Netbooks go bye-bye

In more recent tech news, it has been predicted that netbooks (amongst other things) won’t last through this coming year. And honestly, I can’t say I’m very surprised.

In case you haven’t noticed, a “netbook” is a small laptop PC (usually with a 10 inch screen) with a complete operating system (usually Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter or some Linux variant), aimed at those who don’t want a “complete” laptop PC, yet still want most features of such a laptop.

As I saw it when they came on the market, they filled a temporary need for something more portable that a regular laptop, and might be good enough when on vacation (or other travels) for quick-and-easy Internet access on the go. This market need was replaced soon after with tablets, such as Galaxy Tab and iPad, since they were even more portable, and had the same type of operating system as several brands of smartphones. And with the growth of cloud storage services (Dropbox, Box, and later, iCloud, SkyDrive, Google Drive, and others), you can have access to all your files from anywhere, across all devices.

At first, I saw these netbooks as an alternative to bringing my larger laptop while on vacation, but I held off on purchasing one until it was actually time to go on vacation. Eventually, when that time came, I decided against purchasing one, as I would only need it once a year (on my annual vacation trip), and it’d be left unused the rest of the year. Basically, it was an unnecessary investment in my case. And given the fact that it had a full-featured operating system, you’d have to go through a complete start-up sequence every time you were going to use it.

With the introduction of tablet computers, where iPad and Galaxy Tab have become the most successful ones, you could be always-on, with no long boot sequence necessary before using it. Just unlock the screen and start using it right away. This was something that I could use when on vacation, and still be able to use the rest of the year (or not – if that’s what I wanted).

I had also held off on getting a tablet myself, since I had a quite advanced smartphone at this point (HTC HD2 aka. HTC Leo, which was a Windows-based phone). Later, I switched to an Android device – HTC Desire HD (aka. HTC Ace) – which was also one of the most advanced smartphones at the time.

Then, at the end of 2011, I got an iPad 2 (with 64 GB storage and 3G network) from work, as a “thank you for the hard effort” from earlier that year, and I’ve been using this quite often this past year. I’ve divided my time spent on both my iPad and my smartphone quite a bit, where I previously only used my smartphone. The iPad comes in handy when doing longer visits to one or more websites, searching for something on Google and viewing videos, compared to the smartphone screen, and I’d have to admit I’m quite happy with my iPad, even though some of the limitations annoy me at times. Granted, if I had to buy a tablet with my own money, I might’ve gone for a Galaxy Tab instead, but since it was my employer’s money (and he was the one who wanted to get me an iPad, and the most feature-complete version, including mobile broadband paid for by my employer), I accepted the iPad.

On my last vacation, the only computer devices I had with me, were my iPad and my Galaxy S III smartphone, and this went as smoothly as expected (even though I realized I should’ve brought along more than one charger plug, so I could charge more than one device at a time).

All in all, I don’t think we’ll miss netbooks that much. Basically, if you want something small for some basic web surfing and e-mail reading, you can get a tablet device. Or if you want a full-featured laptop that’s light-weight and designed for travels (either on business or vacation travels), you can get an ultrabook (which is a smaller laptop, without comprimising on performance, which netbooks often did).

Or, just stick to a cheap and basic laptop.