Toshiba is done with netbooks (in the US)

Earlier this year Toshiba introduced its first netbook with an Intel Atom N2600 Cedar Trail processor. But if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on the Toshiba NB510 in the US… you’re going to be waiting a long time.

A Toshiba executive just confirmed to me that Toshiba America has no plans to offer any new netbooks in the US.

Toshiba NB510

Instead, the company is focusing on ultrabooks such as the Toshiba Portege Z830 which offers a similar thin and light form factor but much better performance than a typical netbook.

It also costs a heck of a lot more, with prices around $800 and up, while netbooks typically sell for $300 and less these days.

Toshiba has been making netbooks for a number of years and the company’s earlier entries were popular with netbook enthusiasts thanks to their large, easy to use keyboards — something which wasn’t always a given on tiny laptops with 10 inch displays.

But netbooks aren’t selling like they used to, and Toshiba isn’t the only company that’s pulled out of the US netbook space recently. Dell and Lenovo are officially out of the game, and Samsung and Sony haven’t bothered launching any new models in the US this year.

Acer, Asus, and HP are still offering netbooks in the US, and Toshiba may still sell some models internationally. But the Toshiba NB510 Cedar Trail netbook that we saw at CES is going to be a no show in the States.

  • Joel McNierney

    The Z830 has better performance than most Ultrabooks? The specs look inline with what the rest of the manufacturers are offering. 

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      Sorry, that should have read “netbook” not ultrabook. Blogging after dinner is never a good idea. :)

  • animatio

    so one is really tempted to say that the down of netbooks is not ’cause customers would not buy them, but by active retreat of producers from the market (who claim afterwards that they had to stop production (in the interests of their shareholders as usual) because sells went down and so on).

  • gman

    Great news for Asus. If you missed some of the headlines Dell and HP have taken large losses lately. Yes, laptop sales down, way down. It’s not just netbooks. It’s laptops in general and often that point is overlooked. The manufacturers are on glue thinking that the consumers want those ultrabooks instead of a cheap portable solution. I’m sure Asus sales will show that quite clearly. Ultrabooks aren’t replacing anything. The market is soft. Come to market with a more expensive laptop when the consumers are used to cheap? I know liliputing and a few others are on the bandwagon and good luck with that.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      I can only assume you must have stopped reading Liliputing at some point. Time and again I’ve raised the question of whether demand for netbooks is actually declining… or whether sales are down because *supply* is down.

      An $800 ultrabook isn’t the same class of machine as a $300 netbook — and if companies such as Toshiba are focusing on the former rather than the latter, it’s because they think they can sell them — not that people were only interested in size and not price.

      But the truth is that over the past year or two there have been far fewer developments in the netbook space. So as a blog covering mobile technology we’ve spent a lot more time talking about the products that do exist than those that don’t. That’s meant tablets, ultrabooks, and other thin and light computers — as well as the emerging product category of inexpensive tiny PCs such as the MK802, VIA APC, and Raspberry Pi.

      That’s not to say we’ve stopped covering netbooks. You can see our latest stories here:

      http://liliputing.com/tag/netbooks 

      • gman

         Hey Brad, not at all. I can understand your coverage based on what’s happening out there. It’s not like you could strictly cover netbooks at this point.

        Look at how well Dell’s decision went. Their losses are pretty substantial. Toshiba wants to put their eggs in one basket? Whatever. It’s the Apple model right? Apple doesn’t have a cheaper model do they. No. I guess the companies are wanting the ultrabooks to be the only option in their lineup. Good luck with that. In case they didn’t notice, Asus new netbooks are pretty darn fantastic.

        At the end of the day Asus will enjoy this news. It’s what I’ve said all along. Atom was a mistake by Intel. They’ve done their best to kill it off by making joke improvements to it. Joke. Their partners interest is higher margins and netbooks frankly softened the market. I suppose if every manufacturer colluded to stop selling those netbooks they could achieve the Apple model where you have no choice but pay premium dollar. Well sorry. Asus is content being the only netbook player.

        I know Brad that you’ve questioned the decline of netbook headlines. Why can’t anyone actually look at the laptop category as a whole and look at the netbook number of models and talk percentages. Too much work obviously. I would suggest it’s probably not that disproportionate to the decline of laptops. Of course it’s too much effort to actually break down the numbers in an intelligent and meaningful way. Statistically insignificant is a phrase more websites should familiarize themselves with.

