As I understand it netbook computers have been a bit of commercial failure, certainly compared to tablet computers, and all the market action is in the latter now. However, I have little interest in tablets, but I think I could use a netbook (as a portable adjunct to my desktop PC, both lighter and cheaper than a proper laptop). Currently I see netbooks on sale at PC World for about £200 (they may be cheaper yet, elsewhere). On the other hand, funds are kind of tight at the moment, and I really don’t need one now. Are netbooks likely to still be around in 6 months, or a year or two, or are they going to stop making them? If they are still likely to be around, are they likely to get more expensive (and/or powerful), or less?

I am under the impression that a modern netbook would be plenty powerful enough for web surfing and some word processing, and maybe even streaming audio (with headphones or external speakers) and video, although they are probably not much use for running photoshop or playing fast, graphical games. Let me know if I am wrong.

For the last two years, I’ve been using a netbook for all of my computing needs.
My old desktop broke, and I switched to a $230 refurbed netbook.
Bottom line, Office, web browsers, Quickbooks, etc all work just fine.
Games that need a real video card won’t run.
However, on certain newer netbooks, they WOULD run.
The AMD C50 and C60 series have real GPU capacity built in.

I have a Samsung Go that I paid about $400 for a couple of years ago. If the same range of utility is available for about $200, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. My wife more-or-less abandoned her desktop when she got her Asus netbook a year before that.

My wife has since upgraded, but a netbook was her primary computer for years. Yes, I’d say it’s plenty of computer for all that web and word processing. I haven’t tried it on some of these new high-resolution YouTube videos, but for just audio I wouldn’t expect it to give you any trouble.

Netbooks suck. I am writing this on a netbook so I should know. Netbooks have slow processors and disks which makes everything run slowly. (Although they work better with Linux as the OS.)

The new trend is ultrabooks - thin and light laptops like the Macbook Air that also perform well. I would suggest getting an ultrabook unless you are on a tight budget.

Eh. 230USD for mine (acer aspire one windows 7 w atom processor). Are you kidding about streaming video? There’s no question it works awesome for anything on the web short of some distributed computing or major stuff. Firefox gets slow with 20 or more tabs open, UTorrent open, downloading via FirEFox a dozen flash videos.

I am sure they’ll be around forever. Cheap, light, fast enough for anything more than playing emacs Tetris but less than powering all of Mars. Tablets are good for reading books. Netbooks are good for anything else except some major shit.

Gotta agree with AnalogSignal. Netbooks are a failure because they suck. Atom is too slow of a CPU to be worth it. Yes, it might be OK for “light” use, but once you run into sites which make use of Flash or JavaScript, it’ll drop to its knees.

Netbooks are garbage. Don’t bother.

Netbooks are excellent. I use a very powerful desktop PC at home, and a netbook for on the go. Literally the only thing I use it for is writing and university work. Small, portable, lightweight. Never had any problems with websites that use java or flash.

Tried a tablet, and it failed miserably to meet my writing needs.

Like I say about computers and tablets, it depends on what you use it for. My 74 year old mother had a laptop, now has a netbook. Considering that 100% of her computer usage consists of Yahoo email, visiting a half dozen websites and the occasional text document, it does everything she ever needs it to do. Hell, she could do all of that on a tablet.

If the stuff in the OP is all you’ll really be using it for, it’ll be fine. Pay no attention to the people who try to convince you they’re crap because they won’t do things you’re not trying to do.

It’s not a totally ridiculous question; the first generation or so of netbooks would legitimately struggle with high-resolution streaming. I had one such as my primary portable/work computer from 2008 to 2010. It just couldn’t play high-def video smoothly, whether streamed from Youtube, Netflix, or downloaded in any number of formats.

Now, there’s better hardware acceleration for video playback, both in terms of the netbook hardware and also software support. So high-def streaming is not a problem for any current netbook designs.

ETA: Otherwise, my 2 cents is that netbooks are perfectly adequate for light use. Sure, a “real” laptop would be a little snappier, but some people just don’t think it’s worth paying several hundred dollars to render webpages a fraction of a second faster. And in addition to being cheap, you also get great portability and battery life, which cost a lot of money in “real” laptops.

In my experience, computers don’t get more expensive over time; they get cheaper. So if you don’t need it for six months or a year, wait and buy whatever is current then.

