October 25, 2008
I've been reading a lot of good things about the emerging "netbook" category of subnotebooks:
The term netbook refers to a category of small to medium sized, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient, Internet-centric laptops, generally optimized for Web surfing and e-mailing.
Like any self-respecting nerd, I already own a laptop, of course, but my wife has taken to surfing the internet at night and doing her Java-based New York Times crosswords in bed. Plus there's the whole pregnancy thing, so it'd be nice for her to have her own "space" laptop-wise. So I pulled the trigger on an Acer Aspire One netbook.
The specs are indeeed modest, but not bad at all for the $369 sticker price:
- Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz CPU
- 802.11 b/g wireless
- 1 GB ram
- 120 GB hard drive
- 8.9" 1024x600 display
- Windows XP Home
- webcam, mic, 3 usb ports, ethernet, vga out.
I didn't expect much from this cheap, diminutive laptop; it's mostly for web surfing, light email, maybe a tiny bit of miscellaneous office work. And in case the color choice didn't make it clear, it's not even for me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
As I sat down to configure this machine, I belatedly realized that for most of what I do with a computer, this cute little netbook is perfectly adequate. Sure, the keyboard is a bit cramped, it's no performance powerhouse, and the screen size, at 1024 x 600, is definitely the minimum necessary for it to be practical. It took some adaptation, but it wasn't frustrating or disappointing to use. It delivered (almost) the same web experience I'd get on my desktop or laptop, with no serious compromises. It just.. worked.
As stupid as it sounds, I had fallen in love with this silly little netbook.
But even that's not the whole story -- after spending some time with a netbook, I realized that calling them "small laptops" is a mistake. Netbooks are an entirely different breed of animal. They are cheap, portable web browsers.
The most popular application in the world is the web browser. By far. Number two isn't even close. Just check out the front page of Wakoopa's most used apps:
By my reckoning, six of the top 10 "apps" here are actually web browsers or websites running in web browsers. It's certainly consistent with how my wife and I are increasingly using our computers. Every day, more and more of what we need to do is delivered through a browser, with fewer and fewer compromises. I spend ridiculous, unhealthy amounts of time browsing the web, and this netbook does that with aplomb.
At this point, who cares what operating system you run? Choice of web browser will have a far more profound impact on most people's daily lives. As the prices for netbooks inevitably collapse, they are poised to transform the entire computer market, threatening both Apple and Microsoft.
- Apple laptops are beautiful, but I can't imagine the average user who spends all their time in the web browser paying 3 to 4 times the price of a netbook for a Mac laptop. Macs are brilliantly designed, it's true, but that's a hell of a tax to run Safari.
- Speaking of taxes, what about the Microsoft Tax? I'm already heavily infatuated with the current iteration of netbooks as represented by the Aspire. And they can only get better and cheaper over time. Imagine a machine with the same specs as the Aspire One but at $299, $199, maybe even $99. It's going to happen. It's inevitable. This is a huge opening for Linux; it's the ideal way to deliver a complete, modern web browser at nearly zero marginal cost to both the vendor and consumer.
- The booming growth of netbooks will keep Windows XP alive much longer than expected. As much as I like Vista as a solid (if not stellar) upgrade from XP, the prehistoric 2001 era system requirements for XP still make it a better choice for these kinds of devices. 1 GB of memory is roomy; a measly 16 GB of disk space plenty. Can't say that for Vista. No sir. It's also an opportunity for Microsoft to play games with the Linux market by reducing the price of XP to crazy low, fire sale, everything-must-go levels. But only for "select" and "preferred" OEM vendors, of course, not for the common folks on the street.
I won't lie. One of the attractions of this particular model is that it runs Windows XP, an operating system I, and every other software vendor on the planet, know by heart. It'll run whatever without me having to think too much about it. But I could easily see myself leaving some of that potential flexibility on the table if the price dropped to $199 or so. If it runs Firefox 3, or Chrome, or Opera, that's about all I need.
I'm quite happy with our Acer Aspire One netbook for now, but I'll probably be picking up one of the next generation of netbooks for myself.
I agree with Omar that Netbooks are poised to transform computing. They still have a way to go, of course, but the $299 or $199 no-compromises, go-anywhere, zero-monthly-contract-fees web browser in the palm of your hand -- with the requisite 9" or larger screen -- is almost upon us. I guess I hadn't been paying enough attention, because that's a shocker to me.
Pitching the web browser as a bona-fide operating system always seemed stupid to me. Or at least it did, until I sat down with my first netbook. If I were Apple or Microsoft, I'd I'd be watching this category of devices very, very closely.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I've been working on a linux distribution Webconverger that just brings you the Web. I've heard some reports that it works great on Atom based machines, though the default images don't yet have wireless support.
Need to work on that or since it's opensource project, I very much welcome help in this area as I don't have such a computer.
As an early adopter of the Eee 701, one year on I now have netbook jealousy of the 10 screens, upgraded processors and better keyboard layouts. However, I still wouldn't get one with a HDD; for me the SSD was key to the whole shebang. I wonder if the wife wants a new one...
Interesting post. Considering the fact that I just bought a Dell XPS M1530 :-)
Other point I wanted to make was I came to know about Wakoopa from this post, went there and signed up for it, only to discover that they want to install a program on my computer which will keep track of all the software usuage and share it (maybe for ad-sense)! This I found not agreeable and I did not install it. Thought I would share this info.
I have the same one, and I've come to basically the same conclusion as you - love it, don't need my fancy dual monitor set up. Aside from software development, I can use the little netbook (exact same one, but mine is blue!) for everything.
In fact, it has give me a new respect for WHY nobody gets software developers asking for dual monitors: we're the only people that NEED them. It is incredibly hard for me to to web development with API pages, my IDE and a web browser on one screen. But blogging, email, word processing, chatting? My Aspire one serves admirably.
