Tablets Digging Netbook Grave, Manufacturers React


For a very brief period in time, the Netbook seemed like the best thing since sliced bread. It seemed like the future of portable computing. But after the seemingly overnight success of Tablets, that sentiment quickly shifted to: “Ah, the netbook: the pet rock of the PC industry,” as Moconews described.

Google initially announced their Chrome OS as being for Netbooks but now even they’ve backed away from that terminology, which may one day rest with the fabled and unfortunate Palmfoleo. Google called their first official Chrome OS device the CR-48 Notebook, making us wonder if there was a place for Netbooks at all anymore?

There is definitely a place for Netbooks and that place is the cutting room floor. Acer has begun slashing production of their Netbooks in favor of the Iconia Tab – the company’s Android Tablet – most of which will be created in the 10-inch variety. For those craving a physical keyboard, why not have a hybrid device with a detachable tablet screen or a keyboard accessory like the Atrix rather than a full blown computer mini-sized into imperfection?

I won’t pretend like I know the fate of Netbooks but it certainly seems like tablets are digging their grave. I bought a Dell Netbook to use while traveling and quickly realized it was the most irritating device I’ve ever used with a keyboard JUST cramped enough that it made me want to jump into a molten lava. I bought an ultra-lightweight Toshiba and love it to death and the XOOM has proved to me tablets are here to stay while the bulk has opened my eyes to the value of 7-inch models like Samsung’s original Galaxy Tab.

What do you think… has the Netbook era ended before it even started? Are Netbooks the “Jump To Conclusions Pad” or the “Pet Rock”?


Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. Everything is rendering everything obsolete.

    In some cases, before the new products are widely available (i.e. dual core processors in phones).

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Anyone who makes statements like “Tablets Digging Netbook Grave” should take a step back and breathe in some reality.

    The reality is that netbooks will be around for a long time. So will laptops, and desktops, and yes, tablets.

    Different products, serving different consumers, or the same consumers for different reasons – boring, right? It’s certainly not as exciting as saying “TABLET SALES PILEDRIVE NETBOOKS IN CAGE MATCH!!!!!1111” or whatever the next sensational headline will be.

    But it’s true. That’s got to count for something.

    1. Well said. I personally need a real keyboard and screen large enough to do some real work. 12″ is perfect for me. In the transportation market we have cars, buses and trucks of all sizes and shapes. The right tool or vehicle for the right job is the way it will be.

    2. Yes, but when you have tablets that are becoming more like a laptop like the EEE pad with the attachable keyboard. When or even if Lenovo releases its Hybrid U1 laptop/tablet that runs both Windows OS AND Android. Well I get a feeling that laptop/netbook/tablets will eventually just become one product ;)

  2. I’m surprised net books survived this long with laptops already being out there. With tablets, one of them were gonna take a hit. I know good n well it wasnt gonna be laptops.

  3. I think that the netbook is dead, stuff like the transformer is the future…

    That said, when hp puts out a 11,6″ zacate powered notebook that also boots into webOS, then I think we will get a glimpse of what a ubuntu/android machine should be like…

    PS: 7 inch portablity win :)

  4. Netbooks were designed to be obselete anyway. The point behind a netbook is that you can get a cheap laptop under 300$ with underpowered specs that can still do most of the tasks you need on a computer.

    And there are some things a netbook can do that a tablet cant, like programming for example

  5. I think networks played an important role in getting computer prices down and mobility up. It showed that there was a huge market for cheap mobile devices, and manufacturers reacted. Sure, they raised the price a bit, but we now have a nice sweet spot between $400 and $600 where you can get a fully functional and usable computer, be it Windows, Linux or Android, iOS.
    So yea, Netbooks, as they were, are going away, but the spirit of them lives on.

  6. I think that will depend largely what apps are available. Those of us who still use devices primarily for work (but want all the fun of a tablet!) may need to be a bit patient before scrapping the laptop.

  7. I knew Netbooks were going to die when they were selling a ton of them, they never really made sense. Who wants to carry around a big laptop and a little one at the same time? Personally I don’t even know what I would do with a tablet that I can’t do with my laptop and Nexus S. If the rumors of a Nexus tablet (non carrier branded) are real then that would make it easier for me to want to buy one.

  8. The problem with the term “netbook” is that it’s pretty broad.

    I never thought an 8″ netbook was a good idea, for several reasons: one of the promises of netbooks was mobile multimedia, but the combination of the Atom CPU and cheap Intel GPU isn’t fast enough for full screen video.

    On the other hand, I just picked up the HP Pavilion netbook that uses the AMD Fusion CPU. It’s got a full size keyboard and an 11.6″ display, and it’s really the perfect netbook. It’s fast enough for casual games, and it does a good job with video. As a writing and web browsing machine, it’s a dream.

