Since the netbook debuted in 2007 with the popular ASUS Eee PC 701, the smaller, low-powered, and low-cost laptop has found a growing niche in a consumer base looking for an inexpensive and always-connected device for simple computing tasks like checking email and surfing the Web. While the term “netbook” often conjures thoughts of a cheap notebook or budget laptop, there are distinct characteristics that define the device. NBR outlines key differences between a netbook and a traditional laptop in the table below.
|Keyboard Size||80-90% Full Size||Full Size|
|Weight||2.5 -3.5 lbs.||2.5 – 7.5 lbs.|
|Battery Life||6-12 hours||2-10 hours|
|Operating System||Windows XP or Windows 7 Starter||Windows 7 Premium|
|Hard Drive Space||80-160GB||320-640GB|
|Processor||Intel Atom (single-core)||Intel Core 2 Duo/Core i3 or AMD Athlon/Turion II (dual-core)|
|Overall Performance Factor||1x||4x-8x|
A PriceGrabber.com survey of 1,680 consumers sheds some light on the growing netbook trend, finding that netbook adoption may be driven by older consumers looking to spend less on computing devices. In fact, the primary age group for netbook ownership has shifted 10 years since 2007, from 35-54 years old to 45-64 years old. The experts at NBR attribute this in part to the fact that netbooks tend to be simplified devices, ideal for an older demographic that may have less experience with computers. The chart below illustrates the age breakdown for 2009 and 2010.
Of course, netbooks have gone from 0% market share to 20% in three years on more than strong retiree sales. These devices are popular because they do exactly what consumers want them to do: offer a convenient way to stay connected while on the go. With that in mind, 55% of survey respondents claim they are not replacing their main laptop or desktop computer with a netbook, despite some lofty manufacturer claims of netbook capability and performance.
So what should one expect from a netbook? Check out NBR\’s extensive reviews of some popular devices.
The netbook market is already starting to diversify, Intel’s Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) platform and the Ultra Thin notebook now offer all the features of a standard laptop, but in a thinner form with longer battery life (two main netbook features). Also, smartbooks are starting to penetrate the market. These devices fit somewhere between a smartphone and a netbook in terms of size and performance. While many consider Apple’s iPad a “tablet,” it could be a device to define some key smartbook features, including the wireless data contract and mobile OS.
Read the rest of the NBR’s insights, including very interesting usage statistics, in their netbook market review.