I think portable web browser as a stand alone hardware makes sense. I've recently started testing timesnapper and was shocked to realize my Visual Studio to Firefox ratio was 1:3! I know my wife does not use 90% of the software and services running on her laptop. Browsing, e-mail, word and excel all have wonderful web counterparts that meet her requirements.
What has changed in the last few years is that they meet my requirements as well! Games seem to be switching to dedicated platforms so the only real need for a generic computer with an operating system for me seems to be software development related.
But then again - what if someone does make a browser only note pad? Version 2 will surely support peripherals such as external speakers, ipod, bluetooth, usb ports for external controllers (for all those addictive flash games), external sound/graphic card, bigger disk... And we'll be back where we started... So strike that - web browser as a stand alone hardware makes no sense.
A while ago I bought one of these. The Linux version - which works remarkebly like Windows - , and I'm also quite impressed.
Actually I don't use it for web browsing at all currently. We're living in an inbetween house for the moment, and our internet connection is 3G UMTS wireless affair hooked to the big laptop.
But still this laptop has seen its share of use. Its main function has been as a media viewer by plugging in cards from compact cameras.
Although I admit that its full power will only come when we have proper WiFi.
KristofU, thank you for introducing me to the term moneymoon -- hilarious! :)
I think Mozilla should soon release a Firefox-branded netbook. With some dedicated Linux distro, SSD and flash card reader. Just a hardware Firefox that just works.
Nice lappy, but when you're buying one this big it's all about battery life.
Which is why the Eee PC (specifically the 901) wins hands down (imho).
I must say I agree - my macbook is pretty much a super-high-speced netbook for what I use it for - not a lot more than you do, browsing, email etc, but I run a VM now and again, but not often.
The real surprise for me if how much I use my iPhone for general web stuff. I (we) used to grab the laptop(s) and sit in bed with a coffee on a weekend morning (like this morning), but now I reach for my iphone - it's smaller, just as quick etc, and perfectly functional for reading over blogs, email, news websites etc. It's not going to replace my macbook anytime soon for heavier-weight stuff, but for the basics, it's hard to beat. an iPod Touch would have done just as well, as it's on wifi anyway.
I think Jakub has a point - a FF (or google?) branded netbook - enough ram to run, external storage via SD card, custom linux OS, chrome. Everything else is in the cloud. Now, if only I can get my parents OFF dialup and onto DSL....
I have a really small HP laptop that I use for just this purpose. It's not super powerful but it gets the job done.
I think that google should come out with a device similar to the Amazon Kindle that all it does is run google reader and their browser chrome. It would be a color screen, touch, blah blah but be much more portable and a really fast bootup time compared to a dinky laptop. Basically making it a digital magazine.
Loving my Asus EeePC running Ubuntu-eee (Netbook Interface).
I think Apple is in a reasonable position with regard to entering the netbook area, but not necessarily with a netbook. They have the iPhone/iPod touch at the small form factor end and the MacBook Air one step up from there. But this is a relatively large step. I think there is a space between these products that Apple will fill soon.
It will be interesting to see which way they go: making a big iPod touch or small Air. The touch screen would be great, but I don't think it would fly without a physical keyboard. But, all the pundits have been predicting a tablet from Apple for some time. We'll see.
The Microsoft tax doesn't really exist. In many cases, a laptop running Windows will be cheaper than one with Linux because of the all the crapware OEMs get paid to include with Linux, plus the huge discounts Microsoft gives OEMS.
all the crapware OEMs get paid to include with Linux
wow, people pay to include crapware with Linux? I thought that came for free! RIMSHOT
Argh I couldn't resist. That aside, this is a serious question: people pay to include software on Linux?? I thought craplets were a Windows specific problem, and I find it disturbing and vaguely depressing that the same thing is happening to Linux et al.
Is it true?
Wow, yet one more geek that buys the netbook for wife and then falls in love with it.
I think this has to be one of the best 'viral' marketing campaigns ever - I realized that the moment after I had installed ssh on mt wife's eee and started to think about installing an amp server on it...
About the MS tax - this whole netbook ordeal is going to lower it considerably. Asus sells the linux version of same model at a slightly lower price than the winxp version, at least in Europe. Sure, there are still a few rough edges here and there, but just head over one of the thousand self-help wikis that sprang like mushrooms overnight and you will find noob-proof instructions on about every (in)conceivable mod to the os, thanks to geeks love for tinkering. As you said, when your OS is the browser you really do not care about not being able to install the latest windows games. We only use on the thing: ffox, tbird, skype, ooo, and the filesystem explorer. The only 'new' app for my wife was ooo, but after a little protest she's become proficient with it.
re all the crapware: the only crapware we got are a dubious antivirus scanner and the default, simplified shell made by asus (even though the latter only qualifies in small part)
re all about battery life: so sadly true. I think the 901 is incredibly poor, so I can not even imagine the experience with other models...
Hey Now Jeff,
The $100 web browser sounds real funny. It'll be interesting to see how netbooks increase in popularity in the future.
Coding Horror Fan,
Ubuntu Netbook Remix is definitely the way to go.
I loaded it on my 701 EeePC (the Ubuntu-eee version) after using the basic interface for almost a year and it has been great being able to pull from the Ubuntu repositories and use the nice new Netbook GUI.
So I actually went out to Best Buy to get myself an Asus Eee 900A, the new netbook that only costs $300 bucks. My laptop needed a new screen, and I had already replaced the inverter and made two attempts at replacing the bulb. I was looking at $200-300 to get a new, full screen so I considered getting this netbook instead, and just using the laptop at the desk, connected to a monitor. I did my best to test out the machine at the store.
My new screen and my T-Mobile G1 should arrive in a couple days. If its going to be that small, it might as well fit in my pocket.
Is it true?
I'm sorry, it's late and I mistyped. I meant to say crapware included with Windows. As far as I know they don't do this with Linux.
