Survey: Your netbook and you (or other people)

Netbooks seem to be everywhere lately, and some analysts expect hardware makers to ship about 35 million of them this year alone. Considering the state of the economy, that’s not entirely surprising, either—decent 9″ netbooks can be had for as little as ~$330, and they can fill in for full-blown laptops in many ways.

This surge in popularity all raises a number of questions. Just what kinds of people are buying netbooks, what exactly are they buying, and how are they using the systems? Are netbooks winning over enthusiasts, or do they end up in the hands of knowledgeable users’ parents, spouses, and children?

We’ve concocted a little survey in order to answer those questions (and a few others that were piquing our curiosity). We’ve done our best to word our questions sensibly and include a good cross-section of choices, but feel free to post comments below if you have more to say. Oh, and since this is a multiple-question survey, you won’t find it on our front page—just scroll down to get started.

Comments closed
    • d0g_p00p
    • 11 years ago

    When I got my 701 I never saw anybody with them. How with the 1000H (a year later) I see a ton of people with them. The HP and Acer model seems to be the most popular. This is the Bay Area

    • Ubik
    • 11 years ago

    I own an Aspire One that’s always in the backpack I take to work. It’s great for basic tasks like websurfing and such, but even for some of the more demanding things I do it’s at least a good enough stand-in until I get home to my desktop. For instance, I can use my music production software (Reason) on it, and although I have to crank up the latency and turn down the sound quality a bit for it to perform properly, it at least makes a good “sketchpad” for laying down ideas so I can expand on them at home. The performance is more than made up for by the portability, as I would feel ludicrous lugging my 14″ Thinkpad to and from work every day if I’m not always going to use it. The Aspire One, though, is similar in size to a trade paperback book, and I don’t even notice its weight in my backpack.

    It certainly isn’t a substitute for my main PC, but for my uses it fits its niche perfectly.

    • Imperor
    • 11 years ago

    How about “Overall size and weight / Portability” as an important feature?
    To me that’s one of the major points with the whole concept!

      • Chrispy_
      • 11 years ago

      Yep, Voted “other” for that exact missing category!

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    “what were the most important features you considered in your netbook purchase”

    Why ask a plural question when you can only pick a single answer?

    Anyway, it wasn’t just the keyboard that was important. The Screen Size and Resolution are major factors as well. The weight and size too. The styling a little, I found the EeePC’s of the time a bit too Atari400 for my liking.

    If I could have an ideal netbook, it would probably be:

    * 1366×768 16:9 10″ display
    * Same size, styling and keyboard as the HP 2133
    * 30GB SSD
    * 4 – 8 hour battery
    * 3 lbs or less
    * NVIDIA Ion

    Even by the end of this year, this configuration in a netbook will cost north of $600 though. The HP 2140 or 2150 may get most of the way there soon.

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    I like my HP 2133.

    It might have a CPU that was discovered beside dinosaur skulls in a dig in Arizona, and the battery life sucks at 2 hours (3 cell though, if needed I could get a 6 cell) but in every other aspect it’s great. Brilliant keyboard. Brilliant design. Amazing display (1280×768 8.9″, what I consider perfect).

    And using a browser like Chrome or Firefox instead of IE makes up for the CPU’s slowness in general tasks.

    Sucks for video though. But I have so many other devices that can do that I don’t care.

    Oh, and I got it in a sale for nearly half price.

    • Vasilyfav
    • 11 years ago

    It’s disturbing to me how many MEN buy netbooks and still consider themselves men.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      What is it that you find specifically feminine about an ultraportable computer?

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        I imagine he’s referring to the steroeotype that men are strong and shouldn’t whine about the weight of a laptop.

        Having owned an Alienware before, I can attest to being a tad effeminate as a result and won’t be getting something quite that heavy again. (Or something so crappily designed, but I digress.)

        I don’t mind up to ~6 pounds, but more starts to be a burden.

        Also none of these weights take into measure the power adapter, which can add significantly (the alienware one I had was over a pound aloneg{

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 11 years ago

          No, no!! Us men have to live up to the expression, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”. That is what it is all about, nothing else.

