A netbook is a laptop. It’s just smaller, cheaper, and typically less powerful than most other laptops on the market. But those three things are enough to set netbooks apart from other notebooks in the minds of most consumers, and according to a survey from PriceGrabber.com, 55% of consumers think netbooks complements traditional laptops rather than replacing them.

It’s not particularly surprising that most people would rather use a full time laptop for some or many tasks than one that was designed to be low cost and ultraportable. What’s a bit more surprising to me is the implication that 45% of consumers do think that netbooks are replacements for traditional laptops — indicating that many people just don’t need a big screen or a powerful processor to meet most of their computing needs.

The PriceGrabber study defined netbooks as machines with screens smaller than 11 inches and price tags lower than $500, which seems about right to me.

The survey also points out something that’s been pretty clear for the last year or two: The increasing demand for cheap netbooks has led to a drop in the overall prices for computers. PriceGrabber.com reports that the average cost of a laptop in its directory dropped from $808 in December 2008 to $645 in December, 2009.

The complete study has all sorts of other interesting tidbits, including the odd fact that the largest age group of netbook owners seems to have shifted from 35-54 to 45-64 over the past few months, and that solid state disks aren’t really taking off.

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14 replies on “PriceGrabber: Most shoppers don’t see netbooks as laptop replacements”

  1. I’ve rencetly been asked to recommend a portable PC by a couple of colleagues and despite being a netbook fan I found it impossible to suggest one would be the best choice as a “main” home PC. They are great as a companion to a larger desktop or for taking on the road but I wouldn’t want one as my only computer.

    1. After having been stuck with my eeePC 900HD as my only computer for over a year, I totally agree with this.

  2. MOST people whoare MOST of the uses, are typical of the office workers and relatives that I know… and they DON’T EVER fill out these questionaires. ONLY power users, Gamers and GEEKS fill this stuff out. AND I even avoid filling out such questionaires. SO, given my exposure to most office workers (the ladies of the office) they go home, check email, go to Amazon and shop somewhere online and the typical NETBOOK is plenty CPU and features for them.

    Where do they find these people that fill out those questionaires (at INTEL maybe then that would explain it, as the typical user does not need the CPU or the GPU that Intel if trying to force feed them.

  3. Netbooks will continue to be popular among mobile professionals. These machines are cheap and quite portable. After all, who needs a fully loaded computer while traveling? You just need a machine that would meet your basic computing needs and that is exactly what a netbook is.

  4. We live in a house run on solar energy, and we travel a lot (on business) in a van, sometimes weeks on end. My netbook uses a mere 10 or 11 watt per hour, as compared to 40 or 45 watt for a “proper” notebook. That’s a difference that sure makes a difference

    1. https://bigthink.com/maryloujepsen
      The future of power use of the screen with Pixel Qi is headed to .2 watts.

      The concept in the Big Think videos, it WORKS out to be superior energy & cost savings too. ­ Do the Math! What will be the affect?

      IF, Power use is less all over the planet (how to do it and keep on computing, is explained by looking at all the videos).
      THEN, if that, as a direct result, then do our children and those that follow us and our leadership in this direction… will they then have a better planet? OR without change, what kind of place will we be leaving them?
      Isn’t it obvious that the amounts of computing energy saved using the designs that have been born by OLPC, directly results in HUGE amounts money saved and better yet, saves the environment (even without carbon cap and trade economic systems, that in the end results in not less carbon, just some silly shell game instead…)?

      In a world where we can split atoms, put a man on the moon, etc, then why can’t we see the science of where today’s PCs ARE USING FAR TOO MUCH POWER? Who needs a power sucking 3.0 GHz processor for common corporate desktop or mobile workers, who fill out order forms on the web, write reports, do the odd spreadsheet, or just send an email?

      A 100 Mhz PI PC of years ago would do that just fine (to some degree, Mary Lou is right, it is not about the processor, it is about the screen and how it works for us).

      Just do the math ­ ELECTRICITY used per PC times the number of PCs, is how much additional and overly excessive electricity used, vs the minimum amount of energy that is actually NEEDED JUST TO DO MOST, if not all, SIMPLE OFFICE WORK. Wake up… there is vast amounts of excessive “CO2” that results from the sources of the electricity (ex: a coal power plant, or other fossil fuel generation facility where the CO2 produced ends up in the atmosphere, and then the CO2 gets absorbed into the oceans (as the ocean is absorbing CO2 very quickly and that is the reason why we don’t see as much in the atmosphere)?

      Mary Lou’s power saving designs if used today in ALL PCs, both desktop and mobile, with the built in battery backup of the OLPC design where the battery can be processed into fertilizer at the end of it’s life cycle… is all about the future.

