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December 31, 2012 • News

2012, the Year the Netbook Died, a Eulogy


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.

6 Responses to " 2012, the Year the Netbook Died, a Eulogy "

  1. Good article – you and I both grabbed hold of netbooks hard back when they landed, though I let go much sooner …

    My couple of thoughts:

    – I would mark 2010 as the ‘death of netbooks’ year, as sales absolutely plummeted starting then. The way I see it, similar to how Palm and Windows Mobile offered devices until recently that nobody was buying … I would call 2012 ‘zombie netbook’ year 🙂

    – But at the same time I agree about 2012 – because Chromebooks have also been largely a non-entity. They aren’t peeling off laptop buyers, nor have they made a dent on tablets … they are just vanity gadgets that augment people who already have both.

  2. Erin524 says:

    I have an Acer Aspire A150. That poor little netbook never gets used. It sits neglected on my desk, between my iMac and my Mac Mini computers, wondering why I dont love it.

    Now that I have an iPad and an Ipad Mini, that netbook sits there neglected like the redheaded stepchild. Not even sure I could get more than $50 if I were to sell it now. Everyone wants iPads or other tablets now.

    • Yeah there in lies the problem now. Tablets really DO fill in for the netbook rather nicely. There are still some things that netbooks can do a little better, but when you add a keyboard dock to an iPad or Android tablet that becomes moot….unless you need a specific app that isn’t on iOS or Android yet.

      I still like the concept and I think it will be one that will come back once the price of the ultrabooks come down. However, 7, 9 and 10 inch screens may not be the size they choose favoring to go with an 11-13 inch screen or even a 15. As long as it’s thin, it can have the same portability as a netbook.

  3. David Firth says:

    I’ve got a soft spot for the highly mobile, so-called low-end of the computing spectrum. I’ve owned 4 netbooks since 2008, all Asus EEE PC variants (900, 901, 1001PX, 1015PX). My experiences have been good, especially recently. Mint versions 12 & 13 run great on the 10xxPX units, and LibreOffice is mature enough to do all but my most complicated spreadsheet work. I switched to SSDs based on my experience with the 901 (which I boosted with a Runcore SSD). Linux, an SSD and max RAM form the key to making a netbook do great things. I wish more folks had gotten this message. They’re great tools. Honest.

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