        I guess for now we need to bleed the Ultrabook on the web. Ah, I just read that Windows 8 licensing is going to make price drops for those even more difficult. Ah yes. A boardroom strategy has flaws.

      • Bolsen

         For the consumer atom was NOT a mistake.  I do agree that intel panicked when they saw success and pretty much gutted the atom.  Consumers see no need to buy new netbooks because intel isn’t upgrading them.

      • Matti

        Significant developments in the netbook space will probably only come with the next-gen Atoms (I think they’re called Haswell), especially in the battery life and thermal department. Processor clock speed probably won’t get much of a boost, but we might see bigger L2 cache, better on board graphics and maybe even the ability to run fanless, if the current smartphone Atoms are anything to go by.

        Personally, I’ve never seen a laptop as a desktop replacement. Their hardware is too troublesome (I run Linux and BSD), their UEFIs too castrated (still no Coreboot, sadly) and their cooling insufficient for long-haul compiling. I doubt ultrabooks will change my opinion, so I’m still hoping netbooks stick around. Sure, they’re slow, but they have the longest battery life, and all I ever do when I’m on the go is browse, check mail and do a bit of editing in Vim. The smartphone handles music on those rare ocassions I’m not driving.

        I do hope Tosh stick around in my market. The line-ups we get here (Singapore) are pretty close to what’s available in Japan. I’ve always liked their netbooks, even if they don’t have a trackpoint.

      • CyberGusa

         Haswell is the next update for the Core i-Series, not the ATOM series, but if all goes well it’ll bring about a 50% power efficiency improvement from Ivy Bridge, as well as up to 50% improvement over the Ivy Bridge HD4000 GMA for the Core i-Series.

        This is significant for the ATOM because they’ll be making some major changes with the update to the 22nm Silvermont, which will be the first major architectural update for the ATOM that’ll be combined with a die shrink from the present 32nm down to 22nm.

        Essentially a combined “Tick+Tock” update for the ATOM, which is normally done separately to minimize risk of anything going wrong with either the FAB or the architecture design.

        However, Intel has basically been holding the ATOM back for 5 years and is now switching it to basically the same 2 year product cycle as their Core i-series, with the intention of developing it at a rate faster than Moore’s Law and using innovations and technology from the Core i-Series to speeds things along and thus the significance of the Haswell update in respect to the Silvermont update.

        Such as the rumor that the next gen ATOMs will have a new GMA based on the Ivy Bridge HD4000, which even watered down should still be multiple times better than the present ATOM GMA’s.

        While Haswell will have even better GMA to keep the distinction between the ATOM and Core i-Series performance ranges and also shows that Intel will have a more developed 22nm FAB ready for the ATOM release.

        Mind we’re also be seeing some changes that were first applied to the Intel ATOM Medfield, such as finally pushing for a SoC design.  Though full integration may take another generation and so it may still be technically a MCM but still will offer improved efficiency, reduced size, and lower costs.  Along with other architectural changes that will finally modernize the ATOM.

        Whether this will all amount to a big enough update for the major changes that many of us want remains to be seen, but it’s a good chance it will.  Though even if it doesn’t the next update is only a year away with the 14nm Airmont update for the ATOM and Intel has plans to go even smaller for each year after that as well.

      • turn_self_off

        The netbook as something other than a small and cheap laptop was killed the moment MS kept XP alive as a netbook OS. Since XP could not reasonably fit on the small and cheap SSDs used by Asus and Acer, they were replaced by HDDs. This contrasts sharply with the SSD+Linux netbooks that ignited it all. The closest thing to the original netbooks right now are Google’s Chromebook concept.

      • Lorne Greene

         Ding, ding, ding!!!
        We have a winner.

      • CyberGusa

         Revisionist history at best, the first netbooks were not even the first mini-notebooks.  You can actually go all the way back to the late 80′s for mini notebooks.

        The Eee PC was just the first really affordable one that could still manage to run a regular desktop OS but it came with many limitations like only barely over two hours run time, it still was priced more than what netbooks are priced on average now, it ran hot and the SSD capacities were only about 4GB with those first models.

