Posted tagged ‘netbooks’

Apple Netbook?

March 10, 2009

Will Apple release a netbook? That is the word heading around the rumor mill. First lets backup. Apple prides itself in being secretive and keeping people in the dark until product launch. Because of that secrecy it is sort of a game for outsiders to be the first to predict a product before Apple does. So you’ll see many predictions and every once and a while someone gets it right.

Personally I would like to see a true netbook come out of Apple. In hard economic times why not cut the consumer some slack and release a cheaper end portable computer along the same lines of the Mac Mini. They don’t have to pay it too much attention or even make it look that nice, it would just be nice to have an option for a mac under $1000. Hey it could even be above $500 and I would still think it was a deal.

In the article linked above Ars argues that the iPhone serves the gap of no netbook. I couldn’t disagree more. The iPhone is a great device for specific purposes. I carry it with me everywhere I go and it is always on the internet. I can get quite a bit of work done on the iPhone. I don’t “need” a netbook, but my wife on the other hand does. She needs to be able to open, edit, and print documents of various types. She needs to be browse multiple websites at once. She usually needs to do so at school where wifi is readily available. Not to mention that the closed nature of the iPhone is quite annoying (give me flash and let me do video chat). Netbooks are paired down computers, but they are still open computers nonetheless. My wife can watch any streaming video she wants, she can type papers if she needs, she can play some games, and can open any document type she wants. Can the iPhone do that? You let me plug in a keybaord on my iPhone and setup printers and install non-Apple apps on my iPhone and I might consider it a replacement for a netbook.

I don’t want to get into the game of predictions, but as this recession continues and Apple continues to watch their market be eclipsed by the likes of Acer because of netbooks one has to imagine they are considering entering that lucrative market. It is true that Apple sales are steady, but in hard economic times you have to be innovative and the companies that aren’t get left behind in the dust. So while these rumors may be totally baseless, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future Apple releases a low end netbook to the market.


Clarity on Netbooks and should you buy one?

January 23, 2009

Ars ran a good story breaking down Biz360’s low rating numbers on Netbooks. Ars generally thinks that the algorithm used by Biz is probably skewed in a way that unduly punishes netbooks. The article does a good job explaining why, but I can see why netbooks might, overall, be rated low. But I think the problem may also have to do with ambiguity. I think many people may be rating a netbook low because of confusion.

Ars outlines everything in the article, but what I am proposing is an end to the ambiguity. Clearly I love netbooks, they have so many compelling features (mobility, price, weight), I’ve pointed out the positives and the negatives before, but I figure I’ll put it in better form for anyone considering.

What are they:
Small–netbooks are small, typically 10” or less, but if the price and weight are right I would consider 13” at the largest
Cheap–if the starting price is $700 or more than forget it you are looking at a BMW not a Hyundai think $200-$500 and you have a netbook.
Weightless–usually under 3 pounds, compare that to the 17” behemoth and it might as well be weightless.
Underpowered–these machines are meant to be carried around and used in extremely mobile situations. You aren’t going to find much more than 1GB 2 is certainly max, no fancy video card (are you really going to play a game on your 9” screen?) and often a low powered SSD for power consumption and protection. Not to mention the processor which is under powered for various reasons.
Internet ready–These things thrive on attaching you to the internet. If you need to email and do facebook this is your device. Some actually come with a specific OS geared towards internet applications.

To quote Ben because it is a good definition:

I divide netbooks from notebooks in the sense that netbooks try to lower prices, heat creation, and storage space by limiting RAM, CPU type/speed, and HD type/size. They are primarily designed for limited applications and not intended to be a “mobile workstation.”

They are not:
Mobile Workstation–don’t expect this to be your primary machine, if you need to walk around with your entire digital life at anytime these machines won’t work for you.
Top of the Line–with a price tag of <$500 you can’t expect the best engineering or parts to be used. For that price the machine could only last a year and I would be happy.
Speed–again they aren’t designed to do heavy lifting.

What to watch out for:
While I like that Linux plays a huge role in the netbook revolution that also poses a problem to the people who don’t pay attention but clearly want Windows. If you are considering purchasing one, but need Windows, make sure that is what you are getting. Also, clearly this won’t be your only machine, so don’t think of it like it will.

Finally try it before you buy it. Now with the Dell Mini 9 you can’t do that, but Dell has a good return policy. The point here is that the keyboards are often shrunk due to machine size. If you are a touch type person than you will want to practice to make sure that the conditions are desirable. The Mini 9 worked well for me, but I couldn’t touch the Asus models.

So should you get one? My vote is yes. Who couldn’t stand to use a nice highly mobile machine at such a low price. But now you have been warned. You know what you are getting yourself into, so no complaining if things aren’t quite like the big boy models.

Netbooks getting bigger

January 7, 2009

I love netbooks. There are two reasons mainly. First, is that they are light and perfect for the task they were designed for. Second, they are cheap. As I said before it isn’t that companies haven’t made small laptops, they just didn’t make them affordable. Probably the biggest complaint against netbooks is the size. We want a small laptop, but 8.9 inches is a little too small. Recently some companies started to reveal 2009 offerings in the netbook category with larger screens (10-13 inches). Dell, who made the mini 9 (which my wife owns), is planning on releasing a mini 12 and could possibly launch a mini 10 (can you figure out what the number means). Asus and Acer have 10 inch models as well. MSI may have the boldest offering though. Wired just reported on what clearly is a Mac Air clone. I think the MSI looks good, and at $700 it might actually entice me to purchase. One of the biggest problems with the Mac Air is the price (over $1800 to start), if the MSI can deliver on looks and price all the better.


I’m not sure where the cut off is between laptop and netbook, with regards to screen size, but I think this is a good trend. By increasing screen size and keeping the price low more people feel they can afford good laptops. Sure a netbook won’t be able to play your games or processes video like a $2000 Macbook Pro, but for the on-the-go person who doesn’t want a 5 or 6 pound brick on their back this is the perfect fit. My family is happy.