          We are ego driven and it is popular and men just have to have one.

          I must be the odd-ball cuz I don’t have one. My proirities for a netbook is way down on the bottom.

          But really, if I wanted to abuse my ego, I would get that gaming laptop with the soon-to-come HD 4xxx and a 5 minute battery life! I want power, baby!

            • indeego
            • 11 years ago

            Since I hit my 30’s, I no longer crave possessions, in fact a life of simplicity and few possessions would be ideal.

            My pseudo-wife is almost the opposite and it drives me crazyg{<.<}g

            • clone
            • 11 years ago

            I’m going with fewer bigger toys…… I still use rabbit ears for the TV and longsince got rid of the cell phone, with that in mind screw the netbook.

            I want a cottage on the water with a boat, (have the land) and am hoping to retire in 10 years preferably while keeping my current house.

            • SomeOtherGeek
            • 11 years ago

            Cool!! Maybe we can have a TR LAN party at your cottage? 😉 That is my dream too. My parents have this beautiful place in Montana. Nothing like having a simple life and an environment to release the stress.

            One day…

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah, because the very last thing any man ever wants is a new electronic device to play with.

    • dragmor
    • 11 years ago

    I’ve used over 20 different models of netbooks and so far my favourites are the HP ones. They have the keyboard right, a higher screen resolution, good 6 cell battery and a quality sturdy case. My only complaint is that they don’t fit in my suit coat pocket like the eee 900 does.

    At work we load the netbooks up as show pieces. Window Server 2003, SQL Server 2005 (or Oracle 11g), IIS, ASP.NET, etc. They demo a full loaded environment. With 2gb of ram everything runs good once its booted. There is a difference between the Celerons and the Atoms (Celerons being faster).

    The Everrun Note by Raon Digital is still the best party piece, only 7″ dual core AMD. Its a real show stopper but we can’t get Win2k3 to behave on it.

    • wesley96
    • 11 years ago

    Obviously, netbooks aren’t for everyone. I’m guessing it’s gonna be more popular in Asia, solely because I notice that the North American / European users have bigger hands on average. 😉

    There are about ten people in my office. I was the first person to get a ‘netbook’ when it was called ‘UMPC’ back in mid 2007. By the end of 2008, three more people got their own netbooks.

    BTW, the poll’s missing ‘weight’ option.

    • floodo1
    • 11 years ago

    what a horrible poll. only being able to pick one key thing besides price is ridiculous !!!!!!!!!
    Seriously keyboard AND battery life are huge requirements for me.

      • FireGryphon
      • 11 years ago

      The poll system should be reprogrammed to allow for check boxes instead of only radio buttons.

        • MBIlover
        • 11 years ago

        I concur. Battery life, keyboard, and GPU performance all matter. And not only do I use it to surf, it’s also a video player (VLC with ripped home dvd library).

        Dang guys, you dropped the ball on this poll. Check boxes please!

    • continuum
    • 11 years ago

    Priority #1: keyboard. Gotta be usable.

    Priority #2: battery life. Too many people I know don’t read the ad or the specs fully and end up with the 3-cell battery expecting 5 hours out of it…

    • videobits
    • 11 years ago

    I got my Acer Aspire One for just a shade over $300 shipped to my house.

    I made sure to get the one with the 6-cell battery which will go for 5-6 hours browsing and/or watching movies.

    My main interest in a Netbook was a lightweight machine that could be used while watching TV and websurfing/emailing. Also, something light to travel with.

    The machine has worked great for both. It was much better to carry than the 15″ Dell laptop through the airport. And I could easily open it on the plane. My wife and I watched almost 2 hours of video on a flight and still had a 75% charge. And finally a surprise use. We hadn’t played back all the videos I had so we plugged it into the RGB input of the TV in the bedroom and got nice video playback there.

    So that’s the positive. On the other hand my mother-in-law thought it would be a great idea to get one for my daughter for graduation/college. I firmly said NO to that idea. It’s a good secondary computer but not a primary one. For that you need a full size display, keyboard, DVD-R drive.

