While some folks are still trying to figure out what smartbooks are supposed to be, I think Tim Bajarin is on the right track. He penned a post at PC Mag that’s right in line with my thoughts, called “Smartbooks: The New Netbooks.” In it, Tim illustrates a key difference — one that reiterates the fact that I could easily use a smartbook in lieu of a netbook — an always-on Internet connection and a browser:
“[A] smartbook may look like a netbook, but it’s ultimately designed to be more of an always-on connected device, with browser and Web- or cloud-based apps and services tied to what will be a complete set of telecom-related solutions.
While netbooks really do need the Windows eco-system that delivers compatibility with Windows apps and peripherals, a smartbook’s real value is its connection to the Internet and Web apps and services; it does not need Windows or an X86-based processor. Instead, these smartbooks can have various versions of ARM processors and even different operating systems, such as Linux, as long as they can deliver a solid and easy-to-use connection to the Web and all that it has to offer.”
Nearly all of my time on a netbook is in the browser and online. However, there are times when I power down my Wi-Fi radio in order to save some battery life. In a case like that, I rely on Google Gears for some offline mail, blogging or RSS reading. While I could (and often) do the same activities with smartphones like my iPhone or Pre, I’m far more effective with a larger screen and a full keyboard. That’s where a smartbook comes in to play — web work on the go. Given that these devices are expected to run on energy efficient ARM processors, like both of my smartphones, they should last all day on a single charge. And these devices are better suited to subsidies from carriers who can provide that wireless broadband service for a web-based device.
Will you be able to watch high-definition video or play complex, graphically intense games on a smartbook? Not as well as you could on a full notebook. But that’s not what smartbooks are all about. They’re about accessing the net for basic content creation and consumption using web services and apps. Sort of like what we thought netbooks would be, until we all thought we wanted cheap little laptops.