That’s another thing I forgot to mention. I can go a whole day at university, in the cafe etc on my netbook without having to recharge. I see plenty of other people with flashier pieces of technology having to sit next to wall chargers, or closing their expensive laptops in dismay. :smiley:

Netbooks weren’t necessarily a failure, they were very successful at their peak but have been cannibalized significantly by viable tablets (well, the iPad.)

A workstation is a general purpose machine that can solve a lot of different use cases, almost any that involve computing. But there are many use cases that could be solved for a lot less money.

A full fledged notebook is a general purpose machine that can also solve a lot of use cases, almost any that involve computing and a need for portability. But there are many use cases that could be solved for less money.

That’s basically where netbooks fit in, portability and less demand than a fully fledged notebook. It turns out for most users tablets actually fill this space more appropriately than the netbooks did, but I’m guessing some subset of users will still have their needs better filled by netbooks than tablets. You basically have to decide what market subset your needs are filled by to determine whether you yourself should buy a netbook.

I am typing this on a Chromebook, which is a netbook that only runs Chrome. no windows, in other words.

in case you think that is so obvious it doesn’t need mentioning, let me tell you when I first started using it I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find “Outlook Express”.

but that’s me.

I only surf the net so it’s fine; I’m told I want to do other stuff I could, but it would have to be “in the cloud” whatever the hell that means. OK I sort of know what that means and no real weather is involved.

my point is, depends on what you want to do.

Right. And when I upgraded to a “real laptop”, I had to pay a significant premium to get comparable portability and battery life. If you value those at all, a netbook is an outstanding deal. I was pretty happy with my netbook, though I’m also very happy with the Thinkpad that I replaced it with.

I wrote my Master’s Thesis on a Toshiba NetBook I got for Christmas and never wanted. I never had any Web issues, my old Roms played fine. Battery life was swell. When the AC pin died, I got an iPad as a graduation present from mom. When I realized that wasn’t up to my liking for work on my new degree, I plunked down money for a 14" Sony Vaio.

Honestly, I’m off the opinion that 90-99% of my computer use could be subsumed by an off lease, $100 > desktop tower, a used iPod touch, and maybe a bluetooth keyboard. The rest is just luxury.

To answer the OP, the only way I see netbook dying is if one of the Mac Air epigones prices an 11" ultra book below $500. At that point, why bother with a netbook?

I bought my HP netbook last spring after I saw how much my college-student daughter loved the Vizio netbook we got her for Christmas. Tablets don’t work well for me because I have problems working without a physical keyboard, and this one, although compact, is large enough to work well for touch-typing.

The netbook is very light, has a long battery life, and works extremely well for writing and websurfing. I don’t try to stream video aside from things on YouTube now and then, and the screen is pretty small, so I wouldn’t really want to use it for watching movies or TV, and I’m old, so I don’t use it for gaming. I download Kindle books from the library, order things online now and then, download music occasionally, and check email on this little guy, and it works just fine for that. If I need to do bigger jobs or work with something on CD or DVD, I turn on the desktop computer, but it’s sure nice to be able to reach over and grab the netbook when I just want to send a quick email or look something up really fast. And I can just slip it into my (admittedly large) purse when I want to take a computer along with me.

Ultrabooks look really cool, but I can’t see spending that kind of money for what is essentially a luxury item, especially when I’d rarely use all its capabilities. If we didn’t have a main computer, the netbook wouldn’t be enough, but it’s a great secondary one for me.

on edit
I’m so cheap I refused to shell out for a real version of Office on the netbook. I use OpenOffice instead, and it works just beautifully.

I <heart> my netbook (Acer Aspire One). No desire to get a tablet. It’s just right for portable surfing/e-mail. No, it’s not my primary computer, and I wouldn’t expect it to be. I have a mongo desktop for that. My ThinkPad laptop is my portable workstation, which I use occasionally. But the netbook is nice and small and light and holds a charge all day (6-cell battery, not 3) and fits nicely in a tote bag or large purse. I can tether to my cell phone if I want a secure Internet connection rather than public wi-fi. Works a treat. Great for travel.

Note that the license for some versions of Microsoft Office allow you to have install the software on a desktop and a notebook system. The idea, I suppose, is that you can only use one at a time. So if you have Microsoft Office on your desktop system, check the end-user license agreement.

I believe the standard MS Office retail license these days allows for installations on three separate distinct machines concurrently.

The Ultrabooks are great. No one is denying it. My wife finally upgraded to one when the power connector pin stopped connecting on hers. But it was a lot more expensive, and the only real upgrade it represented to her utility was the solid-state instant-on feature. Don’t get me wrong, that is sweet. But at the Netbook’s price point…