I can go online, I can code, do some 3D modeling with Blender, do some audio work with Audigy, use its webcam to take pictures or movies, retrieve photos from MMCs and so on, watch movies ... and it 's so small and light that I just have it with me all the time. Apart from the battery-life which could be better, it's the best gadget I ever bought.

Re:Look! It's a book, a phone, a camera, a recorde (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415459)

Audacity ... not audigy

Re:Look! It's a book, a phone, a camera, a recorde (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415597)

I would also like to recommend the Acer Aspire One. Once you install it with Ubuntu Netbook remix, it is the perfect machine for browsing the net and doing some light work.

I also use it on my D&D sessions as a sound recorder and note-taker.

The only thing I would change in it (please netbook manufacturers take note!) would be to allow the screen to turn and cover the keyboard, so its easier to use as an ebook.

Re:Look! It's a book, a phone, a camera, a recorde (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29416059)

I agree, Ubuntu Netbook Remix [ubuntu.com] running on my Acer Aspire One is just great. I was impressed that everything worked right out of the box, with no configuration needed. Wireless, sound, screen resolution -- even the webcam worked immediately after the install. UNR is an entire order of magnitude better than the Linpus distribution that came installed. I'm a slackware user on both the desktop at home and the servers at work, but for a netbook I just don't want to mess around with configuration. UNR is a perfect fit: it works out of the box, but at the same time allows me to do all the normal linux things a geek wants to do.

My only complaint is that the battery runs out quicker than the original Linpus install. However 9.10 is supposed to make some progress in this area.

Huge Impact? (3, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415191)

So.. netbooks are about 10% of pc sales and carry a margin of next to zero. They are a niche product for those who want a small device for convenience and will see growth stunted as the eekonomy recovers as those who couldn't afford a desk top replacement laptop abandon the cheap netbook segment for low/mid end full sized/powered laptops.

Re:Huge Impact? (3, Interesting)

Aeron65432 (805385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415931)

Wrong, wrong wrong. It's been mentioned many times that netbooks are compliments to desktops, not substitutes. It isn't certain if netbooks cannibalize laptop sales. (I have both, they are used for different reasons) But it is pretty certain that netbooks are a secondary computer, not a primary one. No one buys a netbook because of its cost, they are purchased because of their size, convenience, battery life, etc.

Strang the way things work (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415221)

I never thought I would buy a low powered, limited usefulness netbook. But with prices having fallen under $300, this makes these devices quite appealing as a second/third computer, or just as a plaything.
I ordered mine on Saturday.

Ummm... what? (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415289)

"The succes of Netbooks also surprised Microsoft & forced them to lower the prices of their XP home licenses, ro regain marketshare over Linux."

It is our hope that one day linux apps will be advanced enough to include a spelling checker.

Also... "Citation Needed".

"According to the latest predictions global notebook shipements are expected to reach 200 million units in 2010, of which, netbooks will account for 25%, or 50 million units."

You know, I'd expect at least a couple of these words to be a hyperlink to some source that actually shows who predicted it, or how they arrived at the numbers, but there's nothing.

Who approved this article? Has the bar really dropped this low?

Re:Ummm... what? (0)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415533)

It is our hope that one day linux apps will be advanced enough to include a spelling checker.

It absolutely amazes me that nearly a decade after Apple introduced system-wide services for things like making spellchecking the default behavior in apps that use the standard text handling APIs, no other OS has bothered to clone it. I mean seriously? Nobody thought being able to use the same spellchecker and grammar checker in all your applications was a good feature for an OS? As a person who makes a lot of my income writing, it seems almost inconceivable to me. Heck, it seems like something appropriate to add in the Windows 95 era.

Re:Ummm... what? (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415779)

hmm ... running Linux Mint here, and Firefox does automatic spell checking ... actually pretty much everything does. Of course, I *DO* have English set as my default language, which might not be the case for everyone.

Re:Ummm... what? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416097)

Firefox does Automatic Spellchecking on all OS's

Re:Ummm... what? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415873)

Apple didn't introduce it, they inherited it. The NSSpellChecker [gnustep.org] class, which wraps the System Service which provides spell checking was part of the original OpenStep specification back in '94. It may have been included with NeXTSTEP before then, but I don't have a copy of NeXTSTEP 3.3 to check. Of course, that doesn't contradict your point that it's embarrassing for other platforms not to include it (GNUstep does on *NIX, wrapping aspell).

