back to article Acer: tablets will replace netbooks

So farewell then, netbooks, at from Acer. The PC giant is to phase them out as it transitions to tablets. So said Taiwan-based sales manager Lu Bing-Hsian yesterday. He was quoted by IDG. It's not clear when Acer will stop selling netbooks - it launched its latest one just two weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES …


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  1. ForthIsNotDead

    They're missing the point...

    We're not all Facebook freaks. We're not all addicted to twitter. We're not all endlessly watching Eastenders on iPlayer.

    Some of us, you know, work... Some of us run, oooh, I don't know, email clients like Outlook, for communicating with, and receiving attachments from that place called the *office*, where we *work*.

    Some of us have office installed on our netbooks, where it runs quite nicely thank you very much. You wouldn't want to work all day on a netbook, but when that spreadsheet arrives from the Malaysian office at god-knows-what-hour it nice to just have a quick look. Perhaps the Australian will send you a document for quick review: "Can you just have a quick look and make any edits you think need to me made, I've enabled track changes. Thanks".

    Netbooks are great for this.

    Tablets aren't.

    1. Charles 9

      Keyboard cradles.

      So you'd pack along an easy-to-setup keyboard (either bluetooth or cradle), rest your pad down, and get back to work. Meanwhile, you can take the tablet with you and still look at things from places where trying to use a keyboard would be standing up (think e-Readers for your spreadsheets). You can still touch, select, and do mouse-related actions without a keyboard and even use a quick pop-up virtual keyboard for the odd punch-in. That's why tablets (now that they actually last a decent amount of time) are on the way in--keyboards are optional, but they can still be added. And their usefulness will only grow once the colour e-ink displays come on the market. Now you can even do this outdoors (something which netbooks--and current tablets like the iPad with their LCD displays--have trouble).

      1. Anton Ivanov

        Demonstrate that on a london commuter train please

        Would you mind to demonstrate the detachable keyboard trick on a commuter train into/from London please? Once the London commuter train demonstration is complete, please demonstrate it on an EasyJet flight or in BA cattle class. Once you are done showing the detached tablet + keyboard usability in these conditions please come again.

        No thanks, I would like my keyboard _VERY_ firmly attached and the base of the device heavy enough to sit on my lap because there is not enough space for it to sit on the 10cm shelf which someone for some reason has decided to call "folding table/seat tray".

        1. Charles 9

          Okay, since you asked...

          ...subways can be crowded. Good chance you'll be standing, so the keyboard becomes an encumbrance. Better to go WITHOUT in this case. Cradle in your left arm and touch away with the right hand; easy peasy even while standing up. As for the EasyJet flight, on the last flights I've been, the tray tables have been a MINIMUM of 20cm--easily enough to accommodate the keyboard. Besides which, a 10cm tray table would again be awkward even for a 25-cm-screen netbook--odds are passing fair they'll tend to go over the edge, so you're better off going without. And the lap? If the tray table's that short, I imagine the SEAT's not much better, putting the (fixed) armrests in the way of your forearms.

      2. Cameron Colley

        RE: Keyboard cradles

        But tablet + keyboard takes up more room, means more things to take out when you're going through airport security (for example) and will cost about as much as a decent laptop that takes up the same amount of room, but will have less capabilities software-wise (such as installing test web servers or whatever).

        A tablet is not a replacement for a netbook (or a smallish, cheap laptop)* any more than a netbook is a replacement for a tablet.

        *depending on size of device you're replacing and your definition of netbook

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Keyboard cradles

        You know what's easier and more convenient than a separate keyboard? One that's connected to the screen via a hinge that you can use on your lap! Even better, the said keyboard helps to protect the vulnerable screen whilst in your bag!!

        I have a sneaking suspicion that these manufacturers will suddenly "rediscover" the "small-screen connected to a keyboard by hinge" form-factor in a couple of years time, heralding it like it's the next new thing. Bit like when they reintroduced "easy-to-read" matt screens to laptops a couple of years after the silly shiny ones had saturated the market.

