I mentioned earlier this week that I’m interested in looking at the new ASUS Eee PC 1101HA when it launches locally. For now, I can get this first look that Johannes offers — he unboxes the new netbook over in Germany. Due to the slightly larger size when compared to a 10-inch device, the keyboard is less cramped. The netbook also gains some resolution, up to 1366×768, thanks to the 11.6-inch display.
With devices like this, the netbook is coming full circle back to notebooks. We started out with 7-inch netbooks, moved to 8.9 inches and then 10 inches. All that’s left between netbooks and traditional laptops starting at 13- inches is this 11-12-inch middle ground. Oh, wait a second. Isn’t that where the “ultra-thin” notebooks running Intel CULV chips are going to be? Sounds like a car crash that you know is coming — you hear the brakes squeal, turn your head, but still hear the collision.
The next 6-9 months in this space are worth watching. Will consumers stick with price as a primary constraint and opt for netbooks? Do $500-$800 ultra-thin notebooks with more capability start eating into netbook sales? And what happens to the traditional notebook market as the result? Intel seems to win in any of these cases. Its Atom powers netbooks, the CULV platform is in the next size up and the chipmaker powers most of the full-sized notebooks in the market, too.
One of our mantras here bears repeating — mobile technology is all about compromise. I look at it as a triangle, in which each point is a mobile device attribute: performance, price and power efficiency. As you move closer to one point, you move further away from one or two other points. Put another way: You can’t buy a portable device today for a few hundred dollars that offers desktop-replacement performance and all-day computing.
I believe there’s a market for all of these segments: netbooks, new ultra-thin notebooks and traditional notebooks. Each person has different requirements, and more importantly, each person chooses their own area(s) to compromise on. Although I love my MSI Wind netbook, I’ll admit that I’m intrigued by devices in the 11-inch range. My first Tablet PC, a Toshiba M205, was a 12.1-inch unit and I long felt that it was an excellent screen size for me. Now the question is: Do I want to buy a less expensive 11-inch netbook or a more powerful 11- or 12-inch ultra-thin notebook that costs more?