I have a lot of thoughts/opinions about netbook computers! I actually remember several years back when there were these super small, compact computers that I thought were really cool. But I could never find a real reason or need to buy one. I don’t think they were called netbooks at the time, maybe because mobile broadband wasn’t really popular, nor offered great performance for those that had it. So calling it a netbook computer at that time probably wouldn’t mean much anyway. They never really caught on, probably because of the cost, and maybe because there really wasn’t an appetite in general for them at the time. But since then, wireless phones have become so much more feature rich, and people are getting used to doing so much on a small screen of a phone, that netbooks really don’t seem that small in comparison. Compared to even the largest screen on a mobile phone, the screens on these things are actually massive!
As a techie type person, I still believe these are really cool devices/gadgets. However, I definitely would never be able to replace my laptop with one of these. Travelling with a netbook computer would be super convenient, however, I just don’t travel enough to make it worthwhile. And if I did, I think it would be a pain to worry about data synchronization. I wouldn’t want to have to think about what data and apps I have on my main computer vs. what’s on my netbook. Carrying around a relatively light 14.1” laptop really isn’t a big deal for me.
I think it
makes a lot of sense for people wanting mobile broadband, and good value to take advantage of the subsidies that are offered from the wireless carriers who bundle it with mobile broadband. Then you’re looking at $100 or $200 for a netbook computer with decent specs (for that price at least). But even then you run into the problem that broadband is built-in, meaning that you can’t use it with any other computer. If you buy a PC card modem or USB broadband modem, you can use it in any computer. Or even better, if you get MiFi, multiple computers can connect to it at the same time via WiFi.
I think netbook computers are very appealing for the occasional user who’s always on the go, or for kids as a relatively inexpensive machine that’s light to carry around. Though I don’t know how durable they are. I think a “kid-safe” model would definitely sell well!
Overall, I don’t think that they’re just a fad that will die out like they did last time. I think the evolution of technology has come far enough along with the price getting more and more appealing. People will still have to decide whether saving an extra $100 or so is worthwhile, or if they’d rather go with a regular, inexpensive (i.e. low end) notebook computer that has a larger screen, more memory, more power, a built-in DVD drive, larger harddrive, longer lasting battery life, etc. These mini computers will definitely be a niche play, or for the gadget lovers, but I believe that they will be here to stay!