When the first Asus Eee PC hit the streets in 2007, nobody called it a netbook. The term didn’t really pick up steam until 2008 after Intel and some PC makers started using it to describe products that had previously been known as mini-notes, or just cheap tiny laptops. Over the years, the definitions have sort of changed, and we’ve found plenty of different people using the word “netbook” to describe different things — often with different agendas for doing so.

As far as I’m concerned, the classic definition of the netbook has always been a small mini-laptop with an affordable price. Five years ago you could find a 10 inch notebook that weighed less than 3 pounds. It would just run you close to $2000. You could also find laptops for $500 or less. They’d just have 15 inch displays and weigh 6 pounds or more.

What netbooks did was introduce the idea that it’s possible to offer a cheap ultraportable laptop — usually by cutting corners and using a cheap, low power processor, low resolution display, or other limiting factors. As a result, I think a lot of people have always assumed that underpowered was part of the definition of a netbook, but I think it was always a side effect. While netbooks were never meant to be speed demons that could compete with computers that cost three times as much money, I don’t think it was too much to expect that as computers in general evolved, netbooks would as well — with faster processors, better graphics, and other new features.

But a funny thing happened on the way to progress… PC makers and chip makers realized they weren’t making very much money on these low cost computers, because they also have low profit margins. So while it might seem silly that most netbooks released in 2010 weren’t really any faster or more powerful than those launched in 2008, that’s pretty much what happened. Granted, device makers have greatly improved the battery life of these mini-laptops, and the average starting price has dropped from $400 – $500 to somewhere between $280 and $350. But there’s really not that much difference in performance between a netbook with an Intel Atom N550 CPU and one with an Atom N270 CPU.

Of course, some people have decided to group larger notebooks into the netbook space, suggesting that the larger displays and keyboards are a bonus feature. By that definition, a notebook with an 11.6 inch screen and an Atom processor is still a netbook. I’ve resisted grouping these machines together, because I still believe that it’s price and size that are the key factors that make 10 inch and smaller netbook special, not the chipset. As such, I’m not really all that sure why some companies feel its even necessarily to launch an 11.6 inch machine with an Atom processor — at that size, and for the prices typically charged for these larger laptops, I’d much rather have an Intel ULV processor or an AMD Fusion chip.

This isn’t to say that those larger laptops aren’t still light, portable, affordable machines — they’re just bigger and more expensive than the machines that used to be known as netbooks. You know what they are? They’re laptops. So are netbooks. In fact, I’ve never loved the word “netbook,” because it always implied that the little laptops were only good for surfing the web, when in fact they can do much, much more. Other ultraportable devices (Handheld PCs, MIDs, and UMPCs) have hit the streets over the past 10 years, but none have been as successful as the netbook, and I think that’s because it’s really just a laptop that can run Windows, Linux, or even OS X. They’re familiar devices which can do pretty much anything you’d want a computer to do… they’re just cheaper, more portable, and yes, generally less powerful than their more expensive cousins.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, thanks to a chat I had with Engadget’s Joanna Stern before she wrote a recent op-ed on so-called “notbooks” which is what she’s calling the larger, more powerful notebooks that are starting to hit the machines for just a little more money than a netbook. Meanwhile Business Insider’s take is that the notbooks are netbooks — they’re just the better netbooks that some folks have been waiting for since 2008.

My take: They’re all laptops.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if we all just stopped using the word netbook altogether. I’ve never felt it was all that helpful.

At this point it’s more of a marketing term than anything, and while it’s funny to see it abused, it also feels like companies such as Intel have been intentionally holding back development of the Intel Atom chipset, because the chip maker can insist it’s just for netbooks (and tablets, and smartphones). Fortunately AMD has started to offer low-cost, low-power chips to compete with the dominant Intel Atom chip while offering higher performance graphics. Hopefully this will push the affordable ultraportable market forward.

Like Joanna Stern, I don’t expect the 10 inch, Intel Atom-powered netbook to disappear overnight… or possibly at all. But with growing competition from more powerful budget laptops and from tablets, it’s likely that the market will shrink — and maybe if that happens we won’t really spend much time talking about netbooks at all. We’ll just talk about laptops that comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes (although if you couldn’t guess by the name of the web site, I’m primarily interested in the smaller ones).

Anyway, enough about what I think. What do you think? How do you define the word “netbook?”

Or like me, have you decided you don’t care what words we use to define little laptops as long as companies continue to offer them for reasonable prices?

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42 replies on “What’s your definition of a netbook?”