I think Apple is preparing to release a netbook. Snow Leopard is the preparation.
I have an Asus Eee PC running Linux, and it's great for what it does, but when my work relies on using software like Final Cut or Logic, or even Photoshop, I need a Mac. I'm starting to think so many people got Macs because it was the cool or popular thing to do, but they honestly *don't* need a Mac...
With considerable tweaking, people managed to a href=http://lwn.net/Articles/299483/boot an Asus EEE in 5 seconds/a. That's less than my desktop PC needs to get through the BIOS and start Grub.
I don't think web browsers are quite that dominant. They MAY be the most used app, but word processors and games have to give them a run for their money at least. The Wakoopa stats obviously can't be taken seriously, since you have to use a web browser to go there and download and install the software, and they have Firefox listed higher than IE.
That being said, I'll probably be buying one of those netbooks soon myself, so I can use it in bed too, especially in the morning when I really want to check my email but I don't really want to get out of bed yet.
Of course microsoft has figured out linux could one-up them in the just need a browser market segment. Hence they came up with silverlight. (they don't have to make win xp cheaper, if you can't visit half the web with linux)
My ideal would be my choice of free browsers (Chrome someday, Firefox, Opera, etc.), some sort of file system (flash cards would be plenty) and enough screen to use it as an e-book reader as well as a browser. Word processor? I'm fine with Google Docs, but would want something that would work if I'm offline (I wouldn't want it to become a brick if I'm in a black hole). Sounds like it wouldn't cost more than a Kindle and would be more useful...I'd spring for that!
I'm typing this on one of the early EeePCs (the 701). Since I purchased this computer, netbooks have blossomed into a whole category and the hardware has only gotten better.
The processor is slow and I only have 4G of internal storage, but that's just fine with me. If I could improve anything it would be (in this order):
1. Better battery life (this thing is a plug-in computer)
2. Higher resolution (I only have 800 pixels across)
3. Slightly larger screen (not at the expense of battery though)
Linux is half the fun for me, though. I really hope that the manufacturers continue to focus on Linux.
I think the ultimate upgrade will be built-in EVDO or WIMAX, so you can just fire it up wherever you are and be connected instantly. You can sort of do it with addon cards, but it's janky to have a dongle hanging off the back.
How is this appreciably different in concept from WebTV? Lots of grandmas used that and all the hard core PC people laughed at them.
The web browser has been my OS since 2001 since I started College. I lived at the dorms, the campus, other people dorms, my parents house,etc. I was a nomad and I was poor.
I couldn't afford a laptop and I already had a desktop. So I bought a jump drive and used it to store files and then just used any computer near me to check email or write up papers since most people had MS Word. And all the computers on campus had development tools so I just used them for programming assignments.
Even now that I have a good job and I can afford a laptop, I still don't buy one. Because the web offers even more opportunity to use it for productivity. I have a IPod touch that I use about half the time for checking email, news, blogs and even facebook.
Like anything, netbooks are good for the time they're good, and bad for the times they're not. Wow, how profound is that?
I've had a 4g EeePC 701 surf since February, and I was a huge fan of it. I bring it to meetings and update my to-dos as work is assigned to me. I can bring it to bed and read from my O'Reilly Safari account. And, it's opened up space in my laptop bag so I can carry a digital camera with me everywhere.
But, this week I found myself away from my desk, trying to code for five hours on the tiny keyboard and tiny screen. I walked away with a hand cramp that didn't go away completely until the next day. I attended a conference this weekend, and I was so glad I grabbed my old Dell 15 laptop to take notes for two days' worth of sessions.
The EeePC isn't made for hours of intense typing. It's for casual use, maybe an hour or two at a time, max. I've got my eyes on a 13 MacBook right now, as a compromise between size comfort.
The appreciable difference between this and WebTV is thirteen years. So much more can be done from a web browser today. Yesterday, I did all of the following from Firefox:
* Email (GMail)
* IM (Meebo, although I should have just used Google Talk in GMail)
* Take notes (Google Docs)
* Chat (web-based IRC client)
* Manage my to-do list (Sandy)
My wife I recently ditched DirecTV because we can watch all our favorite shows online at Hulu or through less legitimate streaming sources, in a web browser on our HTPC.
Many people have already installed OS X on their netbooks and it is, apparently, well-suited to that form factor.
You can be certain that Apple are already quite far in the development of the Macbook Nano. The production technology they've just introduced, carving lighter, stronger and sleeker cases from blocks of aluminum is particularly relevant to the netbook space. It will not be cheap but it probably will be the nicest and will solidly establish the netbook concept in the mainstream.
I believe that, during a recession, people still have a psychological need for what they perceive as luxury and, if you can't get a loan to buy a new car, you might well decide to treat yourself with a lower-price item, such as a nice laptop i.e. a luxury premium of a couple of hundreds bucks rather than a few thousand on a car. Apple could do very well with a light, 10 netbook that is easy to use, optionally runs Windows, looks great/covetable and fits easily in a hand-bag. You're going to be seeing a lot of these things in Starbucks next year.
Yep I really liked the 1000h Asus as well. The design is sleek and the whole thing weighs next to nothing.
As you say the operating system really doesn't matter. In fact the first thing I did is put a copy of eeeUbuntu on it (the customised install of Ubuntu specifically for the Asus eee range).
You can also launch it on a flash pen to check it out before wiping the whole system but it's a serious step up on the mini-Linux system Asus use and IMHO preferable to XP.
Like you, I can see these notebooks being a big opening for Linux, especially if the community releases special *nix versions which work smoothly.
I still have a three year old Dell 700m that I'm using for this. But once that dies, I'm on to one of these small beauties.
I do watch a lot of videos on the thing, though, so I'm hoping they can handle video files.
