Notebook Computers Go Small Really Small

SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

By SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

Google Apps and Small PCs

For a number of years computer manufacturers have been wrestling with the size of the laptop. Specifically, they’ve been trying to make notebook computers as small as possible and energize the ‘ultra-portable’ market. Entries into this division have ranged wildly in price and quality, and the major hurdle for manufacturers and consumers alike was sticker price. Up until recently consumers paid big bucks for tiny computers. With the introduction of the Intel Atom, a miniaturized processor, one of the major hurdles in bringing affordable micro-notebooks to the market has been cleared. Another major roadblock has been storage. Drives small enough to fit the dramatically reduced form factor of a ‘sub-notebook’ have only recently started to drop in price, paving the way for manufacturers to begin the introduction of smaller and smaller notebooks.

With the Eee PC Asus is now leading the pack in the marketing of small notebooks. These computers have been dubbed ‘netbooks‘ as their primary focus is on wireless connection to the Internet, web browsing, and email.

One interesting outgrowth of this new trend in Internet-centric computers is the adoption of Linux as a viable, even preferable, alternative to Windows. To date Asus has sold over one million units, and has projected that over five million will sell before the end of the year. For Linux this is a huge increase in user adoption. Given the success of Linux on these machines it’s easy to speculate that users of Windows might start to question why they need the more expensive OS from Microsoft. That said, Asus is now releasing a version of the Eee PC that uses Windows XP, and HP is marketing their own netbook with Windows Vista.

Clearly a demand has been created for ultra-portable computers with advanced wi-fi capability. So, what could this mean for desktop applications? It could mean that client-side software comes under attack by software in the cloud, or hosted applications. The nature of the netbooks makes them an ideal platform for writing, storing, and sharing all of your documents online with services such as Google Apps or Zoho Office.

Obviously, these are not ideal systems for high-end graphics work or gaming. More typical high-end notebooks and desktops will still be used for those purposes. The low cost and small size of these computers make them ideal for students who need a computer for taking notes during class. Writers and Business professionals who are rarely in the office or at home might also appreciate the low cost and flexibility of a netbook.


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