back to article Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015

Proving yet again that fame and fortune are fleeting – even for computer hardware – the analysts at IHS are projecting that the netbook, the New Hotness just a few short years ago, will disappear completely by 2015. "Once a white-hot PC product that sold in the tens of millions of units annually," IHS writes in an email …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My hypothesis

    Just a random thought, but does anyone else think that tablets are gaining in popularity because you can hold them in portrait and finally get a screen that's tall enough?

    1. Irk
      Thumb Up

      Re: My hypothesis

      Form factor's a thing all around - most people toting around tablets are holding them like clipboards. The portrait angle definitely helps for that. You can't really stand up and hold a netbook and still work with it, it's still forcing you into desk mode even if you don't have a desk. Someone in the elevator this morning pulled a tablet right out of his jacket pocket and tapped away. That's not really convenient with a netbook.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My hypothesis

      Definitely. Now if I could only auto-rotate my TV too when watching holiday snaps and videos...

    3. loopy lou

      Spot on

      Would anyone buy a tablet that you could only use in landscape? Even if i want to wath a movie, I find the thing in portrait and then turn it round to play it.

    4. Def Silver badge

      Re: My hypothesis

      No. :)

      Without exception, I never use my iPad in portrait mode. I also could never find myself doing any serious work on it. It's a toy for me - nothing more, nothing less. In fact, if I see myself having to type more than I am right now, I usually put the iPad down and head to my desk, where things get done five times faster.

      1. mmeier

        Re: My hypothesis

        This is more a problem of the iThingy and other "finger only" toys and less one of the tablet in general. Penables work fine in portrait mode with the right software that can handle handwriting entry and post-entry(batch) handwriting recognition for longer texts. Say MS Journal or OneNote

        Writing in a forum works nicely with Windows HWR as well

        Send from my Win8 upgraded EP121

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My hypothesis

      Bought my wife an Asus EE netbook thingy for £175 two years ago. Ok battery is not fantastic, but for her it does everything she needs it to do. Why would I want to spends hundreds if not a thousand more on an Ultrabook?

      The consumer has wised up to this now, hence PC sales are down, and the true successor to the netbook is a tablet....

      1. Craigness

        Re: My hypothesis

        I spent that much on an 11.6" laptop last year. I's 64-bit windows 7 home premium with 2Gb RAM and an ad-supported version of office (now dual-booting ubuntu). It's far more useful than a tablet for many things, but the tablet has the benefit of "lean back" usage (and better speakers). It also lets me play media which the providers have deemed not to allow on "mobile" devices (such as my 10.1" tablet docked in its keyboard).

        I don't know if this counts as a netbook though. It's cheap and light but it's also quite powerful and larger than the original netbooks. I think in reality the notebook didn't die, it just got bigger and better (they were small to be cheap, not portable). I'm more than happy having this and a 7" tablet (total cost: £385).

        1. Tom 13

          Re: it just got bigger and better


          Which is why the netbook was always doomed to fail.

      2. Syntax Error

        Re: My hypothesis

        How do you use office on a tablet? You can't use photoshop on a tablet. Netbooks are small and very handy fully functional computers.

        1. mmeier

          Re: My hypothesis

          Actually you CAN use PS on a tablet. What you can not do is use it on a finger only toy. But WACOM equiped tablet pc work just fine.

          As for Office - depends. If I want to type lengthy text I pop up the stand and switch on a BT mice/keyboard turning the tablet in a notebook (1). If I want to review/correct text, presentations etc. or draw the basics of a PowerPoint I use the stylus. MS Office is penable and has been so for a long time. It even supports some special modes for adding comments/notes.

          (1) Or put the convertible in a dock, have not turned it to notebook mode in a year

    6. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: My hypothesis

      tall enough for what - stupid paper shaped documents? It seems a shame to reject 21stC technology to accommodate 19thC office technology.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My hypothesis

        Tom, its to do with the way the human hand works and the field of view etc. of our eyes, physical factors that also influenced 19C technology but are just as true today.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        19thC office technology

        While we still read top to bottom it is quicker to scan through a document in portrait. You are right that we could do with improving our efficiency, but we'll have to start with a whole new system of writing.

  2. gcarter

    My contribution to this article is that whilst I agree that netbooks have had their day, small form factor laptops have not...

    Im writing this reply from my beloved Dual Core HP Pavilion DM1 with a 9hr battery life, 11.6"inch screen and 730p resolution (1366x768)... I frequently use it to stream 1080p movies (XBMC installed) to my spare room LED tv...

    Again, netbooks are on their way out yes, but not because of their size, because of their low resolution and overall underpowered graphics and processors

    1. asdf


      At least netbooks had their day in the sun. Ultrabooks costing over a grand with crappy 1366x768 resolution were DOA. I personal moved to tablets after pissing away close to $400 on a POS Samsung NC10 that failed a few weeks after the short warranty expired due to a crappy video cable internal design flaw (hinges pinching cable). Many people didn't buy a second netbook after seeing how crappily built to fail the first generation was.

      1. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: hmm

        "At least netbooks had their day in the sun. Ultrabooks costing over a grand with crappy 1366x768 resolution were DOA. I personal moved to tablets after pissing away close to $400 on a POS Samsung NC10 that failed a few weeks after the short warranty expired due to a crappy video cable internal design flaw (hinges pinching cable). Many people didn't buy a second netbook after seeing how crappily built to fail the first generation was."

        My first netbook (acer aspire one) came with a ghastly, half arsed linux os on it that completely fucked up about 30 seconds after hitting the `update os` button and an ssd with a writespeed so slow it was pretty much useless. I ended up putting meego on it, which turned it into a really useful, fast little web browsing machine for slinging in my backpack. It booted in seconds and the really well thought out ui ran amazingly fast. Pity they abandoned meego really, it was really good on the netbook form factor, much better than chrome os.

        That little Acer has survived many knocks, drops and misshaps like a trooper and apart from the battery, it still functions like new. The screen has a really nice quality to it as well, much better than the NC10 in my opinion.

        So in my case it was well worth the £170 I paid for it almost half a decade ago. I wouldnt use it for anything other than web browsing though, the ssd really is painfully slow writing anything, resulting in a very juddery full windows/linux experience.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

      >netbooks are on their way out...

      Also because it was practically impossible to get hold of a netbook with built in 3G, Bluetooth etc. etc.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

        >Also because it was practically impossible to get hold of a

        > netbook with built in 3G, Bluetooth etc. etc.

        My Dell mini-10 has both. Shame that Dell never took the product line forward. Cost me £189 with ubuntu, and the only thing wrong with it is the hideous x600 vertical resolution - which they kept a deadly secret when they sold it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

          My Dell 1012 has the 1366x786 hi-def screen with hardware video acceleration, Bluetooth etc. It cost me £214 brand new from the Dell Outlet. I use it all the time, and I cannot see anything better coming along for the price.

          The problem was Microsoft and Intel shortsightedly slugging the ram and cpu specs to prevent colateral commercial damage to more expensive products.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

            Typo-1366x768 of course...

      2. spegru

        Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

        You don't need 3g or Bluetooth as long as you also have have a phone to tether to

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42 @spegru

          Yes you can get away without 3g, but you're forgetting that when netbooks first came out most phones weren't smartphones, many of the smartphones that were available had tethering disabled and were on limited data plans (compared to pure mobile broadband) and in general had appalling battery life. The 3 Mifi is an improvement, but even this only manages a few hours when used in earnest.

          But this misses the point, netbooks were targeted as being standalone ultra-portable and "use anywhere" devices, however what vendors delivered to the channel fell short both of this ideal and what they made available to reviewers. For example whilst Acer had a product code for an Aspire One with UK keyboard and built-in 3g and bluetooth, and made this variant available to reviewers, I was unable to buy or order one. However, I was able to purchase a Czech 3g version, which after a keyboard swap worked without problem with a Three UK SIM - being a member of the EU does sometimes have advantages....