  1. I would suggest a new term: affordaportable. I think it captures the essence of the form factor – price point issue that the EEE pc 701 dramatically changed. Which is why it made such an impact in the first place. Affordable as well as ultraportable. So it’s an ultra-portable (laptop/clamshell) form factor that is highly affordable. Without the implication of being underpowered (or with short-lived battery), as that was more a result of what could initially be produced at an affordable price-point. But that has evolved (definitely since the 701) and should do so, and is likely to do so I think. Now of course we all differ on what is exactly affordable and portable, but a certain degree of openness is needed for a concept to be functional.

  2. I never considered the price as part of being a netbook — but then I was a really early adopter. My first netbook (or laptop of any kind) was an ASUS 901, when they still cost $600. What mattered most to me was the weight and portability of it.

    Currently I have an 11″ air, and I’m quite willing to consider it a netbook. It weighs the same as my old 901! 🙂

    I’m kind of sad that the 9″ form factor has disappeared, they were amazingly tiny, and I could easily hold use one held balanced on my palm. I mean, imagine a device as compact as the air but with a 9″ screen! I suppose some of the book-like dual-screen tablets fill that niche.

  3. The name of what you call it is less important then the category of portable and budget conscious computing. For me netbooks are the category of ultra-portables that are affordable.

    Two key points
    1) Size and weight must be in balance to create a portable device the can be carried around all the time.
    2) Affordable is a range between $250 and $500. (Anything else is a hobbyist knick-knack at the low end or a full laptop at above that price.)

    One truism is screen size will increase in this category until customers are satisfied. We say netbooks go from 7” to 9” and then 9” to 10” because it was realized that as long as you could sell it cheaply and the weigh was portable enough a larger screen was better. At this point I would not even consider buying a 10” netbook. Why Because three years with my Samsung NC10 has taught me that a bigger screen is very important. Portability isn’t some defined size it is a ratio of size and weigh together. The 10″ netbook is not magic…it is in fact very flawed thus it will fall like 7″ and 9″ devices did before it.

  4. To me, an ultra-portable is a laptop that’s easy to take absolutely anywhere. My ultra-portable (which could also be called a netbook) is 4.3 inches and fits in my pocket. Despite the small screen size, it still has a resolution of 1024×600 and the battery lasts a solid 5 hours. It’s only real limitation is the RAM, which is only 512MB and isn’t upgradeable without desoldering and resoldering (at that size, such things are beyond my skill level). It’s called the UMID M1, and now there are similar computers that go above the RAM limitation. None of them have reasonably powerful graphics, though, so I suppose that’s another limitation.

    But, size has always been a big factor to me. For a portable computer, I want it to be really portable. Anything above 10″ is laughable to me, unless it’s a serious powerhouse of a laptop. So, the thought of an 11.6″ “netbook” just makes me “lol”.

  5. Instead of adding to the discussion of what netbooks are or have been since they were introduced, I’m going to throw a slightly different definition into the mix, and say what I think a netbook ‘should’ be:

    1. Instant on (and no, a fast resume feature a la Windows doesn’t cut it)
    2. 8 hour battery life while performing a typical mix of computing tasks, i.e. a full workday without plugging in.
    3. Enough horsepower for not just email and websurfing, but HD video playback, flash, and general media consumption.
    4. $400 and under.

    Until recently, the hardware for this didn’t exist. Now that we’re approaching this level of performance at this price point, I’m waiting for a machine with the right OS/hardware mix.

    This would be a true netbook, not just a small, underpowered notebook.

  6. recently, I was looking at getting a new netbook, but was disgusted to discover that every netbook in the < $500 range is little better than half as capable as my Dell vostro 1400 laptop of 3 years ago! I mean, jeepers, what happened to the pace of technological progress?!

    So now I either get a ultra-portable and pay more or just hold off for another generation until something useful happens in the netbook space.

  7. well for me definitely it is: form factor & weight, endurance (batterie life), price. for all my applications incl streaming power is sufficient. for me these tiny guys definitely are no gamers but workers. and 8.9′ eeepc is best i got for 200 euros in my pocket. it is running almost round the hour and is much, much more than merely a surf station. actually i am using my desktop laptop as secondary machine for power applications if needed only. roles have changed

  8. I won’t own anything over 10″ and will continue buying the highest-resolutioned, highest-GPU-powered 10″ laptop available, swapping in SSDs and more RAM wherever I can. I want the best portable gaming rig possible, I don’t like sizes over 10″, and yes I know they’re still not so great for gaming, but I’m holding out hope manufacturers will realize there’s demand for high-end 10″ models.

