By definition a netbook is a small, light, and inexpensive netbook. But there are two things that generally dictate just how small a netbook can be: the screen and the keyboard. Some of the first netboks had 7 inch displays and tiny keyboards. But most models on the market today have 10 inch displays that are easier to read and larger keyboards that are easier to type on. Unfortunately, this makes today’s netbooks a bit bigger and heavier.

But Sony came up with a solution when it introduced the Sony Vaio P early last year: drop the touchpad and replace it with a pointing device. Since then we haven’t seen too many major PC makers follow suit. But a ton of Chinese companies known for making cheap knockoff products have followed Sony into the touchpad-free realm.

The latest is BYD, which has produced the BYD ODM netbook. It bears a passing resemblance to the Sony Vaio P thanks to the large bezel around the edges of the display and the lack of a touchpad. The base of the computer is almost all keyboard.

The BYD ODM has a 10 inch display, 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 1.8″ hard drive, 2 USB ports, and a SIM card slot for an optional 3G modem. There’s no video output or Ethernet port. No word on the final pricing, but BYD expects to sell the netbook to distributors for about $300.

I don’t know why we don’t see more netbooks with a pointing device instead of a touchpad. I suspect some folks would prefer this sort of layout to a touchpad with integrated left and right buttons like those found on the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 and Lenovo Ideapad S10-3.

via Cloned in China

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4 replies on “BYD ODM netbook is sleek, small and… small”

  1. I think the design of netbooks or any computers has to take into account there are two “states” of use for a device: using and carrying.

    When you are using the device you need it big enough to use, yet small enough to use easily and even fit into a typical work space you might find. If you are thinking about a typical clamshell netbook the device doesn’t need to be that small the foot print of a typical 15″ notebooks has a small enough footprint to use on an airplane, at a coffee shop, in a car/bus/train, etc.

    When you are carrying the device around is when size and weight matter. So THAT seems logically to be where making things small and light matters. So the trick isn’t making devices small all the time, but only small when packed up to carry. If the problem is approached that way the design of a small netbook is all about ‘compacting’ the device to carry and ‘expanding’ the device out when it use.

    I think the perfect netbook would be one that was something that used unfolding, expanding, sliding out, tiered design elements. The Kohjinsha DX dual screen is a good example two 10″ displays that slide together into the space of one. Another example would be the Yanko Design folding keyboard we saw a week or two ago. Even the old Think Pad with the ‘butterfly’ keyboard would be a good example of using economy of space intelligently.

    There is certainly room for concepts like the Vaio P where ‘taking away’ parts can be helpful to leave only what is needed in the device. However, it should not be the only approach; nor should it be seen as the best approach.

  2. Good to see this. But they should use a pointing stick right in the middle of the keyboard, like on Thinkpads.
    So you don’t have to reach down from the keyboard everytime you want to move the mouse pointer.

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