        2. mmeier

          Re: @gcarter 12Apr13 21:42

          I have argued that way for some time. Lately I changed my mind. Having 3G (or LTE) on board will allow me to get rid of the smart phone and for most situations even the mobile. No more "instant contact", no more "break my concentration" bells(1). Instead if one wants to contact me he writes an eMail and I respond when I have the time. Mobile could go back to "emergency phone in the middle of nowhere" that can only do calls but lasts a week and costs 50€

          (1) If I switch it off / silent - I could as well leave it at home

    3. garbo

      eee-901, still going...

      Netbooks may be dying - for those who didn't get the memo - small, cheap, wi-fi, bluetooth, internet, some writing, some simple games, 6 hr battery. My Asus 901, running Mint 14 xfce, does the job perfectly well.

      1. GreenOgre
        Thumb Up

        Re: eee-901, still going...

        Hey, me too!

        added a 128GB SSD and it's been solid since 2009.

        Now looking at an Asus Chromebook to replace it.

        I've got servers with horsepower, why stretch my arms (and wallet) carrying a ton of battery and screen around?

        Bye, bye PC, you were fun in the 90's.

    4. kb
      Thumb Up

      Gotta agree

      While my EEE 1215B doesn't get the battery life yours does (5 hours new, 4 hours after 3 years) it too is 11.6 and has an AMD APU that does 1080P over HDMi and I have NO problem using this as a day to day laptop, I've watched movies, played games, heck edited audio multitracks on the thing and its a great little portable. i tried one of those Atom 10 inchers and even with such a small screen it was just painful to use, everything just chugged.

      I think we'll see a comeback of the 12 inchers once the ultrabooks have bombed, i think many of the OEMs are afraid of competing with their ultrabooks but I just don't see many people paying a grand for a mini, I just don't.

    5. MattLoren
      Thumb Up

      Actually this "Netbook" will run Skyrim and Eve Online happily in decent resolution

      Just stick 8gb of fast Ram in there and a decent SSD and it will beat almost any laptop available under £700 quid for an outlay of about £400, as well as being actually portable.

      The onboard Nvidia chipset, although not the fastest thing in the world, really beats any of the intel equivalents (or indeed the Ion platform from NVidia) for games.

  3. Irk

    They were good airplane companions

    Have an old Asus Eee PC with flash drive, ended up disused due to Ubuntu doing some weird things with partitions after several installs and me not wanting to fuss with it. I should probably do something with the thing, it's nice and sturdy and still a good machine for writing on airplanes with. I'll take this article as a reminder to give the install another go.

    I had a lot of hope for the netbook market but the best models were stripped-down travel companions that weren't really focused on bells and whistles. Manufacturers seemed to be chasing the higher margins with larger screens and higher functionality that ate up battery, which sort of defeated the point. Also the weird custom flavors of Linux that came installed were a bit of a turnoff. When you make someone have to install a different OS right after purchase, you turn your product into a niche hobbyist market.

  4. Tom 35

    They have been killed off.

    Intel and friends don't want to sell you a netbook, they want to sell you an ultrabook.

    I have an NC10 that I use quite a bit, but at 2-3 times the price I'd pass on an ultrabook.

    1. RealBigAl

      Re: They have been killed off.

      Same here. I plan to put Linux on my NC10 someday soon before XP goes EoL to keep it going. Ultrabooks just don't prove bang for buck for simple WP needs.

    2. Tom_

      Re: They have been killed off.

      I've also got an NC10, which I use for game dev on my commute. Visual Studio's just usable on the 1024x600 screen. It has the best keyboard ever too. I just wish the trains had more tables.

  5. Ross K Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

    Crap screens

    Crap keyboards

    Crap trackpads

    Crap processors

    They were good for surfing but not much else. No surprise that they're being played out of the game by tablets...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

      @Ross K.

      I never owned one, but I was never under the impression that they were supposed to be hardware superior. Were you under this impression?

      I agree with whoever believes they have their place and won't go away completely. Shit, they still have a keyboard of some type, which is more than I can say for a lot of recent contraptions.

      BTW, are they really going away? Didn't Microsoft just release one under the buzz word "tablet"? I think it came with a flimsy detachable rubber keyboard, or maybe you had to buy it (I really don't know or care).

      1. Ross K Silver badge

        Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

        I never owned one, but I was never under the impression that they were supposed to be hardware superior. Were you under this impression?

        Hardware superior to what? Most of them were rocking a 1.6GHz Intel Atom and 1Gb RAM shared with the Intel GMA graphics driving a 1024x600 screen resolution?

        Like I said, they're good for surfing the net. I dunno how that that guy who posted after you claimed to run Photoshop on one.

        There were tablets before Microsoft's shitty Surface RT. The iPad? The Nexus 7? Countless Android devices? And what's your point about a keyboard? Grandma can check out Facebook or Hotmail just fine using an onscreen keyboard...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

          On a recent trip, I had both and found the netbook more useful than the tablet. For one thing, only the tablet could handle the external hard drives (which were TrueCrypted, so the tablet couldn't read them). Even when it came to videos, it was just easier to handle. It was unbeatable for web browsing. Plus it had a switchable battery, so I kitted it with a triple-capacity battery, so it had plenty of legs even in places where outlets were few and far between.

          Oh, it had one key advantage over a full-fat laptop. You didn't have to take it out at the security checkpoints.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

            Correction: Only the NETBOOK could handle the external hard drives.

            PS. El Reg, PLEASE consider an Edit button.

            1. Craigness

              Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

              There is an Edit button. And a Preview button ;-)

              Edit: it might only be for Silver and Gold users. Back on topic-ish, I'm on a tablet at the moment so I couldn't hover over your badge to see if was gold or bronze. I had to long-press the image, open in a new tab and hope the url indicated the colour :-(

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: PLEASE consider an Edit button

              Just delete the incorrect post and post the corrected version.

          2. mmeier

            Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

            Get a better tablet :)

            Dell Latitude 10 for example can replace both your tablet and your netbook (Has a replaceable battery as well). The Fujitsu Q552 should work as well. Ativ500 might work (shorter legs, non-replaceable battery)

            TPT2 has a fixed battery so this might be a problem, has some limits to the USB as well.

        2. Don Jefe

          Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long @Ross K

          The specs you describe are far more than necessary to run Photoshop 7. It worked well enough for me plus it loaded so slowly that I'm probably the only person on the planet that has memorized the names in the start up credits & got to read what all those things initializing actually were.

        3. Eddy Ito

          @Ross K

          "Grandma can check out Facebook or Hotmail just fine using an onscreen keyboard..."

          Actually that is a problem for many older users. My mother has both an iPad and one of the Samsung Android phones and she has to carry around a stylus to use the touch screens because her fingers don't register well. One of her friends got a new Nokia with the super sensitive screen and it works just fine for her and my mother but I tried it and have the problem where I constantly wind up launching a bing search because when I move my thumb to touch a tile the base of my thumb comes close enough to trigger a 'touch' on the bottom right corner.

          Perhaps phone and/or tablet makers could add a setting to make the screen more or less sensitive, preferably with a physical button combination, [home or power]+[vol-up/down] for instance, since an on screen slider would be useless to someone who may not register well on the base setting or doesn't want to take the gloves off. I suppose that this isn't a trivial thing else someone would have done it by now.

