On Netbooks and New Categories

Dave Winer, John Gruber and others are talking about Netbooks: Are they just cheap laptops or a new category of machine? I think what Dave is saying, what follow is my comment in his post, is that Netbooks are a Category, but is not a "new" one (just the name and the Net are). When I was a Math researcher my goal was to have one personal computer that I could transport from my home to my office with all my papers, emails, and so on, and I could connect to a Sun machine to do "serious" work. At that time serious work was something as simple as typesetting a paper, using TeX, that would take hours in a personal machine and minutes in the Sun (now, it takes seconds on a Netbook! ) I tried to do it with the Apple Duo 210 and 230 (sacrificing performance), but it really wasn't great until I got a Powerbook Titanium and Mac OS X (sacrificing size! ). Now, that goal is easy, and with the so called "cloud" computing I jump from machine to machine with ease, so I don't want one machine anymore. I use Linux (Ubuntu) on my office (is a laptop (a Dell XPS m1330, but I only move it during the weekends), a netbook for travel (an eee PC 901 with a 20GB SSD, also with Ubuntu), an old Tablet PC (a Gateway m250) with Vista as my media machine (hey, Media Center is great), and a MacBook Air... I don't know why I have the Air, lets call it a legacy computer in case I need Mac OS X for something, I do use it as my main podcasting machine, but I could use the Windows machine just the same I have not gotten around to do that yet. Was the Duo 210 a "netbook"? well, certainly not in price or in features (even the Net was a limited concept back then), but it can be called a precursor, together with the Vaio and similar machines (remember the Libreto? ). I think the category is not new, but it is a category and two things have happen lately: It has become accessible to a large number of people and we have a name that describes what we want it to do: Netbooks.


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