        Those early SSDs were also slow, even what was considered the faster SLC type was barely as fast as a decently fast USB 2.0 drive is today!  Also the first netbooks only supports up to SATA I specification, and that gave SSD’s nothing but better small read/writes.

        So the first hard drive models were actually a improvement in comparison!  It’s only now that we got netbooks with SATA II, SATA III with AMD Fusion, support and SSDs that are starting to push even SSD III performance range and finally providing really usable capacities.

        Really, those first and second gen SSDs had prices going into the hundreds for anything over 8GB!

        So to say netbooks haven’t improved is thus utter nonsense.  We now get easily over 6 hours on average, we get dual core performance, we got far more capacity and some models are starting to offer SSD again, and netbooks have still gotten cheaper with prices all the way down to $200 and even less for older and refurbished models!

        Sure, not everything is necessarily better as we don’t see netbooks below 10″ anymore but they’re still small and they’re still cheap!

        While Google Chromebooks are typically larger than the 10″ netbooks at 11.6″ to 12.1″ for most and still cost more than the average netbook as well!

      • turn_self_off

        @CyberGusa:disqus improvement is in the eye of the beholder. Netbooks at least provided, for a time, Linux in the hands of the consumer directly off the shelf. Sure, if one look at it from a productive standpoint they were underpowered ultraportable. But productivity was never the intent of Asus. Note that the ads were all kids or kids and adult. This was a computer one could hand to the kids or use for casual net or entertainment. And what i am saying is that by going HDD and Win XP the netbook lost what made it distinctive and basically turned it into a bottom of the barrel ultra-portable. So what you see as a improvement in productivity i see as a neutering of distinctiveness.

      • CyberGusa

         “And what i am saying is that by going HDD and Win XP the netbook lost
        what made it distinctive and basically turned it into a bottom of the
        barrel ultra-portable.”

        Nonsense, neither HDD or Win XP changed how netbooks were used and applied.  If anything it spread the user base by making the system more useful for the masses and the sales figures reflect this!

        While Linux users put linux on netbooks regardless of what it was sold with, along with hardware upgrades like SSDs, and the pre-installed Windows was at the very least cheaper than it was sold with any other type of system.

        Even those who really were bothered by the Windows install simply opted to remove it and ask for a refund, a annoying process but no one was truly barred from having what they wanted to run on their system.

        Also, most Linux users have widely different preferred distros that often never got pre-installed anyway.

        Really, have you ever tried using the Xandros distro that came with those early Eee PC’s?

        Such Linux releases suffered the same problem that they usually had with many other attempts at trying to mainstream it.  The companies that used them all too often turned it into a crippled proprietary junk instead of a proper Linux distribution in vane attempts to make it more user friendly to the masses.

        Just like with Android, there’s a reason why most people preferred the Nexus because it didn’t have all the proprietary tweaks that all too often get placed on top of the core distribution.

        Problem was Linux wasn’t as user friendly as Windows in its default state and why most Linux users tended to be the geeky type.  There are some better distros available now that are much more user friendly but they weren’t available when netbooks first came out!

      • SamTrenholme

        Many have tried to market Linux as a desktop OS.  They have all failed to make an operating system that appeals to the masses on full-sized PCs.  Linux’s chances of becoming a Windows/Mac OS replacement died in 2002 (with the release of OS X, Windows XP, and the death of Loki games).

        Linux has succeeded pretty much everywhere else: It’s a great server OS and very good in the embedded space.  By pouring billions of dollars of money in to R&D, Google finally was able to get Linux in the hands of end user smartphone users. 

        Bottom line: People do not want an amateur OS on their desktop.  The quick replacement of Linux with Windows XP in the netbook space and Dell’s multiple attempts to sell Linux PCs fizzing out are testaments to this fact.

      • SamTrenholme

        @CyberGusa:disqus To be pedantic, the only mini-notebook we had in the 1980s came out near the end of 1989–the Poqet PC–and it was a little smaller than a netbook, the size of a Sony Vaio P.

        The first computer with a netbook form factor was the Gateway Handbook, which came out in 1990. 