        4. kb

          Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

          I take it you never tried any of the AMD ones? Because with those having an APU (and not starved for RAM like an Atom) they were and are quite nice. I have an E-Series and my dad's GF has a C-Series and both hers and mine just run like champs, flash, H.264, they are more like a little laptop than those pre-crippled Atoms. Heck go look at the $299-$399 USD laptops at any Best Buy, its the same APUs they were using in the netbooks just put in a bigger case.

          And as far as the guy running PS...I ran Audacity and would do basic editing of the multitracks my band made...does that count? I wasn't running a bunch of effects but if something needed a little compression or verb to see how it would sound I could do that no prob.

      2. mmeier

        Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

        Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook (core i5/4GB/1920x1080 graphics etc) not a netbook. Those where/are Atoms,

        Now comparing one of the better Netbooks (Lenovo S10-3) with a current tablet pc (Ativ 500 or even Lenovo TPT2 without 3G) the new boxes cost more but offer more as well. S10-3 with 2GB/2500GB HDD and Win7 starter came in at around 400€ (including memory upgrade to 2GB) with a crappy 1024x600 screen and around 6h on battery. An Ativ 500 with Win8 (equivalent to 7 Home/Premium) and a SSD as well as a better screen comes in at 600€, the TPT2 at 700€ and better endurance (and a slightly faster Atom)

        1. Tom 35

          Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

          That should be Surface/Pro is actually a crap notebook.

          Can't use it on your lap or any non-solid surface. Can't change the angle on a desk, and even the very expensive keyboard is not very good.

          For less money you can get a nice notebook.

          I paid $239 for my Samsung NC10 (came with a keyboard too) why would you want to compare that to something that costs about 4 times as much?

          1. mmeier

            Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

            Currently writing this on the even bigger /heavier EP121 and this works nice on a sofa. That is what the Wacom pen is for.But you are a troll anywhay co mparing an Atom netbook with a core-i based tablet.And a lousy netbook to boot lacking even bluetooth

            1. Tom 35

              Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

              Have fun typing one letter at a time with your pen.

              I'm not the one posting "Surface is great" crap in a story about netbooks.

              And for your info the NC10 has bluetooth (I often tether it to my phone with bluetooth)..

              1. mmeier

                Re: Surface/Pro is actually a high end notebook

                Why type when you can simply write? Windows has a working HWR

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

      I don't agree. I wrote the entire project document for my company's first seven figure deal on my trusty Acer XP Netbook. It couldn't run AutoCAD but it did perfectly well in crafting the 1,300 page document & all the stuff that went into it. I also built the project website using old school Macromedia products and Photoshop.

      Yes it would have been nice to have something bigger & better but the little guy got the job done & that's all you can ask of your tools.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

        "... all you can ask of your tools."

        That about sums it up. Unfortunately most folks want toys not tools so netbooks were finished when they didn't play the latest whatever perfectly. Add to that nobody ever wanted to build and promote an "ecosystem" of apps designed around the limited capabilities. I do find it funny that Windows 8 has gone with the Metro Modern UI that reminds me of the original EeePC UI only instead of tabs it wipes to the side.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

    People are getting wise to the fact that ultra-books are not worth the extra $ compared to cheaper netbooks as covered in the recent Reg article 'Netbooks were a GOOD thing and we threw them under a bus'...

    Netbooks are very useful for throwing in a backpack and taken along on a journey or when travelling... Also a cheap netbook connected to the TV via HDMI/VGA with a wireless keyboard is far superior to a Smart TV IMHO!

    If there are no netbooks by 2015, People will just hold off, sit on the sidelines and buy nothing...Or they'll go the smartphone or tablet route... I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks... Especially the overpriced Win-8 flavour! No doubt though the death of netbooks will hurt consumers overall...

    1. M.D.

      Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

      ...except, this is a talk about the death of Netbooks.

      Y'know, because facts (i.e. Sales data) outway misty-eyed opinions.

      People will not engage in mass no-purchase (an idea so patently absurd it drove me out of 'read-only' apathy!)

      Why? gosh, I guess that's because they are already buying alternatives!

      Rattling on about how good a Netbook is to use makes no odds against reality and that reality is that Netbooks filled a niche which has since been appropriated by other devices - and high-end Ultrabook ain't one of 'em

      ..oh yes, and I posted in the '...under a bus" article as well and was downvoted - a wonderful illustration of desire overruling data. One day the tech community will get the fact that the consumer buys what they want and us banging drums about 'gone' geeky element makes no difference - mainly because there are so very few IT Techs as % of the pop....

      (and by the way, I typed this the same way I type all my comments on El Reg these last 2 years, on an iPad. I admit tho' I can't hack Debian onto it same way as I did my Ps2)

      1. Craigness

        Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

        I think you missed the point. If what people want is a netbook but the only option in anything approaching that form factor costs 5 times what they wanted to spend then they won't send...or they might buy a tablet or phone. This is a prediction, not a call to arms. But I expect most people would be buying a notebook to supplement a tablet or phone, considering the number of those already out there.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

        People will not engage in mass no-purchase ....

        Why? gosh, I guess that's because they are already buying alternatives!

        People will buy a piece of kit if they feel a need for a piece of kit. If my 4-year-old netbook broke today (and couldn't be fixed) I would try to get a replacement ... but I don't have much hope that I'd find anything on the market today that I'd consider worth spending money on: The screens are too low-resolution and it's hard to find one with 3g fitted.

        If I ever do find a more modern netbook with a decent screen and connectivity I'll probably go out and buy it as an upgrade even though my current one may still work. Until then I'll engage in (solitary) no-purchase ... but I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way about the current market.

        The problem seems to me to be that the manufacturers want us to buy expensive ultrabooks but we spitefully choose to buy cheap low-margin netbooks instead. Their response is to make netbooks less and less desirable in the hope that that will drive us to buy ultrabooks, but we just sit on the fence and say "Meh!"

        Make me a netbook using the screen of the Nexus 10 tablet, put 500GB of inexpensive hard drive it in rather than an SSD (though SSDs are now half-way to being affordable), and put Linux on it and I'll bit your hand off. Until then I'll carry on using my old £300 Acer.

      3. kb

        Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

        And here is a WHOOSH for you. What the guy was saying is that many people that WOULD have bought netbooks are now either buying laptops or something like a tablet NOT because that was their first choice, but that MSFT and Intel priced the systems right out of existence. Just look at the EEE, started out less than $250, the last units were selling a hair under $500! That is DOUBLE okay? That would be like saying "nobody wants econo cars" when you make every econo car more expensive than a Mercedes!

        I know that I ended up having to get a refurb Aspire One for my dad's GF because we simply couldn't find any new netbooks, and several friends bought 15 inchers not because they wanted 15 inches, but because the only 12 inchers were over $1000 and the 15 was $375 this isn't about the public not wanting them, its about Intel and MSFT not wanting them, MSFT because they think that they can slap a paintjob on a Pinto and sell it for Porsche money and Intel because they have piles of i5s and i7s they want to push for sweeter margins.

    2. dogsolitude_uk

      Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

      "Netbooks are very useful for throwing in a backpack and taken along on a journey or when travelling..."

      ^^^ This.

      I spent a little while shopping around trying to find a little netbook precisely for this purpose. Ended up buying one second hand for just over £100, upgraded the RAM to 2GB and Win Starter -> Win Home, installed my usual stuff on it and it's a great little machine for doing small bits of coding or writing whilst out and about on the fly (currently learning Python at the moment). The screen's a bit small, but using FF in full-screen mode helps.

      The other day I set it up with Apache server and used VLC to stream the webcam so I could watch the bird table in the garden from my office.

      Plus I can play Baldur's Gate on it.

      Personally I love netbooks to bits, and will probably buy a couple more before they become extinct. I'll certainly be sorry if they disappear.

    3. regorama

      Re: I think we should be talking about the death of Ultrabooks...

