Recent reports show netbook sales increasing, but I think we're going to see this trend diminishing in a few months. Here's why I think so:
- Stale hardware. Netbook hardware just isn't advancing, thanks to a number of features. My netbook is about a year old and it's got pretty much the same hardware as the newest models. And according to Gizmodo, netbook hardware's going to stay about the same, at least until Windows 7 is generally available in October. Netbook hardware is fine if you never multitask, but people love to do several things at once. Computer hardware advances, so why can't netbooks?
- Tiny screen. I recently came back from vacation in Seattle, and I took my netbook with me. The tiny machine was great for travelling—it's small enough to fit in a backpack, easy to handle for security checks, light enough to keep in carry-on luggage, and inexpensive enough that my life wouldn't be ruined if something terrible happened to it. And as long as I used it as a "netbook"—light web browsing and email checking—it was fine. But I had to keep my sessions short because the tiny screen would start to get annoying. This was great on vacation, where I was enjoying Seattle, but if I'd been expected to work I'd have been desperate for a full-size notebook.
- Notebooks are cheap. In recent months, several stores have started to offer large notebooks on sale for around $300, the price range that was once the exclusive domain of netbooks. A family member has one of these $300 notebooks, and while it lacked some features I'd want if it were my only computer, it blows my netbook out of the water for most uses as a secondary computer. These ultra-cheap notebooks have bigger screens and better hardware then netbooks, with the tradeoff being somewhat shorter battery life and the Windows Vista OS. Vista is OK on these single-core, low-end machines, but with a less demanding OS would make these computers even better deals.
Assuming that retailers keep offering full-size notebooks at netbook prices, it's hard to see what future netbooks have. Unless you need to lug your computer absolutely everywhere you go, why not carry a larger laptop?Related Reading: