The Netbook Isn't Dead, It's Just Evolved

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petrol42

The Atom processor never had any major upgrades over it's lifetime to keep up with the demands of today's users and that is why the Netbook is dead today.

The premise of a Netbook was to do some light computing such as web browsing and typing up a report but when the Netbook was released, HD video wasn't as widespread as it is today. Also, the complexity of a website, often sites that use a lot of flash would bog down a Netbook to the point of being unusable. These 2 things ruin the experience for the user which people soon found out after they started up their shiny new Netbook.

The only significant upgrade to the Atom was the addition of a dual-core unit but without any work done to the GPU side of things, Netbooks were still slow as molasses. Nvidia helped to address the problem with the creation of the ION chipset but there was very little adoption of the ION by the PC manufacturers.

By the time AMD released it's very capable Fusion chips for Netbook sized computers, the market was already fizzling with the bad taste left in consumer's mouths from the stale Intel Atom line.

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nbrowser

There was a time when Acer was doing a 11.6 "netbook" with the cheap Atom and whatnot in it, then they "evolved" that size to what I got a couple of years ago and love, 11.6 inch, ultra portable, but with a Pentium dual core U5600, came with a half TB HD and 4Gb RAM and Windows 7 Home Premium x64, I've since replaced the HD with a 256Gb SSD and dropped in 8Gb DDR3, nice little machine.

You can still find this kind of power in a small package, you just have to look for it.

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Happy

The essence of the netbook was affordability. The fact that they have disappeared and nothing has replaced them at the same price point and with the same functionality proves that the netbook is dead, not evolved.

Besides, Google's Chromebooks are merely that cheap because Google wants to lock us into dumb screens with keyboards where everything is done on the cloud. Google wants us to be slaves to the cloud and the internet where we can no longer have root control over our devices and where we can no longer store data privately on our own machines. Once Google has us by the balls and everyone is using Chromebooks (or something like it) then you can be DAMN sure the price will go up. OR, it won't have to because of all the info and services they will be getting from the users that will more than make up for the price of a subsidized dumb machine.

Orwell's "1984" is coming people! WAKE UP!!!

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Shalbatana

Okay granted my ASUS netbook came with an extra gig of ram (won it in a contest) but I love it. It's done everything I've wanted it to.

That said two caveats: 1) considering the old old laptop I was previously using, it was still a major step up. 2) I just tried to play minecraft on it recently and found it wouldn't work. I'm not a big gamer, but this was a disappointment as it would have totally solved my boredom on my long commutes.

BTW, there were a bunch of us that talked of the Netbook market evolving into just those things on this very site a while back. Perhaps they read our comments before writing this article.

And yes, old netbook evolves into underpowered yet flashy tablets, that's exactly something the public would (and did) jump on the bandwagon for.

The best of today's tablets have as much power/flexability or less than a netbook. Funny, add a touch screen, take away a hinge, and suddenly nobody complains about "limitations". It's just the accepted way it is with a product in it's early days of development evolution.

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pastorbob

+1

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Happy

Good points, good points.

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rmiller1959

I had no illusions about the netbook I purchased a few years ago, a Toshiba NB-305-N410BN. I needed something portable that I could use for writing and Web research when I wasn't at my desktop. Because my requirements were simple, I've been satisfied with it. The other form factors that are out there would probably be more effective, but they'd also be more expensive.

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gamingwithnetbooks

I agree. I would be more than happy to ditch my Gateway LT4004u (terrible drivers for the PowerVR SGX545 chipset), but any substitutes that run true Windows (not RT) and are equally portable are just too dang expensive. I bought my netbook plus a 2 GB stick of RAM and an 8 GB SD card (for ReadyBoost) for $240. The cheapest Windows 8 tablet right now on Newegg is $580. Netbooks have always appealed to me because of the price and size.

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blacksand

I still have my netbook (Asus Eee PC) that I picked up several years back. I mainly use it when I travel because I don't care if it gets banged up or stolen.

It has Windows 7 starter which is crap--I couldn't even change the desktop background without a registry hack...lol.

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Larry Lee

I had an extra 120GB SSD laying around, so I stuck it inside my Toshiba NB-205 netbook.

Now I have a solid-state ChromeBook running Windows 7.

I prefer this setup over a tablet any day.