    My long winded point is that netbooks are ideal for certain purposes. And the price is right for what they are. You just need to understand the limitations and make sure you can live with the compromises that 2 pounds and true book size brings.

    My wish is that the nvidia integrated chipset with HD playback capabilities finds its way to these units soon. That would be a reason to upgrade.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      After spending some time in lecture hall, I have a newfounded want for netbooks. It’s a shame you said “NO” to that girl going off to college. Those dinky fold out tables in lecture hall are just fine (nay, perfect) for the netbook form factor, but any full sized (13.3″ or larger) laptop feels just a wee bit cumbersome.

      There is value in taking your notes digitally, btw.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        If the classroom had chairs and tables then there is plenty of room. If they have the stadium seating with the flip-up desks, well I generally just used my laps. It’s more comfortable for the arms to be typing on your lap than up on a desk, regardless of the size of a laptop.

        Note, this was true for 5 years of college with 15.4″ laptops and a 14.1″

        • bthylafh
        • 11 years ago

        IME computers are too much of a distraction in class. Too much temptation to screw around on the web instead of listening to the prof.

          • UberGerbil
          • 11 years ago

          That’s a self-discipline issue, not a technology issue.

          (Though generally speaking, I agree: if the lecture is worth attending at all it’s worth focusing on listening and understanding rather than trying to type and notate — that’s what lecture notes are for)

        • Hattig
        • 11 years ago

        No laptops in lecture halls. The student should be concentrating on the lecture. That’s hard to do with 100 people typing away. Also they suck for transcribing diagrams. All you need in the lecture hall is a pen, paper, and the class handout.

        You can transcribe later. This secondary transcription is where you learn. If you do it digitally, thoughtlessly, the first time, you don’t learn.

          • d2brothe
          • 11 years ago

          People have different learning styles, and personally, after a day of writing, I can’t read my own notes. I usually type my notes into a computer, rarely do I come across diagrams, and that’s why I have a tablet anyways. That being said, a netbook would probably be even better for me given that most of my lecture halls have no power outlets.

        • videobits
        • 11 years ago

        I just said “No” to the netbook as her only computer as I thought she needed something a little more full featured.
        And don’t feel bad for her. I steered grandma to nice little 14″ HP with 4gigs of Ram, DVD burner and a little media remote control that slides in the expansion slot of storage.

        You are right that it may be cramped if she tries to set it up on a lecture hall arm table, but I doubt she would use it to take notes anyway. The draw of facebook would be too strong, but that’s a whole other issue….

    • Shinare
    • 11 years ago

    Bought and Acer Aspire One (SSD one with XP) for my wife, she loves it, simply loves it. Best “laptop” she’s ever had. Even above my Toshiba desktop replacement with the 9700M GTS video card and core2duo + 4GB DDR3. She uses the netbook for surfing, email, and light Microsoft office productivity.

    I showed it to my mom last weekend and she, within hours of using, went to best buy and bought one for herself.

    Not too bad a deal at $299 I must admit. I also must admit that I was a little prejudiced against the purchase for my wife, but I do also enjoy using it now as well. In fact, its so much easier to whip out and use that the toshiba has been used MUCH less since its purchase.

    • puppetworx
    • 11 years ago

    I have an Acer Aspire One 8GB. The main use is watching video on the move as I commute to University by bus everyday. The most important things for me were weight, cost and battery life.

    I have to say I think it’s hilarious when people think this thing won’t run Windows XP usably because it ONLY has 512mb RAM and a 1.6GHz CPU.