        Acer are such a dreary, me-too company anyway. Zero innovation and turn out products with low to middling build quality.

        "That’s the direction of the market."

        Code for: Apple taught us how to build one so now we'll start churning out iPad clones for the next decade.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          They can pry my attached keyboard

          ...out of my cold dead hands.

          Seriously, I'd rather get fiddled with and harassed by airport security screeners *while undergoing a root canal* than spend any considerable time typing on a touchscreen.

          Furthermore, and as has been well stated by others here, making it in two pieces allows it to be portable, IMO, around the office or house but that's about it. It's not adequate for those of us who travel/commute heavily.

        2. Charles 9

          Have you tried using one Standing Up?

          Keyboards are an encumbrance when you're standing. You're better off without one, able to walk around with the thing held in your left hand (or better, cradled in you left arm) and your right hand free to touch away. Makes the device usable in more situations than without. Now, maybe a slider keyboard, able to go all the way out and hinge might work, but I hear the mechanics on such a design are tricky (thus why they haven't been tried more than once or twice).

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Netbooks > Tablets.

      Just my 2 cents.

      One day they could actually make a tablet that I might use - that hasn't appeared to have happened yet but hedging a guess on what it might be like, possibly something like a dell inspiron duo but somewhat lighter and with more battery endurance and some freedom of choice as far as the OS is concerned.

      BTW, I don't give a crap really about what acer does so long as Asus keep building neat netbooks and lappies.

  2. Martin
    Thumb Down


    Everyone seems to be saying that tablets are the way to go. But I don't see anyone actually using them.

    I wonder if this is something where "the market" is actually being driven by the manufacturers and the critics, rather than the consumers? Clearly, there are fewer moving parts in a tablet, so they can be made cheaper, hence giving the manufacturers more profit. So if netbooks are replaced by tablets - ka-ching!

    But damn - people aren't buying tablets - they are still buying netbooks. OK then - we'll stop making netbooks. That'll do it !

    I know loads of people who have netbooks and use them frequently. I know only a few people who have iPads or similar, and they pretty well all reckon the novelty soon wears off.

    1. copsewood

      mobe plus netbook beats tablet plus keyboard

      For ultra mobile applications and communications use a smartphone. If I want a better user interface the netbook tethers to the phone nicely thank you.

      Tablets sit in an awkward spot in the middle. They don't make good phones being too large. The only UI improvement they offer over the phone is the larger screen. Much better to have a smartphone plus netbook than to lug around a tablet plus keyboard/cradle.

  3. sproot

    How long

    'til they add a flip out keyboard to a tablet, like they do on some smartphones?

    Whatever will they call it?

    1. The Wegie

      How about a fortnight ago?

      Asus and Samsung both announced this form factor at CES.

  4. Cameron Colley

    They want us to spend more money then.

    I suppose we should have seen this coming -- rather than spending <£250 on a netbook (some would argue <£200, I'm sure) they want us all to spend £500 on a tablet and make do without a keyboard.

    I can't be the only one who doesn't want to spend twice as much (meaning twice the worry of damage or loss/theft) to get the keyboard taken away (meaning harder to prop up on a desk and type)?

    I blame Microsoft and Intel for this -- the netbook concept of Linux+SSD+ARM could have been a killer had Intel and MS not threatened everyone with loss of subsidies.

    1. whats the point of kenny lynch?


      that's the silly ipad price - go and spend £249 on an advent vega running android, it's bloody great.

      tablets are going to overtake but not replace netbooks, it's just 2 different markets and 2 different devices - there are things that the tablet will never do, but they are huge fun! go try...

    2. Anonymous Coward


      The concept was going to come out as Smartbooks. The one that killed that form factor was Apple with their hideous iPad.

  5. LuMan


    So, the industry is now telling the consumer what they want. If you want a netbook, then you're wrong. You actually want a tablet (whether you want it or not, apparently).

    Can't help but think that Acer are firing off-keel with this one. Shame as I'm more than happy with my Acer Aspire One!!