        (We could argue that Radio Shack’s 1981 Pocket Computer was a mini-notebook, but that’s stretching things)

      • CyberGusa

         @SamTrenholme:disqus – Yes, there were also others though, just not all as well known.  Like the Atari Portfolio also came out at the same time as the Poqet PC.  Thinkpad, Powerbook, and others came out during the 90′s, etc.  Never mind UMPC’s, though they are considered separate because they could run with any type of OS.

        Basic point though was that netbooks have a origin going back further than when they were called netbooks and was always more than turn_self_off was suggesting. 

        Even the first Eee PC wasn’t called a netbook at first, as that was a term coined by bloggers after it had came out and quickly became a popular term.  Most companies in fact never referred to them as netbooks.

        Also, Linux has survived for desktop use not by coming pre-installed but by the people who install it on their systems. 

        Netbooks weren’t the first try at using Linux instead of a Windows and it won’t be the last.  The problems are just as you and I pointed out that it’s never been successful appealing to the masses.

        In large part I would say because the companies that have tried don’t just provide Linux but try to make it more user friendly and always fail.  This was true of Xandros Linux that was included with the early Eee PC’s.

        While other devices simply offered too little performance for even Linux to support and properly run on.

        Though they keep trying like the Sharp Netwalker series, among many other examples.

        Never mind some companies did continue to try to sell Linux netbooks, they just never sold as well as the Windows netbooks.

        Like Dell offered netbooks with Ubuntu, though now they appear to have dropped out of the netbook market altogether. 

        System76 was another, along with EmperorLinux, Linux Certified, LinP, Eight Virtues, Frostbite Systems, ThinkPenguin, Zareason, HP offered a few models, along with some random start up coming, usually in China, that gave it a try and all after Windows started to dominate the netbook market.

        While most people who prefer Linux just preferred to install their own preferred distro.

        Linux is a great OS, but it’s never had coherent and consolidate support for desktop users.  It does insanely well in the tech world of servers and similar usages, but in the general consumer market linux has never been able to take off.

        Except for derivatives like Android but that only uses a stripped down kernal and only for the basic hardware operations with another separate layer on top along with a decidely non-desktop UI.

  • Joe

    If you bought a netbook (even the first generation ones) then there really isn’t any big reason to buy a new one. The Intel Atom is still pretty much the same. The dual core upgrade gives a marginal boost in performance. Having DDR3 instead of DDR2 isn’t going to give any noticeable improvements. AMD’s offerings aren’t really better especially if you want to stay with a 10.1″ screen. Graphics improved but not really worth it for a gamer.

    As for me, I’ll upgrade my netbook when it actually provides a more than slight improvement. I don’t plan on getting an ultrabook either since they’re not exactly netbook replacements because of the large size and short battery life. It seems ultrabooks usually have > 13.3″ screens and large bezels. I’d rather just go for the normal 1″ thick notebook that isn’t performance and function limited due to emphasis on aesthetics.

    • Helio

       I got the Dell Mini 9 when it came out and use it to all the kids soccer, judo and basketball practices. Ive run a few different Linux varieties (the Ubuntu 8 was so horrible my wife wanted it off) since then ‘just because’ and all have done the job well. I stick to KDE based ones now because it has a netbook mode and a full desktop mode that I can switch on and off.

      biggest problem is battery like everything.

      I dont need a new netbook simply because this one does the job its supposed to.
      But my netbook is NOT my laptop nor is it my desktop..there are places and things I do that are more suited to one than the other but the 9 inch format fits in my big winter coat pocket and I carry it everywhere.

      I might get another netbook (I used 2-3 different tablets when friends went on vacation so ive gotten real use testing with their and it gives me nothing the netbook doenst.) but like you say, at most its a slight improvement.
      And from what Ive seen in stores, their prices havent dropped since they came out and if anything, theyve gone up because they throw in stuff like Harman Kardon speakers and similar options.

      • CyberGusa

        Don’t confuse basic netbooks with the premium models.  Average netbook prices are down to $200-$300 range depending on configuration and extras like USB 3.0… 

        The only thing is they’re not smaller than 10″ anymore, rather moving towards ultra thin & light, but the sub 10″ models may make a return with the next gen ATOMs as the push towards more mobile devices can put them back into favor again and the next gen ATOMs will make them more practical.

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