Re:Ummm... what? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415707)

Most of them are based on the Intel Atom processor. I wonder if intel's securities report has sales numbers. Darn the reports I used to find free online are now subscription. Anybody subscribe to EDGAR Online and willing to look it up?

Small or Cheap or Both? (2)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415313)

It seems there are two reasons that netbooks are attractive. The size and the cost. I'd venture that the ideal is a convergence of high-end features such as SSD and OLED with low cost. In a few years we could be looking at a complete convergence between laptop and netbook that offers an affordable, appliance-like experience without compromising functionality. Combine SSD and OLED with highly efficient processing and state of the art battery technology and all of a sudden you have a device that can run on battery all day long. Imagine a portable computing platform that has a screen visible in direct sunlight that doesn't constantly blow hot air on your left thigh. I honestly believe that this is a converging category over the course of the next two to three years, where the end product is far better than either end of the spectrum we have available today.

netbooks (1)

MindTrip51 (1497089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415325)

Netbooks are not that bad of an idea. Most people only need a computer to just hope on the internet for a while. For me, I already have an expensive laptop and a great desktop, so there is really no point for me to buy netbooks.

Netbooks w/XP Have Microsoft Imposed Limits (5, Informative)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415331)

When Microsoft was pushing Vista one of the things that they claimed was that the number of available XP product keys had become exhausted. Due to this they decided to remove the SKU from OEM vendors and other retailers, and set support services end dates. Their claim was that since they couldn't issue any more XP product keys you needed to upgrade to Vista instead.

Linux had begun a fast rise in the netbook market and this alarmed Microsoft to the degree that they decided to issue more product keys. This should have negated their argument about the necessity of upgrading to Vista.

There were questions that Microsoft had manufacturers modify the bios of their new models to exclude necessary information that allowed the installation of drivers for hardware (on computer models, not necessarily including the netbooks). This came out in a number of articles and in one case someone showed that the bios of certain machines had some important tables removed pertaining to Linux, making it difficult to install, etc.

The netbook back at the start of this had a large growing population of women in the 45+ range that had never used Linux before but had become users by virtue of it. Many found it to be just fine for what they were doing with it (browsing the web, writing email, watching videos, playing music, using it for programs like skype to communicate, etc). Since these books had Linux pre-installed by the manufacturer there was no need for them to configure drivers, hardware, to install more software, etc.

Microsoft's reaction was to reissue XP product keys and then to set some limits on what the netbook hardware could do. For instance, they limited the amount of ram to 1 gig. They limited the onboard graphics to a certain subset, they limited the hard disk capacity to 160 gig, they limited the display size which also limits the keyboard size. The prohibited the netbook from having a CD/DVD drive. They limited the processor type and speed, they limit the number of USB ports to 3, etc.

Under Linux these limitations don't exist and that is probably a good part of the reason that Dell has chosen to produce some Linux netbooks with some oomph. These limits are only on XP based netbooks whereas the Linux netbooks can be much more powerful if the manufacturer wishes it. It doesn't mean that they will push the power of them, it just means that it is not necessary that they take these considerations in to account.

The OEMs account for the vast majority of netbooks sold. It doesn't mean that you can't purchase one from these OEMs and then upgrade it yourself. If a netbook has a USB port then you can an external drive or DVD/CD burner. You can also add more RAM and a larger HDD if you are willing to tear one of those things apart, and it can be difficult for some models.

Re:Netbooks w/XP Have Microsoft Imposed Limits (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415483)

Why would you need a CD/DVD-rom when you have USB stick and fast Internet?

1GB of RAM is more then enough, all you need to do is to make sure you OS is bloatware free.

Re:Netbooks w/XP Have Microsoft Imposed Limits (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415765)

Why would you need a CD/DVD-rom when you have USB stick and fast Internet?

Wrong question. The question should be (forgetting the grammatical errors in the OP), "Why would you want a CD/DVD-rom when you have USB stck and fast Internet?" The answer is, "None of your business, if I want it, I should be able to get it (assuming I'm willing to pay what it costs to add it in)." I can think of many reasons why someone might want a CD/DVD-ROM in a netbook (not all of them good).