Toni Schneider said it back in 2007:
I want a Firefox computer. A nice, sleek, solid state notebook with a big screen that you open up and it just runs Firefox. I bet this could be had for a reasonable price, it could have a nice long battery life and start up almost instantly. I’d still have a PC or Mac at home to store my photos and music, but for my everyday work life the Firefox computer is all I need.
I should think more about your titles, reading this one I could almost smell a flame war on the air. Disappointing Jeff...
Anyway my laptop (which I bought on january) has almost the same especifications but a 1280x800 15.1'' screen, 80GB Hard drive and a non-integrated video card. That is not pre-historic in any way, you are just spoiled brat. I'm a Computer Science student and it runs anything that I need (including VMs) and, it runs WoW too. Yours netbook should run WoW too altough it have a integrated VGA, but the screen resolution is lower so you don't need much more performance in the VGA departament.
Anyway, eletronics here are just so much more expensive than in North America, I paid almost 3 times (after exchange conversion) in my laptop than you did on yours netbook. Yeah, around here we don't all have 3 monitors and a pong clock.
I just got my life partner (she is a female living mate, but not my wife :p) a dell inspiron mini 9, and I get yelled at constantly or trying to play on it. And it is perfect for her online rag mags.
I find it a bit sad that you link to Amazon three times in this post, which reads like it's an advertisement anyway.
Of course it's your blog and you can do what you want. I still read and enjoy most of your posts.
Hope everything goes well with you, your wife and your kid!
I bought the same model of the Acer Aspire One a few months ago but in white. I've really come to love the little machine. I take it everywhere with me. There is massive potential for these new netbook machines. Especially for schools and college students. I've loaded Ubuntu onto my AA0 and I do all of my CS work on it.
I previously owned a Dell XPS M1210 and have really become a fan of the idea of having a small ultraportable, light weight laptop paired with a powerful desktop machine. This way you get the best of both worlds. The desktop would cover any high end needs such HD video and gaming as well as being a container for home media. The netbook would cover the basic needs many people have such as text editing and web browsing. It's a perfect combination for my life style.
Many long years ago, I had a TRS-102 (I think--a follow-on to the TRS-100 anyway) because I wanted so desperately to be able to carry something small and light enough for my briefcase-like handbag that I could write on for an hour. (If that--it had hardly any storage to go with its three-line window).
It wasn't there yet, but it was exactly the KIND of thing I was looking for, at a lowish price.
Now I'm broke, and something that has everything I could want and then some at a really low price comes along. MUST GET MONEY!!!!
I own an Asprie One 150X. I decided against Linux, even the netbook would be 50 € cheaper (have tried Linux a few times since slackware 96 , have learned to hate it).
I first get rid of a few things:
60 days office trial - bah
extra toolbar in browser - no way - I want the space
Works - no commentadobe acrobat - to big, to clumsy
Next I installed the basic tools. Since it has a seagate harddrive, you can install the Seagate DiscWizard ( a branded version of acranos TrueImage home with less functionality, but hey, no money spend. http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/discwizard ). So this is what is needed for easy backup to external disc.
So after a first backup in nearly first install state, there is a list of tools which I def. needed:
SyncToy http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52displaylang=en Hey, Yodas says: trust microsoft on syncing your files you must
Virtual CloneDrive for easy mounting of disc images http://www.slysoft.com/de/virtual-clonedrive.html
ZipGenius for handling all sorts of compressed files http://zipgenius.altervista.org/zg6/help/index.htm
Mobipocket (hey it has the size for reading ebooks)http://www.mobipocket.com/
Driver for Printer mobile DVB-T Stick
Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition (can't live without C#) http://www.microsoft.com/Express/
Paint.net (okay it needs some ressources, but is definitly THE free grafik program) http://www.getpaint.net/
PDF Creator http://sector7g.wurzel6.de/pdfcreator/ for creating .. guess what pdfs
FoxIt Reader http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php - fast pdf reader
Wink http://www.debugmode.com/wink/ for creating screen videos
Pointofix http://www.pointofix.de/ for adding color to screenshoots (directly draw in in frozen screen)
Texxas http://www.texxas.de/ tv planer
Trillian http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/ as multimessanger
IE 7 - can't live without it and have read the security mailinglist of mozilla, no way that I ever use firefox. Opera was slow on the machine, don't know why.
Mag license (5€total) of
Ashampoo Burning studio 2008 (can produce isos and so on)
Ashampoo Photo Commander (I don't trust google ;-) )
Softmaker Office 2006 (50 €) Small office package with very good compatibility to MS Office
Magacine license of (€3,30 total ct' 04/2008)
Concept Draw 7 (http://www.conceptdraw.com/en/) as Visio alternative
Concept MindMap 4 - Yes i know, but i like mindmapping
Concept Procet 5 - As MS Project Alternative
EDraw 3 SE - just for cases where Concept Draw has drawbacks http://www.edrawsoft.com/
So, that are 58 € for getting development issues and allday things on the machine done. Now going for some entertainment
eets http://www.eetsgame.com/news/index.php (same ct cd) a small game between incredible machine lemmings
Still Life http://www.stilllife-game.com/en/ - dark adventure that flies on the netbook (4,50€ in magazine)
Sam % Max (loved the old ones, love the new ones) http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/
Other free adventures like the fanadventures ZakMcKracken Broken Sword 2.5 also fit on the machine. ( http://www.zak2.org http://www.brokensword25.com/ )
A few 5 minute games which are a bit different
crayon physic shttp://www.kloonigames.com/blog/games/crayon
Marker World (similiar to crayon)
And yet it moves http://www.andyetitmoves.net/
That is all what a machine for project planing, development and a little gaming really needs (okay source control, but.... it's no real development, so syncing to a netdrive of the server which does versioning is all which is needed)
Any other good programms?
h, i forgot, i would never buy a pink device... mine is white. ;-)
Jeff, you know this whole netbook thing started off with Asus' eeePC 701 running a cut-down Linux distro, right? And that they only started putting XP on them afterwards?
