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Summary:

We have covered all facets of mobile technology for years and the one undying fact, perhaps the only one, is that the more mobile the tech the more personal it is.  Devices and computers that are meant to be highly portable will have strengths and compromises […]

Msi_windWe have covered all facets of mobile technology for years and the one undying fact, perhaps the only one, is that the more mobile the tech the more personal it is.  Devices and computers that are meant to be highly portable will have strengths and compromises to achieve that high degree of mobility.  These strengths and weaknesses are often the factors that determine if a given device is appropriate for a given user.  One man’s bane is another’s killer feature, something determined by each user’s needs.

Whenever we see an innovative new device or genre of devices I get a kick out of watching the reactions.  There never fails to be a contingent of folks who find that the new gadget is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  They shout from the mountaintops how great the new device is and what it means to fulfilling their mobile computing needs.  Of course there is another group of vocal folks, often the media, who jump in to decry the adoration by explaining to us all how great the short-comings of said device really are and how that other group doesn’t get it.

Such a discussion is getting a lot of attention recently as some prominent folks are taking pains to point out that netbooks, those little cheap laptops, are not the great mobile solution that apparently many think they are.  All you have to look at are sales numbers and forecasts which are so big that they caught the entire industry napping to understand how big a deal netbooks have become.  No matter what these pundits say the only opinion about a device or in this case a class of device that matters is that of the consumer.  And there is no question they have a pretty good opinion of a small laptop that only costs a few hundred dollars.

A lot of attention has been generated by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch with his recent article Three Reasons Why Netbooks Just Aren’t Good Enough.Arrington made a big mistake with this article which examines whatfeatures netbooks lack and thus why they are not the cat’s meow manythink they are.  His mistake was not what he said but how he said it.His article implies that netbooks fail everyone, not just him.

His three reasons can be boiled down to what makes netbooks soportable and so cheap- lower performance, small screen and smallkeyboard.  Arrington feels that these three things prohibit netbooksfrom providing a decent web surfing experience.  Putting aside hisarguments about where netbooks fall short I must point out that hisarticle demonstrates that he doesn’t understand mobile technology.Those three features, and I use that term purposely, are the verythings that make netbooks so appealing to the millions of people whoare buying them.

Lower performance is the result of using cheaper and power-stingycomponents to provide better battery life and lower cost.  The smallerscreen and keyboard Arrington loathes are the very reason that netbooksare so small and mobile.  Cheaper and highly mobile are the twofeatures that are driving the high sales numbers of netbooks and thatis not going to change.  Netbooks are complete computers that provide a full computing experience in any event.  While Arrington may find that thesecompromises render netbooks unusable for him they are the very thingsthat are driving high sales numbers.  It’s that personal mobile techthing I mentioned.

Arrington’s arguments against netbooks are not surprising nor arethey anything new.  Every single feature on a mobile device will be theone deal-breaker for another.  It’s very personal and varies widelyfrom user to user.  It’s why making general comments about mobiletechnology usually comes back to bite you later.

  1. I also felt that the TechCrunch article was a bit to definite. I believe all computer purchases are very personal. In the realm of “regular” laptops some people find a 14″ display to small, and others find the 17″ displays to large. It all depends on what you need.

    Thanks
    sean

    ps…happily posted from my EEE PC 901.

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  2. I don’t know who Arrington thinks his audience is with this piece. One thing’s for sure, they aren’t the dummies that he, apparently, thinks they are.

    He may have made a case for himself if he had gotten his facts straight. Unfortunately, his article is littered with inaccuracies, which makes it look like he’s lying, lazy or simply lacks the knowledge necessary to speak out on this subject.

    His article is pretty transparent. He’s shilling for this cheap tablet that he’s, supposedly, developing. It’s a shame that he tried to pass it off as an unbiased opinion.

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  3. At first I couldn’t understand what Mike Arrington expected in terms of performance from a netbook. I don’t know what his computing requirements are, but one of his responses in the post comments shed a little light:

    “I’ll try to do a video next week showing typing speed relative to say a Macbook Air, and show how poor the browsing experience is, particularly video.”

    We can debate whether the Air is a netbook or not (I tend to think not, FWIW), but you’d be hard pressed to debate that they’re different products for different market segments. There’s a 4x to 6x cost factor involved when comparing a netbook to the Air so I’d expect the performance difference to be drastic. I’d also be curious to see how many MacBook Airs have sold as compared to netbooks.

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  4. I am normally inclined to think Arrington is full of crap, but I must admit I enjoy a superior web surfing experience on my Core 2 Duo, 14.1″ widescreen Tablet PC, and his three points were part of my justification for the purchase.

    That said, my tablet is my primary computer, not a secondary device. As a secondary computer and Internet device, I really don’t see why a netbook isn’t good enough. My even smaller and less powerful iPhone works well enough in that role for me.

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  5. Could it be he is biased because he is working on a webtablet for under $200 which he thinks is a better option?

    http://www.techcrunchit.com/2008/07/21/the-techcrunch-web-tablet-project/

    There is always a motive behind his posts.

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  6. I say that if his $200 tablet has no compromises he can bash netbooks all day long. I’ll even help. With that said, I expect I’ll be using my Wind for a few years.

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