      My phone and tablet can connect to a TV through a small adapter (about the size of a large camera battery). I can use a bluetooth (or wired) keyboard and mouse.

      Take the Asus Transformer series or the Fonepad.

      Translation: the netbooks haven't died. They've transformed into other platforms.

  7. ElNumbre

    Atom, saviour of Intel.

    So Chipzilla made a big song and dance about how Atom would be their knight in shining silicone. With netbooks fading and nettops never really gaining much momentum, where next for the Atom other than an occasional NAS box or the odd phone? They don't seem to be taking the fight to ARM in the mobile space, and from what I read, Windows 8 is a bit of a lame duck. Will the high-end x64 stuff keep them afloat until they do think of something new?

    1. asdf

      Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

      Intel is a victim of its own success in many ways. You would be hard pressed to design an instruction set harder to put in a phone than the x86(and its many derivatives). If Intel who has more money than God and is always a generation ahead of everyone else in fab technology can't get x86 competitive with ARM in the mobile space then it may well not be possible.

    2. asdf

      Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

      Also as has been pointed out by others the really big thing keeping Intel out of mobile is their unbelievably shitty integrated graphics offerings. GMA stands for Games My Ass.

    3. qwarty

      Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

      Intel screwed up with the Atom in recent years, that's the reality. Bay Trail due second half of the year goes a long way in catching up with x64, more DRAM, quad core and much improved graphics. But its a product that should have been available in 2012 and that's the underlying reason for many of the current issues discussed here including the death of the netbook and poor PC sales. When Intel get to realize its better to keep their fabs busy on lower margin parts is something we'll discover in time, in the x86 v ARM competition theres little room for $100+ parts.

      Its a matter of semantics whether the new detachable/convertible formats are the new netbooks. IMO of current hardware the Surface devices give the best idea of what is to come, whether as Windows or Linux derived machines. Apart from screen aspect ratio. Seems so obvious to me that 16:10 is all it takes to make portrait mode useable - simply incredible how these dreaded 16:9 device keep being wheeled out.

    4. mmeier

      Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

      Actually Atom is alive and well in the Win8 penables and those sell quite decently. And as others stated the next gen is basically out, Baytrail tablets will be in store late Q3/early Q4 this year. One of the reasons (together with Haswell) many are NOT buying right now, i.e a TPT2/Baytrail is basically announced, a Vaio Duo11/Haswell and T903 are "solid rumors"

      1. Mikel

        Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

        There are no Windows tablets selling decently. People don't buy Windows tablets. This whole "Intel's future Atom wonderchip" business has long since come to the same trite meme as the Year of The Linux Desktop. If they ever ship an amazing mobile chip it will be as shocking as DNF finally coming available.

        Of course with their top-end fabs 40% idle, maybe they've got a shot at accelerating the process progress.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

          Strange. All the big PC manufacturers have new Windows tablets out. Completely new units in many cases not re-cycled tech/chassis etc. And at least DELL and Lenovo have delivery times for their Latitude and TPT2 units currently. And the turnover rate for Ativ500 at the big chains here is high enough that 1/3 of the shops have a "pickup in 2-3 days" instead of "available" listing currently. Given their logistics again a sign the unit sells well.

          1. JEDIDIAH

            Re: Atom, saviour of Intel.

            Wasn't there just another article a couple days ago about how Win8 is killing PC sales and how everyone's sales are in the crapper?

            Vendors pushing stuff and vendors selling stuff are two entirely different things.

            Of course the industry doesn't want netbooks or nettops. Why let you buy suitable kit for $300 when they can sell you something for $600 or $1200?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just a quick question: should I know, or care, who IHS are?

    I never heard of them before this article. I clicked through to their page and I'm none the wiser.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: IHS?

      Possibly something to do with NHS?

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: IHS?

      Isis, Horus, Seth? ;)

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Well now. Maybe I should get a spare battery for me EeePC then

  10. pompurin

    My Toshiba NB550D (about £215 when I bought it) is a real trooper. I upgraded it to 4GB of RAM, give it a 64GB SSD drive upgraded to Win7x64 and it is now an excellent field laptop. I take it to all the dusty LAN rooms where there is no room to move and this fits the bill. The Battery lasts over 10 hours. The only major downside is the screen vertical pixels of 600, however It does do HDMI@1080p and is a very convenient tool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I concur, a great little netbook. And you can replace the screen with a 1366x768 one- look here in Tom's hardware - .

      I am the jbbandos there, and my next upgrade will probably be changing the 4GB I put in to 8GB RAM. I've also changed the wifi for an Intel 6300-N.

      Why can't the manufacturers give us something like that? A AMD APU (Intel GMA500 fiasco meant I won't ever buy an Intel chipset netbook/laptop), 1366x768 at least, 4-8GB RAM, a decent HD or a SSD, 802.11n dual band, HDMI out, all in 10" form factor, makes a perfect Linux netbook, but there are painfully few out there. And if you want 3G connectivity, you're out of luck.

  11. wim

    I would love to get my hands on a decent laptop with some normal specs

    play hdmi content on a television

    have a screen with minimum 800 pixels height

    around 11 inch

    preferably mat display

    works with linux

    I have now a vaio vpcx11alj on loan from a friend and it would be perfect except that the screen backlight flickers under linux. Running the thing under the installed windows is perfect if you want to do some meditation while you wait for your webpage / program to open.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      if used is OK

      try and find a ThinkPad X201 or Samsung NC20

    2. kb

      What you want..

      Is a EEE 1215B or 1225B, B stands for Brazos APU and from what I hear they have been supported for at least a couple of years now in the major distros. The size is 11.6, 1376x768 with HDMI that can do 1080P under Win 7, not sure about Linux, and gets around 5 on the battery new if you are on Win 7, I was able to get about another hour in Expressgate which is the Linux ChromeOS style OS that comes baked into the netbook. I hear there is a way to add your own apps to EG but I never tried it, it had a browser and media player and that was all I needed at the time.

  12. Captain DaFt

    Netbook dead?

    Nobody around here got the memo. The stores couldn't keep'em in stock over the christmas season.

    Of course, these are running unsanctioned Android ICS, so fly under the radar.

    Hell, I bought one, and guess what? Using it for this post.

    A word to MS, ICS does just fine with a wireless mouse and keyboard, no touch screen needed, and it interfaces with my TV via HGMI perfectly!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netbook dead?

      Oops, typo! That should've been HDMI.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netbook dead?

      Ooo! That sounds fun. And I have a spare partition where I used to dual boot Snow Leopard until I decided WIn 7 Pro was better...

    3. leexgx

      Re: Netbook dead?

      unsanctioned Android Tablets are annoying to hell apart from some tending to have crappy touch screens, they also lack google play store as well so mostly makes the device not very useful as bunch of my customers found out, one got an official Android Tablet device {after they smashed the screen}, 7" samsung tab i think and it was completely useable and she agreed with me the other tablet was junk (it was an copy of an official tablet they even gave it the same name)

  13. Chairo

    It was clearly

    the artifical limitations intel imposed on the netbooks that killed them off. 1024x600 is a bastard resolution that just doesn't work well, even for web browsing.

    And limiting the Netbook flavour of Atom to 32 bit was plain evil, as it prevented a complete switch to 64 bit, even for the rest of the world.

    Who would have needed a 32 bit Win7, if not for the Atoms?

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: It was clearly

      A lot of windows nowadays are deeper than 600 pixels. Not fun having to navigate around a 700 pixel deep one when the top and bottom have disappeared.

      If a customer comes to me with a broken Netbook I now refuse to fix them. When you can buy a new laptop with 4 times the performance for £260 its really not worth it.