    1. dave 54

      Ah, the AAO, took of kings

      Mine now has a class 10 16gb SSD, 1.5gb RAM (wish fiddle the BIOS so you could disable the 512 onboard), a 360gb 7200rpm 2.5" hdd, a 12-cell battery which runs it for 9 hours and props it into a nicer position, and runs win7 quite nicely. The netbook was 90 quid second hand, the total cost of upgrades, <80 quid, and I'd like to see a tablet that can match it.

      Next, the touchscreen....

  6. Doug Glass

    Of Course ...

    ... netbooks will be phased out. So were typewriters and windup watches, corded phone sets, and any number of other products. But along the way, a lot of the "out-phasing" was a very bad idea that cost overconfident corporations a bundle. It'll be fun to watch. Especially for those of us who buy what we need as opposed to buying what we're told we can't live without.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    we have just taken delivery of 250 acer aspire "tablets".. These things are not like an ipad, they are the same as the aspire netbooks, bit better spec, but have the traditional 'tablet' swivel screen, now mutitouch and windows 7. I work in .edu at the primary / secondary level, and these things are much more of a usable device than something like an ipad.

  8. Efros
    Thumb Down

    Market isn't pointing

    The potential profit is pointing, netbooks and tablets do not operate in the same sphere.

  9. Stuart 22
    Thumb Down

    Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose

    I thought they had already killed the netbook. These bloated hard disk 10" and bigger jobs are just like the ultra-laptops netbooks replaced 2/3 years ago.

    So I guess I need these new jobbies to sprout a keyboard that protects the screen ... and then ...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly, this might be true

    Which is a real shame for people like me who want (a) a proper keyboard for touch typing, (b) good battery life, and (c) very cheap. But it's to be expected. Probably not very many people want a keyboard, and because I want "cheap" I'm not really worth catering for. (PS. I don't want Windows on a tablet or a netbook. I don't even use it on my desktops.)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Agreeable views

    I agree with the consensus. I own an example of Acer's netbook and it is handy. Recently the built in microphone and webcam allowed me to take part in a work meeting from home, I hooked it up to a proper monitor and could view and edit documents and spreadsheets. Upgraded to 1.5GB RAM, with XP and the original Linpus on it it flies along nicely.

    I couldn't see myself being as productive on an ipad-wannabe.

    However, I worry if this a sign of getting old?

    Wanting to hang on to the old "PC at my desk / software installed and documents stored locally" model.

    The rest of the world seems to be moving on to a cloud / SaaS model with documents stored on a server and accessible from anywhere.

    Bloody youngsters and their tablets.

    I still prefer a proper keyboard, even on my mobile!

  12. Red Dwarf

    Personal iPad has replaced personal laptop and personal netbook

    I bought an iPad when it came out. I use it every day for email, internet, news, twitter and as an ebook reader and it goes on holiday with us in the UK.

    My netbook running Windows 7 gets turned on about once every three months and by the time it updates itself (Windows, Adobe, Firefox, AVG, etc.) then we have forgotten why we wanted it in the first place and turn it off again.

    Four year old MacBook gets turned on five or six times a year when I want to do some browsing that needs a keyboard and mouse (e.g. holiday booking) and the main computer is busy or want a portable DVD player for the kids.

    We must be an anomaly.

    1. dogged

      Since you clearly don't do any work...

      I surmise that you are either a politician or employed by the public sector in some other way.

  13. Avatar of They


    My asus 1000 with ubuntu is still runs fine (Firefox is a bit blotaed now)

    The tablets with fold out keyboards are just netbooks by another name with a few hundred quid on the price. Still can't see the attraction to having a crap app store attached to a vastly expensive netbook though.

    And I can't imagine working on the few tablets I have seen. They are web browsers for short durations as you can't hold them for long, heat and weight are a drawback. And you can't rest them on something as you need the screen at a different angle. Doing work on them was impossible for me.

  14. Wanda Lust


    I totally agree with Acer. The predominant use case is getting away from PC and computers - it's media consumption. Netbooks are getting too damned expensive anyway, I'll certainly be expecting tablets to get cheaper as the range of products in the market grows.

