Netbook computers are small and underpowered, making them a turn-off for many. But consider the Honda Fit, which was raved about in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
The Fit is a small, cheap, underpowered 5 door hatchback. Yet, Jeff Sabatini in the Journal said, "The Fit truly offers everything you need in a car, and nothing you don't." This is exactly the niche that Netbooks seek to occupy in the laptop computer world.
Compared with other cars in its class (the Chevrolet Aveo 5, the Nissan Versa and the Scion xD), Sabatini argues that a lot of good design choices went into the Fit. Below are some quotes from the article:
- ... a lot of car for the money--even as it's not a lot of car
- ...a car fairly well equipped with the stuff we take for granted
- It may not sound like a lot, but 117 horsepower is plenty
- [it aims] ...to be not just a good small car, but an exceptional car, period
- load up 4 adults and, despite its diminutive size, the car still doesn't feel small
- For not a lot of money the Fit is a whole lot of fun to drive
In other words, small and cheap don't have to imply a miserable user experience.
Rather than blindly ruling out Netbooks, look for one that made the right trade-offs. To my mind, this excludes models with a 9-inch screen and puts a great emphasis on the keyboard. The number of available models is huge and constantly in-flux, as are prices.
I think Netbooks are the next big thing. They will make great second computers for normal people, third computers for techies, and first computers for children. They will become mandatory take-to-class computers for students. For anyone interested in defensive computing, they will be mandatory when traveling (think both good enough and sacrificial lamb).
That said, I couldn't drive a Honda Fit as I never learned to drive a stick shift.