  14. JeffyPooh

    Netbooks are dead

    And in other news, Apple is shifting a shed load of 11-inch MacBooks.

    I guess it's that last inch or two that can assure satisfaction.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Netbooks are dead

      According to sales reports worldwide they aren't.

      Plenty of iPads but not the bigger stuff. That's in decline.

      Then again 5 years ago, folks were predicting we'd all be using netbooks by now...

    2. csumpi
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Netbooks are dead

      Unfortunately your claim cannot be backed up by AAPL's quarterly reports nor their stock price. The day your purple bubble bursts, you'll be surprised. Paris, because she'll be there to comfort you.

    3. ThomH

      Re: Netbooks are dead

      The PC market as a whole is contracting a lot more quickly than Apple's computer sales — per that recent IDC report, worldwide computer shipments are down 14%, Apple's are down only 7.5%. Obviously you should frame that with the fact that Lenovo has managed to buck the trend entirely with 0% year-on-year difference but it seems to me that you could argue both that Apple is failing (sales down) or that it is succeeding (it's significantly outperforming the market average).

    4. PJI

      Re: Netbooks are dead

      I had thought, after seeing the average netbook and other, smaller form laptops, that the 11" Air would be too small, until I saw one and played with it and spoke to others who have bought one. It's rather impressive and now I may have to reconsider my hard and fast decision to buy at least a 14". That smaller size seems to be remarkably readable, powerful and useful and, of course, wonderfully portable.

  15. Tank boy

    Fire sale

    Can't wait. When the price drops to 200 bucks USD, I'll be buying one just for shits and giggles.

  16. Jodo Kast

    Great travel PCs

    Perfect for almost everything with Windows XP.

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Go, Eadon! Except it's worth remembering that the first netbooks came, mostly, with crap mutant versions of Linux. In that way the manufacturers got out the foot gun and gave themselves both barrels, before MS even woke up to what was happening.

      Netbooks are a near perfect example of how 'the suppliers' often don't have a clue. The supply side is far more interested in serving up what it thinks will cost it least and gain it most, regardless of what the 'customer' might actually want or need.

      'Netbooks' as a concept---light weight, effective basic functionality and ergonomics, long battery life, cheap to buy (no grief if lost or broken)---isn't going to go away. Maybe some enthusiastic start-ups will see an opportunity to actually serve the user market, and bypass the loser megacorps who only care about funding the shareholders and the CEO's yacht.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. mmeier

          Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

          And more propaganda from the Eadon Democratic Republic.

          The Windows Netbooks sold a lot otherwise manufactures would have discontinued them together with XP. Yet they survived well into the Wn7 era. The 10''/1024x600 form factor is thankfully dead. But 300€ low powered 11.6'' units can still be bought without problems, mostly with AMD CPU or Celeron these days. The big german stores have five from Acer and Asus available under the "netbook" header (Mediamarkt)

          Now that same store sells me a 4GB/core i3 15'' notebook for 80€ more (Acer Aspire) or a 17'' AMD E1 for 90€ more. Now let us all guess what 99 out of a hundred customers that take home a notebook will buy...

          And if the salesperson is good and hears "EMail, Some surfing" he will sell the customer a 460€ iPad4 instead based on the "cool" factor.

        2. Ross K Silver badge

          Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

          They sold like crazy nevertheless, yet they don't sell with Windows. If that is not a HUGE HINT, what is?

          Bollocks. They sold well initially due to the fact that they were a NOVELTY, not because linux was some shit-hot netbook OS. Hell, they were given away for free with mobile phone contracts or cable TV subscriptions....

          You must have selective amnesia. When netbooks came out first in 2007 you could have an Asus Eee or you could have an Asus Eee. The screen might even have been 640x480 or something equally woeful. The linux version came with some no-name piece of shit linux distro on a 2Gb non-replaceable flash drive, so it was impossible to upgrade the machine to Windows. You had twelve icons on the desktop, and that was it. Punters bought the slightly cheaper linux Eee, soon realised their mistake and returned them to the shop for the much superior XP on a larger hard drive that you could actually save stuff to...

          Retailers and manufacturers got sick of taking back customer returns - that's why they made the switch to Windows.

          More linux disinformation from Eadon. What a surprise.

          1. 1Rafayal

            Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK


            It goes further though. Would you like a netbook or some fancy touch driven slab of a device?

            Typically, tablets have better and larger screens that netbooks, its stuff like this that will make a device sell.

            As for MS destroying the netbook market, well thats a load of typical Eadon BS. The netbook market was always going to evolve, in this instance it evolved into tablets.

        3. 1Rafayal

          Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

          @Eadon regarding Windows based netbooks not selling.

          Your comments are not entirely true though, are they?

          Netbooks are not selling full stop, regardless of the OS.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      I had a linux netbook. There was loads of bloatware on it. Windows netbooks, on the other hand, often came with a clean XP install.

      1. Chika

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

        "I had a linux netbook. There was loads of bloatware on it. Windows netbooks, on the other hand, often came with a clean XP install."

        How many netbooks have you had?

        OK, that's a bit harsh, since the XP loads had to be clean and lean as they wouldn't run that well if they were cluttered up with the junk they usually packaged it with. The problem was that, especially as time went on, this XP version was the severely limited "Starter Edition".

        On the other hoof, if your Linux install was bloated out, the question would have to be "how did it get that way?" as most of what came with netbooks that I've seen was cut down junk with a severely limited front end. My own experience was to junk this immediately and get a proper distro installed on it.

        In other words, the netbook, regardless of OS, died of injuries inflicted by its makers. How those injuries occurred has already been mentioned above.

        1. Ross K Silver badge

          Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

          The problem was that, especially as time went on, this XP version was the severely limited "Starter Edition".


          Windows XP Home Edition and Windows 7 Starter were the installed operating systems.

          Windows XP Starter Edition pre-dated netbooks and the Intel Atom. It was sold in third-world countries and could only run three programs at once. There were other restrictions but I can't remember them off the top of my head.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Intel was much more to blame Eadon by letting the Atom line languish. Not everything in this world is down to Microsoft.


    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      You missed the bit where MS had decided that XP was at end-of-marketing, and not only did they extend XP, they actually introduced a new version specifically for the reduced memory in netbooks. This was either a shrewd marketing move or a synical u-turn, depending on your point of view.

      It would have been interesting to see whether a more mainstream Linux variant would have made them any more sucessful.

      I'm still using my early eeePC 701 with Lucid on it on a regular basis, and would like to find another to replace my current firewall system.

    5. csumpi

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Bullshit. MS saved the netbooks for as long as they lived. What killed linux on the netbooks was the shitty power management, crappy driver and buggy software. Netbooks in fact didn't take off before Windows was available for them.

      There is no alternative to Windows and OSX on laptops even today. Linux on laptop sucks. Even on standard hardware like the macbook.

      The only way linux works on mobile devices is by forking to get device drivers to work, like android, kindle etc.

      Disclaimer: five computers in my household run linux, only two (the laptops) run windows. I use linux in a vm on my laptop, which is the only way it works. There are also three android devices, two kindles, my tv and dvr all run linux.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

        " Linux on laptop sucks"

        OpenSUSE works on all laptops I've tried - admittedly only 4 of which the current Lenovo 3000 N100 runs 12.3, Asus 901 runs, at present 11.3. WiFi works fine, sleep, 3G dongle, bluetooth all fine. I didn't select the hardware specifically for Linux other than the 901.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

        Rubbish (written with Linux on a laptop -- I haven't used Windows for six years; and I only use laptops).

        Maybe my response should be stronger -- bollox.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

        "There is no alternative to Windows and OSX on laptops even today. Linux on laptop sucks. Even on standard hardware like the macbook."