    Personally (not professionally) I firmly believe that I'll have a tablet in a few months. I've been an netbook user for more than 2 years & the keyboard is really starting to get in the way for most of my use, the tablet/slate form factor wins for browsing web, media, etc.

    The YouTube clips I've seen of Ubuntu Unity look perfect for my use case. Not yet convinced by Android 7 & iOS is simply a conduit to Apple's myriad revenue generation channels.

    After a somewhat expensive experiment with a Nokia N800 I'm very comfortable that keyboards are optional. Unfortunately, it became evident that Nokia, too, was operating an experiment with the N-series tablets and Maemo hence withering into obscurity. They just don't seem to understand the soft stuff. Actually, they didn't seem to understand the netbook market either when they tried to sell a mediocre model for nearly £600!

  15. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    how many times in the past 10+ years have we heard that Tablets are going to take over? I can think of at least two instances. But they haven't, and probably won't. St. Steve gave the world a jerkoff tablet, which is cool, but still not really a replacement for any real computer, except perhaps the 7" netbooks. As others have said, the world doesn't really revolve around Facebook and Twatter and watching movies. Some of us have stuff to do.

  16. Chris Sanderson

    Not for me

    I like the idea of a tablet and thought I'd be queuing for the iPad when it was originally announced.

    But everytime I tried to think of the things I would do with it, I could come up with far more things that I couldn't do so well.

    In the end I opted for the 11" Air which isn't that much bigger but I can run full office, use xcode, watch movies, browse internet etc... Only thing I can't really do that I could on the ipad is use it one handed but then the only time that would be useful is on the tube, and to be honest most of the time I'd never get an item like out on the tube anyway.

    So for me, not quite netbook either, but the 11" air is about perfect, gets turned on every day and allows me to do a few bits and bobs on the train, so I can relax when I get home.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Not for me

      Small laptop OR tablet?

      Why not small laptop AND tablet.

      Why not use a tablet for media and occasional games and web stuff, and a laptop for getting work done? I took an 11in MacBook Air to CES and an iPad to read and watch stuff on the plane. Both fitted neatly in the same 12in laptop bag. No weight issue.

      No one ever said you had to ditch one to get the other.

      1. J 3

        Why not small laptop AND tablet.

        "Why not small laptop AND tablet."

        Because some of us don't have that much money?

      2. Dahak

        Look at the Bottom Line.


        Why buy an extra bit of hardware, especially from someone who has declared the one you are using outdated and who wants you to spend more for a different set of capabilities.

        Its not like we can't play media on a netbook. and given just a smidgen more vertical resolution there are plenty of games that would run fine. Ones whose game play is the draw rather than their cutting edge graphics.

    2. dogged
      Paris Hilton

      one-handed browsing


  17. ChrisC Silver badge

    Service engineers are going to be pissed off...

    As part of my work as an R&D design engineer I get to spend some time out on site helping to install/upgrade bits of kit I've had a hand in designing. One of the recent visits was to a building where our kit had been installed early in the construction of the building, and with further building work still ongoing - in other words, pretty much every surface in the entire building was coated in cement/brick dust. Now, whilst I was careful to minimise the amount of crud that got on my hands throughout the day, the keyboard on my Aspire One still ended up with a noticeable coating of dust on all the keys I'd used, and the outer shell of the netbook was well and truly covered from all the times I had it resting on the floor, equipment cabinet, cable reel or other handy flat surface.

    So you can imagine that, had I instead been using a touchscreen device, I'd have been utterly paranoid about the amount of dirt getting on the screen and the risk of scratches. Which means that to replace the netbook with a tablet I'd need to also lug around a keyboard and mouse, and forget all about the touchscreen aspect of the tablet.

    Next, there were instances where there wasn't a handy flat surface to sit the netbook on, and so I just plonked it down wherever it would stay put. With the extended capacity battery providing extra stability to the base, I was then able to tilt the screen to any angle within the limits of the hinge mechanism, allowing me to be able to read it without having to crane my neck. I don't see how a tablet, designed for holding in the hand or resting on the lap, would fare terribly well in an environment where there isn't always a handy vertical surface to prop it up against, and where any sort of stand is just going to be a complete annoyance to use every time you move from one work area to the next.