    The key to the thing running fast is disabling all the schwag you don’t need especially services and graphics effects, though I do still use a theme. I only use it on trusted networks so I let Windows and whatever network I’m connected to deal with the firewall, and I have no antivirus running. (I have Avira installed but not constantly running, it’s extremely rare that I get a virus though other people seem to pick them up like hotcakes I’m guessing it’s all the free porn sites they accidentallly click on…that’s where I get mine every 4 years when I’m tempted…)

    I don’t multitask or try to convert video with it…the thing zips along and is really all you need on the move. This coming from someone who normally uses a quad-core gaming PC from day to day. Only complaint is the painfully slow SSD but this only comes into effect when installing software which is rare. Getting Windows on it from USB did take quite a while too but that’s my fault for being to cheap for a USB DVD drive. 🙂

      • rhema83
      • 11 years ago

      How true. My IBM T42 came with 256MB RAM and 1.7GHz CPU, and it ran Windows XP Pro fine. I did upgrade it to 2GB RAM subsequently, but it was no slouch to start with – in August 2004.

      People expect too much from these “netbooks”. Wind the clock back by 5 years and the Aspire One would be a top-of-the-line machine.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    I didn’t make it past the first question.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      Same, although I want to answer the rest of them.

      • Prototyped
      • 11 years ago

      You can still answer the last question, given it’s about a potential future choice.

    • pikaporeon
    • 11 years ago

    I;m on my second netbook. My first one I couldn’t deal with the 7″ screen and 2 hour battery.
    Noow on an EEE901; 8h of battery and a 9″ screen rock.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      It looks as if you might have been typing from the netbook, I suspect your next line was going to be ‘but the keyboard sucks’ except you accidentally hit the trackpad button and submitted the post.

        • pikaporeon
        • 11 years ago

        typed from a dell 15″er, showing im used to my asus by now.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    I do not know a single person nor have I even seen a single person with one of these. Then again, I live in Cincinnati.

    • Hance
    • 11 years ago

    We have three netbooks in the house where is the do you own more than one option.

    I have a 7 inch EEE and for what I bought it for it worked fine. I bought it to do nothing but run gps in my truck. Typing on it, surfing the web on it, or doing much of anything other than the GPS was giant pain in the butt.

    I decided I wanted another netbook that would let me surf the internet, do test reports, send email and actually be able to type on so I bought an Aspire One. For all of my purposes its works great. Its small enough that when I travel I can throw it in my suitcase and not worry about it. I haven’t really found a short coming yet. I let my wife give it a try and she liked it so much I ended up buying one for her too.

    • dlenmn
    • 11 years ago

    Screen resolution wasn’t my number on concern, but it’s a close second. Too often, 600 pixels is just not enough vertical space (sometimes the bottoms of windows — where important buttons are — will be inaccessible). But for whatever reason, few companies will make screens with greater resolution. Instead, many up screen size but keep the resolution the same (it looks like the new Acer will do that. Oy.), which has some utility for some people, but my guess is that most people would be better off with both size and resolution increased. Is it that hard to do?

      • reactorfuel
      • 11 years ago

      There are restrictions imposed by Microsoft and Intel – they want to keep cheap, netbook-targeted stuff like XP and Atom from moving into spaces where they want people to be using more profitable products like Vista and higher-end CPUs. That’s a big part of why netbooks share so many specs (including resolution) across manufacturers – they’re running up against licensing limitations.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Go out and find a 10-12″ panel with very high resolution and a price that would fit into the netbook market niche. We’ll wait.

        There are only a handful of panel manufacturers. The Netbook makers can’t equip their machines with a component that doesn’t exist (or is extremely expensive).

          • dlenmn
          • 11 years ago

          The original mininote has a 8.9″ 1280 X 768 display and the new 2140 (with an atom) has a 10.1″ 1,366 X 768 option (although, IIRC, that option isn’t shipping yet), so such panels do exist. It’s possible that both are expensive, but it’s nothing a little demand couldn’t fix in time.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    Netbooks are too pointless and expensive for my taste. If I wanted to carry electronics all around the place, I’d rob a bank to invest in vanity, because in all other cases, it’s a waste. If you need work done, get a laptop. If you need petty things, get a new phone or PDA. If you suffer from internetitis and can’t stand withdrawal, seek counseling instead of buying one more device.