    I mostly consider 10″ and under netbooks, regardless of price or configuration, but I suppose I’d allow anything 12″ or less in also based on general consensus.

    1. Yes, 10″ and smaller are still in demand for those who need something between mobile and portable.

      7″ and 10″ CULV’s are coming out this year, though most will be Windows Tablets.

      More immediately you can expect to see at least AMD Fusion Ontario chips used in 10″ systems and by the end of the year we should see the new Intel Cedar Trail platform finally take over from the present Pine Trail for ATOM based netbooks, as well as alternatives like Oak Trail for lower powered but even smaller options.

      Hopefully by 2012-2013 we should see some of the advancements started with Intel Sandy Bridge work their way down to the 10″ and smaller systems for some real performance options.

      At the very least the eventual port of Windows to ARM should increase the available options by then and ARM processors are already getting close to rivaling ATOM performance and offering better than Intel’s low to mid range GMA graphics by the end of this year.

    2. Same here. I don’t want anything bigger than 10″, but they just aren’t many powerful 10″ laptops around. The only ones I can think of is the Panasonic J10, and maybe ULV laptops like Panasonic R9 and Fujitsu T580.

  9. Ignoring the childish and jaded drivel that is the poorly written article posted on Engadget…. the definition of a netbook is simple.
    Netbooks are small laptops.

    Anything 12″-13″ or less should be classified as a netbook, in my opinion, and all other redundant/excessive terminology should be eliminated.

    Also, I don’t understand the aversion to the term ‘netbook’ either? At this point, I would now rather learn the Thai or Chinese language than to waste a single breath using a winded term such as —-ULTRA-PORTABLE—- to refer to what is clearly a netbook. I’m also not too opposed to classifying most of the laptops that exist in the world today as netbooks, at this point. Because I am angry now.

    I am having trouble breathing.

    This unnecessary debate has angered me : )

    And where is my stress ball?

    1. We should also remember that terms such as mini-notebook, subnotebook, ultraportable, mini-laptop, etc. etc. all sprang up during a time (…long time ago, I might add) when portability in computing was a rare premium and was something to be marvelled at. A new classification was needed to differentiate the selling point of the devices. But that is almost no longer the case today. I also suspect that the only people arguing over where to draw the line with netbooks have, at some point, purchased an “ultra-portable” of at least a generation ago.

      The catch is that only rich or middle-classed people bought these devices as they costed thousands of dollars. And, as of today, I’d even doubt that the vast majority of people on the planet (not just in the U.S.) have ever even seen an ultra-portable in the wild. And they probably never will because the “ultra-ness” in portability won’t exist anymore. It will become an extinct idea of the past.

      In other words, the ultra-portable class of laptops is fast dying off because portability is the norm these days and there is nothing “ultra” or impressive anymore — so the premiums are no longer justified. But alas we still have dinosaurs here that want to save their fond memories of the past. They insist that netbooks are dying off which is not only ridiculous but completely backwards and uninformed (it is the overpriced ultra-portable computers of the past that are dying off).

      The term “desktop replacement” is also archaic because, as is often the case, there is no desktop to be replaced (and never had been). Why should a new shopper have to learn about old technology just to make a purchase?

      1. You have some good points on the history but I disagree with your conclusions. Ultra Portables term has evolved and today covers all smaller and lighter than typical notebooks, aka Sub-Notebooks, and this market has actually grown and not shrunk in the last few years with Consumer Ultra Low Powered Processor systems (ULV/CULV) now reaching the point they overlap traditional netbook offerings in size, weight, and run times. While pricing has also gotten much more affordable.

        While people still use Desktops, especially for when they need performance that no portable solution can easily provide and more proper ergonomics when using them.

        While most notebooks are specifically designed to be less powerful to conserve power and often sacrifice ergonomics for portability. It’s also generally cheaper to make larger systems and easier to keep cool while increasing performance range.

        So a “desktop replacement” is still a valid term for those who want systems that give them more performance and may also favor ergonomics over portability. Though unless the screen is also adjustable then they too sacrifice some ergonomic comfort for portability.

        What may be dying out is UMPC’s, as those have definitely shrunk over the years and now only a handful are left in the market. While alternative mobile devices are now rapidly growing.

      2. I respect your points. The thing to remember about these terms:

        -ultraportable
        -thin and light
        -ulv
        -culv
        -subnotebook
        -ultrathin
        -ultra thin
        -mini-laptop
        -mini-note

        These are ALL terms that manufacturers want their devices called because their is a stigma about netbooks. Blog continue this stigma by throwing limitations on netbooks speed or features. It’s called peer pressure I guess. I’m okay with premium netbook to describe those laptops which offer more than a base model netbook with Win 7 Starter. Remember, it’s becaue of the self inflicted stigma around “netbook” that these other terms are being throw around still.