        Typing this on a MacBook Air 11" (which makes fondleslabs completely useless and irrelevant to me), but not as you'd expect with OSX. I'm running Fedora Linux on my MacBooks (for about 8-9 months now), and it works pretty damn well. In fact I haven't used OSX much at all since. Wireless, bluetooth, sound and even the webcam: Working out of the box. And it's faster than the increasingly bloated wildcats.

        I'm not a Fanboi, Fandroid or against Windows per se. I use what works for me. A few years back Linux was too much of a pain, mostly depending on the hardware you wanted to use. Now OSX becomes more of a Cupertino controlled walled garden (iOS even more so), and Linux has gained some ground in hardware support. (And Android is fantastic on good quality devices, too)

        As a Linux/BSD sysadmin, it was a question of time to give Linux a ride on desktops/laptops once more... this time around it's there to stay.

        Back on the subject: I just hope small laptops (netbooks or ultrabooks or whatever you like to call it) won't die. I know for a fact that many sysadmins and other IT pros often carry one with them (the 11" Air fits into my A4 file).

        You can do your actual work, and so much more, pretty much anywhere you go. Try that on a toy tablet.

      4. Cipher

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

        csumpi muttered for posterity thusly:

        "There is no alternative to Windows and OSX on laptops even today. Linux on laptop sucks."

        Odd, Mint 13 Mate runs fine on my 64 bit quad 3 Pavilion dv6. I have added things that weren't in the distro, but no additional drivers were needed. When the HD failed on this lappie, it was given to me. I slapped Mint on a 750 GB external USB drive and away it runs...

      5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


        The only thing I can assume is that the reason you're not running Linux on the laptops is because you haven't really tried, even though you say you run it elsewhere.

        I've put Ubuntu on a huge variety of laptops and netbooks from Asus, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, Dell etc, and it just works. No additional drivers, no command line tweaking, all sound, video and network devices at least working. Maybe not the accelerated graphics, and maybe not Bluetooth, but enough to use. Certainly better than a raw XP install from MS media, where almost nothing works without the vendors driver disk.

        1. Ross K Silver badge

          Re: @cstumpi

          I've put Ubuntu on a huge variety of laptops and netbooks from Asus, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, Dell etc, and it just works. No additional drivers, no command line tweaking, all sound, video and network devices at least working. Maybe not the accelerated graphics, and maybe not Bluetooth, but enough to use.

          So you've got lots of experience installing linux and you can't get basic devices like bluetooth or a graphics card working properly?

          I shall paste those three lines of yours in reply to Eadon every time he comes on here shitting on about how great linux is...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @cstumpi @Peter Gathercole

          "The only thing I can assume is that the reason you're not running Linux on the laptops is because you haven't really tried, even though you say you run it elsewhere."

          Interesting. We should take your statement that you've run it on "a huge variety ..." at face value then? I don't see anything that gives you more credibility. In fact, I've always taken the view that people who say, "Well, it works fine for me" are usually avoiding the issue. (Being in support, they're strictly speaking avoiding the work and responsibility.) Still, to give credit where it's due of the it's-fine-for-me-honest brigade you at least things that you couldn't get working. I can't see Chemist ever admitting any problems with his installs.

          1. Chemist

            Re: @cstumpi @Peter Gathercole

            " I can't see Chemist ever admitting any problems with his installs."

            Of course I had problems - in the early days compiling kernels, graphics adapters always had some sort of issue or other. I'm sure if I needed some exotic hardware now I might well have problems.

            But I do a little research, don't install new distros immediately they come out and sometimes need to be patient. (for example when I got a then new Canon 550D, Dave Craw's RAW converter dcraw wouldn't handle it, a week or two later it did). On the other hand some hardware has been easier to install like my 3G dongle, where plenty of people have complained about Windows installation.

            BTW "Well, it works fine for me" are usually avoiding the issue"

            Which 'issue' - if people are having problems that can be one or more of LOTS of issues - we are not going to be able to sort that out here. All individuals can do in most circumstances is report their experiences - you have mine.

            Thanks for being AC by the way it really boosts your credibility !

        3. kb

          Re: @cstumpi

          Dude I so hope you are not trolling because that is classic! "Linux is great and wonderful! I can't get any of the important stuff to actually work so its crippled and looks like dirt...but its great man!"...classic, just classic.

    6. mmeier

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Not that stupid lie again. Even the east german propaganda ministry was better at lying than that. Both Asus and Lenovo delivered newly designed netbooks well past the "Penguin hype", some new ones as late as 2010!

      The units had tons of hardware limits, a lousy screen resolution and where finally steamrollered by "returned from leasing" Thinkpads, Dells etc. that offered better performance and screens for similar prices. Notebook hardware made some big performance leaps between 2007 and 2010 so many companys did not keep their units past leasing end and the market was swamped with them.

      1. Chairo
        Big Brother

        Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK


        Even the east german propaganda ministry was better at lying than that.

        The east German propaganda ministry never lied. They could define what's reality.

    7. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Then MS told the OEMs not to run Linux on them. Or else have their air supply cut off.

      And the 2nd half of the graph tells the ugly story. Demand plummetted!

      No, you're missing the point.

      If MS killed the netbook it was not by persuading OEMs not to sell with Linux. Whatever you or I may feel about the relative merits of different OSes the general public doesn't care (this is more true on netbooks than on desktop PCs because netbooks are only expected to be able to cope with general computing tasks (browsing, mail, social crap) and few people choose them for specific applications (games, photoshop, etc)).

      What MS did to kill the netbook was to restrict the spec of PC that would qualify as a netbook for Window licensing. That's why we see all these shitty 10" 1024x600 screens, 2GB RAM limits, and so on. I'm sure Microsoft did that to stop the sale of cheap Windows licences for netbooks harming their sales of full-price Windows licences for laptops, but the effect was to damage the viability of the netbook as a hardware platform.

      Linux may cope better with constrained hardware than Windows ... but not by enough to make netbook hardware attractive to the purchaser (and even Linux can't do much about the screen size).

    8. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Well, I stand by my first statement. The first manufacturers of netbooks had an opportunity to initiate something that could have genuinely subverted the MS hegemony, and they blew it. The hardware was pretty close to okay, not that memory issues and screen res. didn't need addressing, up to a point. But the OS implementation was generally woeful---regardless of whether it was Linux, XP, or whatever. And that was where the manufacturers blew it; along with allowing the great unwashed of the buying public to think they might be getting a fill blown 'PC' for nearly no money; that didn't help at all.

      Someone further back up the line suggested that netbooks were still being churned out at 300 euros a pop, blah blah blah. That, my friend is NOT a 'netbook'; that is a small 'laptop' OR an excercise in gouging the gullible public.

      Part of the essence of the 'netbook' concept is that you can drop it, lose it, have it run over without going 'ARRRGGGHHHH!!!', but instead be able to say, 'Damn, better get another one then'. 300 euros/pounds is not 'cheap as chips', it's jolly expensive for what should effectively be a disposable product.

      Android, while fine as an OS for 'consumption' devices, continues to be pretty useless as a content production OS. That may change. When it does we may finally, with the benefit of ARM processors and modern screen technology, see the 'Netbook' concept allowed to blossom in the way that many hoped it would---the 'Rasberry Pi' of portable, productive, and CHEAP computing.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Explanation - MS MURDERED THE NETBOOK

      Who needs a netbook when you can buy a tablet, then turn it into a netbook buying a stand and a keyboard, for a total of 3 times the price and still not run full retail software!

      Mocking aside, with some small upgrades in CPU power, netbooks would still be holding their own.

  18. Dave Bell

    Like for like

    So, a tablet has a screen comparable in size to early netbooks, but where's the keyboard?

