The netbook is dead. Or so says nearly every pundit, analyst and research firm that watches the PC market.
But don’t tell that to Intel, whose next-generation processors will power a wave of dirt-cheap Windows laptops later this year.
“If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [Bay Trail] processors. Those prices are going to be down to as low as $200,” said Intel CEO Paul Otellini.
The Bay Trail chip is a complete redesign of the Atom micro architecture and is expected to get Atom chips closer to mainstream Intel chips in performance.
Okay, so no one at Intel actually says the word “netbook.” You can’t blame them, given the death sentence the product category has received.
But all the signs are there: sub-$300 price tags (possibly spurred by discount Windows 8 licenses), Atom-based processors and small screens (we assume, given that Atom chips are nearly impossible to find in larger displays). It all seems so familiar.
The only difference — aside from the non-netbook nomenclature — is that these laptops will have touchscreens. But will they suffer from all the ailments that afflicted the netbooks of old? I owned an MSI netbook about five years ago. It had a low-quality display, an uncomfortable trackpad and a cramped keyboard. It easily became bogged down by running too many programs or browser tabs at once. It had to be replaced a few months in when its hard drive failed. When it got stolen a year later, I never considered buying another one. The inferior experience didn’t justify the cost savings over a regular work laptop. And for casual computing, the iPad became a better alternative.
I don’t want to judge the next wave of netbooks without seeing the actual products. It’s just amusing to see Intel tout a category of PCs that it used to insist people should not like. You know what they say about desperate times.