        1. Stigma doesn’t really plays much of a role in the use of the term “netbook” by most people. Especially when there are still people who still need to be told what a netbook is to begin with. While even geeks can have as much stigma not calling all these devices netbooks as they do not calling them netbooks with the way everyone has pretty much gone with their own interpretation instead of going with facts or at least historical consistencies.

          There are also separations between generic descriptions and more specific descriptions. Like Tablet is generally used as a generic description. While a Slate, Convertible, and Hybrid are more specific terms.

          So ULV (Ultra Low Voltage)/CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) are specifically low powered versions of regular notebook CPU’s. Thus they are more specific form of notebook. Unlike some of the other terms these are example of names that actually help describe what sets these devices apart like Gaming and Business also set sub-categories of types of systems.

          While Sub-Notebooks, aka Mini-notebooks/laptops, goes back to being a little more generic and covers all smaller than standard size notebooks and that includes netbooks!

          However, not all the terms are what the manufacturers wanted their devices called however. The term “Netbook” wasn’t adopted by manufacturers until after it was first coined by bloggers and generally adopted by most people posting online. The manufacturers just capitalized on a term already made popular.

          Similarly that means that bloggers can in turn create new terms and if the public deems those terms popular then it gets adopted. The name doesn’t really have to make sense anymore than “Netbook” did and still doesn’t quite fit what is really a mini-laptop and capable of more than just surfing the web.

          I personally don’t approve of that kind of term adoption but it’s hard to argue against public opinion.

          But those other terms are thrown around for a reason! Whether you accept those reasons or not is up to you but in the end the names are less relevant than how the devices are used and treated in the market.

          The key things that Netbooks have helped bring about is low cost portable computers that can still do all the basics and that’s more important to hold on to than anything we may choose to call them.

        2. “Premium netbook.” I like the sound of that! Thanks, you just let me put a short, clear name on what I’m after: a premium netbook. High-end would work too but ‘premium’ sounds nice.

          1. Thanks, heh you should email Brad about your thoughts on “premium netbooks”. It really was Cnet and Dan Ackerman who coined the phrase. Other than Cnet there is a real reluctance to adopt it. I still say it’s all about peer pressure and crossing the 10.1″ to the premium 11″ or 12″ as being netbooks.

          2. Argh, not to mention Gizmodo (or is it Engadget? I forget, ATM) hard-selling the ‘notbook’ designation, which I’d never heard of before they started pushing it on their site. More semantics.

            This is 5318008 BTW, I just got around to setting up a legitimate online presence.

  10. The term “Netbook” was actually coined by bloggers and it quickly caught on by the public. Intel and other PC makers picked up on it after that and it was Intel who set the standards by which what defined a Netbook was all but set in stone for nearly 2 years.

    The reasoning behind this was because the netbook is sold almost at cost, which unlike the rest of the market means they produce very little profit and it was mostly by chance that Intel had the ATOM processor ready to help set the standards they then imposed to help separate the netbooks from the rest of the market and thus protect their profit margins for regular notebooks.

    On the other side, people in general just saw netbooks as cheap mini-computers. The fact they were low powered didn’t really sink in until over a year after they first came out, as contrary to some opinion netbooks didn’t start the mini-notebook market. UMPC’s and other mini-computers have been testing the proverbial consumer waters for over a decade and like the iPad is the first successful tablet, the Eee PC netbook were also just the first successful product in the category. So from the start there was confusion for what a netbook was and if Intel hadn’t set standards they may have been indeed been more generic.

    Microsoft also got involved and similar set standards that still effect how netbooks are handled by the industry. Like the requirement that Windows 7 Starter Edition only be installed on a system with 1GB of RAM. So though Intel has by this time eased the previous restrictions there are still restrictions.

    All this has had consequences in that to help keep netbooks as a separate market and the lack of competition up till now has resulted in almost no progress in netbook performance in over 2 years, which now leaves netbooks in a vulnerable position as competing products are now turning up that can fill similar roles and netbooks themselves have reached market saturation and are no longer a rapidly growing market segment.

    This all leads to the reality of the market that all products have to evolve over time or get replaced and this is finally turning out to be true for netbooks as well. They’ll either evolve or people will start using other products that better fit the new ways people are using technology now.