    The first netbook I bought is still running, and still a useful machine.

    Tablets do some things better, but need extras to do some of the most basic jobs computers are used for.

    A netbook was a good choice for the schools market, something that a child could carry around and use, but I have heard a few stories about Linux-hostility from teachers. The ultra-cheap computers don't seem to be enough, and are tablets going to be any use?

    They'll call them something else, and they will have more power, but that cost-niche for portable keyboarded computing isn't going to go away. Looking at how Ubuntu has changed, we seem to have thrown away a few good ideas that came from the netbook boom.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Like for like

      >Linux-hostility from teachers

      They are a weird bunch, aren't they?

      A couple of years ago someone on here recounted the tale of his kid's IT teacher saying "No-one uses keyboard shortcuts." I asked around, and the schools round here thought that too.

    2. FrancisKing

      Re: Like for like

      The keyboard is the big weakness on a netbook. Using a keyboard means that you have to have the screen further away, which makes it look smaller. My 10" ipad has the same size screen as a netbook, but is an excellent size whereas the screens on netbooks were too small.

    3. mmeier

      Re: Like for like

      The keyboard (and mouse) are In the carry bag :)

      Been doing that for quite some time, using a BT keyboard/mouse (MS 6000) combo when I type longer text on my privat tablet pc. Actually recomended against buying the Ativ500 with dock(1) a few times since it offers no benefits (dock is keyboard/standup only). Tablet pc + BT => More choices

      (1) Exception: When you need/want 3G, currently you can not get the 3G/non dock variant

  19. spegru


    The reason netbooks are losing out is because of Microsoft. When first introduced with Linux on board they were fine since they didn't have to be dragged down by crapware anti virus or indeed the monolithic piece of junk that is windows. Of course msft put a stop to that because of the underlying PC architecture. In turn, that killed the business case for the hardware makers.

    So pleased am I with my Packard bell dot s3 netbook with its 7.5 hr battery, that sensing this very netbook demise, i bought a spare one.

    It does everything I need running Linux Mint!

    1. mmeier

      Re: pah

      Strange that Lenovo (one of the more sucessful PC makers) produced new netbooks well after the "Linux" hype had died down. The last units where even developed after XP was no longer sold and used Win7 as an OS.

      As for monolithic - read Professor Tanenbaums comments on Linux, read on the design of the NT Kernel (Hybrid) and hide in shame.

  20. Tommy Pock

    I bought my MSI Wind U100 from a car boot sale for £95. Stuck Ubuntu and an extra 1GB RAM in it and now I use it almost exclusively for everything.

    The only thing I find it difficult to live without is multi-touch on the trackpad - I have a unique hatred for Unity's scroll bars.

    Otherwise it does everything I need a computer to do.

    I don't watch films on it but I wouldn't watch them on a 15" laptop or a tablet either.

  21. RonWheeler

    Average 13 inch laptops

    Average 13 inch laptops these days re much thinner and lighter than they used to be too. I suspect that portability has cannibalised a lot of the potential netbook market share too. The difference of a couple of mm between a poser toy ultrabook and most mainstream laptops is often minimal now.

    Having said that, my old netbook is still going strong and goes on holiday with me every time.

    1. bailey86

      Re: Average 13 inch laptops

      Agreed - I picked up an HP Elitebook 2540p from Amazon for approx 400 quid and whacked it up to 6GB RAM for peanuts. I mainly need browsers and terminals and with Xubuntu installed the responsiveness is pretty much instant. On top of that it will run Netbeans (which is Java based) when I need it.

      My Dell Mini 9 is great (again with Xubuntu) and I let lit-lun use it - but she prefers the OH's (13 inch) Mac now.

      I think the problem is that 13 inch seems to be the lowest limit for a machine which you can work on all day. Generally, at home and in the office I plug in a 24 inch monitor and a keyboard and via the Displayport connection the screen looks great. I would say that the set up is as good as any current PC. But when I've needed to I've been able to work all day on the 13 inch Elitebook on its own - I'm not sure I'd want to work on the Mini 9 all day without it being plugged into an external monitor.

  22. Tom 7 Silver badge

    And in two years time

    we will have something with an HD touch screen, very decent graphics and multi core arm processor with 10 hour battery life, add on keyboard so it looks exactly like a netbook, with a 'new fancy marketing name' and a price tag 30% more due to Windows 9 sitting on shelves in shops while similar Android devices fly off the shelves while IHS or their ilk tell us the 'new fancy marketing name' devices are on their way out as a large customer of their has asked for a market 'survey' that says so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And in two years time

      Intel battery life will be 10 hours or so in two years, ARM v x86 wars will have new battlegrounds. Whether Microsoft remain so stubborn on licensing costs that their market slips away - perhaps they will be as stupid as you imagine. But maybe not. Who knows? I don't. You don't either.

      1. mmeier

        Re: And in two years time

        Intel battery life for Atom IS 10h right now for the better units. And with more performance than poor ARM can deliver in it's newest version (A15). And the next gen Atom is around the corner.

        You can even get 10h with core-i but that will be heavier than an iThingy by a factor of 2 (Vaio Duo11+Sheet) or 3 (T902 with second battery). But the power! The power! T902 can emulate an ARM device at full speed and still has power to spare (Full power core-i)

  23. Paul C


    Between myself and colleagues at other universities in IT, and students we work with, I saw dozens of different models the first few years. The Linux experience on early Netbooks (wifi drivers, etc) wasn't always a smooth one. One or two people around you with problems would suddenly make WIndows XP Home sound great on a cheap notebook.

    I'd actually argue that Netbooks would have failed earlier if Windows hadn't shown up on them. Your average consumer wanted a cheap computer at that time, and Netbooks did serve the function of bringing laptop prices down for a lot of people. Personally, I'd rather have a Thinkpad X230 with a 9-cell battery on a long trip, and I know a lot of people like the 11" Macbook Air, because a computer should be capable. People will put up with tablets not doing some things a computer does because to them it's not a computer. If it looks like a notebook they want it to be powerful enough to do what they need, and they want it to run their favorite software.

  24. Mage Silver badge


    They got too expensive.

    Also possibly the ending of XP on them helps to kill them.

    Tablet + optional BT keyboard maybe makes more sense too.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Price

      They survived well past XP using Win7 starter. Some of the "last" netbooks came with that as a default OS.

  25. csumpi

    Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015?

    What are you talking about? We simply removed the keyboards, crippled the operating system, crippled programs, renamed them to apps, and got the tablet. Now they look cool, can do even less, but they do live on!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still use an Asus EEE netbook every day as a casual web browser while watching TV, as although I have an iPad and Android phone many websites and website features just don't work on these. When I first got the iPad I had thought it would stop the netbook been used much. But as the frustration increased with the touch interface and sites not designed for tablets browsers every few nights I found I had to use the netbook again. It has just become easier to always use the netbook in the first site rather than go through a frustrating tablet experience.

    There are so many tablet / keyboard combo devices appearing, but I haven''t looked to see how many support a cursor / mouse as I believe it is often the mouse over events and things that stop sites working on tablets.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like my netbook

    Well, I still like my Windows 7 netbook. I doubled the memory to 2GB for a few quid which really helped. It's only up to doing a single task at a time, but that's how most people use tablets. The netbook's got great battery life, a good keyboard, very portable, and like me it's desperately unfashionable.

    I did expect to replace it with a Microsoft Surface, but not until they become cheaper.

  28. Phil Lord

    Tablets -- netbooks with a crappy keyboard

    The problem with netbooks is that they have fallen out of the mass market, so the manufacturers have stopped updating them. There is no reason now why they shouldn't come with 4G of memory, and 500G hard drives. But the tablets have taken such a significant part of the market, that it's not worth the cost of updating.

