Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

No, Really, It’s the End of the Netbook

Charles Arthur declared netbooks a dead category, but Harry McCracken of Time disagrees:

A netbook was merely a lightweight notebook with a smallish screen and a low price tags. It’s not like lightweight notebooks, small screens and low price points will go away, even if nobody makes a computer that’s officially called a netbook.

But this is fundamentally wrong: a netbook wasn’t just defined by weight, screen size, and price. Netbooks used low-performance processors like Intel’s Atom line, didn’t have much RAM, and usually ran either Windows XP or a stripped-down Linux distro as a result. The user experience was so bad that the netbook was a laptop so named because it was really only acceptable for browsing the web and dealing with email.

McCracken is correct that small, light, and inexpensive laptops aren’t going away this year, but that doesn’t mean the netbook will live on. The tasks netbooks were really great at — email and internet things — are accomplished far better on any modern tablet. The netbook is dead.