January 18, 2011, 5:32 PM — So long, netbooks.
If the fact few people are buying netbooks nowadays isn't enough, Acer sales manager Lu Bing-hsian has gone on record as saying that tablets will soon replace netbooks in Acer's line-up. "That's the direction of the market," he says.
I've been waiting for this moment since late 2007. That's when I took receipt of the first ever netboo, an Asus Eee 701. I was among the first in the world to own one, having placed an order well in advance.
The eagerness with which I tore open the packaging was destroyed within minutes of booting up. It was a horrible user experience. I developed a hand cramp within half an hour from typing on the tiny keyboard. The touchpad was laughably small--like sliding your finger around on a postage stamp. The screen was too small to do anything useful.
It just didn't work. It was a failure. I tried very hard to like it, hoping my issues would go away, but it was hopeless. I sold the netbook within a month (thank you eBay!). However, I clearly hadn't learned a lesson because in 2009, I bought another netbook: a Dell Mini 9. An initial honeymoon period ended pretty quickly and the same issues returned, including the hand cramp and uselessly small screen.
Like all netbooks, the Mini 9 was unusable for anybody but a small child or somebody with small hands and a lot of patience. True, some people loved them. Others managed without too many issues. Most people, like me, bought them and realized they'd made a mistake, before putting them on a shelf to collect dust.
Nobody admitted this. It felt like a lot of the technology press were waiting for the design limitations to be magically somehow ironed out. But that never happened.
I came to the conclusion that the netbook form factor simply doesn't work. Or, rather, it would have worked fine if manufacturers had done something other than merely given us shrunken laptops. If they'd actually thought about the limitations of the small form factor and made creative and intelligent design decisions, it might have been a different story.