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Best Buy will begin selling the MSI Wind netbook on its website and in stores within the next few weeks. The retailer also sells the Eee PC 900. So it shouldn’t be too big a surprise that the company decided to add a netbook information page to its web site. When you select the “computers” drop down menu on the Best Buy web page, you’ll see a new netbook option. Cool, right?

And then you get to the description of a netbook. “Netbooks may look like laptops,” the page says “but they don’t have the full capabilities of a computer.”

Wait, what?

They run Windows XP, Vista, OS X, or Linux. They have web browsers, office suites, play games and handle multimedia. They have full keyboards, Ethernet ports, Wireless cards and VGA ports. How exactly are they not computers? Is it because they don’t have DVD-ROM drives? Because by that logic most modern PCs aren’t computers because they don’t have floppy disk drives. And everybody knows you need a floppy disk drive to be a real computer.

But I doubt it’s the lack of an optical disc drive that led Best Buy to claim that netbooks aren’t computers (even though they’re listed under the Computer drop-down menu). Rather, Best Buy says netbooks are “great for travel or as a supplement to your main PC.” Translation: Please buy two computers from us, OK?

Honestly, I don’t know too many people who would pick up a netbook and use it as their primary computer because most are underpowered by modern PC standards. But that doesn’t mean a netbook isn’t a PC. It’s just not a very powerful PC.

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14 replies on “Best Buy: Netbooks aren’t really laptops”

  1. fixed copy:
    “Best Buy may look like a computer store, but it doesn’t have the full capabilities of a computer store. Instead, Best Buy specializes in accessories and product replacement plans, so it’s great for gift-giving or as a place to send your relatives who want to buy a PC.”

  2. strictly speaking, anything using a microchip is a computer.

    i cant shake the idea that the consumer would be better of using some kind of “lego” computer where different blocks gave different capabilities.

    need to do something? snap on the block and go to town.

    the one stop, swiss army knife computer is, imo, not made for a consumer, its made for a office admin that can buy generic goods and turn them into specific tools for the office.

  3. I am also using my Eee 1000H as my main home computer now. It has plenty of power to do everything I need every day, including playing 720p x264 videos. If I need more power, I will VNC into my media server from it.

    Bloated operating systems such as Windows Vista, and bloated office programs, like Office 2007 are the problem.

  4. At my “local” Best Buy (60 miles away), the story inside the actual store is quite different from their sales copy. They had a few eeePC 900’s in August, and the clerks were quite geeky and excited about it. One of them said, “This is the next big thing–everybody wants one!!” They were all snapped up during a pre-school-opening tax-free weekend that my state has.

    At least they were able to secure a display unit under one of their security clamps, unlike my (really local) Circuit City, where they’re instructed not to let you open the Acer Aspire One boxes (when they have ’em).

    The ad copy should read, “No more dedicated desk! [picture of a guy shlepping along with a desk roped to his back]” (very funny, Rachel, I never thought of it like that)… “No more lap burn!, no more roasted… ” well, that’s going a bit too far 🙂

  5. Indeed a netbook is just a bit slower but does last longer on the battery and is perfect for internet,e-mail,word and excel.

  6. My mum’s new Aspire One *is* her main and only computer. She even prefers it to the Mac Mini she had before. (Smaller, simpler, no cables but power, doesn’t need a dedicated desk…) Her only problem is that as a touch-typist her whole life she finds the small keyboard tricky to adapt to, but it’s certainly capable of everything she wants to do with a computer.

    And the same probably applies to such a number of real people (ie: not us geeks 🙂 ) that it’s *scaring* the makers and sellers of bigger laptops.

  7. I am using a 1000h as my main computer. I picked it up to use along side my large HP laptop, which is a core 2 with 3 gig or ram and all the trimmings, yet I find that I only am using the HP once or twice a week. I can run Word, Palm software, Outlook express, and firefox at the same time with no delay, and hook up to an external keyboard and monitor when I am in my office. So I would not say that the 1000h is an underpowered PC, instead I would say that my HP is overpowered. I just dont need that much processing power on a daily basis.

  8. Background: I used to (nearly a decade ago now) write / edit many of the product descriptions for Dell computers that went to their small-business customers, but it’s obvious anyhow — companies understate the capabilities of devices that they’re willing to sell only if someone won’t buy one of their higher-margin products. That’s why you’ll see machines which would be considered pretty high-end (on specs) just a year or two before being pooh-poohed (by their makers) as “adequate for light word processing, and mild web browsing.” Maybe, just maybe, if you’re really gentle with it, you could use it to add small integers, but better stick to even numbers, with the speed sacrifices you’ll be making and all.

    Now, on the other hand, the high-end stuff is described like insulin, teflon, geodesic domes, and cheap spaceflight — it’s going to improve your life in so many ways, you’ll be amazed you used to consider your pitiful previous existence a life at all. But since you weren’t courteous enough to kill yourself *then,* now you’ve got the chance to get past all that by buying an InspiroPlexor 9000, which is all-singing and (with optional doodads) all-dancing.

    The Best Buy copy is blatantly false, and therefore silly — it’s not coherent enough to be fraudulent. (“This computer is not a computer. Also, the previous sentence is neither true nor false, whereas the sentence you are now reading is false, only if the word immediately following this sentence is ‘Niagra.’ Fnord.”) When I would point out to Dell product managers that many of their claims were just as silly, guess how moved they were to bring them in line with reality. Machines that were powerful enough to play (then-current) 3D games, and edit video as well as high-end machines had been able to the previous season, were relegated to the overmodest columns, and ones with marginally better performance were in the jazzy, happy, aspirational-executive sections.

    I wish they would drop the price even more, though, if this is basically just souped-up, low-end, non-computer piece of costume jewelry.


  9. Netbooks are just smaller and lighter. You can run anything that runs in regular laptops and PCs, except that it might run slower. But I think it’s still a PC.

  10. I went to Microcenter a few weeks ago – and there were several people looking at netbooks as a primary PC. The cost is a real draw….

  11. They’re trying to steer consumers toward the more expensive and higher profit margin full-sized notebooks for obvious reasons… even though a significant percentage of consumers can be more than adequately served by less powerful and generally less costly netbooks. It’s no different than car dealers trying to steer consumers toward a big honking SUV when, maybe, a subcompact is all they need. However, with the economic crunch, I think a lot of consumers are smart enough to choose based on their pocketbooks.

  12. dont worry, as i know, netbooks are sold very well in china, many chinese use it just as normal notebook. and some netbooks like msi wind and eeepc 1000h sold in china are much cheaper than in usa and europe.

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