HP pitches 10in netbook at business
No Windows Starter for the suits
HP clearly thinks there's still mileage in the netbook - many of its rivals don't - at the very least as a business device. It has launched a new model, the Mini 1104, to prove it.
Unlike consumer-centric netbooks, the 1104 runs Windows 7 Home Premium rather than Starter Edition.
But the spec is otherwise netbook standard: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N2600 CPU; 2GB of DDR 3 memory; 320GB, 5400rpm hard drive; Intel GMA 3600 CPU-integrated graphics; 10.1in, 1024 x 600 display.
It also comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi - in a rare moment of generosity, this one comes with support for the 5GHz band - and Bluetooth 3.0. There's a 100Mbps Ethernet port, and three USB 2.0 jacks.
In the States, prices start at $399 (£257). As yet, there's no world on a UK release, but it won't be far off, we think. ®
They're Not Netbooks??
It's time we stopped calling them this. These things are not "netbooks", they're sub-notebooks. The wave of netbooks towards the end of the last decade entered the game as a quite different kind of device: not something you worked ON but something you worked THROUGH, a window out into the Cloud.
To do this efficiently they needed minimal local processing power and storage. Any operating system supporting a browser was sufficient, but it made sense to use a modular operation system that could be pared down to the minimum requirements. As netbooks were intended to be cheap the ideal operating system would be one that cost nothing in licence fees. Linux was the obvious choice on both counts. Netbooks ran Linux.
It's a matter of historical record that Microsoft, scared of the threat to its own operating system business, and therefore to the whole Windows ecology, mounted a two-pronged assault against netbooks.
Firstly, as the netbook manufacturers' businesses depended very largely on Windows, in which Microsoft has a market-controlling monopoly, Microsoft was able to pressurise them into switching netbooks over to a virtually free-of-charge version of Windows, Windows XP, at the time obsolescent on mainstream PC and notebook hardware.
Netbooks now looked and behaved like notebooks, although XP was noticeably less efficient than Linux on this hardware. This facilitated the second part of the two-pronged attack: a public mind-fuck that destroyed the original "netbook" concept and left punters seeing the product as just a cheap, much less useful, notebook. The campaign was so successful that it has now completely buried the real netbook as if it never existed.
Tablets, of course, are in a sense a re-run of this same race. The fact that tablets are touch-driven, and physically not just smaller but quite different from notebooks, makes it much harder for Microsoft to pull the same stunt again. This time around punters are not confused, and we see iOS (based on the Linux-like BSD Unix) and Android (based on Linux) thrashing Windows so thoroughly that Microsoft, rather than shaking the dust off a mothballed version of its operating system has had to knuckle down and create a vastly revised version that will work well with the new generation of hardware. This is what healthy market competition is meant to do.
As the tablet business hots up (it's barely started) let's for heaven's sake clear away the rubble of that Microsoft mind-fuck and rediscover the lesson of the netbook.
Nothing wrong with netbooks
For less than £300 you get a fully fledged PC which can be shoved into a carry on bag, perched on an aircraft table tray and otherwise provides a desktop experience in a small form factor. It's perfect for travel. Yeah it might not be a speed demon but it is more than adequate for browsing, email, productivity, videos and even some light gaming.
HP do a better option for a little more:
Got myself a HP DM1-4020sa for £299 from a well know retail group.
11.6" screen 1366 x 768.
AMD E-450 Fusion chip with Radeon HD 6320M grphics.
Windows 7 Home Premium
Marketed as an entertainment notebook, but way more useful than Intel netbook offerings IMO.