A year ago I published a Plus Edition article describing a $400 "netbook" that I had just purchased. A "netbook" is a new term for a tiny, low-powered laptop computer, usually weighing two pounds of less. These are small computers that are cheaper and lighter than full-scale laptops.
In the year since I purchased mine, I have traveled extensively and have used it to check e-mail from many hotel rooms, airports, and other places. I have written newsletter articles using its built-in word processor and have also created web pages for the eogn.com web site using an HTML editor that I downloaded and installed on the netbook.
In short, I have used this two-pound, $400 netbook to perform almost all the same applications that I typically do with my older $1,000+ laptop.
To be sure, the tiny netbook does have some significant limitations: a small screen, a small keyboard, and limited storage capacity. However, I find the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I especially appreciate being able to slip it into an overcoat pocket when traveling.
I continue to use my tiny computer frequently. So do others. I often see similar computers in use by fellow travelers in airports and elsewhere. Now The Economist has written an article that describes not only my netbook, but also a number of similar computers that have appeared in the marketplace in the past twelve months since my article was published.
Quoting from the article:
They typically have screens measuring seven to ten inches diagonally. They have built-in wireless networking, but lack an optical drive for CDs or DVDs. Some use flash memory for storage instead of a hard disk, which makes them more robust and extends battery life. Netbooks generally cost less than $500. IDC, a market-research firm, reckons worldwide sales of netbooks will reach 10.8m in 2008 and more than 20m in 2009, during which they will represent 11-12% of the entire laptop market.
The article describes several such systems, ranging in price from $300 (£179 in Britain) up to $500 (£330) or so. The pictures in the article are all of the Asus 701 Eee, the same computer that I wrote about a year ago.
If you have an interest in tiny portable computers, I suggest you read the article at http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12673233.