eee boxOne of the selling points for netbooks and low power nettop-style desktop computers is that they’re generally cheaper than more powerful computers. But while cheap may technically mean the same thing as “affordable,” Intel would prefer that companies selling Atom-based nettops refer to them as affordable, rather than cheap.

Because let’s face it, “cheap” carries certain connotations. If someone tried to sell you a “cheap” car or house, you might be skeptical. But “affordable,” that’s OK, right?

Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t downsides to affordable nettops. Sure, they have slow processors and relatively small hard drives that help keep the price down while providing decent enough performance today. But do you really expect to continue using a nettop you buy today 3 or 4 years from now? Will it be fast enough to run the software you want it to then? Will all the components still be in working order?

via Portable Monkey

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10 replies on “Intel: Atom-based nettops are “affordable,” not “cheap””

  1. I was in Malaysia last week and Acer had a stand at the local shopping mall. They were displaying a netop with
    6 USB ports
    HDMI output
    ESATA connection
    2GB RAM
    1.6Mhz CPU
    160GB hard drive
    wireless white (aka Apple) small keyboard – looks very cool
    wireless white (aka Apple) mouse
    18″ screen
    Full HD video output (NVIDIA ION)

    for less than AU$480!!!!

    The same device but with
    23″ wide screen
    white (aka Apple) Webcam
    white (aka Apple) small speakers
    4GB RAM
    320GB Hard disk

    for AU$560!!!

    They had one setup as a media centre PC controlling the plasma screen via the wireless keyboard and mouse!!!

  2. They can’t win really.

    If they insist that they are “affordable”, that implies that conventional PCs are unaffordable.

    At least “expensive” as an opposite has an air of prestige about it.

    So no, they can’t win, so dear manufacturers, quit bickering and get on with actually producing these net-tops, netbooks etc you so love showing us 3D models of… And make them cheap, affordable, budget, penny-pinching, or whatever you like so long as they don’t cost more than £200 tops and aren’t totally bent over Microsoft’s barrel.

  3. I have to agree with the general trend of the comments here.
    The general populace is probably carrying around an order
    of magnitude more computer resources than they ever use.

    With the newer, variable speed processors, most run at the
    lowest speed – except for when they halt completely.
    And even under those conditions, they give good response
    to web browsing, e-mail checking, word processing – –
    Balancing the quarterly accounting spreadsheet might kick
    them out of the idle loop for a few seconds. . .

    A person probably “consumes” as many cpu cycles playing a
    one hour game than they do for everything else the rest of the week!

  4. I have to agree with as147, we changed also laptops/desktops at work and the IT guys say that a good 75% and more could have stayed on the same machines for what they do.

    I bought my first netbook because my T21 laptop had finally enough. This machine was over 10 yrs old had an 8mb video card and I had boosted the ram from 128 to 256mb so it was flying with Linux and some low overhead desktop like XCFE.
    We bought my mom a 2nd hand laptop with a celeron chip and my brother in law bought for under 100 bucks a tower that had a AMD chip that I remeber was running at 1Ghz and that the kids can play with.
    Both are using Linux versions with full eye candy on with no problems.

    My point is for the general stuff that the majority of users do, you dont need duo and quad machines.
    I havent tried rendering videos or compiling a distro on a netbook but I have yet to find them inadequate for my needs.

    Besides, the ARM netbooks will answer the question of ‘do we need more power’ especially if it gives us great battery time. Im not sure how strong the cpu in the Ipod (I believe its ARM) is but if it is strong enough to do basic functions, games, video and such, then why wouldnt something of equal strength work for netbooks?
    I think the underpowered netbook question has to include the power of the Ipod has under the hood. It seems to be enough for many people.

    And HD space is a red herring. I have yet to meet the person who needs 160Gb drives on netbooks. Im sure they exist but most people I know use SD cards, USB sticks or those cigarette pack sized USB HDs. (granted, the overwhelming majority of netbooks I see are owned by soccer moms!!)
    As for home machines, you can buy for 30-50$ a HD enclosure to hook up a HD to your wireless router and use it anywhere in the house. Many people also leave their desktops on so they can access the files that way too.

    I dont see why nettops shouldnt last 3-4 years. If were going to accept that computers arent supposed to last that long then I expect that throwable laptops will be a lot cheaper than they are now.

    1. Just a further misconception regarding graphics on ATOM processors
      The testing I have done on three netbooks provides good video playback. I use windows media centre quite extensively and apart from a minor lag to start and when flipping windows it performs as well as my Home Theatre PC I have at home. This machine is a bit of a best and has 4GB RAM, SATA disks, 4 tuners and records 50 hours of programming a week etc

      The biggest bottleneck on most PC’s and certainly laptops/netbooks will almost always be the hard disk speed. This is the case for Intel and ARM CPU’d systems

      So if you want a more zippy netbook don’t talk cpu. I am seeing the price of SSD’s coming down and saw (from this site) a very good demonstration of the true power of a netbook when jkkmobile.com compared Rncore SSD’s in netbooks against standard netbooks.

      WOW! Look at https://jkkmobile.blogspot.com/2009/05/meet-runcore-pro-iv-really-fast-ssd.html to see how fast a netbook can be.
      NOTE: Youtube is running system maintenance at the moment so you may not get any sound.

      If I ever find my netbook too slow I will upgrade to an SSD and believe the netbook will last my 6+years easy!

      Netbooks tested:
      Acer Aspire 1 – 1 GB Ram
      Samsung NC10 – 1GB Ram and then 2GB (made no dnoticeable difference in these tests)
      MSI Wind – 1GB Ram

    2. I think another important factor w.r.t. ARM based systems is that the netbooks/smartbooks will all be based on later architectures than the ARM CPUs built into IPODs, so performance will be several fold better than what you can do there.

  5. We purchased most of our 13,000 standard desktops and laptops 6-7 years ago and they still are underutilised.

    The fact is that for more than 95% of our users who use office, browse the web and read email etc the power in a standard PC (which has been power boosted through the years with little need) is over powered.

    With the move to cloud computing the requirement for local processing power will not escalate anywhere as much as has been the case over the last 10 years so an ATOM processor is probably more than powerful enough.

    As an example of this shift look at the next version of MS office which allows functionality to be accessible via a browser. When office productivity tools can be accessed via a browser a significant load on the PC will be removed so why wouldn’t an ATOM processor last as long !?

    Also manufacturers have recognised they have to write more efficient less power hungry apps for many reasons, GREEN IT and lower cost drivers are a few reasons. As an example I started with a Samsung NC10 netbook running MS Office 2003 and Windows XP professional. I am now running Windows 7 Ultimate and Office 2007 and the netbook runs faster !

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