Netbooks Are Dead. Long Live Small, Light Notebooks?

by Jay Bika on March 6, 2010 · 20 comments

in Opinion

So, according to experts, netbooks’ 15 minutes of fame are up. Sales are down while other computer hardware’s segments are up. That what this article on CBC says. Check it out: End of the netbook?

It goes without saying that as an editor of a netbook related blog, readers will be interested for my take on such a report.

The article says that conventional laptops are killing netbooks. But these conventional laptops are as small,  as light, as cheap BUT definitely more powerful than netbooks.

I have said times and times again that people buy netbooks because they are small, light and inexpensive versions of laptops. They don’t really care about the category name but are more interested in the benefits and features of the machine over the category name.

It’s only us tech pundits who notice that people are shopping for and buying ultra-light, small notebooks over netbooks. Consumers are just getting a light , small and inexpensive computer that also happen to be powerful. It happens to be called a (really small) laptop.

Get my logic?

What’s your take?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colin Boyle March 7, 2010 at 6:53 am

I agree, I don’t think the industry get the whole concept of the netbook and they make them! I think the point of a netbook to the consumer is a light, cheap and inexpensive computer for doing light computing tasks. we don’t care if it’s a very small notebook or a netbook as long as it is the three things I mentioned. I am a heavy netbook user (using one now, and for most of my working needs) but I also have a desktop for when I want to play games and view HD content. Once my netbook dies will I get another one, maybe. Will I get a very small notebook, maybe. It all comes down to what my needs are and what the cheapest way to fill that need is.

2 Nils Geylen March 9, 2010 at 3:15 am

Sorry, agree, but posted my views on Buzz. Wish we had unified commenting.

3 Mina March 24, 2010 at 1:12 am

What about low battery life and the heat that ultraportables produce compared to netbooks?

4 netbooks April 1, 2010 at 5:32 am

i certainly agree netbooks are bound to be doomed since most manufacturers are producing smaller size notebook with all the power and specs that a nethook could”nt provide. one good ezample is Packard Bells BU45 notebook its smaller than the conventional notebook.

5 Smidgen PC April 6, 2010 at 1:11 am

Netbook sales are up so far this year. I think we should hold off on declaring netbooks dead until they actually see a drop in sales.

6 Chris - Laptops 100 April 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Netbooks are appealing for what they have to offer. They are not usually going to be as powerful or versatile as laptops. For those who want more power and say an internal optical drive then the really small laptops/notebooks are the way to go. I think netbooks are going to keep appealing to those who they already appeal to because they offer what they need.

7 Smilla May 6, 2010 at 9:59 am

“It goes without saying that as an editor of a netbook related blog, readers will be interested for my take on such a report.”

Ha, not so much.

8 Matthew Block May 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I think your analysis is dead on. I’ve noticed that the price of 13″ laptops has come down dramatically in the last few years to match that of netbooks. It looks like these segments are merging together.

Interestingly, because so many people are getting Netbooks/Laptops as second or third computers, I’ve noticed that the demand for software to sync files between computers keeps growing and growing.

9 Manster May 25, 2010 at 3:15 am

I think you are right on target as well! I can remember when laptops first came out..they were a great alternative to my huge desktop, I could travel with my little laptop (at the time an IBM Thinkpad 240z, which was a GREAT little laptop to carry in my briefcase!).

And then all of a sudden laptops started to grow, and although they became more powerful they also became more cumbersome to carry around. And it also became harder to find a smaller laptop that could perform the more complex and larger programs that were coming down the pike.

Enter the NETBOOK. Asus was the groundbreaker here, and my first netbook was an EEE PC, and that little jewel ROCKED, especially after I was able to install Windows XP on it and run a few office programs on it!

Today, I have an HP Mini which is my new little travel companion. and if and when this one bites the dust I will buy another netbook…..they do everything I need them to do, i.e. wireless internet access, e-mail, office notes and memos, and with the webcam and Skype I am calling all over the world without a hitch. And the price, SO MUCH VALUE for the PRICE!

So, let the so-called “experts” say what they wish. For me, the Netbook is still alive and will be kicking for some time. :)

10 cheap netbooks June 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I think they still have a ways to go. It’s true, laptops are getting smaller and cheaper and becoming more of a competitor for netbooks, but I think its only natural that netbooks will evolve to be even smaller (or at least lighter) and cheaper.

11 Giani June 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Netbooks are much better then surfing the internet on a little cell phone.

12 Andy June 10, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Honestly, the netbook is a small, liteweight performer. It’s meant for the ocasional Skype call, web browser, and so on. It’s not going to run games, or at least not interesting ones that take 4 gigs of RAM to use. Netbook is what it says it is, NET. Internet-based lite stuff. If people want to get performance for gaming, the story hasn’t changed, they’ll buy a gamer laptop. I baught a netbook so I can check emails on the go without lugging around a quadcore processor laptop that had waaaay too much power for simple tasks.
Laptop prices might go down and get smaller, but netbook prices wil fall right with it, so the average Joe who doesn’t need to do a lot of high priority tasks will go for the 160 buck netbook instead of the 300 ultraportable notebook, because he doesn’t need it. If I want super portable and super performance, I’ll by a MacBook Air…That costs five times as much. I think the only bad thing about the netbook market is Win7 Starter. Big big major screwup by MS. XP runs better on netbooks and doesn’t have any limitations as far as Windows in concerned, except for the stability hahaha

13 Netbookolik June 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I do not agree with you Jay, they are still alive! As long as they stay cheaper than normal laptops they will for sure be alive:)

14 Sam July 16, 2010 at 6:25 am

Need your advice please, I am seeing some netbooks at 100$, like the one on, for internet surfing (facebook) and emails would they be good enough, are they safe (I fear waves, or over heating…), thx

15 DavidM October 13, 2010 at 1:08 am

I also read something recently about smalll laptop sales expecting to decline as people move to tablets - like the ipad - instead. I can’t see this happening as ipad owners I know use it in a very different way to a laptop. The ipad is a browse and reader. I don’t know anyone using it for Word, Excel or Powerpoint which you need for home finances, homework, etc.

I agree with your view that the netbook decline is down to category definition and that there is still growing demand for small, low cost laptops whatever we call them.

16 Kel :) November 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

For me, my EeePC netbook is my main computer. I purchased mine after we bought one for my husband in anticipation of an upcoming deployment. It was handy, portable, and I could do the basics - like Skype and internet - without much fuss… except it was slow as hell.

After getting frustrated with Win7, I ripped it out and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), which was my first-ever foray into Linux. I can pretty much do everything I am able to do on my main desktop… graphics, photo retouching, wordprocessing, etc. - without having it bog down. And thanks to the slim design of UNR, I have also reclaimed a lot of space that was taken up by a slow and bloated OS, which I use for storing movies for trips. :)

For me, the netbook works… albeit with a tweak on the OS. ;)

17 [email protected] Bulletproof December 14, 2010 at 6:26 am

Hello, many, many thanks for taking the time to share.. It was useful for my team. Thanks for all of your hard work!

18 JOAQUIN SOUSA-POA April 3, 2011 at 7:57 am




19 Will June 6, 2011 at 5:01 am

The netbook satisfies a niche between smartphones, tablets and full-size laptops. It is a compromise between size, battery life and computing power. Although the various categories are converging…there are few devices that can match a netbook on battery life, screensize, weight, full QWERTY keyboard and price.

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