Netbooks are all the rage

Netbooks are the hottest new technology products out there right now and I confess I find them pretty intriguing as well.  About 10 years ago I bought IBM’s z50 workpad and it cost even more than today’s netbooks, but could do a lot less. I’ve taken a few of the netbooks for a drive and they are a great solution for most people. Are they robust enough to be your full-time computer – maybe.

As economists are fond of saying – It Depends. If you are looking for a graphics powerhouse to edit your home movies then you should probably take a pass on netbooks. But if you primarily surf the web, check email, do light word processing and create simple spreadsheets then they are perfect especially if you are looking for a lightweight, small and very portable computer.

In fact today’s netbooks actually fulfill the promise of the z50 by exceeding it’s capabilities. The Z50 looked and sounded great but it fell short on functionality. Of course the WinCE operating system was especially limited in functionality, so comparing it to a netbook running WinXP isn’t really fair.  Especially given the maturity and reliability of Windows XP. In fact I think it’s safe to say that Windows XP is the best operating system since DOS 6.22, and like DOS 6.22 it will remain in use for years to come long after official support has ended.

Given the small size and relative low cost of a netbook, about $200-400 depending on configuration, I think that they will become the de facto secondary family system for use in the TV room, on vacation or in the kitchen to read recipes online. Watching my in-laws schlep their 8-pound behemoth around just to check their gmail and surf a few websites I can’t imagine a more perfect solution to their computing needs.

Here are a couple of models that are interesting. Acer’s and HP’s.

What do you think? Will you be buying a netbook anytime soon? -t

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