The Value Proposition of Netbooks Is Getting Overlooked


benq-joybook-lite-u101-netbook-4So another big name is trashing netbooks today. This time, it’s Michael Dell saying, “[I]f you take a user who is used to a 14-inch or 15-inch notebook, and then give them a 10-inch netbook, a few hours later they want their big screen back.” Since Dell built the company on the back of desktops, I guess I’m not surprised by this statement. Low profit margins probably aren’t helping the cause of netbooks, either. Of course, I can’t argue with his point that netbooks are “not a replacement for a high-end machine for an experienced user.” Gee, ya think? Thanks for that news flash.

To me, this is just another example of someone missing the overall value proposition of netbooks. It’s not just their low price that’s appealing. And it isn’t just because they’re highly portable and run far longer than most notebooks. Nor is it because they can handle the majority of everyday computing tasks in an x86 world. It’s the combination of all three points that makes a netbook an attractive device.

The timing on this is actually perfect. On Monday, Om wrote a valid post on the blurring lines between netbooks and notebooks. In a rare moment of respectful disagreement, I wrote a bit of an opposing viewpoint yesterday. In that piece, I covered this value proposition with my “3P Triangle”: the more you move towards one of the three points — price, performance and portability — the more you move away from one or two of the others. Right now, netbooks are the closest device to the center of the triangle because of the overall value package. I’d be curious as to your thoughts — especially since I compared the netbook/notebook market to that of hammers and sledgehammers. Now that’s something you don’t read about everyday! ;)



Remember, notebook and laptop interests are taking it on the chin right now. That big business will push back and say things to try and save their depleting market share.

Fact is, netbooks are portable. If it’s light and small it’s a netbook. People eventually will realize that laptops are meant for your couch or for sitting on your dining room table. I think once the notebook and laptop diehards use a netbook they will get it. The price for what you get isn’t the issue. Smaller, lighter, is worth money. You don’t have a dvd rom drive? Nor a 250 gig HD, but honestly you want portable, or do you want heavy?

Your main computer, at home, is a laptop or notebook. Your second computer is a netbook. It goes where you go. Welcome to the new generation of thinking. In about 6 months, there would be no excuse for packing out your laptop or notebook unless it was just a matter of funds. It’s like that tape player walkman that you may have in the closet. You want to take it out in public? I think not. Look at where the technology ended up.

In closing, you bet notebook interests want their products to be the choice. Unfortunately, they missed the point that netbook equals portable and notebook equals heavy and bulky.


With regards to screen size, I think there are two kinds of people who complain:
Those who think 10″ is too small
Those that think 1024×600 is too small
The latter group has a point since some apps don’t run well at that resolution. The first group however, need to go see an eye doctor. If you have trouble reading a 10″ screen, your vision isn’t as it should be.

As with the value of netbooks, you are so right (as I commented in the other article). It seems that people think that because there are faster computers out there, they need to have one that fast. CPus in most computers today are the most underused parts in any computer as people don’t need a 3Ghz quad core to update their facebook status. At school I use an Asus EEE 1101HA, Wacom bamboo tablet for notes (using OneNote) and a VX nano mouse. Both the mouse and the tablet are expensive compared to the cheap competitors for such accessories, yet the total cost of my setup is less than a full size notebook that would run the programs I use a little bit faster and then simply run out of battery half way into my second lecture of the day, then strain my back as I try to drag it home from the bus. Not to mention the chiclet style keyboard on the 1101HA is far superior to anything I’ve seen on a full sized notebook, albeit I haven’t shopped for notebooks in two years.

In 6 months when N330+ION is the new standard for netbooks, I personally could easily live with nothing but such a device, plus a screen to connect it to. Nothing *I* do warrants any more performance.


I fully believe you have to know what your getting into before you buy a netbook and if they will fit your needs. Personally i love the fact that the new 11.6″ platform with a 1366×768 display is taking off as i was one that though the 1024×600 is simply too small.

I have yet to get a netbook myself but i would love to have one to replace this 14″ 7lb clunker that gets 2 hours of battery life. I need to carry this thing everywhere in my toolbag for closing out service calls and looking up service manuals and parts catalogs, something a netbook could do just fine while weighting half as much and getting three times the battery life.

