I’ve been using netbooks since before they were called netbooks. My first one was the original ASUS Eee PC 701, which I bought back in the fall of 2007. Since then, I’ve had hands-on time with dozens of netbook models, and I’ve retired the original Eee PC (which I was able to use to cover the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show) for an MSI Wind. These devices work for me because I’m web-centric and not dependent on applications.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not your everyday, average mainstream consumer. I suppose that’s why I’m in the minority when I get excited at hearing netbook developments that don’t include Intel and Microsoft, developments like ASUS and other vendors creating netbooks that run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor or use Google’s Android mobile operating system, for example. But there’s a reason: Today’s netbooks are overkill for a web-centric consumer like me.
Just to prove that theory to myself and our readers in 2008, I took a 60-day web challenge using no applications other than a web browser. That challenge taught me that, although web applications are still maturing, there are plenty of application-specific functions that have web counterparts — and, most importantly, most of my computing requirements really can be met with a browser, touch-type keyboard, display and connectivity.
Sure, my MSI Wind runs on an X86-compatible CPU, so it has some advantages over an ARM-based device. With it, I can install (and have) various operating systems, including several Linux distros, every Microsoft Windows version from XP to 7 and even Mac OS X. That’s definitely a flexible device. And, when you add in the ability to install third-party applications for any of those platforms, the number of choices becomes mind-boggling. But it’s overkill for my vision of a netbook. And it comes at a price, both financially and technically.