Yes, this _has_ been a nice little wedge for Linux. Then Microsoft gave XP a reprieve for netbooks (god help any OEM putting Vista on one of these things), and a lot of the Linux versions got shoved aside. The MSI Wind, for example, only comes with XP.
I'm really looking forward to my Dell Inspiron Mini 9 arriving soon. They just skipped the custom distro bit and went straight for Ubuntu. Handily, Ubuntu just happened to have a netbook-centric interface ready to go...
think i'm getting old,
all the crapware OEMs get paid to include with Linux
yes. OEMs like Asus pay money to get some stuff (like legal DVD viewing (hey and that without an dvd drive) to linux. Asus has developed closed source drivers only for the linux version and also paid a hell lot of money for altering Xandros to fit for the small screen. (Acer has done the same with Linpus...)
So the money they don't pay for the OS is spend for drivers, altering the OS and so on. Linix therefor is not cheaper. The ikit for 149$ is more a smartphone/pda. The sad thing is, that $ prices are put to € 1:1 or 1: 1.5. For 139,-€ I can buy a brand new Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone (or 400 € more from a well known brand) which can do the same.
One thing that people seldom mention (and the press has not addressed) is the limitations that Microsoft has put on netbooks. Here's a quick hint... How many netbooks come with high resolution screens (as in above 1024x600) AND an Atom processor of 1.6GHz? Seen any netbooks coming out using the new Atoms with hyperthreading?
Asus makes over a dozen different models of eeePC, but none with high resolution and an atom. HP makes a higher resolution screen, but cripples the machine with a subpar processor.
http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?pid=404869 contains some discussion on this issue, along with links to various other sites.
Personally, the first netbook I see with a solid state drive, Atom processor 1.6Ghz, and resolution of 1280x768 (or preferably higher...) will get my money. I'm ready to buy now. No, I don't care if it has Windows XP or Vista with Aero; in fact I'd prefer Ubuntu with Compiz.
Way to go! I own Acer Aspire One, one with linux os, SSD drive and 7 hours battery life. I LOVE it. :)
Of course, since I planned to do some development on it, I installed and modded Ubuntu on it. :)
Since my old laptop is 13 lb, this lightweight replacement is much easier on my shoulder.
I'm sure you will buy one for yourself soon enough. :)
I'm a modern but young luddite. I HATE web apps. I have gone to the point of writing HTML scrapers to access webapps from native apps.
Hi Jeff, the co-founder of Wakoopa here. One of the guys in our team is actually an Asus Eee PC fan. I'd highly recommend trying that out for once if you're into netbooks. Its distro is quite nicely done: http://www.ubuntu-eee.com/
Regarding the rise of web apps: it's effecting lots of other businesses besides the netbook market, like ours. We've started tracking web apps for our users recently, next to Windows and Mac apps. All because the biggest part of our user base (mostly professionals and gamers) was spending more than 50% of their time inside the browser. I can only imagine other developers making some similar decisions recently.
Are you a Wakoopa user too Jeff? Would love to know what apps you're discovering on a day to day basis. Cal Henderson from Flickr has been doing it for a while, pretty handy: http://wakoopa.com/iamcal
i'm surprised no one has mentioned http://www.umpcportal.com. there is endless news, info, and hands-on experiances for netbooks, UMPCs, MIDs, and many other small mobile computers. i'm a big fan of computers smaller than traditional laptops have been following the tech for a few years now.
i use this for the same purposes:
definitely not for everyone, but it replaced my laptop in ~90% my usage scenerios. funny thing is, it weighs as much as the power adapter of my laptop.
say 'beep' if you really do read all the comments.
Oh, and you should really do a post on Chrome.......
What Apple tax to run Safari? It runs on Windows too. I'd just stick with Webkit.
I'm a modern but young luddite. I HATE web apps. I have gone to the point of writing HTML scrapers to access webapps from native apps.
What exactly does that gain you?
How many sizes of computer will you eventually buy? The traditional two (laptop and PC) have became three (with the addition of the iPod and blackberry genre) and now 3 becomes 4... I think that #5 will be smaller, as there is no demand for bigger and no room left in the middle. What will smaller look like?
Heck, I hope it looks like a good pair of sunglasses.
Give Google time, and every OS mainstay will be web'd. Email: Check. Office Apps: Check. And, if I press the '' key in gmail, they've even given me a game. Check. Google is also a calculator, image creator (just type a few descriptive words), sound creator... it is an oracle, in the original sense.
1008: Student approaches oracle. Master, what is the meaning of logarithm? A logarithm is a mathematical function, and it works like this. And so the master tells him.
2008: Student approaches oracle. logarithm? Results 1 - 10 of about 2,500,000 for logarithm. And so the master tells him.
A bit of a problem for these devices, in that they really need the external internet connection. If you purchase one, and then move to an area without mile after mile of wifi coverage, it becomes much less usable.
The HD is small, you can run Open Office on it, but the flash is gone. Your PC, with it's wired connection and ample disk space, will be used much more. Be wary of relying on applications and machines beyond your control, they may fail.
As for me? I want one. Yes. I certainly do want one. For all that it is worth, this will be a pretty awesome thing.
Didn't anyone notice that he's running Firefox with Adblock Plus on that thing:)?
re: question about upgrading memory:
The ASUS 901 can be unofficially upgraded from 1 GB to 2 GB. There is a description in the reviews for it on amazon.com.