    The distinction is mini-computers have been here and will continue to be a reality of the market, especially now that the mobile market is starting to overlap with the portable computer market. But despite the growing competition I seriously doubt netbooks are going anywhere, as they still serve a purpose, but I also doubt they will remain the same devices they have traditionally been… Regardless, as long as competition remains strong and people demand computing power in every aspect of our lives then cheap mini-computers, in all their varied forms, will remain part of the market.

  11. My working definition of netbook:

    1) under 3 lbs
    2) under $300
    3) linux compatible

  12. My netbook is a secondary computer that, to be frank, I use it only occasionally. What I really wanted was the smartbook that never happened. Maybe it morphed into the smartphone, but I don’t think so.

  13. The term had contrastive weight when the first devices came about, as they revolutionized the low-end market. It’s happened so fast and completely that we’ve lost touch, but the OLPC effort had a huge (commercial impact). Now there is such a smooth continuum of laptops that the term is fuzzier, overlapping with the very bottom of the cost and screen-size cline. So now it’s just short-hand for very small and cheap laptop.

  14. Well, I thought that the perfect netbook was due to come out today (X120e) but it’s no where to be found on Lenovo’s website. What’s going on with it? At CES we were told it will ship beginning of Feb. Not even a preorder available yet. Anyone one a release date for sure?

    Why do I like it so much? Well, it’s business like, stylish, track point, HDMI (finally), E-350, 11.6″, and up to 8gb ram, 6-7 hours battery. What else do you want from a netbook?

    1. Lenovo News release actually said beginning “in” February, which could mean any time during February.

      You can try following Lenovo on Twitter or Facebook to get notified when it’s officially available or just check daily until they do have it…

  15. Notebooks, netbooks, notbooks… who cares what you call them. Love the article and could not agree more. The only additional thing to say is that yes, the percentage market is shrinking with the addition of more devices into the fray from tablets to Macbook Air, but I feel that a new market has been created that is truly desired – ultramobile devices that cost less than $600, but which has also dragged down the cost of the ‘standard’ devices and made all these things more competitive. The overall market has increased in real terms.

    Also let us be honest – the performance of the laptop has not changed much, only the features have improved significantly – small size, good resolution, long battery life (as you said) and low weight. That has only come about because of the introduction of the netbook, otherwise we would still be paying a fortune for all those features still.

    1. I couldn’t agreement more. The most important thing netbooks have accomplished is to show that there’s a market for budget portable computers that offer good enough pefomance.

  16. netbook == screen size less than 12.5 inches, and no optical drive, Intel compatible not ARM.

    People need to get out of group think mode and decide what their REAL computing needs are. Plenty of people bought big expensive laptops because they became a status symbol. Even people who could barely use them.

    But a decent desktop when real power is needed and a light netbook for when portability would probably serve most people. I got one of those $99 Sylvanias with an ARM CPU. It is crappy to a degree but it is nice in some respects also. 1.5 pounds. Stand on a train and hold it in one hand and type with the other, better than a phone. It plays flash videos. Store 50 videos on an 8 gig SD card. I can watch Babylon 5 or Stargate Atlantis. The picture isn’t Great but I watch for the story not the quality of the picture.

    If it was 1 GHz instead of 320 MHz I would REALLY like it. But that won’t be long in coming.

    What is really next for society is people figuring out what to do for themselves with these computers rather than let the computer biz tell them what to do. I am surprised there are not LOTS of people doing music and piano training with midi keyboards. Who cares about spreadsheets? A netbook and a USB midi keybord probably costs less then 3 months of music lessons.
    .

    1. Pricing of musical equipment and software can be quite high. But as with many things there are cheaper alternatives and people have managed to use netbooks for everything from working as a music mixer DJ to short wave radio type hobbyists. So peripherals and uses can be nearly as diverse as our imaginations.

      It’s just companies mainly cater to regular customers like for businesses and even the news only reports on such usage when it involves something they think strange or unusual like a music school using iPhone and iPads as musical instruments.

      Though if more transformable and convertible products start showing up then it may become easier to customize devices for our individual particular uses without either breaking the bank or having to reinvent the proverbial wheel.