Re:Netbooks w/XP Have Microsoft Imposed Limits (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415865)

1GB of RAM is more then enough, all you need to do is to make sure you OS is bloatware free.

640k should be enough for anybody!

Meanwhile, desktops at Walmart now have around 3-8GB ram. And knowing OEMs, those netbooks are hardly bloatware free.

I consider 2GB minimum these days for a notebook. Although the grandparent does a fantastic job of explaining why all the netbooks at Dell are only 1GB (no upgrades) although I see the Ubuntu option now can be upgraded to 2gb for a whopping $75 which wasn't previously available before.

Re:Netbooks w/XP Have Microsoft Imposed Limits (4, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415867)

That's not a wise question.

First, no one said that 1 gig wasn't enough, yet there are plenty of people that do want more as part of the base unit, and there are those that do add more to these netbooks.

The USB stick is insufficient for performing many tasks. You need a CD/DVD or you can't install a lot of commercial software. Flash memory, though growing in capacity and lowering in price, isn't fool proof and is still much more costly than purchasing CD/DVDs for back up. Most thumb flash drives don't have the capacity to back up all our data. Purchasing lots of flash thumb drives can and will add to confusion. You can't play your store-bought CDs though your flash drive without a CD/DVD first used to rip the music. Not everyone wishes to purchase music on-line.

Adding more RAM doesn't equate to bloatware. Adding a CD/DVD doesn't equate to bloatware. Installation of end-user applications doesn't equate to bloatware, at least from the perspective of the OS.

The purpose behind Microsoft's limitations was to make the netbooks less attractive and to push users to the higher prices notebook models where Microsoft's margins are higher.

Tablet (2, Interesting)

jekewa (751500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415381)

I like the idea of the portability of netbooks, sacrificing power for size and battery life, but would still like to see a good one that can (at least optionally) go without a keyboard. Gimme a nice size (sheet-of-paper is fine), outdoor readable, finger-touchable display with some USB and/or bluetooth keyboard support with that all-day battery, and close to (if not passing) gigahertz performance. If done right, I can add my own storage (USB, flash, whatever) as well as attach to network storage (NFS, SSHFS, FTP...). Sure, there are tablet PCs out there, but they all cost $2K or have tiny displays.

Re:Tablet (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415785)

Eh, if you don't mind the refurb bin (as long as it comes with a warranty), I know that Dell usually has their Latitude XT and XT2 tablets available on their Outlet for $1000 to $1400, depending on which one you snag.

It may be what you were looking for. (I'd highly suggest upgrading to the NBD warranty instead of the depot. Really. Can save you weeks of waiting.)

$50-$100 used netbooks... (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415485)

... coming soon to a Craig's list near you.

I think most people are disappointed when they see how slow they are.
But, they're great for light use & travel.

I would have bought one myself but I have a lot of old (and small) laptops lying around and I didn't notice any huge performance boost with the new netbooks I've played with.

Telco Poison (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415535)

If there are enough bundling deals, then the American telcos wills begin to have the same stranglehold on the manufacturers that they have in the cell phone industry. We'll have crippled, locked devices and frightened manufacturers.

They can still ruin this thing. Give them a year or so. Have faith.

Netbooks are getting too big and bulky. (3, Interesting)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415551)

One of the main selling points for Netbooks was that they were tiny, and could fit in your purse, shoulder bag, or carry-on bag and be taken with you on trips and vacations to check emails, update your facespace, dump camera images to upload, and basically simple tasks that you might want to do when away from home and your main PC and not have to carry a real bulky laptop around with you. Unfortunately, the new "netbooks" are as big as laptops these days, which defeats the entire idea behind them. Instead of making them SMALLER, they are going the opposite direction. By now we should have netbooks with 3" screens that go in your pocket that complete with smartphones and devices like the ipod touch. A budget OQO, basically. To me, netbooks should not be considered a netbook if the screen is larger than 8". Anything bigger and you're in portable laptop territory, regardless of processor speed.

