Netbooks Are Not Notebooks

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ComputerWorld just ran a story about how “netbooks disappoint consumers” according to a recent survey. You know why, don't you? People bought netbooks when they really wanted notebooks, and were disappointed when they didn't get the power and performance of a real notebook while spending hundreds of dollars less. Guess what, folks, a chopped steak is not the same as a t-bone steak, and a used Mazda is not the same as a new Mercedes.

The problem here is that people bought a netbook for some reason, such as less money, rather than buying the right tool for their job. Many customers bought netbooks for their small size and easy mobility, even though they never take them anywhere. Heck, if your desktop replacement notebook never goes anywhere, get that 12 pound monster with a 17 inch screen (they have, them, really).

Six of ten buyers surveyed said they didn't understand the difference between a netbook and a notebook. We can blame three parties for this nonsense. First, we can blame the users for not understanding what they were buying. Second, we can blame the netbook vendors for helping confuse the issue. Finally, we can blame notebook vendors for not advertising the differences to ensure customers bought notebooks if they needed notebooks. Of the three, buyers get the most blame. Buyer beware, right?

I'm most surprised by the number of students responding to the survey who were unhappy. I understand they bought netbooks in many cases because they have little money. But since netbooks don't have CD or DVD drives, I figured most students would skip them.

Buying the right tool for the job means you have to understand the job you want the tool to perform. Today, "real" notebooks can be had for less than $500, the cost of high end netbooks. If you just peruse the Web with your mobile computing device, a netbook will work as long as you remember the smaller screen limitations. If you chomp through big spreadsheets or edit audio and video, a netbook is a really bad choice. You're welcome to make that bad choice, and you can even complain on a survey, but none of us will feel sorry for you. Would you expect us to feel sorry for you if you bought a spoon and you really needed a shovel?

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