  17. Netbook as a term has it’s usage, just like “Desktop Replacement” to describe laptops bigger then 16 inch.

    I think in most people’s mind, Netbook have a fairly narrow, but vague definition, and it doesn’t help that laptop manufactures are themself mis-using the term. To me at least there is how i classifies laptop computers

    NetBook – Cheap $200-$400 DISPOSABLE laptop that is 3 lbs or under, relatively long battery life (>5 hours on 6 cell battery) that can do web, word editing, and some basic video, no optical drive. Note that screen size, cpu and os version is not part of the definition, because they are restricted by the price tags anyways.
    Using this definition for Netbook, Apple Macbook Air 11 inch, asus 1215pn, Acer TimelineX 1830t, Sony X doesn’t count because of price, weight, or battery life reasons

    Ultra-portable – >$400 laptop, 12.1 screen or smaller, less then 4lbs and can do work on it beyond MS Word and surfing internet. Also if the computer run windows, it must run window 7 or greater.

    Laptop – anything between 13.3 screen to 15.6 inch screen. weight less then 6 lbs.

    Desktop replacement – 16 inch screen or greater. weight 6lb or greater.

    While not everyone will agree with my definition, laptop users will make a clear a distinction between those segments

    1. You’re right that not everyone will agree with your definition but I’ll just point out that your examples don’t all match your definitions.

      MBA 11.6″ costs well above your Netbook price range, only has about barely over 5 hours run time, less with heavy use, and will develop less over the course of its usable life with a non-user replaceable batteries.

      The iPad for example, after about 9 months of use it’s 10+ hours turns to only about 6. So imagine how the MBA usable time will drop over time.

      The Acer TimelineX 1830T has the run time but is also above your price definition. And neither are considered as simply disposable by most people.

      Leaving only the 1215PN to fit as that’s basically just a 12″ version of the 1015PEM and fits all your criteria.

  18. I just bought a netbook, and I can tell you, after being an ardent fan of a 10 inch Apple iPad, that a netbook is far better machine to own and do work on.

    It feels like a real notebook. Its easier to put on your lap and more importantly, using the touch pad, you use less effort than using a touchscreen. Yes its true. With an Ipad, you have to make longer strokes and move your hand more and this requires more energy. When you are lying down, using a netbook with just one finger and smaller less energy movements, you can use the touchpad without hassle.

    And more importantly, it runs Windows, a familiar environment.

    Nowadays, shit tablets, make it so hasslesome. Some have the so called marketplace, some don’t. My firend bought the Toshoba Folio AS100 and he is screwed cause got NO Marketplace. Some are 2.1, some are Froyo and some, possible 3.10 Honeycomb. Everyone is confused with this Android shit without a concrete promise of proper free marketplace.

    Apple on the other hand is way too expensive. And its shit also cause you can’t multitask. Open one page and you are stuck with it.

    Nothing like the good old netbook. Nothing like a keyboard. The good old feeling of Windows, USB ports etc.

    Only problem is this, netbook operators need to reduce the weight from the current 1.3 kgs to say 700g.

    Then it will whack tablets inside out. Now the only advantage tablets have is weight.

    But manufacturers are scared to improve on netbooks cause like you said Brad, they screwed themselves up by intoducing it. Before that, they could con people with $5000 machines and say that you have to pay such amount for a light 1 kg weight.

    Now, nobody looks at those overpriced nonsense anymore.

  19. Brad you know my thoughts here but since there is now a post about it… (sticky it)

    Netbook is a secondary computer. Price goes up? Big deal, it’s still a secondary computer. Putting some type of limitation makes no sense. Screensize and that’s pretty much it. 12″ and less. Add extras and its a premium netbook.

    Not to nit pick, but it does bother me to hear you say you “don’t care if the term netbook went away all together”. Easy for you to say now. Yes, we’ve been through that. Point is? Those “netbooks” amounted to 95% of your success right now. It’s called forgetting where you came from. Yeah, you have stats showing otherwise. I beg to differ on that. Type “netbook (insert any word in the dictionary here)” and your site pops up in images and searches. So please spare me and everyone else your disregard for “netbooks”. Granted you don’t care now. Google doesn’t lie and you are where you are today because of “netbooks”.

    Is this post because of that idiotic “notbook” crap from Joanna? Most likely.

    Experts can’t get it sorry. It’s not complicated. Netbook or premium netbook describes a secondary computer. Cnet brought forward premium netbook to describe 11.6 and 12.1″ and that’s fine.

    BTW, I don’t by your thoughts about “netbook” being a marketing ploy. Yeah right. Manufacturers want netbook to describe their computer? Their lowest margin product? You kidding? They don’t want it which is why sheep go with the ultraportable blah blah blah to describe the 11.6″.

    In this case the so called experts can’t get it straight. Talk about netbooks? How about you know what you’re an expert at first. Netbooks evolved but the people covering them haven’t. That’s the sad true reality of the situation. Am I passionate? Yeah a bit. Remember, netbook is secondary computer. Price is completely irrelevant. So Windows 7 Premium in a 10.1″ deems it no longer a netbook? WTF?