Seems to me that Win2000 would be a good choice for some of these netbooks. Less memory needed, less processes running.
i just have to say, for those that want iphone size but with the thinkerability of linux, have a long hard look at what nokia is up to, or maybe the neo freerunner. hell, maybe even the pandora may be interesting.
yes, only one of those are a phone. but something tells me that for home use, the phone part of the iphone is the least used bit...
it kinda saddens me how microsoft have gone all gorilla on the netbook market tho. i smell them taking a loss on the xp licenses just to make sure the linux mindshare do not increase in the general public.
also, it pains me that each time there is a choice between linux and windows, the linux version is the least powerful one, hardware related.
hell, dell pulled a silly one with making the linux version of their netbook the underperformer, but upgradeable, and then make available rebates on the windows versions that made the most powerful windows version on par in cost with the linux version, pre-upgrades. and the linux version would be, post-upgrades, more expensive then the most powerful windows one, at equal power...
grumble, risk paranoid company leaderships, grumble...
I bought the Eee PC 901 as a loan system at work and I love it. Just back from a trip to London, 2 hours on the train down, one and off work at the client and then watched Love Guru (hmm) on the way back. The battery failed in the final credits. That's about six hours of work! So I agree with somebody else, the Eee PC with it's USB storage wins hands down for battery life. We don't need GB of storage for a loan system - external USB pens are fine. We use Citrix at work and therefore, my electronic office ran just like it does at my desk. Unbelievable power.
I travelled with just the Eee PC, Orange mobile broadband USB mobile phone. I stood on the tube with this tiny package looking at others lugging their big laptop bags around.
What's even better, Orange have partnered with Virgin Trains to place mobile boosters *inside* the train connected to mobile antenna externally. This meant an almost solid 3G connection all the way down. It's not perfect and Citrix does pause from time to time (never anything lost though).
Without appearing sexist, I expected it to be most popular with our female members of staff. Okay so it's not pink but they've not been queuing up to borrow it. Strange...
PS. It's a perfect player of video's encoded to DivX on the aircraft style seats. The screens on bigger laptops are too big to get vertical so you see people straining to see/type on their screen.
Ohh yes, and it only cost 250 ex. VAT... we were paying getting on for 1,000 for a small Dell Latitude a while back which had a slightly bigger screen. Shows how much we were paying over the odds...
What gerald said - while browsers are the most used piece of software, that's also because they're the smallest field, in practical terms.
Lots of people want to run games and such (but of course, such a wide variety of them that they'll never come close to Big Three Browsers on a most-used list), and a netbook isn't going to be real good for that.
(For what it's worth, I'm very happy with my Dell Mini9. Soon, a 32GB SSD and 2GB ram upgrade.
People should also be aware that the XP on at least the Dell is XP ULCPC edition, not normal XP. I'm not sure what the differences are, but I imagine it already has extraneous services off by default or not installed to save space.
I cheated the whole issue and put my spare bought-in-a-box-retail copy of OSX on it. I've bought enough Macs - and will again - that I feel absolutely no moral qualm about breaking the license and not-cheating Apple out of the money for the netbook they don't sell and therefore I cannot purchase from them.)
Hmm, 'If I were Apple or Microsoft...' I thought MS had already announced that its replacement for Vista would be targeting the browser OS, and that's why Google joined the fray with Chrome, to provide THE OS of the future, Google Docs and the like remove the need for local software, it will only get better. Its a return to the good old thin client days but still giving you the productivity.
With Google leading the way in datacentre efficiency as well it can only be a good thing. Consumers will need less power, data centers will be more efficient. The modern computer is the electronic equivalent of an SUV, most people don't need quad cores to browse the web (but yeah, I do love mine when it comes to compiling).
I was right with you until you said it ran XP. Not that any of the top 3 OSes seem light enough to be appropriate for this task, but XP has to be the worst possible choice.
The system shouldn't need maintenance, it should have an OS that cannot be modified, and it has no requirements for interoperability.
XP Suspends poorly, crashes when you suspend and change configuration regularly, resumes very slowly, starts up slowly (although none of the top 3 are quick, XP is the slowest), and has been fairly easy to corrupt via a multitude of security flaws.
OSx isn't really an option because it's not the right hardware, but you'd think there would be a severely trimmed down Unix-based OS with zero configuration (like the iPhone) that would be much more appropriate for a net device
About the eee 701: But, this week I found myself away from my desk, trying to code for five hours on the tiny keyboard and tiny screen.
Yeah, it seems like no one really wants a 7 netbook. Too small to be usable. 9 or 10 seems to the popular spot. I have the blue version of the Acer one and it's about the perfect size. Any smaller and I don't think I could type.
nice laptop. I hope to get myself one of those.
These are nice and all, but I do as little computing in the cloud as I have to. I'm sorry, but cloud computing is as much of a fad as Web 2.0 is, as the dot-com bubble was. Besides, when one lives outside of major metropolitan areas, you might as well get used to having the thing tethered to a wall, because wifi doesn't exist out here.
Of course, I'll admit to being something of a luddite. No cellphone, no ipod, no TV. I fail to see the enjoyment of being bombarded with media on a constant basis, and those who really need to speak with me knows where I live.
I'm in for the hi-res, solid state, instant on, but would also like my choice of browser (which won't ever be IE, I'd bet, so that makes it a *nix base) and some sort of write-to filesystem and basic editor so it's not a brick if I'm offline (and so I can save and transfer to my Big Box if I want to).
While we're at it, let's have Amazon talk to Pragmatic about their experience distributing books without DRM - I can't see buying ebooks in a locked-in format like Kindle's.
Been using little notebooks like that for the last 8 years.
Started out with the Sony U-1, and now on to a a href=http://www.pocketables.net/2008/07/review-kohjinsh.htmlKojinsha/a, which is similar to the Acer, but has a swinging screen with touch and a nice little strap on its back so it looks like a small suitcase. Oh and it plays digital TV too. Costs about the same as the Acer too.
I just bought one of the Dell minis for my 4 year old daughter. Fully functional laptop / netbook the perfect size for a 4 year olds hands cheap enough to spit at? Couldn't pass it up.
