What are Netbooks and Why Do They Exist ?

A few Asus Eee PC 1000 HE Netbookyears ago nobody had ever heard of netbooks. We had portable computers called notebooks or laptops which were quite expensive but by and large just as good as a desktop computer. Then, back in the mists of 2007 a company called Asustek launched the Eee PC. They were designed in response to the "One laptop per child" initiative, primarily for people in poor countries who could not afford a proper laptop computer. However the Eee PCs proved successful with a different market segment of consumers, namely middle-class Westerners who wanted a second laptop that they could take with them and use for surfing the Internet, checking email, having a look at YouTube or Facebook on the move. 350,000 units were sold in just a few months.

The extraordinary and surprising success of the Eee PC forced other computer manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo etc... to revise their thinking. Less than one year later in the fall of 2008, practically every notebook manufacturer in the US had got their own $400 netbook on the market.

The Eee netbook showed that consumers didn't want laptops that allowed you to do more and more, in fact they wanted uncomplicated computers that did less for less money.

By the end of 2008, over 5 million netbooks had been sold by Asustek, while other brands had sold over 10 million units. Netbooks were also initially higher in Europe than in the USA with sales 8 times those of the US and in less than one year, netbooks represented 7% of the global portable computer market. In 2009 this figure is expected to rise to 12%.

Netbooks are appreciated by people because they are actually a reflection of what they do with their computers. People tend to get the most powerful computer they can "just in case", but most people use computers for very simple tasks, such as sending emails or visiting websites. Netbooks are in fact the perfect solution for this.

Netbooks have in fact turned the clock back, whilst convincing people that they are in fact the most modern trendy computer on the market, a very neat marketing trick ! Netbooks are at the stage that laptops were at 5 years ago, hardly progress, but it turns out that netbooks are good enough.

Asustek understood that most people only use computers for doing the same things over and over again online and they therefore designed a machine that would allow them to do what they wanted for under $300, but their netbooks are not of much use if you are not online. This means that people will have to eventually accept the concept of cloud computing, because netbooks have no storage space.

When Asustek launched their first Eee netbook, Dell, Apple and the others were unimpressed. After all why would they want to sell netbooks for $400 when they were already selling notebooks for over $1,000? Asustek and rival MSI however, did not have an established PC business so they had no prior market to protect.

Netbooks have now become so popular and so cheap that companies like RadioShack and Vodafone have gived them away for nothing to people who sign up to their services.

Another strange fact is that netbooks are so cheap that there is hardly any profit to be made from them. The idea is that manufacturers are losing money now to make it back through ever increasing volume, but it is not at al sure that this strategy will work.

Netbooks have certainly stirred things up. For example, Microsoft had intended to stop selling Windows XP but when people started to install Linux in netbooks, Microsoft quickly decided to extend the life of XP by a further 2 years.

Microsoft is only charging $15 for XP on netbooks, but will ensure that Windows 7 will work on netbooks - Vista is not suitable for netbooks.

Intel sees its Atom chips sales to netbook makers as its next billion-dollar market.

The fear however is that cheap netbooks will be so good, that people will refuse to spend $1,000 on a laptop.

Netbooks sales are now set to take off in the USA, but the next major market will be Brazil, Russia, China and India where there are billions of consumers who don't have a computer at all and who need their computers to be cheap.

Netbooks may even lead to even cheaper computers, that have no motherboard. according to Mary Lou Jepsen it will be possible to make just a screen and a cheap $5 radio chip. It would seem that this is the future, everything will be done online on the smallest computers people can get.

So should you buy a netbook or a notebook ?

People think that netbooks are just small notebooks or laptops but this is not the case. Netbooks and notebooks are completely different, what you want to do will determine which one you should buy.

The differences between netbook and notebooks ?

1. Netbooks are a smaller, a lot smaller. Netbook screens range from 7 inches to 10 inches. Notebook screens start at 12.1 inches and can be as large as 21 inches.

2. Netbooks do not have much storage space - usually from 4GB up to 64GB. Notebooks on the other hand have from 80GB to 320 GB

3. Netbooks are not portable computers. They are not designed to watch movies or videos on or to play games on or for manipulating photographs using Photoshop, Word or Excel - there purpose is netcentric computing, which means they are designed to be used for things on the Internet that don't require much processing power, e.g. surfing and reading your email.

4. The processors in netbooks are generally Intel Atoms that run at 1.6 GHz, not fast but they do the basics

5. Netbooks have no DVD drives or CD drives.

6. Netbooks are cheaper, they cost around $300 - $500, notebooks generally start at $600 . UPDATE : The best netbooks now cost as much as laptops and really if you are going to pay that sort of money yu may as well get a laptop.

7. Batteries - netbook batteries last longer 6 to 10 hours on 1 charge, plus netbooks run cool so they don't need large fans. Notebook batteries last between 2 and 4 hours

So if you want a computer that will actually allow you to do stuff like wordprocessing, watching films etc... then choose a notebook. If you want something that is lightweight and truly portable for checking emails, twittering and chatting then choose a netbook !