      Just imagine desktop devices using so little electricity that the whole company can power it’s IT electricity needs from solar cells on the roof?
      This low power design will win out as when in tough economic times the math is done in the IT budget, and the electricity savings PAYS for the IT changes (low power and cost screens, sunlight readable screens, better
      battery backup plan per workstation, power the company PCs from solar cells, etc).

      The wasted CPU power of today’s PCs cost both in environmental damage, and in corporate profits of the customers. This is not rocket science. It only threatens some corporate folks who are banking on increased CPU power
      sales and making more electricity to meet the resulting increases in power needed by those too powerful computing systems. If the makers of computers DO NOT wake up to that fact, then like the big TRUCKS and
      SUVs of GM and other Auto companies in the US, when the cost of energy increases due to the demand, the consumer will buy the one that uses less electricity. That is competition.

      OLPC and others are already into advancing PCs to use far less power, they have only scratched the surface… and who ever is not in the extreme low power PC game, if they don’t wake up, their company will be looking for a government bail out someday, simply because today, their leadership is asleep at the wheel.

  5. “The increasing demand for cheap netbooks has led to a drop in the overall prices for computers. ”

    That’s the most telling point. It’s why Intel is the whipping boy for the big boys like Dell etc. Why would you come out with something like the Atom where we can’t make money and you’ve dropped the price on all our other laptops because of it? I see Pinetrail as Intels way of redeeming themselves with the Dells of the world.

    Netbooks are a thorn to these guys. Be honest about it. The fact is, unless you can convince me otherwise, but a 10″ inch netbook could replace a lot of the need for a laptop. Not a fully loaded laptop, but those laptops which basically suck and aren’t exactly good enough for a primary computer but which are out to compete with the netbooks. Make sense? My overall point is there is no reason other than a foot on the brake pedal that is holding back the netbook/Atom category of computers. Nvidia who has nothing to lose, is trying to show everyone that a netbook can kick ass. They don’t have a conflict of interest, they are simply trying to give consumers more from their netbooks.

    So yes, blame the Atom for the dip in computer prices. Don’t think that Dell and company have been happy about this pandoras box being opened. It’s like now that consumers know that there is a cheaper alternative, they would choose that first. Politically speaking, that’s a problem for the industry. Especially one without real competition when it comes to processors.

    Go netbooks go!

    1. Lots of companies are making money selling netbooks. When people are paying $50 to go from 1GB to 2GB or to upgrade from Windows XP/Vista to Windows 7 or buying upgraded batteries. Trust me, Dell is making money or else they would have stopped with the Dell Mini 10 the way they did with the Mini 9 and Mini 12.

      When you can spend $400 and get a big clunk of computer or a small clunk, it’s good for everyone. At times goes by netbooks will continue to differentiate themselves as time goes on.

      1. I guess believe what you want. The fact is that they aren’t making money on netbooks. The netbooks gave people an alternative to buying expensive laptops to fill the portable computing need. They make peanuts on them and the negativity out of the CEO’s and presidents illustrate that fact clearly. Apple no netbook why? Same reason. They claim they can’t make money on them. Dell sells a model or two because they have to, not because they want to.

        1. Do you have any sources or evidence? You make an interesting argument, I’d like to see the proof.

          Doesn’t make much sense that Dell is forced to make a netbook even though it doesn’t make substantial profit for them.

          Apple doesn’t make a netbook because they can’t possibly charge the Apple tax on a netbook and expect to compete. Didn’t OSX support Intel Atoms up until a recent update?

        2. Well, there is making money on netbooks and then there is ‘making money’. I’m sure Dell and HP don’t make much on netbooks, but they do make a lot of money on selling accessories and junk to people. Look at any buy screen on from Dall and HP and you see how they nickle and dime the whole process. It is the same process that they use for notebooks and desktops too. These companies make money on selling computers and accessories. That’s the system and that is how it works. Every time someone buys a bag, printer, cable, or memory stick Dell and HP rake in the money.

          However, it must be said that netbooks are a headache for most computer makers. People don’t know what netbooks can and can’t do. Customers see the low prices, they see the pictures of the computers with no scale to show size, and they buy blindly. That means these netbooks generate far more disgruntled customer calls then other notebooks. When you add call center costs to the thin margin on these devices its is clear these devices are not the best sale a company can get.

  6. SSD isn’t going to take off until it reach 10 – 20% price parity with SATA drives. If you just paid $400 for your netbook you likely aren’t going to pay another $150 for a SMALLER drive just to let it boot faster and pull your programs up quicker. When netbook makers ditched SSDs in their products they doomed them for everyone but enthusiasts.

    As far as netbooks go, this survey is a pretty big load. Most people don’t get computers so their is no way they’d get a netbook. There are netbooks which are coming out with DVD burners but I doubt many people are going to pay $600+ for a 11.6″ screen device just to be able to burn DVDs when they want to.

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