@Tim: One thing that people seldom mention (and the press has not addressed) is the limitations that Microsoft has put on netbooks. Here's a quick hint... How many netbooks come with high resolution screens (as in above 1024x600) AND an Atom processor of 1.6GHz? Seen any netbooks coming out using the new Atoms with hyperthreading?
Most people are not paranoid delusional, that's why they don't mention it.
@Just testing you...:
@Tim - 'Personally, the first netbook I see with a solid state drive, Atom processor 1.6Ghz, and resolution of 1280x768 (or preferably higher...) will get my money'
The Dell Mini 9 has a 1.7 Ghz Atom with a 16GB ssd and a resolution that is PERFECT for its 12 diag screen... anything higher would make the text illegible.
I have an Acer Aspire One as well and I love it...way easier to carry around than my 2 year old huge Dell widescreen laptop.
the only thing I hate about it is the small right click button on the touchpad....they should have made it way bigger.
Is it a record? 4 links to other blog entries of yours, plus 3 links to your affiliate account at Amazon to buy that laptop? Out of 11 total links? I miss the days when you were a programmer first, and a blogger second. I don't mind seeing ads in what I read, but for the past years, reading your blog, I assumed every link would take me to something meaningful, rather than a way to drive up your revenues.
And what about the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the G1? I picked up an iPod touch for $300. If I didn't have so much music, video and other content, I could have bought the $230 module and saved $70. Or, sign up with ATT and get an iPhone for $200. I have no idea about the G1, but I bet its pretty compatible.
No, the web browser of the future isn't the mini-laptops, but the super-smart phones and hand held devices now coming out. I have no problems using my iPod Touch for web browsing or using Google apps while I sit enjoying my coffee at a local coffee shop. The pages render beautifully even if the space is a bit cramped.
I've already worked with a few websites helping them become iPhone friendly which included eliminating Flash-only navigation and IE incongruities that FireFox seems okay with, but WebKit doesn't like. We also work on iPhone formatting. This is not the same as the old WAP pages of yore. The idea isn't to make a special iPhone webpage ghetto, but to improve current webpages to make them easier to use with iPhone's features. For example, formatting a column, so when a user zooms in on it on an iPhone, it fills in the entire screen width.
No, Microsoft's big competitor isn't Linux or Mac OS X. It's WebKit and the various OpenSource web foundations. WebKit is the basis of both Google's and Apple's portable browsers and will become the standard browser rendering engine on almost all Linux based devices. I expect to see both Opera and FireFox switch over to the WebKit rendering engine.
Microsoft, unlike the Dinosaurs of yore, sees those little furry mammals evolving and realize they're a threat. Unfortunately, Microsoft so far have been unable to figure out how to meet these challenges.
I bought a $600 Averatec laptop for just this sort of thing... works great for browsing the web, Word, or watching a movie when out of town. Well worth the investment. Plays a few games too...
Battery life though is a complaint... you can't even watch one DVD without plugging the little guy in. So it's much less usefully in a plane than it is in a hotel room.
I believe MS is well aware of this, and I figure this is the reason why they've thrown so much into Silverlight out of nowhere and moved a lot of the Live apps onto the web. I think they realize if they don't get a chunk of the web app market they might become irrelevant.
I was following this company for a while. They used to sell a small, simple laptop. They have changed their angle to a Web OS.
The idea was a small Linux laptop with solid state drive. It has many advantages, good battery life, fast boot.
Anyhow, all the user data is stored online. All applications are run from the internet.
There are also online disk companies: http://jungledisk.com/
Why have a whole lot of computing power in your hands? It is thin clients all over again.
This is good for us users, bad for hardware manufactures. The low prices cause a commodity race to the bottom.
Can one beef up the RAM on these boxes? That and extending battery life seem to be all that is needed to make this usable.
One of the attractions of this particular model is that it runs Windows XP, ... But I could easily see myself leaving some of that potential flexibility on the table if the price dropped to $199 or so.
Absolute horse puckey. The industry *HAD* exactly what you describe on the market half a decade ago in the form of the internet appliance: small, dirt cheap, low powered web/email/IM machines that ran non-Windows OSes. The i-Opener was the most well known one, though there was also the 3COM Audrey, the MSN Companion/MSN TV devices and so forth.
Nobody bought them. It simply wasn't worth it when you could spend a few dollars more and be able to run other, more interesting applications as well.
Uh, Firefox doesn't register on any of our WebTrends reports as being more heavily used than IE. I've gone back and forth between the two and find myself using IE more often. It doesn't have the annoying constant updates and upgrade, for one.
For the small case of using a netbook for 5 hours at a time with the small keyboard - most of them have bluetooth built in, so you can use a bluetooth keyboard and/or mouse with them. This wouldn't work on a plane, but it is useful when you are in the home or office.
Another data point - plugged the Asus 901-XP into a 1400x1050 monitor and pressed the LCD/CRT button and it changed to that resolution. It also had an extend mode to use both monitors at the same time.
For Canadians - Netbooks in stock now were priced when the Canadian dollar was a lot higher. With new stock, they will be going up 10-20% (or more if the Canadian dollar drops more). As an example, a Wii is $269 Canadian now, which is $208 in US dollars.
``it runs Windows XP, an operating system I, and every other software vendor on the planet, know by heart''
Every other software vendor, except the ones that don't (like the one I work for)... There are actually people who develop strictly for Linux.
Why have a whole lot of computing power in your hands? It is thin clients all over again.
Because I wan't to use MY data in a few years also.
For some tasks i have an 8088, an Pentium 1 and a PIII Laptop. And guess what? Sometimes I play an old game, or open old Documents with Software that doesn't run under actual OS's.
Think about storing data online:
I got an alando account nearly 10 years ago. Alando was bought by ebay 99 with the promise that the market will remain the same. 2001 it become ebay, lots of changes. Than a merge with user data happened. There I lost my account, because the same name was taken by someone at ebay.com. Thats just a login to a site the company gets money for if i use it.
