The New York Times has a great look at the future of netbooks for those of us who want to bring more than just our smartphones along when we're on the go, but don't want to lug around an eight pound laptop all day.
The article also describes the ways that netbooks are poised to change the entire PC industry and threaten the near-monopolies of Microsoft and Intel. Netbooks are smaller, lighter versions of laptops designed to handle basic computing tasks like email, browsing the internet, word processing and the like. They don't handle graphics-heavy applications like games or digital imaging processing very well, but they can be a useful tool for legal professionals who just need to do some online research, write a brief and keep in contact with the office while they are travelling.
Right now, many netbooks still use Intel chips and Microsoft software, but the Times article suggests that may change soon. Cellphone chips - mostly from ARM Holdings in Britain - are becoming more powerful, and more netbook makers are incorporating them into their machines.
These new chips come with a catch, however: They can't run Windows. As a result, many netbook manufacturers are loading their products with Linux-based operating systems. This trend may be the beginning of the Linux revolution long awaited by open source software proponents.
The authors of the NYTimes article definitely see the Netbook as the wave of the future, and note that Netbook sales will likely double this year even while overall sales of PCs falls 12 percent.
Telecoms are also getting behind netbooks. AT&T is currently offering $50 netbooks in Atlanta when a customer subscribes to a wireless internet plan as a part of a test program. Industry experts think that at least one wireless carrier will offer a free netbook with a wireless internet plan subscription by year's end, according to the article.
Would you be willing to part with your BlackBerry and laptop in favor of a netbook? Or is this just a fad that will blow over eventually?
See Also: Light and Cheap, Netbooks Are Poised to Reshape PC Industry (NYTimes)