Over the past year or two, almost every major PC maker has scaled back its presence in the netbook space. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still demand for inexpensive ultraportable laptops. I still see them people using them pretty regularly at coffee shops, and I know some long-time Liliputing readers are still fans of the platform.
Fortunately it looks like as Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, and possibly even Acer and Asus drop netbooks, other companies may be stepping up to fill the void.
A new netbook called the Coby NBPC1025 passed through the FCC today. It’s a mini-laptop with a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, an Intel Atom N2600 dual core Cedar Trail processor, and Windows 7 Starter Edition.
It’s not exactly the most exciting notebook you’ll see this year, but it looks like exactly the same sort of netbook the major PC makers aren’t making anymore.
It measures 10.4″ x 7.2″ x 1″ and weighs 2.5 pounds, has a 3 cell 2200mAh battery which should provide up to 4 hours of run time, and features 2 USB ports, VGA, HDM, and an SD card slot. It also features Ethernet, and WiFi.
Unfortunately the 1024 x 600 pixel display means that this netbook isn’t really designed to run Windows 8, since Metro-style apps require a 1024 x 768 pixel or higher resolution display. But it should be able to run most apps designed for Windows 7 and earlier. The Coby NBPC1025 should also be able to run a variety of Linux-based operating systems.
I haven’t seen any word on the price or availability of the NBPC1025.
This isn’t the first netbook from Coby. But in the past when the company has brought mini-laptops to market, it’s had to compete with better offerings from major PC makers. Now that the crowd is thinning, there’s more opportunity for Coby’s netbooks to stand out.
Or you could buy an HP Mini 210 for $300 and up. HP is one of the only companies that hasn’t pulled out of the US netbook market yet. (Acer and Asus are still in for now too… we’ve only heard rumors about them pulling out).
Coby also has a new 11.6 inch laptop with the same Atom N2600 processor, but a higher-resolution 1366 x 768 pixel display. It’s called the Coby NBPC1165.
I like netbook. I own netbook, only thing that stops me from using netbook is the lack of need for portable computing at the moment. That being said, nobody told Coby that tech is outdated? Yeah, not actually shocked.
I agree with the fact that when one or more exit, one or more will enter. I still think there are some back room dealings going on regarding Windows 8 and netbooks. Something just isn’t right. Windows 8 may simply not be compatible according to Microsoft in a netbook shell. They have specs etc and that may have squeezed the Eee PC out of it. Maybe they priced Windows 8 too high for a cheap 10-incher to compete. I’m sure a company like Coby would be more than glad to pick up market share. If that means Android OS or Chrome OS netbooks, so be it. I just don’t know. Was it the higher definition panels that cause netbook makers to back out because they couldn’t do it economically? Make a 10 or 11 incher Coby with whatever OS you can manage for a reasonable price point and people will buy it. I’m not convinced at all that everyone wants a tablet/netbook hybrid unit especially when we see the consumer prices on them.
“Maybe they priced Windows 8 too high for a cheap 10-incher to compete.”
I think that’s what happened. Microsoft decided that OLPC and Linux are no longer a threat at the low end, so cheap, low profit netbooks are no longer necessary.
“I’m sure a company like Coby would be more than glad to pick up market share. If that means Android OS or Chrome OS netbooks, so be it.”
I agree. I think Android would be a better choice than ChromeOS, because more apps and games are available for it, and because people have already seen it on their phones.
“Make a 10 or 11 incher Coby with whatever OS you can manage for a reasonable price point and people will buy it.”
At around $200.00 I think they would fly off the shelves of Office Depot or Radio Shack. This is not a complete fantasy as Pandawill has one for $141 now.
What seems to be holding things up is a decent reference design for an ARM Android 10 inch netbook. What I mean by that is that I don’t think Coby is doing serious development work on their products: they buy plans from somebody else and stamp their name on the case.
Perhaps by next year there will be plans available for ARM/Windows and ARM/ChromeOS notebooks which will run Android directly, or could be easily modified to run Android. The 7″ Android “netbooks” I see for sale seem to be using hardware originally designed for running Windows CE!
“I think that’s what happened. Microsoft decided that OLPC and Linux are
no longer a threat at the low end, so cheap, low profit netbooks are no
No, by all reports Windows 8 will be priced lower than Windows 7.
So it’s the minimum specifications that are in conflict with netbooks.
1366×768 screens still cost more than 1024×600 screens…
While netbook sales have already reached market saturation and many companies are seeing better profits from mobile devices.
Mind netbook profit margins were always very low, some companies even only made basically small pocket change worth of profits per unit sold, and it was only the rapid market growth and popularity of netbooks that really motivated companies to make them.
So increasing costs for higher specs like HD screens means they have no choice but to raise pricing and that basically takes away from the low pricing appeal of netbooks and pushes them into conflict with the more viable mobile market products.
There are other reasons as well but basically it’s simpler for some companies to just produce hybrid devices that can serve both the previous netbook users and the growing number of tablet users.
