Notebooks, Netbooks and the blurring lines.

In October 2007 Asus started it all with the release of its Eee PC series, the first of which had a tiny 7″ screen running a 900MHz Intel Celeron processor. Since then the netbook market has been on fire with a range of manufacturers announcing and releasing devices throughout the year. Netbooks with varying processors, screen sizes, keyboard layouts and prices have filled up both real and virtual shelfs.

However the once distinct line between notebooks and netbooks which stood at 1.6GHz, 10.2″ screen size is now being blurred out. 2008 was undoubtedly a great year for notebooks and we saw their adoption, that too at a extremely quick pace, The gone Christmas season was the best for Amazon but with 17 of the top 25 laptops being netbooks, trends could be worrying. With 2008 being the year of the economic downturn people were most likely looking for cheaper alternative.

I wrote a post a while ago about Netbooks not being able to replace notebooks and I still stand by what the situation was at that given time. Dell and Samsung have both announced Netbooks at 12″ screen size and MSI takes it up a notch at 13.4″. NVidia’s ION platform enables laptops with the Intel Atom processer to play HD at 1080p. At these sizes these machines become notebooks which as less-powered, but still very capable of performing everyday tasks required by most consumers as well as professionals. At this point netbooks start to creep into notebook territory. It’s no wonder Intel is nervous about it, and despite it being the lead provider for netbook processors, has criticised netbooks in the past with Intel’s VP Stu Pann saying netbooks are not an all day machine. Michael Arrington seems to think this is because “every Netbook sold is one less Dual Core that Intel can sell at a higher price and higher marginand he may just be right.

What does this whole situation mean for netbooks as they have been known pre-2009, i.e., complimentary machines to larger, more powerful ones? What, if any, will be the distinction between netbooks and notebooks? Or are we coming back to a point where notebooks and netbooks come together again under one heading again?

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Netbooks: Not a question of ‘Either, or’ but instead ‘Whether, not’.

Brooke Cothers formerly at CNET and now as WSJ has written a post detailing AMD and Intel’s thoughts on the netbook market. Stu Pann, VP Sales & Marketing doesn’t see the netbook as a device that can be used ‘all day’ but more like ‘an hour’. I think I would have to disagree. Much like tablets and UMPCs, Netbooks have definitely appealed to a niche market, however this niche market is growing at an increasing pace.

The netbook is and has always been a product complimentary to the notebook and will never replace it. The problem exists is the requirement of a light, portable laptop for non-intensive tasks such as office tasks and web browsing. Laptops such as the MSI Wind have provided a solution almost perfectly. A decent keyboard, enough hardware capability to run Vista and a 1024×600 screen has served quite well. The only problem that lies is the one that has plagued the notebook market too and that is of a longer battery life.

I have, and continue to, use my Wind as an all day device when I take it to university for notetaking in lectures with having to charge it in between lectures. The people that are dissatisfied with the netbook are those that have unrealistic expectations of it. These machines aren’t meant to be used for Video Production or Adobe Photoshop. As for those talking about the price ($300-$600) bordering and even beating the prices of regular notebooks fail to realise it’s not a question of ‘Either or but instead of ‘Whether or not‘ a person’s use case warrants the requirement of a netbook.

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Can we give the MSI Wind ‘some’ competition? Please?

When Asus entered, nay, started the netbook market, the device didn’t have a named category to fall under. Mini laptop, UMPC, ultra portable were some of the names given to it. Hell even on this blog I’d tag posts posts as ultraportable until recently. It’s been about a year and the market is now saturated; much credit blame directed towards Asus. However there still lies a sense of disconnect between consumers and manufacturers. Why is it that most of them find it so difficult to produce a decent product which covers all bases.

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..and this is why I don’t do Cloud Computing.

The concept of cloud computing isn’t new new by any means. The idea of being able to view and process information / data regardless of what device we’re using, has been around for a while. However it’s only recently that innumerable services and startups have come up offering ‘solutions’ to these ‘problems’. But the recent downtime of Gmail serves as a stark reminder of how 100% availability simply cannot be expected of any online service. It doesn’t matter how grand the infrastructure is or how scalable the application is, it is the smallest of problems that bring down the biggest of setups.

I still insist on using Outlook for my email, calendar and contact needs. Most of the time when I need access to this information I am on or around my laptop so I have instant access to this data. In the off chance that I am not, I have my phone (Nokia E90) which syncs up with my desktop giving me the exact access (emails are only the recent ones). The situation is exactly the same with my RSS Feeds (Feeddemon) and Office Suite.

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Acer jumps into the UMPC game too.

We know that Acer was planning an entry in the oh-so-hip UMPC market fairly soon and confirming that a lot of information has come leaked out today.

Here’s the scoop as it stands:


Acer’s Mini-Note is called “Aspire One
Windows XP SP3 on the 8.9 screen with resolution of 1024 X 768. (ouch)
Atom 1.6Ghz Hyperthreading (running at 800 M Hz at lower load),533Mhz FSB,45nm,SSE3,L1 D-cache 24KB、L1 I-cache 32KB、L2 512KB。945GME +ICH7-M/U chipset,Insyde BIOS,DDR2 512MB 4-4-4-12-16。

No word on the price from the forum leak but seems to think it will be at 299 euros (US$469.49)

News Source: 3Fire , Mobile01

Picture source: UMPCPortal

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