    • Shobai
    • 11 years ago

    for me the main uses are Matlab and compilers, note taking, assignments and the odd game [esp war3] on my eee701. for me, the most important feature [and hence the reason for my “other” vote] was the physical size.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      What’s it like running matlab on an Atom?

        • Shobai
        • 11 years ago

        Uber: i have no idea =) the 701 runs a celery 900.

        rhema: obviously i run it at 900MHz for calculations, but even so it really isn’t too bad. honestly, it loads in roughly half the time it takes the P2.4s in some of the labs at uni to load. most of the matlab i do is simple reiteration, not simulation, so it handles it fine.

      • rhema83
      • 11 years ago

      I hope you are not doing any matlab simulations with your EEE. Or you will be stuck with the “busy” status for hours.

    • SnowboardingTobi
    • 11 years ago

    I don’t own one yet, but I’m planning on buying the Samsung NC10 by the end of February.

    My main purpose of the device is for transferring photos off my CF cards while I’m traveling.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Ok, I have to ask: the photo accompanying this on the front page is from… where, exactly?

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    I kept voting, and I kept finding that the things which my girlfriend likes about her Aspire One are not things that other people care about!

    • alsoRun
    • 11 years ago

    I will never buy these. The minimum screen size for me is 13″. Why should anyone settle for that tiny screen when you can get 14″ for $400 on sale?

    Another thing I do not understand is this net-zero ad urging people to go back to dial up from broadband. What is going on? Are we fast falling to the bottom of the world in terms of broadband use?

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      If 14″ is too big, why should someone settle for something deal-breakingly large even if it is only $400? Your requirements don’t apply to everyone else. Different products serve different market niches. That you don’t fall into this niche doesn’t make the products any less valid for those who do.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      See Uber’s post.

      • Voldenuit
      • 11 years ago

      Because they want a portable device that’s, I dunno, *[

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      Have both a 15″ Centrino-based notebook and a 9″ Atom-based netbook. Each is useful in ways the other one is exactly not, so whenever I’m on the road, I grab whichever one is more appropriate for my day’s travels.

      Ever open your $400, 13-14″ notebook on an airline tray table, incidentally? Especially a commuter jet like a 727 or CRJ? Take note of how the guy next to you is using his netbook without being hunched up into a chimp pose.

      • VILLAIN_xx
      • 11 years ago

      Which one of these is the cheapest? With the best battery life? thats all i care about.

      lol @ watching movies and photo processing voters. That must’ve been like watching paint dry.

      EDIT:

      this was an accidental reply to post #18, but my condolences though lol. The gerbils here REALLY like the netbooks with a few people who stand out against them. I personally think theyre alright, just not for the prices…..yet.

        • havanu
        • 11 years ago

        I’m sorry, but you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. You now what’s nice about a small laptop with a relatively high resolution pitch?
        You can put it real close, like next to your face on your bed and enjoy quite a bit of screen estate. Plug in a decent headseat, and boom, you’re right there with them. I love it, especially for watching TV shows.

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          Just when I thought I’d seen everything from your class on How to Ruin Our Eyes, you capitalise on the presentation with “headseat”. Amusing.

            • eitje
            • 11 years ago

            oh, that’s just an old wives’ tale.

            • VILLAIN_xx
            • 11 years ago

            Well i don’t know about putting the* screen close to my face as a means to make me believe ive turned a 13 inch into a 40 inch display, i did learn something today.

            There is a nicer friendlier way to call people “asshat” while playing multiplayer games…..

            “headseat” is the friendly alternative.

            Im just playing with the subject now. Dont mind me.

            🙂

            • Voldenuit
            • 11 years ago

            I also hear that if you squint really hard, you don’t have to bother getting the HD version :p

            Not that most netbooks (1024×600-ish) have enough resolution for HD, even if the Atom could keep up in the first place.

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      I’m surprised at the success of these devices as well. I find them to be a few steps forward, but a few more backward. I like the step up from this, the Ultalight notebooks (HP and IBM the forerunners IMO.) You get a good balance of screen size, CPU power, battery life(8-9 hours), and weight(4-5 lbs depending on battery). Work pays for it so I could care less about the price.

