Netbooks are doing just fine, thanks…

Ladies & gentlemen, today's wild goose chase...

Brad Linder’s liliputing reported last week that netbook sales were slowing, partly due to the rising tide of tablets and also because the lines are blurring between netbooks and more powerful but equally small thin and light laptops.

All of this may be true but I’ve evidence of my own that netbooks are still wildly popular.

Last weekend Shoppers Drug Mart — one of those big drug stores encroaching on supermarkets and department store chains — had a one-day sale featuring, among other things, an Acer Aspire One netbook for $250 CAD. I checked no less than 5 stores here in downtown Toronto, and none of them had any stock.

Granted, the deal was made more appealing by the availability of extra loyalty points (or a mark-down on the price if you used said points for purchase) and there wasn’t much stock shipped to locations in the first place, but that a clearly discontinued last-gen unit could sell out so quickly is a sign to me that netbooks aren’t going anywhere just yet.

As they are still limited in horsepower by the demands of Microsoft the critical piece of the puzzle for your netbook is the right Linux distribution. My Eee PC has never felt faster since I put MeeGo on it. But that’s far from the only choice:

  • Jolicloud still gets my vote for the user who mostly wants the web, more so than proper offline applications;
  • Easy Peasy combines the latest Linux kernel, the new Ubuntu release and all the video codecs you’ll ever need;
  • There are at least two more netbook-optimized Linuxes in my testing queue — The new Kubuntu for netbooks with Plasmoids (?) and an entirely new distro called Peppermint, which I heard about on the Linux Outlaws.

Though I’ve got my eye on the slightly larger Lenovo x100e truth is my diminutive Eee PC 901 still works great — it’s the perfect size to carry around with me at home and abroad, and hasn’t let me down yet.

I’ll be making my case for netbooks against Apple’s iPad on this week’s episode of DyscultureD, recording tomorrow night at 9:30pm Eastern. If you want to join the fight you can listen and chat with us live, or leave a comment below.

8 comments:

  1. AC:

    I still see a lot of netbooks out there–I work near a big high school and that’s what the kids are using (I’d say it’s about 50-50 Windows and various Linux OS’s, based on the glimpses of screens). Will these kids be using iPads next year? Maybe the Windows people will, but I’ll bet the ones with Linux machines won’t!

    I’m still using my 2003-era iBook G4, which is not much bigger than some of the netbooks out there. It’s hard to beat a computer small enough to carry in a backpack and still able to do everything I need it to do, even an obsolete laptop like mine.

    In fact, my iBook has replaced my desktop machine for everyday use, and I don’t anticipate upgrading to anything new this year. If I did have to upgrade due to a hardware failure, I’d probably opt for a netbook.

    Ed

  2. AC:

    I still see a lot of netbooks out there–I work near a big high school and that’s what the kids are using (I’d say it’s about 50-50 Windows and various Linux OS’s, based on the glimpses of screens). Will these kids be using iPads next year? Maybe the Windows people will, but I’ll bet the ones with Linux machines won’t!

    I’m still using my 2003-era iBook G4, which is not much bigger than some of the netbooks out there. It’s hard to beat a computer small enough to carry in a backpack and still able to do everything I need it to do, even an obsolete laptop like mine.

    In fact, my iBook has replaced my desktop machine for everyday use, and I don’t anticipate upgrading to anything new this year. If I did have to upgrade due to a hardware failure, I’d probably opt for a netbook.

    Ed

  3. “It’s about 50-50 Windows and various Linux OS’s…”

    The future’s in good hands, then — or at least half of it is. 😉

  4. “It’s about 50-50 Windows and various Linux OS’s…”

    The future’s in good hands, then — or at least half of it is. 😉

  5. My aspire one is my only computer. I use it for work and play, and it runs Arch Linux. With Arch I can configure it lean, but still include all the functionality I need. For example, I use fluxbox with no graphical login manager. Booting to my desktop consumes about 40Mb of ram. 😉

  6. My aspire one is my only computer. I use it for work and play, and it runs Arch Linux. With Arch I can configure it lean, but still include all the functionality I need. For example, I use fluxbox with no graphical login manager. Booting to my desktop consumes about 40Mb of ram. 😉

  7. I bought an Eee PC in early 2008 and although it was limited, it was a great machine. Then late last year I bought a Dell Mini, and I love it! It came with Windows XP, which runs like a dog, but I dual-boot it with Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and it works really well on that. For a lot of things, a netbook has a much better form factor than the iPad, and it’s an inherently more flexible device (not to mention the fact that the UK price tag for the iPad is nearly twice that of my Dell Mini).

  8. I bought an Eee PC in early 2008 and although it was limited, it was a great machine. Then late last year I bought a Dell Mini, and I love it! It came with Windows XP, which runs like a dog, but I dual-boot it with Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and it works really well on that. For a lot of things, a netbook has a much better form factor than the iPad, and it’s an inherently more flexible device (not to mention the fact that the UK price tag for the iPad is nearly twice that of my Dell Mini).

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