“What seems to be holding things up is a decent reference design for an ARM Android 10 inch netbook.”
ARM is still at the threshold between being good for only mobile usages and being applicable to more traditional PC needs.
Issues like hardware fragmentation is still rather extensive. So it’s still virtually impossible to get universally consistent support.
Competing platforms also emphasis different areas of performance and features.
The myriad of ways that ARM can be customized and optimized has always been one of its strengths for mobile applications but can be a hindrance to pushing it for greater PC applications.
While mobile OS like Android has issues that most apps are still made for Smart Phones and Android still has many mobile OS limitations that are built in by design.
It’s also why they’re still trying to work a custom desktop UI like Webtops and working with Canonical to try to get Ubuntu to run along with Android for a literal desktop mode.
Not to mention the difficulty of supporting the three primary usage form factors they do already, which now covers Phones, 7″ semi-tablets, and the larger full tablets.
Along with the fragmentation caused by all those who customize Android, as well as whether a company actually provides open source support or a mix of open and closed.
Google does hedges its bets with Chrome OS but even web apps require a certain level of performance. Especially when playing games. Thus why the latest Chromebooks switched from Intel Dual Core ATOM to a little more robust Sandy Bridge based Intel Celeron/Pentium chips.
While the increasing adoption of touch screens and other new technology isn’t helping with keeping these devices in the affordable price range.
“Perhaps by next year there will be plans available for ARM/Windows and
ARM/ChromeOS notebooks which will run Android directly, or could be
easily modified to run Android.”
It’s possible they could opt to dual boot Android. While services like Bluestack are already allowing Android apps to be used on Window systems.
Interesting you mention that Windows 8 would be cheaper for manufacturers to install than Windows 7. What about Windows 7 Starter though? Perhaps that’s what you meant?
Regardless of that, I wonder if MS put some other rules in place. Touch panels only perhaps? That’s going to kill a cheap price point. If nobody is going to make a non touch 10-inch Windows 8 laptop with minimum hardware specs, somebody has to ask why. I still think something smells. Everyone backing out at the exact same time? These plans are well thought out before implementation. I wasn’t last week that MS make their system requirments and Asus didn’t decide 2 weeks ago to torch their Eee PC brand.
MS hasn’t changed their requirements since announcing, so it’s unlikely to be a concerted effort. Otherwise HP and others would also have announced dropping netbooks at the same time.
Rather, it seems to be just how the market is evolving. Along with other factors like Intel’s present usage of Imagination based GMA’s resulting in limited driver support.
While Asus also made some questionable design choices, like making it increasingly harder for users to self service their netbooks. The latest models wouldn’t even allow RAM upgrades without having to open the whole casing and remove the main board to access the RAM below it.
Some models even opted for the RAM to be soldered, while Asus just blanked stated all the newer models were non-upgradeable regardless of whether they were and the Windows 7 Starter Edition requirement that systems be sold only with 1GB of RAM didn’t help.
While the decreasing pricing of ARM devices, with performance now starting to rival the ATOM, was helping them eat away at netbook market share.
Combined with the already slowing netbook market and it’s not surprising Asus made this decision when they have their popular Transformer series to take its place and they’re already coming out with the Vivo Tab that will serve the same general purpose.
“What about Windows 7 Starter though? Perhaps that’s what you meant?”
It’s very hard to find definitive information about this. From what I can tell, XP for Netbooks was cheapest at around $35, Win7 Starter a bit more, Win8 ARM roughly the same as Win7 Starter (both around $55), and Win8 Intel substantially more, roughly the same as standard Win7 (around $85).
“Regardless of that, I wonder if MS put some other rules in place.”
Microsoft “Building Windows 8” blog says 1024 x 768 is the minimum screen size, slightly more than 1024 x 600 found on the cheapest netbooks. This wouldn’t be a problem on an 11 inch screen.
“If nobody is going to make a non touch 10-inch Windows 8 laptop with minimum hardware specs, somebody has to ask why.”
Lack of an ARM Win8 reference design might be one reason. Qualcomm makes a reference design for an ARM Win8 tablet and Intel makes lots of reference designs for Intel Win8. Using one of these designs lowers development costs for companies like ASUS. Did you notice that most of the cheap netbooks have their ports in the same places? That would be the reference design from Intel…
Thanks for the conversation. You’re very smart and educated on this topic! I appreciate the insight.
In the past I might have discounted Android on a netbook but as you mention, it makes sense. If my smartphone can integrate with a netbook, that’s a good thing. In reality, there is already a netbook with Android and it’s called a Transformer. So if that combo is a selling point, then why wouldn’t a non detachable screen work? I would imagine that having a touch panel on a non removable display makes little sense. I also imagine that touch panels put the price point of a netbook too high. A non touch screen Android netbook? I’m not sure how backassward that is. That is the most likely combo that would be price effective enough because it would compete with those Transformers. That’s the irony of the discussion.
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