      I don’t mind Vista much anymore, so having a more modern OS is nice as well.

      I’ve seen them refurb’ed at low as $600 with a year warranty, and we’ve had enough of them come through that they are reliable machinesg{<.<}g

        • Voldenuit
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, the X200, X200s, X200t, X300, X301, 2530p, 2730p are sweet.

        • ludi
        • 11 years ago

        If you can get your work to buy one for me as well, I’ll reconsider my position 😛

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        g[

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 11 years ago

      I’m with you on this one. Sacrifice in performance and functionality is not worth it imo.

    • Voldenuit
    • 11 years ago

    I don’t need a netbook, my Thinkpad X300 is more than portable enough to carry around and powerful enough to meet most of my work/school computing needs :p.

    On a serious note, I’d like to see someone make a slate netbook* (with an optional detachable/wireless keyboard). Of course, that would require M$ to loosen their in(s)ane restrictions on Windows XP editions. Maybe Windows 7 will have even better tablet features.

    * Since most netbooks are used for light computing/browsing tasks and not for heavy duty work (documents, spreadsheets, analysis etc), why do we even need to carry a keyboard around all day?

      • zima
      • 11 years ago

      …and small Thinkpads have one great advantage; I had (unfortunatelly?) the opportunity to use some “large” Thinkpad for a day and forced (at the beginning) myself to use Trackpoint – after a few hours I was able to enjoyably play UT & Diablo2; well, I play as a necromancer usually so there’s not that much clicking…but still, touchpads can’t come close to the comfort of using clit (I guess that’s why practically everybody I know uses mouse with their “normal” laptop, and usually carries it with them when taking the laptop somewhere…I’ve even seen people trying to use the mouse on flat area next to the touchpad when sitting on a park bench/etc.)

      It’s too bad Lenovo didn’t release some sort of “Thinkpad X mini” and settled instead on “just another netbook”; I guess the suits didn’t want the sales of X-series to be cannibalised. Machine with performance of current netbooks, but in a X60/61 style case, with place for MUCH larger batteries would be perfect for my portable computing needs.

      Oh well, I guess they won’t get any sale out of me in that case/I have to find some used X40/41…

    • Jive
    • 11 years ago

    Bought an Acer Aspire One for my parents, and i can’t stand to use the thing for more then 5 minutes. Maybe its something i need to get used to, maybe its just me; but the small keyboard, small track pad, and the mouse buttons on the left and right of the track pad make me want to throw the thing against the wall.

    • bowman
    • 11 years ago

    SAMSUNG NC10!

    I’d only upgrade for even better battery life, slimmer sleeker design and preinstalled Linux (no MS tax).

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    Screen size and resolution from me. I don’t really care about GPU and CPU speed. Its ‘fast enough’ and I was reminded of htat when I had to use a Pentium M 1.6ghz Dell Laptop. My 1.6ghz Atom blows its doors off in terms of every day usability. Both had 2gb of ram, both had mechanical hard drives. The MSI Wind I have is wonderful. I wish it had an 11″ screen, as the bezel would easily accomodate it, but the form factor is perfect.

    • moop2000
    • 11 years ago

    We got one at work for the assistants to use when taking notes in meetings. All they need is a decent laptop to take notes on, and it’s much easier and cheaper to pick up a $400 little netbook versus a big, $1500 laptop we usually buy. And it’s been a big hit in our office for that reason!

    • KarateBob
    • 11 years ago

    I was planning on buying an MSI Wind, due to it’s bigger and better keyboard, but I’ve decided to wait for an NVIDIA Ion based netbook.

    • bhtooefr
    • 11 years ago

    What’s scary is that nobody’s voted for keyboard so far on the last question (after 10 votes.)

    And I’m even a switchaholic… but I voted screen resolution. Then again, I’m equally a resolution whore. And I can always plug in one of my good keyboards when the built-in one sucks. (Although, the Aspire One’s board is quite good.)

      • bthylafh
      • 11 years ago

      Which is bigger: your Acer, or your Model M? 🙂

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