2012, the Year the Netbook Died, a Eulogy


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It’s been widely reported over the web that Acer and Asus are pulling out of the netbook market as of today effectively ending the netbook as a viable platform.  It says a great deal when Asus, who practically invented the netbook, has said they are done.  I write not to bury the netbook but to praise it for what it was: a great and cheap way to get things done on the web.

I remember the very first netbook, the Asus EeePC 701.  It wasn’t the most powerful thing out there.  It had a 900 MHz Celeron, 7 inch screen and the very first netbook ran not Windows, but Linux.  It wasn’t long after it came out that I had one and even with it’s minimal specs I loved it and carried it everywhere.  I quickly learned how to get rid of the default Linux install and put on Ubuntu and I was loving it.  Sure, the trackpad sucked mostly because it was just way too small, but I still trekked that thing everywhere.  I used to edit podcasts using the 701 and while it wasn’t the greatest at this task, it did get things done.

Not long after that, I received as a gift from Judie, the Asus EeePC 1000HE.  For a LONG time I used ONLY this machine to write for Gear Diary.  It came with Windows XP on it, but I never fully booted it favoring Ubuntu and Linux Mint on this machine.  This netbook got the most use of all of the netbooks I ever owned.  By far this 10 inch lovely was the best netbook I ever had.  It was still a single core Atom, but it still got things done.

My last, and current netbook is the Lenovo S10-3t.  I originally ran MeeGo on this until not long after I got it, MeeGo became history getting renamed several times.  After that I ran almost every major Linux distro on this thing.  The 3T was unique in that it has a capacitive touchscreen like the very devices that killed the netbook market in a few short years: the iPad and Android Tablets.  I still use it, but I almost never carry it preferring to take my EeePad Transformer with me instead.  However, it sits in my home office getting almost daily use as a scratchpad of sorts whenever I need to jot down a phone number or a quick note.

As we get ready to ring in the new year, share your story of your beloved netbook if you fell for them as I did.  Even though netbooks as a category are no more, the technology they were based on lives on in other form factors including Google’s Chromebook.  So, in a way, the netbook lives on but not as they once were.  Farewell Netbooks.  Many may not miss you but I sure will.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.