The next generation of netbooks: faster, cheaper, and more… uh, notebook-like

The new HP Mini 110, another well-made, affordable Netbook

I’ve been following the latest announcements on the Netbook front over the past few months. The perfect storm — bad economy, demand for portability, emergence of cloud computing — has resulted in an explosive market segment. Consumers are devouring these things like mad.

The days of the $1,000+ laptop are certainly over. Some of the recent highlights:

  • HP refreshed their netbook lineup with 3 new models, the most interesting being the competitively priced $329 Mini 110 with 10.1″ screen
  • Eee PC launched updates which is no surprise given the rapid rate they introduce new models. The 1008HA $420, is a 10″ netbook with 92% keyboard
  • Lenovo pre-announced the S12 (which I really like) powered by the new NVIDIA Ion graphics card specifically designed for Netbooks that will enable HD and gaming capabilities, $449, 12″ screen, full-size keyboard (PC Magazine has a hands-on)
  • The Samsung N120 offers a big keyboard, 10.1″ screen, but premium price tag of $469

It will be interesting to see how this new category morphs over time. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the end, the netbook simply becomes the new notebook. Moore’s Law does rule after all, no?

These devices continue to get faster, slightly cheaper (it’s hard to go much lower than the generally accepted price point of $349-449) and more usable, sporting larger screens and, in more models, full-size keyboards.

My ideal model would have 12″ screen, 6+ hour battery life, full size keyboard, crisp high resolution LED screen and cost about $399. 6 months ago this would have been an impossible dream, but now it could be a matter of days away.

Now if I could only convince the powers that be here, to convince some manufacturers and/or distributors to send me some demo units, I’d be more than happy to put them through their paces and report back. Either that, or you’ll find me at Best Buy playing around, moving from one computer to the next.

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