The Web Browser is the New Laptop

I've been reading a lot of good things about the emerging "netbook" category of subnotebooks:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I’ve been working on a linux distribution Webconverger that just brings you the Web. I’ve heard some reports that it works great on Atom based machines, though the default images don’t yet have wireless support.

Need to work on that or since it’s opensource project, I very much welcome help in this area as I don’t have such a computer.

As an early adopter of the Eee 701, one year on I now have netbook jealousy of the 10 screens, upgraded processors and better keyboard layouts. However, I still wouldn’t get one with a HDD; for me the SSD was key to the whole shebang. I wonder if the wife wants a new one…

Interesting post. Considering the fact that I just bought a Dell XPS M1530 :slight_smile:

Other point I wanted to make was I came to know about Wakoopa from this post, went there and signed up for it, only to discover that they want to install a program on my computer which will keep track of all the software usuage and share it (maybe for ad-sense)! This I found not agreeable and I did not install it. Thought I would share this info.

I have the same one, and I’ve come to basically the same conclusion as you - love it, don’t need my fancy dual monitor set up. Aside from software development, I can use the little netbook (exact same one, but mine is blue!) for everything.

In fact, it has give me a new respect for WHY nobody gets software developers asking for dual monitors: we’re the only people that NEED them. It is incredibly hard for me to to web development with API pages, my IDE and a web browser on one screen. But blogging, email, word processing, chatting? My Aspire one serves admirably.

I think portable web browser as a stand alone hardware makes sense. I’ve recently started testing timesnapper and was shocked to realize my Visual Studio to Firefox ratio was 1:3! I know my wife does not use 90% of the software and services running on her laptop. Browsing, e-mail, word and excel all have wonderful web counterparts that meet her requirements.
What has changed in the last few years is that they meet my requirements as well! Games seem to be switching to dedicated platforms so the only real need for a generic computer with an operating system for me seems to be software development related.
But then again - what if someone does make a browser only note pad? Version 2 will surely support peripherals such as external speakers, ipod, bluetooth, usb ports for external controllers (for all those addictive flash games), external sound/graphic card, bigger disk… And we’ll be back where we started… So strike that - web browser as a stand alone hardware makes no sense.

A while ago I bought one of these. The Linux version - which works remarkebly like Windows - , and I’m also quite impressed.
Actually I don’t use it for web browsing at all currently. We’re living in an inbetween house for the moment, and our internet connection is 3G UMTS wireless affair hooked to the big laptop.
But still this laptop has seen its share of use. Its main function has been as a media viewer by plugging in cards from compact cameras.
Although I admit that its full power will only come when we have proper WiFi.

KristofU, thank you for introducing me to the term moneymoon – hilarious! :slight_smile:

I think Mozilla should soon release a Firefox-branded netbook. With some dedicated Linux distro, SSD and flash card reader. Just a hardware Firefox that just works.

Nice lappy, but when you’re buying one this big it’s all about battery life.

Which is why the Eee PC (specifically the 901) wins hands down (imho).

I must say I agree - my macbook is pretty much a super-high-speced netbook for what I use it for - not a lot more than you do, browsing, email etc, but I run a VM now and again, but not often.

The real surprise for me if how much I use my iPhone for general web stuff. I (we) used to grab the laptop(s) and sit in bed with a coffee on a weekend morning (like this morning), but now I reach for my iphone - it’s smaller, just as quick etc, and perfectly functional for reading over blogs, email, news websites etc. It’s not going to replace my macbook anytime soon for heavier-weight stuff, but for the basics, it’s hard to beat. an iPod Touch would have done just as well, as it’s on wifi anyway.

I think Jakub has a point - a FF (or google?) branded netbook - enough ram to run, external storage via SD card, custom linux OS, chrome. Everything else is in the cloud. Now, if only I can get my parents OFF dialup and onto DSL…

I have a really small HP laptop that I use for just this purpose. It’s not super powerful but it gets the job done.

I think that google should come out with a device similar to the Amazon Kindle that all it does is run google reader and their browser chrome. It would be a color screen, touch, blah blah but be much more portable and a really fast bootup time compared to a dinky laptop. Basically making it a digital magazine.

Loving my Asus EeePC running Ubuntu-eee (Netbook Interface).

Good post!

I think Apple is in a reasonable position with regard to entering the netbook area, but not necessarily with a netbook. They have the iPhone/iPod touch at the small form factor end and the MacBook Air one step up from there. But this is a relatively large step. I think there is a space between these products that Apple will fill soon.

It will be interesting to see which way they go: making a big iPod touch or small Air. The touch screen would be great, but I don’t think it would fly without a physical keyboard. But, all the pundits have been predicting a tablet from Apple for some time. We’ll see.

The Microsoft tax doesn’t really exist. In many cases, a laptop running Windows will be cheaper than one with Linux because of the all the crapware OEMs get paid to include with Linux, plus the huge discounts Microsoft gives OEMS.

all the crapware OEMs get paid to include with Linux

wow, people pay to include crapware with Linux? I thought that came for free! RIMSHOT

Argh I couldn’t resist. That aside, this is a serious question: people pay to include software on Linux?? I thought craplets were a Windows specific problem, and I find it disturbing and vaguely depressing that the same thing is happening to Linux et al.

Is it true?

Wow, yet one more geek that buys the netbook for wife and then falls in love with it.
I think this has to be one of the best ‘viral’ marketing campaigns ever - I realized that the moment after I had installed ssh on mt wife’s eee and started to think about installing an amp server on it…

About the MS tax - this whole netbook ordeal is going to lower it considerably. Asus sells the linux version of same model at a slightly lower price than the winxp version, at least in Europe. Sure, there are still a few rough edges here and there, but just head over one of the thousand self-help wikis that sprang like mushrooms overnight and you will find noob-proof instructions on about every (in)conceivable mod to the os, thanks to geeks love for tinkering. As you said, when your OS is the browser you really do not care about not being able to install the latest windows games. We only use on the thing: ffox, tbird, skype, ooo, and the filesystem explorer. The only ‘new’ app for my wife was ooo, but after a little protest she’s become proficient with it.

re all the crapware: the only crapware we got are a dubious antivirus scanner and the default, simplified shell made by asus (even though the latter only qualifies in small part)

re all about battery life: so sadly true. I think the 901 is incredibly poor, so I can not even imagine the experience with other models…

Hey Now Jeff,

The $100 web browser sounds real funny. It’ll be interesting to see how netbooks increase in popularity in the future.

Coding Horror Fan,

Ubuntu Netbook Remix is definitely the way to go.

I loaded it on my 701 EeePC (the Ubuntu-eee version) after using the basic interface for almost a year and it has been great being able to pull from the Ubuntu repositories and use the nice new Netbook GUI.

So I actually went out to Best Buy to get myself an Asus Eee 900A, the new netbook that only costs $300 bucks. My laptop needed a new screen, and I had already replaced the inverter and made two attempts at replacing the bulb. I was looking at $200-300 to get a new, full screen so I considered getting this netbook instead, and just using the laptop at the desk, connected to a monitor. I did my best to test out the machine at the store.

My new screen and my T-Mobile G1 should arrive in a couple days. If its going to be that small, it might as well fit in my pocket.