    Finally, all through the day I was carrying the netbook around in my toolbag along with other test gear, hand tools, spare cables etc. Thanks to the clamshell nature of the netbook design, the risk of damaging the screen was minimised without the need to invest in any additional carry case. Using a tablet in the same conditions would absolutely require a rigid casing to protect the expanse of otherwise completely unprotected screen, and ideally this casing would then need to be designed such that the tablet could be used without having to completely remove the casing each time - the time penalty involved in flipping a netbook screen open and closed is so minimal it's a no-brainer to close it each time you move from A to B, whereas if it took even just a few seconds to get the tablet in or out of its protective casing then chances are you'd be less likely to do it every time.

    Then just yesterday I had to call out a mobile mechanic to look at my car. Did he come armed with a well-thumbed selection of workshop manuals? Nope. One netbook loaded up with a variety of electronic manuals - big enough so the information could be easily read off the screen, small enough so it could be balanced on the edge of the engine bay, centre console or wherever he was looking. Think he'd want to switch to using a tablet? No, me neither. Think he'd be happy switching back to a full-size laptop? Perhaps, but given how many different laptops are available these days, there has to be a reason why so many of us are still opting to buy netbooks instead - price isn't an issue considering how cheap some laptops are these days, and even the most lowly of laptop is going to offer better hardware specs than the typical netbook. So maybe, just maybe, the diminutive size of the netbook is what sells it to us. As someone who already had two laptops at home at the time I bought the Aspire, that's certainly what sold it to me.

    I'm not a rabid tablet-hater, far from it. I just wish that, in the rush to embrace the next big thing in consumer electronics, the manufacturers took the time to consider all the implications of dumping the old in favour of the new, rather than assuming the new will be a suitable replacement for the old in every case.

    I guess in short what I'm trying to say is that everything has its place - netbooks, laptops and tablets - and attempting to persuade every user of one that they can simply switch to using one of the others is never going to work. And as someone who's got so much use out of a netbook wearing an Acer badge, it's particularly disheartening to see them turning their back on this part of the market.

  18. tony72

    On the bandwagon

    I got an exopc windows 7 tablet in November, and I haven't turned on my Aspire One since. Possibly an ultraportable notebook plus an ipad/android tablet might be a better combo, but that costs a lot more, the exopc cost about the same as an ipad by itself.

  19. tempemeaty

    Nope...and and and....

    My required productivity software does not run on a Wonder-Slab™ . The Wonder-Slab™ market isn't even trying to create equivalents to those necessary professional programs either.

    Until the Slabware™ makers start offering fully profesional level software for business and productivity that we need that is already in use on our PC's, net books and note books the Wonder-Slab™ will just continue to be a awesome technological toy. (and and and...oh well, we'll see)

  20. Nigel 11

    Laptop/tablet concepts that would work for me

    As many have commented, if you do any significant amount of text input, you need a keyboard.

    One thing that was around many years ago is a netbook or laptop with a touchscreen that rotates. Open it up, you have a netbook. Rotate the screen and fold it shut again, and you have a tablet. Is a fancy hinge really too expensive?

    As replacement for a home desktop or big desktop-replacement laptop, I'd quite like a big tablet with a separate mouse/keyboard and vertical mount. For work, pop it on the vertical mount, use the keyboard and mouse. For sofa- (or bed-) based leisure use, grab the tablet and go. But as commented already, on a train or up a ladder, a chocolate teapot would be more useful (at least you could eat it).

    Of course, they'd have to run Linux.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      we had one of those

      screen-rotating laptops. I think it was an Acer, but don't hold me to that. Bought it for one of the employees here. After about 6 months he hated it - said it was too heavy and bulky for "casual" use (this was 2004 or so), and the touch interface was "too fidgety", so he went back to his regular laptop. The Acer sat unused. I think we finally sent it to the recycler with a load of other old computer stuff last year. Big chunk of change wasted.

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