    Cheers and hugs!

    1. I don’t know why you keep trying to make this point. I actually just ran this experiment. Liliputing doesn’t show up on the first page of Google results for dell netbook, asus netbook, hp netbook, sony netbook, acer netbook… and I sort of gave up after that.

      I’m also not sure what you mean when you say you beg to differ with the stats I showed you last month. Do you think I made them up or took them out of context? Those were the top search results that led people to Liliputing, showing that “netbook” as a search term is not necessarily something Google associates with this site.

      I’m also not sure why, even if you *were* right on all of those points, you seem to take it so personally as if I were betraying a word that allegedly helped build readership for this web site. It’s just a word, and as I think the comments to this post show, it’s a word that different people have used to describe different things.

      By your definition, a netbook is any secondary computer.

      Others suggest that a netbook is a small, cheap computer.

      Some people insist screen size is a defining characteristic, while others don’t. Some say price is the defining characteristic…

      I say that this all shows that the term was never that useful in the first place because there was never much agreement on exactly what it meant — and this is a discussion taking place primarily between tech geeks.

      My wife had a conversation with some coworkers recently where they were trying to decide if they should purchase a number of netbooks for a project or if they needed something different. The conversation went on for a good 10 or 20 minutes, at which point somebody asked what exactly a netbook was, and another participant said, “well, they’re not computers…”

      1. Brad, there had always been agreement on what netbooks were when they first began to hit the market. There also wasn’t much variation.

        The disagreements began to emerge when a full two-year period pasted with not much news to report by way of the netbook. And bored bloggers began to look to more trivial matters to report on ; ) Ha!

        The term netbook was very useful … and in more ways than one. Not only did it warn unsuspecting shoppers that the full Windows XP experience was not the main selling point — it also physically described the devices (as electronic internet books) as well as accurately implied their primary use to average consumer.

        The original Eee PC could indeed be mistaken for a book in its case!

        But, Brad, why do you hate the term netbook? Did you get into a fight with someone or something over the use of the word (perhaps in Best Buy)?

        1. I don’t hate it. I’ve just never found it to be all that useful or descriptive.

          I’ve used it for the past few years to describe a certain type of computer, and so have PC makers, other journalists, and readers. And I’ll probably continue using it… but I started writing this op-ed because I was genuinely interested in finding out what other Liliputing readers thing a netbook really is.

          Somewhere along the way, I got a bit distracted and wrote a mini-manifesto.

      2. Brad I will say, regardless of this debate, you are an honorable person. I’m not questioning your stats or your comments. Please understand I hold you in about the highest regard possible.

        To counter slightly though, your recent experiment may show you not showing up in those search terms, but aha I have a point. Perhaps more recently your “netbook” rankings have dropped and that’s the ironic part. Of course that will happen as you refuse to call anything about 10.1″ a netbook. Intentionally or not, you are certainly ensuring that “netbook” isn’t your bread and butter. So perhaps I’ve taken my “past” search experiences about your site ranking with “netbook”. Fact is that is only a fairly recent change if their is less relevance with your site and “netbooks”. I was also including images. My overall point is that netbooks and the netbook industry have made your dreams possible. I think you are saying netbooks aren’t the reason for your amazing success, but again, I think we agree to disagree on that.

        I need to rephrase my original point. Netbook is a portable secondary computer. 12″ seems to me, the most reasonable. I have the 12.1″ Eee PC and guess what? It collects dust at home. Netbooks are computers that you wouldn’t be using at home because you have a much nicer and bigger screen to look at. I return to netbook being secondary computer whereas in 1990’s laptops were the secondary computer. That was then, this is now.

        The part that bugs me (obviously) is that the so called experts throw “netbook” around without any idea of what they are talking about. It’s almost like a refusal. They had/have a netbook summit and wouldn’t that be an appropriate place for a discussion?

        Sure they are all laptops then. Then again, let’s just call them computers. Categories make sense. That’s how you file things. That’s how you get to the sites on the internet that you are seeking.

        I’m not saying I’m high (okay maybe when I was younger) and mighty and know it all. All I can say is, that thanks to Cnet and their usage of “premium netbook” to describe the bigger or faster or feature packed secondary computers, I realized it just makes sense. I’m mean “notbooks”? Experts or so called experts want to keep the public confused? Ridiculous.

