CES: Toshiba undecided on Netbooks in U.S.

The company whose name is practically synonymous with laptops is still undecided about committing to one of the hottest mobile PC markets in the U.S.

LAS VEGAS--If you haven't noticed, Toshiba doesn't offer a Netbook for the U.S. market.

Yes, that's right Toshiba--whose name is practically synonymous with laptops--is still undecided about committing to one of the hottest mobile PC markets in the U.S., according to Toshiba officials at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The Japanese company did launch the NB100 Netbook in December, but it is not marketed in the U.S., according to a Toshiba representative, speaking at CES.

Toshiba NB100 Netbook is marketed in Latin America
Toshiba NB100 Netbook is marketed in Latin America Brooke Crothers

This highlights the Netbook quandary some of the largest mobile computer markers are facing. Throw Sony into the we don't-offer-a-Netbook-either category. This week Sony launched the pricey Vaio Lifestyle PC that it is very careful to bill as the "world's lightest 8-inch notebook." It costs a cool $900--which does tend to disqualify it as Netbook since Netbooks are, by definition, inexpensive (typically under $400 and only occasionally venturing into $600 or $700 territory when, for example, a 3G Wireless Wide Area Network, or WWAN, option is added.)

Listening to a Toshiba representative at CES, the company seems genuinely perplexed by the Netbook category. Where is the real value-add? What if Netbooks begin eating into its notebook line?

On the latter point, Toshiba, like Sony and Apple, may also be worried about getting consumers hooked on low-cost laptops.

(Note: The Toshiba NB100 is marketed in Latin America, according to the representative.)

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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