    On the other hand, I had a lot of frustration trying to write on the Xoom and the Galaxy Tab. Even Microsoft Word on Windows 3.1 was better than any of the word processors on Android.. I wonder why it is that nobody has ported a real word processor over yet.

    And why the heck does Google Docs still show the mobile version, even on the Xoom? The Atrix shows the full desktop version when it’s docked, and it’s usable in that state.

  9. Netbooks were a good idea.. including the 8″ ones.. it just so happen that a short while later tablets came out and there an even more handy device.

    To all the people who say “But my laptop can do…” .. you gotta stop right their. Maybe a laptop is a good size for you.. but for some its just to honkin big.. in meetings, placing that are standing room only, or if u just want somthing subtle to play with at work that wont get you in trouble.. the netbook was ideal. I use mine to run my TV off of, I dont need a larger device when the lil netbook works just fine for my before bed tv time.

    Had the tablet been out at the time, I’d have likly went with one then over the tablet.. My Xoom can do everything my netbook can + is even more ‘handy’.

  10. Again, Tablets will not kill anything until they have the functionality of the other formats. Laptops are successful because they can now do everything a desktop can do. Tablets will have a chance of killing (stealing) laptop buyers when they can do most of what a typical laptop can do. Allow the tablet to hook up an extension monitor, allow the tablet to do programming, allow the tablet to play games near the same level as a nicer laptop, and keep the portability so that all options are available.

    I tried the Xoom and walked away with a feeling of wanting. Right now all the tablets are just toys to hand to my kids on long drives. Oddly I have come to a premature conclusion that tabs need to grow 1-2 more inches or shrink down to the 8.9″ size. 10″ felt awkward.

  11. The whole touch interface is fun and all, but as I’ve said, I’ll be requiring a seperate area for input for as long as, oh.. until my fingers become transparent. I already know what the back of my hands look like. Right now for portability that means netbooks. The Asus lineup does have my attention though.

  12. If it has a physical keyboard and can put Ubuntu on it then I’ll adopt a tablet. Until then I’ll stick with my netbook. Really the only reason I’d upgrade as it is would be a better GPU and the detachable screen. Must have the same functionality as my desktop (also runs Ubuntu w/XP in Virtualbox).

    Android should be for phones only.

  13. I recently bought myself a netbook as I could no longer wait for a decent Android Tablet. So far I have been quite happy with it… running linux which works a treat on the low spec. While manufactures keep pissing around creating subpar tablet…. and lets be honest all the current android tablets seem halfbaked…. I will stick with my netbook.

    I will buy an android tablet eventually but not until they are comparable to the iPad *I feel sick just typing that …. but its the truth*

    So with the price point and versatility … I still thnink netbook have 1 up on tablets…..for now!

    1. I’m an ex-iPad owner and now an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer owner. The ASUS Eee pad blows the iPad out of the water. Typing on a glass is for dummies.. the ASUS Eee pad keybord dock, tablet and 16hr battery is the way to go not to mention the build in USB ports, HDMI port, microSD port, 30% better screen resolution and 500% better camera resolutions that the ASUS has over the iPAD. Thank you ASUS. I bought mine in Europe for 500 euros including the dock.

  14. I’ve tried using a netbook multiple times, and it’s such a pain. It’s a smaller, harder to use computer with nothing to make the experience any better. Like you said the keyboard is JUST small enough to be annoying to use, and nothing formats to the screen. Reading anything on the XDA forums is a pain in the ass since I have to constantly scroll up and down. My iPad 2 is a far better experience. The keyboard in landscape mode is the same size as the physical keyboards I use, and it works great. The content formats to the screen great and the apps were all designed with the hardware in mind. This goes for Honeycomb tablets, too, I’m just using my iPad as an example since that’s what I have. For me, it’s all about the user experience. I don’t care about the specs if the software and content don’t work well on the device! With tablets, developers and designers had the right idea. Everything just works so well with them. On my iPad, all of the apps I use work like a complete dream and I think that Honeycomb (and probably all versions after it) is the closest we’ll get to a great desktop like OS without using Windows. Besides, Honeycomb just looks so slick and futuristic. Flipping through the panels in the various widgets makes me feel like I’m Tony Stark using JARVIS, and the whole layout reminds me of Tron. I think with iMovie and Garageband on the iPad, developers have proved that tablets are moving in the direction of great content creation on tablets, and I can only imagine what Android developers are going to be doing with tablets since Android is much more open.

  15. Tablets, especially along the lines of the Transformer, will in fact, kill netbooks. Once some real productivity apps come on board.

    Google is making it take longer, with it’s lacking support for Google Docs. Once one of the other app makers get a good productivity suite on Android, tablets will kill off netbooks.

    The next step is the tablet getting beefy enough to do some basic development work (A web design suite, software suite, etc). It’s always easier to develop on the platform you are developing for.

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