    For me, it's a shame. Netbooks are fantastic travel companions: light, small, robust and with excellent battery life. And, originally, there were cheap so if you trashed one, you could replace it without a wince; sadly this last part is not so true any more.

    Tablets? Nice toys, really, but how can you do any significant work on something without a keyboard?

    1. mmeier

      Re: Tablets -- netbooks with a crappy keyboard

      Actually there is a reason a netbook won't come with 4GB - the Atom CPU can not handle that currently (Baytrail will change that). Change the CPU and you have a small notebook like the Thinkpad Edge E135 (1)

      As for tablet pc and keyboards - there is this think called Bluetooth...

      (1) Message to the Eadonverse:

      The TP Edge 135 is actually available without Windows on Amazon!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tablets -- netbooks with a crappy keyboard

        Actually some netbooks came with the AMD C50 which are 64-bit capable.

  29. FrankAlphaXII

    Netbooks are great little devices for people who simply do not like tablets. I'm one of those people. But then again, I'm perfectly content to haul around a full-fat laptop.

  30. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Well make them cheaper, bozos

    They are a super form factor. But when you start to price them at £250-300 you are just taking the piss. Price them at £100-150, and make sure you can use a free OS such as Linux rather than having yet again to pay a Microsoft tax and I would suggest you had a winning product.

    OK, the ones shipped with Linux were sent back, but they were still too expensive. A cheap netbook would be snapped up by techies, especially as a larger alternative to a smart phone. The absence of a keyboard is a serious restriction to smart phones, and any touch screen device will gobble up more power than it should just to keep monitoring the screen for touches.

  31. Orecomm

    Netbooks have serious applications

    Just a note that not EVERYONE on the planet is watching videos and being net-social 24 hours a day. Some of us work for a living, and a small portion of those do so in the field where machines capable of supporting RS232 connections, wired Ethernet, telnet, tftp servers, and a real keyboard and such get far more use than HDMI video connections and WiFI. Watching your $1K plus lappy drift slow-mo to a tragic demise at the base of an antenna tower smarts a lot more than a $200 or less second-hand netbook (I keep my local Pawn Shop on the lookout..) becoming one with the planet, and I'm a lot less inclined to take a risky grab to save it - and possibly follow it down for a close-up view of the destruction just before self-oblivion. Lightweight, rugged, versatile, and cheap works just fine, and even the cheapest and wimpiest netbook can keep up with my typing speed without much trouble.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Netbooks have serious applications

      Isn't that normally the market for Toshiba Toughbooks or units like the Fujitsu Q55x with hardened, splash-resistant casings etc?

  32. Mikel

    We call them Chromebooks now

    Intel wanted to cripple the feature set, OEMs wanted to put fat Windows on them and that drives up the cost. ARM, however, lets the maker make what the maker wants to make. Some makers want to make cheap Chromebooks and some really fancy premium ones with ultra hi-def screens.

    1. dogged

      Re: We call them Chromebooks now

      Those really aren't selling. It's common to snigger at Windows 8 sales figures on the Reg but damn, Google wishes that ChromeOS would fail one tenth as hard.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Joe Montana

    Killed by MS and OEMs..

    When netbooks first came out, they generally had a crippled linux distro (ie no package repository)... But they were cheap, and did what most people wanted...

    Once MS got into netbooks, they stopped being small consumer devices and started being "small, slow laptops"... And if they increased the specs to be less slow, so too increased the price making them "small, expensive laptops".

    So now you have tablets, small, cheap and not running windows (and the very few that are don't sell well and/or aren't cheap). Netbook OEMs made the mistake of thinking people wouldn't buy netbooks without windows, when in reality windows is a millstone around their neck.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Aren't Windows 8 tablets and convertibles just an evolution of the netbook, rather than the category dying? Chromebooks too, in fact (since the original Eee used Linux). Netbooks caught on because they were small and cheap and good enough for basic computing, that hasn't changed, that's still what most consumers want and that's why tablets et al are probably going to outsell more traditional desktop/large laptop form factors within the decade I'd imagine.

  36. Spanners Silver badge

    Not just Netbooks

    Ultrabooks and Notebooks and most other overpriced variations of laptops are becoming pointless.

    I have a Nexus7 tablet. That does most of what I want to do. I have a cheap buetooth keyboard that clips to it and that puts paid to anything I would want to do with a portable device bigger than my phone.

    If I decide to write a book or more bad poetry, I have a desktop PC. That also deals with games. (That last item has been endangered by consoles for a long time though.)

    I have no need for an ultrabook - what can it do that I want? There are some markets that might want netbooks - reps and travelling salesmen for example. People working in offices don't. Desktop PCs are better, faster, cheaper and less likely to give you RSI & eyestrain. Suit wearers and meeting goers seem to want iPads although there are better alternatives to them too.

  37. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    What the article says, basically, is that if you use a conveniently narrow definition of "netbook" you can prove that nobody's buying them any more. Just as nobody buys desktops any more, and have all moved on to workstations. As long as you define "desktop" as "Pentium II at best" ...

  38. Cipher

    Save the netbooks...

    The CompuSystem is fragile. We have already lost many species of Computer Based Lifeforms (CBLs), others are represented by a few specimens barely hanging on in captivity...

    Not only have Human Articulated Malwares (HAMs) threatened the CompuSystem, now we have the 1% Elites playing Diety with CBL entities. They have no right to do this, a Universal Declaration of Digital Rights to Life needs to be proclaimed, our silicon based brethren and sisteren deserve protection!!

    I urge you all to speak up now, protest, contact lawmakers, whatever... This slaughter must stop!!

  39. kb

    Microsoft KILLED it

    I'm not the type to blame "The big bad M$" but in this case its true, when they came out the OEMs got XP Home for $15 a pop, then Win 7 Starter cost $35 and was so crippled that many netbook OEMs went and spent $50 on Win 7 HP, then by Win 8 the price had gone up to $60 according to rumor which when combined with the flood raising HDD costs just left no margin for the OEM.

    When I bought my EEE E350 at $300 it was one of the pricier models, many B&M had the Atom netbooks in the $225-$255 range, by the time they had quit making them I had to find a refurbed Acer Aspire for my dad's GF because the EEEs were up to nearly $500.

    Frankly I think the 12 inchers may make a comeback,possibly even the 10 inchers, by becoming Chromebooks or maybe Ubuntubooks simply because there is still money to be made on cheap and light netbooks but not with Windows as the OS, MSFT has priced themselves out of the market.

    I know I'll be hanging onto my EEE 1215B until it dies (which the way I baby it will hopefully be a long time) even though I have a 17 inch C2D I could be using, simply because its so small and light its easier to carry anywhere, its a great little unit.

  40. Tom 13

    Re: li'l fellows, we hardly knew ye

    If ONLY!

    I've wasted at least a month of man hour rebuilding those cheap pieces of excrement whenever they came back from travel. Hours to install the image, longer to update, not compatible with a modern OS. While they lasted they were the bane of my support life. Even more so that Local USERS who used CD trays a cup holders or constantly forgot their passwords. Whenever one came back from travel, I knew what I'd be working on for the next three days.

  41. Luke McCarthy

    What about Clover Trail / Bay Trail notebooks and hybrids? Surely they can be classed as netbooks?

    I was thinking about getting an Ultrabook. But I might just get a Bay Trail hybrid when they come out.

  42. Fuzzy Duck


    i have a google chromebook. it does everything that i need. it was £229.

  43. cwm

    Dell mini 9

    Just updated my dell mini 9 from ubuntu 12.10 to 13.04 beta. It is working quicker due to improvements in unity. I don't see me stopping using the superb dell mini 9 any time soon.

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