The other day a coworker of mine sent us an e-mail where in an online article the end of the netbook era was being heralded. Acer, Asus and other big names in the field of netbooks said that they would stop producing netbooks, since the market was choosing tablets over them. This made me sad. I have a netbook, and as it's getting old (it's maybe some 5 years old, but it still works really well!), I've been starting to think about its replacement (due in one or two years, the earliest, since I've currently other priorities that take up all of my money and then some). I have checked tablets on stores some time ago and then again, and truth to be told, they don't cut the deal for me. Maybe there isn't much of a market for netbooks anymore, but from my point of view, tablets are not a suitable replacement for netbooks.
Netbooks are a bit less robust than laptops, as you all know that, and often lack some things, like CD-ROM, not to mention the capabilities in terms of harddrive, RAM and so on, but for someone who isn't going to hack into the NASA or direct a Multinational Corporation from a computer, a netbook is perfect of any civilian, regular citizen needs. What does that mean? That on a netbook I can comfortably check and reply e-mails, blog, upload a video, browse the net, but also do off-net stuff too, like work on different Office programs like Word, Excel, Power Point, Project, and even other special programs you might use for whatever reason. For those of us who use programs that deal with numbers - like Excel - often the numeric keyboard being merged into the alphanumeric is already a bit of a pain in the behind, but now imagine giving away the keyboard all together, or to work with touchscreen keyboards, maybe even keyboards that detach from the tablet. Um, no.
It's important to understand that tablets and netbooks cater for different needs. A netbook gives you mobility, allow you to take your work, your projects with you and usually fits in your bag. It's a tool for working. For instance, my thesis mate an I wrote our whole thesis, run the numbers, made the math, tabbed the interviews, all on a netbook - this lovely thing of wonder I'm typing away on right now. A tablet is more of a tool to check on stuff the way you would on your big screen smartphones. Yes, you can type, answer e-mails, probably blog and write, but it's not as comfortable as a netbook. It still doesn't give you a CD-ROM, and doesn't offer you the same memory capacity. It certainly offers you more mobility, and can easily swallow up your e-reader, so you don't have to invest in a Kindle or a Nook, but it the end, it can't really swallow up the job of a netbook.
When the market comes to this point - and it reaches it quite often in the tech arena - you must be very clear with what your needs are and what are the best tools to fulfill it. I know I need capacity, and I need something that doesn't weight much, that's very mobile and I can stuck in my bag without problem. I mean, I've already downsized my planner as I went from an A5 planner to a personal filofax! I certainly don't need any more bulk! So, a laptop won't do it. Yet, a tablet runs short when it comes to the fact that I may want to flip out my netbook/whatever I have then on my flight to wherever, and watch an episode of whatever I've, or read some document I have, or I've a sudden struck of inspiration and I want to work on some document I have. Maybe I feel like doing my accounting (yes, I have sudden strikes of numbers. Today I had one), would the tablet be able to hold all this for me, and stand in a position that's comfortable for me to hold for hours and hours. Would the tablet be able to do that? So far I haven't seen the tablet that can hit the measure for me.
So, when the time comes, what will I do? Ask me on 2015, and by then, I may have the answer.