The only thing holding me back on buying one is that since I’m going to have to buy it myself i want one that can do HD video as well for personal use. The new Ion books look like what i need but im waiting just a bit more for Win 7 and possible HP Mini 311 upgrades after launch. Also with flash 10.1 getting processing help from the GPU there is a good chance that netbooks will be able to do things like stream HD content from Hulu and the like without choking.

i’ll never understand the need to run HD video on anything smaller then a 40″-50″ screen…


Price for performance and features has been my measuring stick. For the money I could not beat the Gateway LT3103u “netbook”. Great looks, large hard drive 2 GB RAM, ATI video sub system, and great reviews. I currently run Windows 7 on it and may reload it with Windows 7 64 bit sometimne soon to see how it handles that. Of all the netbooks out there this was the only one I could find that could run a 64 bit OS. My next dilemma unfortunately is to replace my Dell XPS M1210 which has succomb to the nasty NVidia video card issue that Dell has so unjustly left this model out of the video recall. Alas at barely over 2 years old I have a brick … and an expensive brick at that. Dell may fix it, but I have to wait til next Tuesday to find out. In any case, I am looking at ultraportable options. I am no longer willing to spend the $2200 that I orginally spent on that Dell as I see that my views on high ultra portable performance has changed. It seems my front runners are the HP Pavilion DV2 with the dual Turion and the 512 MB ATI video card in it, the HP Pavilion TX2 tablet/laptop, Apple Aluminum 13.3″ MacBook Pro, and the plastic bodied Apple MacBook. I am hesitant on the MacBook Pro and MacBook because of the NVidia Video cards they have. I have been “burned” (more like they burned out) as a consumer using NVidia video cards in laptops and my wife’s late Acer 20″ laptop (yes an 18.5 lb. 20″ screened laptop that died – which she now has a 24″ iMac with an ATI card in it as the replacement). So I have a general distaste for NVidia video graphics in laptops. But it comes down to bang for the buck. The HP DV2 and TX2 have a lot of great features for between $739 – 999, respectively (the way I would configure them) as does the MacBook. The 13.3″ MacBook Pro is pushing it for me, I don’t know if it really gives you more for 200 dollars over its plastic predecessor. It is also hard for me to buy an “ultra portable” that as a 13.3″ screen. I consider 12.1″ and below ultra portable. Netbook started to grow into the larger screen category, because people like me agree that 102×768 on a 10.1″ screen really sucks. The Netbook category can only grow if resolution gets higher, but the screen has to get larger to be comfortable to the average consumer, but for smart buyers, they will look at those larger screen models and make the compromise to an actual laptop once they see the price they are really paying, such as RAM upgrade, HD upgrades, OS upgrades (especially if you get one with Windows XP, you have to pony up for more memory and Windows 7). To me the graying is intentional so that consumers are forced to the “one-up” features of a slightly larger screened laptop.


I agree 100%. We always here about what netbooks can’t do. One blogger even wrote that they was shocked that all their netbook was good for is surfing the web and do basic computing tasks like word processing. I always thought that was all a netbook was supposed to do.

I agree with James. Netbooks offer a great value as long as one understands what they were designed for. I personally would be hard pressed to have a netbook as my only computer. But my Mini 9 lives in my backpack.


I have access to 3 computers. A Dell A90 netbook, a Lenovo X200 multitouch tablet, and a Dell M6400 17″ laptop. I don’t like using the netbook for even simple tasks like surfing the web. The tablet I use occasionally to take notes at meetings. The M6400 I use constantly. I take home every night, and I take from site to site everyday. I work from 3 different buidings usually everday and I take it every time. I could do without the netbook in a second, the tablet would be a minor inconvenience, but no way could I live without the M6400.

indeed, we have git a point where unless you work with media (editing sound, video or photo), or want something you can fold up to bring over to a friend for a game session, the cpu (and to some degree, os) speed is more then usable.


The 10 inch screen is EXACTLY why I intend to pick up a different notebook (I currently have an S10) in the next few months with W7 on it. Well, that and get W7.

I MAY get another “netbook” but it’s going to have to have at least a 12″ screen and something more than a single-core Atom.

But that’s just me.;)


I enjoyed your article yesterday and i agreed with all of your points. I am wondering however if there is a huge difference in portability between the lenovo x61t I use on the go now and a 10″ netbook. I keep telling myself there isn’t much difference to save myself money =P

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