Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Netbook PCs gain power and challenge notebooks

It's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between a "netbook" and a "notebook". Last year, Microsoft and Intel colluded to set forth the definition of a so-called netbook PC. For example, Microsoft characterized machines as ultra-low-cost PCs if they ran a processor running at or below 1-GHz and possessed 1GB or less of RAM. Furthermore, the machine could have a maximum hard drive storage of 80GB and a puny 10-inch screen.

Hardware manufacturers are ignoring these spec's by building low-priced laptops with features that were once only available in higher-end machines. The Dell Inspiron Mini 12 netbook ships comes with a 12-inch screen and a nearly full laptop-size keyboard. ASUSTek Computer Inc. announced that an upcoming model of its popular Eee netbook, the 1004DN, would ship with an internal DVD drive, a 10-inch LCD screen that supports 720p HD video, and a 120GB hard drive. These and other similar netbooks are all priced under $650 (US).

For some users, there is no real requirement to pay the Microsoft premium. Free or low-cost Linux operating systems will handle web browsing and typical document creation just fine. This will put dramatic pricing and revenue pressure on both Microsoft and Intel. Expect to see their shares of the operating system and chip markets to continue to degrade over the next several years.

Read more at ComputerWorld: Beefed-up netbooks blur lines with notebook PCs

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