        I’ve spent more time attempting to bring some type of clarity and consistency on this subject of netbooks than pretty much anyone out there. I just need to know, who the hell decided that 10.1″ was the limit to “netbooks” anyways? What if those same people once put their foot down and said netbook is 8.9″ and less only. Well guess what? The “netbook” is dead. No, maybe not in reality, but in terms of being able to seek out sites, articles about secondary computer is suddenly a real chore. Imagine all the blogs out there saying enough with “netbooks” or “laptops”, everyone switch to calling them computers. Then what? Have fun searching for blogs, articles and products about those cool portable secondary computers. That is WHY it’s somewhat ideal on having categories. Netbook took over the portable computer (attached keyboard) space.

        Again Brad, you are the top dog and nothing but respect for you and your site and your articles/opinions. You just have to admit you’re wrong on this one 😉

        1. Sorry but you continue to parade your opinion as being fact when it’s nothing but your opinion. You do things like claim Google doesn’t lie and then you claim it can be wrong when it is shown not to back up your claims. You keep on trying to twist things to your point of view but that isn’t real logic. Logically you let the facts determine where the conclusion leads, not the other way around.

          You may be passionate but that doesn’t make you right!

          The only thing you’ve said that I would agree with is that just about everyone, including the so called experts as you call them, have thrown the term “netbook” around without any real consistency or accuracy towards the term.

          But there is a difference between misuse and calling attention to how the term has become misused. While the way you are going about it isn’t any better and your not really converting anyone to your cause with these tactics you are using!

          Like I’m a supporter of Netbooks, nearly everyone in my family has a netbook and I help people every day with their netbooks. I do it so much I’m well known on the Eee User forum for helping people and guess what you’re alienating me!

          So with all due respect, rethink your position and tactics before replying again!

  20. I definitely see where you’re coming from. I would still prefer the term Netbooks to stay around, but with that I would prefer that they clear up the definition as you write about. I think Netbooks should stay classified as under 12″ low-powered (as in speed as well as battery life) ultra-portables. When the quality of the parts of an ultra-portable device allow it to handle more than just email, web-surfing, and other web-centric apps) then it becomes a notebook, laptop, etc. to me.

  21. To date – no one has built the perfect netbook – 10.1 or other.

    Short list to OPTIONS that true tech minded geeks (and general consumers) would love in netbook or netbook/tablet hybrid units
    (tablets do not work for “work devices” because we need keyboard)!
    1- 1366×768 resolution standard HD on every netbook with higher
    resolution external monitor option (so can plug in at home or office and
    get high resolution via a “dock station” type of hook up).
    2- a) Pixel Qi low power screen with direct day light use (future version
    will support HD resolutions, currently using only 1024×600, per my
    latest emails with them, but…)
    Why Pixel Qi?
    http://bigthink.com/maryloujepsen
    http://www.pixelqi.com/blog1/
    http://www.pixelqi.com
    Pixel Qi – a Charbaux video (best outdoor video):
    51 second video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgQuLPNP1QU

    3- a) Touch Screen option (Pixel Qi has tested some and working with now)
    Per Pixel Qi blog post April 28, 2010
    “Touch integration with our screens is already working via a variety of solutions
    including projected capacitance touch and is available now in our products”.
    b) Screens with Corning’s Gorilla Glass (very hard to break). See video.
    http://www.corning.com/gorillaglass/index.aspx
    4- AA battery (with 12 to 20 hours battery use per charge) Note: Could also
    be used as backup for low power desktops at corporations for when power goes
    out … meaning these netbook features could be on desktops too.
    5- backlight keys (switchable on/off) for low light (air plane) use OR
    reflective keys that have the lettering GLOW from light of Screen.
    http://www.myglowkeys.com/
    http://www.latkey.com/glowing_stickers.asp
    6- Matte Black case that is not glossy, no finger prints showing.
    7- Linux install dual booted with Windows option (or Android/Chrome)
    8- Free non-forked version of OpenOffice.org installed on every netbook
    sold (forked version might have .NET patent related MONO in parts)?
    9- Simm card option as well as WiFi and MESH NETWORKING options too
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Building_a_Rural_Wireless_Mesh_N
    etwork_-_A_DIY_Guide_v0.8.pdf
    10- Fast RunCore-like SSD built into the unit at purchase. 16GB is fine
    for dual boot with external storage.
    Jkkmobile YouTube video of the Pro IV SSD (lots of other testing too)

    See RunCore SSD comparison with others (4 different speed tests) in this article:
    http://www.laptopmag.com/review/storage/runcore-pro-4.aspx

    So, far… no one has made the perfect netbook at all. Still waiting.

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