PC Makers bring the Shizzle. Apple yawns.

apple_netbook_31.jpgWhile the netbook category continues to broaden and now develop new spin-offs, Apple continues to twiddle its thumbs. In an age where Apple is all about consumer electronics more so than professional production solutions (i.e. just one) this type of decision just doesn’t make sense.

However they confirmed their stance during their July 21st 3rd quarter fiscal conference call pretty much laid rumors to rest with some pretty strong language.

As Engadget reported:

To quote Mr. Oppenheimer when responding to a question over an iPod-like device with a larger screen:

“I never want to discount anything in the future and never want to talk about new products. People want a full-featured notebook, some of the netbooks being delivered are very slow, have software technology that is old, don’t have a robust computing experience, small display, cramped keyboard, I could go on but I won’t. We’ll only play in things where we can be very innovative and be proud of.”

Engadget continued to note:

When asked (again) about the possibility of Apple introducing a netbook, we were reminded that Apple “isn’t out to make the most computers, just to make the best computers.” Furthermore the suits at the company have yet to figure out how to build “the best” at the “$299, $399 or $499” level, once again extinguishing any hope of a low-cost Mac laptop anytime soon. He went on to say that “some customers buying these [netbooks] become disappointed / disenchanted”…

Yea, some. But the vast majority may indeed love the cheap little buggers.

As someone who recently went to replace a PC for the kids, and was stymied by the $499 – $699 prices just for the CPU at Best Buy, I strolled over to look at the netbooks and, if you used them just as a CPU, the $350 price is pretty sweet. Then add the fact that you can take the CPU with you on a flight, get 9.5 hours of battery life, on a 10″ LCD screen, 160 GB HDD, flash card reader and under 3 pounds, for that same $350? Daaaaammmmmm. I bought the Asus 1000HE and have not regretted it at all. It’s a great little machine. I’m actually looking to get another similar machine, but with more innovation… more on that in a minute.

As for the small display… a 10″ display is a lot better than an iPhone for doing e-mail. Not to mention the “cramped” netbook keyboard is a million times easier to type on compared to the super-cramped iphone keyboard (even in landscape mode). Robust computing experience? It is Windows. It does everything any office machine needs to do. In essence, because the software is “old” we can say that, for the XP-based netbooks, there’s an app for that. A lot more apps than for Macs.

Lastly, when it comes to being innovative, PC’s are really coming through.
Specifically, I am impressed with two new netbooks from Gigabyte that have recently become available in the US.


First is the  gigabyte Booktop. This is special not so much in that it has any more processing power than 90% of the other netbooks. It doesn’t (as required my Microsoft to be able to use XP). But it does have a dock connector that lets the mobile professional drop it in and make use of a large desktop display, keyboard, peripherals and more- like a real desktop machine. With no individual wires to connect and disconnect.

Apple used to make a series of machines called Duo that offered a desktop you can take with you.It’s not just access to your documents and such, it really is everything because it is your desktop machine itself, just with a smaller screen and keyboard.gdock.jpg

The dock itself isn’t anything special either. It takes up very little room on the desk, and continues to allow access to the flash card slot (not just SD) and the ExpressCard slot (yes, it has BOTH) in the netbook. The dock has power in, ethernet, three USB ports, audio and VGA out. But, for office work like e-mail, browsing, finances, blogging, you really don’t need more than this. Plus, the netbook itself is under 3 pounds (with the 6-cell battery) and just 10.4″ x 7.5″ and 1.2″ high. (265(W) x 191(D) x 26.5~30.5(H)mm) Pretty compact and easy to take along. For comparison, Apple’s Air is 3 lbs, 12.8″ wide and 9″ deep. That’s considerably bigger and actually heavier than Gigabyte’s much more capable Booktop.

Click on the image to go to the Amazon page for more details.

The second real eye opener is the Gigabyte TouchNote:


Again, the same tech specs as 90% of the machines out there, plus the ExpressCard slot. But the addition of a stylus / finger touch screen and a tilt/swivel display means you can treat this like an e-book and read your favorite books, web pages, etc in a vertical orientation.

Apple has already proven that a little handheld device is a great way to access information. A tablet PC makes interacting with that information, or creating new information so much easier than touch screen alone. Adding the capability of a multimedia card reader (not just SD) and an ExpressCard slot (for even more expandability and capability) and you have a real innovative package… and for just $599.

Looks to me that there’s plenty of room in the market to innovate— for those who dare to do so.

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