Re:Netbooks are getting too big and bulky. (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415579)

The problem I think is the extreme popularity of 13 inch macbook, which make laptop makers drool over that market.

The "netbook" that interested me the most is the Sony Vaio Serie P, because of how small it is, but its overpowered for what I need it for, and the price follows. If other manufacturers made something like that with less juice and a smaller price tag, I'd be quite interested.

Re:Netbooks are getting too big and bulky. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415935)

Completely agree. For me, computer sizes are discrete. There are mainframes and minicomputers that are small enough to fit in a room. There are desktops that are small enough to fit on a desk and move short distances. There are machines that are small enough to carry in a bag and then there are machines that are small enough to carry in a pocket. Both my laptop and a netbook fall into the same category; they will fit in a bag, but not in my pocket. My Nokia 770 is small enough that it and a folding keyboard will fit in my jacket pocket, but it's quite dated now and there aren't any compelling replacements yet.

Re:Netbooks are getting too big and bulky. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29416067)

By now we should have netbooks with 3" screens that go in your pocket that complete with smartphones and devices like the ipod touch. A budget OQO, basically. To me, netbooks should not be considered a netbook if the screen is larger than 8". Anything bigger and you're in portable laptop territory, regardless of processor speed.

Netbooks are intended to be low cost portable laptops intended principally for network-(and especially browser-) based applications (rather than hosting lots of local apps and data).

UMPCs with a 3" screen that are, like netbooks, targetted for use with networked apps might be useful, but they wouldn't be netbooks.

Ampersand (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415571)

Strange use of an ampersand, indeed.
My learning for today: until the 1900's "&" was the 27th letter of the alphabet!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampersand#History

Good for some, not for everyone every day (1)

ouder (1080019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415585)

I mainly use my netbook when I travel. I also see a lot of my students using them; they fit well on the arms of school desks, and the students have young enough eyes to tolerate the small screens. I see netbooks being very popular as second computers. Like I said, I use mine for traveling. Most of the students have a full sized desktop or laptop at home. XP fans will be happy because netbooks may force MS to keep it for a while. The biggest problem I see for MS is that a lot of the netbooks are coming out as part of data plans. The telcos are going to want to shave every bit of cost off these systems that they can, and the "MicroSoft tax" is one very obvious source of cost savings.

bwchto (1)

bwchato (1269588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415593)

since i'm on disability i have none to no use for a netbook.i have a reasonable desk top with two 22" monitors which bi don't have to strain my eyes to see.everything keeps getting smaller,but i'm getting older and would like to put off the eye strain

itrunsonlinux.com Doesn't (0, Offtopic)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415655)

Slashdotted.

Surprised? That's no surprise. (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415759)

The success of Netbooks also surprised Microsoft

The success of {GUIs | LANs | The Internet | online music/iTunes/MP3 players | Netbooks | every other major advance} has surprised Microsoft. That company has always been more reactive than proactive. Of course, they can afford to be, which gives rise to their rather conservative approach to entering new markets.

pc industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29415811)

the /. PC industry has a huge impact on their website

Recommendation for a Video Playing WinXP Netbook (1, Interesting)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415883)

I've been looking for a fairly cheap ~$200-300 netbook that runs WinXP and is capable of playing videos. I spend about 3 hours commuting roundtrip on the train each day (NYC Metropolitan area) and would love to have a cheap machine that I could edit documents on and watch vids (DVD or otherwise) on. Either a USB or Ethernet port is a must for media/data transfer. Wifi access not necessary.

Does the /. community have any recommendations? Woot often has some really good ones for about $150, but they run Linux, and I know, it's a hearesy here, but I'm looking for a WinXP one.
Thanks.

Re:Recommendation for a Video Playing WinXP Netboo (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29416115)

Dell Mini9 aka Vostro A90:
$299 with XP [dell.com]

DVD quality video is great, HD is watchable with minor glitches. You can usually get it for a little less on the Dell Outlet site.

Mac OS X is killer on a netbook (4, Insightful)

elliott666 (447115) | more than 4 years ago | (#29415899)

I'm on my third netbook now since they came around, and the second running OSX perfectly. OSX on the Dell Mini 10v with a SSD is really fast and works perfectly. It's a really nice machine to have in addition to another 'real' computer.

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