Also I had a few mail accounts, some paid, some free - some gone forever (even lifetime accounts). Newsgroups, also tel. providers - gone over the years. (Compuserve europe has kicked its last users 2008)
Remember Northernlight as really big search engine?
The provider of my first website - dead.
So why put data just online? Do you think your provider will still be there after a big financial crash?
I like netbooks. But mostly not for the net. Everything that is importent is at least 2 times offline.
I like the idea of internet oses like Ulteo, use it wherever you like. But i also want my data offline, and accessable over offlien tools (and to see something like thunderbirds 5 folder imap accunt is very sad and a good excuse not to use thunderbird).
Remember google calender with shared searchable user calenders as default?
Remember hacked debian security patch servers?
So no way that i store important data online.
Yeah, I got an hp mini note a around 6-8 months ago and I was pretty happy. (the rez is a bit higher). I picked up an aspire one for my mom to take to some friends in Peru and it was loved down there. I set it up and was surprised how good the aspire one was for the money.
I really would love to have on of 2 things:
a netbook that is a tablet so that I could use it for PDFs and eBooks and such, (lie on a bed/couch and read it).
OR the back of a netbook be an e-ink screen... though thats more of a pipe dream / drive up the cost of the netbook.
I'll cast another vote for the Dell Mini 9 with WinXP. This thing is practically silent, quite light, and yet still very usable. They even managed to position the Ctrl key where it belongs on the keyboard - something IBM should take note of.
Since my primary PC at home died, I've gone to mostly cloud computing, keeping nearly all of my working docs and such on Google Docs, etc. so I can access them via the Mini 9, a full-size notebook, my work PC, or wherever. Only thing I haven't found a good solution for is a way or place to keep my Favorites/Bookmarks... So, I've got IE Favorites and FF Bookmarks (and whatever Chrome calls it version of those) scattered across half a dozen machines... Yuck.
Does anyone know if netbooks can handle online video, like hulu.com?
it's mostly for web surfing, light email, maybe a tiny bit of miscellaneous office work. ?
Come on, I used to create websites in php with mysql, check email, surf the web and write articles on a Pentium 150MHz with 80MB RAM and a 2Gig hard drive. :P
@Stephen: Welcome to the world of blogging as a business. If you don't like the affiliate links, just ALT+F4.
how come there is so much of a border round the screen
big waste of screen real estate
seems to be the same story with the new HP one
The specs are indeeed modest, but not bad at all for the $369 sticker price:
Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz CPU
802.11 b/g wireless
1 GB ram
120 GB hard drive
8.9 1024x600 display
Windows XP Home
webcam, mic, 3 usb ports, ethernet, vga out.
The specs made me cry. My current dev machine (old as anything, but still working,) has a 1.47 Ghz CPU, 480 MB of ram, and a 8 GB hard drive.
I really need to get a better computer.
On a more on-topic note - I think this is a viable future for computing - even more so than just for web-browsing.
One thing that I'm surprised hasn't come up yet is that the return rate on Linux-based netbooks is *terrible*. People buy them, find something on them that doesn't work at all like the Windows that they're used to, and return them again. Now I'm not complaining since this got me a brand-new netbook at about 1/3 off retail, but this is poison for the manufacturers and/or retailers because the return rate is way above anything else they sell. That's why we're seeing so many of them sold with XP Home, not because of some Microsoft attempt to kill Linux at the low end (their special pricing can't hurt, but they're only doing it because they have no hope of filling the niche with Vista and they need some sort of stopgap for that market segment) but because the vendors have learned that netbook + Linux = high product return rate = net loss on sales.
While i think Netbook has a great future. Saying 1GB is enough is like saying 640k is enough for everyone. There are HUGE amount of features you can put in with more Ram.
Then it brings out a interesting question that i hope someone could someday answer.
If Netbook, Internet, is really the next stage of computing. And if Operating System doesn't matter. What does that mean for X86? Does it matter as well?
We could just have the same Web Experience with ARM, Especially with Cortex A8 and A9.
I still find it easier to curl up in bed with an iTouch than a laptop.
Maybe if they made a netbook with a zoomable interface and a touchpad that supports pinching?
I think a Netbooks make a revolution in our world. Millions of people from poorest regions of our planet got the opportunity to learn, to work, to teach and to leave at absolutely new level.
Actually some individual games would probably be pretty competitive with any browser that isn't IE too. The second most used browser is Firefox which boasts about 125 million users. There are many online games that have user bases over 100 million, including at least one that has over 250 million according to a recent issue of Game Developer Magazine.
The web browser as an OS is truer than you thing. The open-source Google Chrome incorporates abstractions for the most important operating system features such as such as the V8 JS engine, process-bounded tabs, WebKit UI rendering, Google Gears for local storage, interprocess security permissions. etc. Once the OS is in the browser, it won't matter if you are running IE8, Firefox 4.x or Google Chrome as far as the user is concerned. If it doesn't matter, Linux provides more value than Microsoft OSs. At this point, why pay $249 for a Windows netbook instead of $99 for a Linux netbook?
It gets better. Your top 10 list of applications are web browsers, email, and office apps. Google gives away online apps (docs, spreadsheets, presentations, notes, pictures, videos, etc) for free with most of the functionality that most people use. And Facebook is a web app too...
Also, at anything under $200, the netbook becomes much more reachable to a lot more people. That in itself will make it hard for Microsoft to dominate the OS market share.
In fact, if service providers are smart, they'll include a free netbook with a 2 year ISP service contract. They already do the same for cell phones that cost a lot more. i.e. Netbooks could easily turn into a service dongle for ISPs. This great for people unable or unwilling to front the cash for a computer, but are happy to pay an extra $5/month and/or sign a long-ish service contract get the netbook for free. For ISPs, a $99 netbook isn't vastly different from the marketing costs to acquire a new long-term customer.
Time will tell.....