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donttasemebro

Netbooks filled a niche that is still otherwise void. I attend one of the top engineering schools in the country. Out of four classes with 30 students each I would have a hard time finding someone using a laptop or tablet during lecture.

College is expensive so ultrabooks don't fit that environment like some may think. Every PC in each computer lab runs a copy of which ever software is being used for a particular course. No way would I be able to afford to buy licenses for every piece of software.

One the other hand a cart of a couple dozen netbooks can be wheeled from classroom to classroom so students can quickly get online and work with a small group to collaborate on a current project.

Things like this mostly take place outside of lecture. However, giving students 15 minutes of a 50 minute lecture to make some sort of progress on his/her project while the instructor is there to help can go a long way.

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CaptainFabulous

I think evolved is a good way to put it. It sorta hit an evolutionary wall and branched off into multiple directions.

Mind you for starters it was always a bit of a niche without a need as netbooks were pretty much capable of the most basic of low-power tasks like basic web surfing and email while their compact size made them visually and aesthetically pleasing in a world of 15" and 17" laptops.

They never really caught on big because they were simply too limited in functionality due to tiny low res screens, slow processors, and limited storage capacity. But from the fire of their ashes arose the smartphone and tablet, the low end/small factor laptop, and the ultrabook.

For simple web browsing and email the smartphone and tablet are superb and offer their own unique user experience. While even less capable of "serious" computing than netbooks they make up for it with the proliferation of useful apps and casual gaming and a dirt cheap price.

Smaller form-factor laptops took the existing low end specs of 15" laptops and stuffed them into an 11" chassis, giving you the form factor of a netbook but with a more normal sized keyboard, higher resolution screen, and true laptop internals like an optical drive and more capable CPUs all while keeping it light and slim.

And then there are the ultrabooks, perhaps the bizarro-netbook, which despite their small size and light weight are the complete antithesis of the netbook with their high power CPUs, high resolution screens, and insance price tags.

So from my perspective I see each of these current technologies owing their roots to the lowly netbook.

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dwellman

Now you're just some PC that I used to know. . .

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firefox91

I still prefer a netbook to a tablet. Tablets just feel so limited to me. I love a portable device that can run a standard version of Windows and doesn't cost a ton.

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livebriand

I have yet to see any viable alternatives to higher-end netbooks. Tablets are useless, and ultrabooks cost WWAAYYY too much. I'll be sticking to my Thinkpad x120e, which basically IS a netbook even though Lenovo won't admit it. (same goes for similar ones like the hp dm1z)

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Baer

Netbooks, Chromebooks, Meh!! Cheap, Wimpy, limited but some in the press seem to keep pushing them. Ya think there is an incentive to do so?

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Happy

Exactly. It's like George Carlin said about the press during or a little after the time of the first Iraq war under George W.H. Bush:

"I don't think much of the press in this country, who in the case of the Persian Gulf war were nothing more than unpaid spokesmen for the Department of Defense."

The press in this country acts this way about everything these days. It's infotainment, not news, so they suck up to EVERYONE because they need to get as many viewers as possible. This also leads them to jump on the bandwagon of crucifying people before the facts are in. It also leads them to not want to offend the government or the businesses or others who advertise on their worthless programs. The press acts this way regarding technology as well and it's disgusting. It's even more insulting because they think that tech people are stupid enough to buy their brainless propaganda.

They're shills. Enough said.

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Asigurare iefti...

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Netbooks were never the hottest thing. Manufacturers and the press tried to make them out to be the new hotness, but consumers weren't as stupid as hoped, and sales never took off. Once word was out that netbooks were too underpowered for most common computing tasks, all the pimping in the world couldn't turn the tide of consumer experience.

Same deal with ultralights: underpowered shit marketed as less is more.

But, please, keep trying to trick consumers into paying the same or more for less computer. We're just cattle, after all.

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Happy

You are so right.

It's disgusting the way they view the public.

In the past companies used to have a measure of integrity and instead of trying to screw the customer on the warranty or trick him into paying more the company actually tried to make a better product. Imagine that? Trying to make a better product and trusting that the consumer will figure it out and buy it because it's better. It's almost revolutionary.

Fuck companies and their stupid "screw the customer" philosophy.

Planned obsolescence needs to follow it's own nature and die.

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