questionsare netbooks a thing of the past?

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Tablets are the future, man. We unleashed our ties to the man, man.

Man, I've had too many brownies and don't know what I be saying, man.

Whoa.

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It seems like the original idea for netbooks of a small, underpowered, cheap notebook kind of fizzled out. Now the idea are these ultrabooks which are small and reasonably powerful, but expensive, leaving the bargain shopper to nab one of the $399 15-inch laptops.

I think your 18 year old might still be in the gaming phase and would therefore be disappointed by the netbook's underwhelming gaming capabilities (my netbook had problem with flash games). If you're able to swing it, an entry level i3 laptop for ~$400-500 might be a better go.

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Hmm sounds like a great gift idea, but then again it all depends on the person I guess. I bought a netbook for college and absolutely loved it. Battery life was great, it was extremely portable -- and I took it to all my classes typed up notes on it, etc. It's a great little thing for web browsing, emailing, and typing up notes.

However, I must confess that I have not used my netbook as much lately. I'm currently out of school and when at home I just use my laptop.

The netbook is my logical choice for taking it to class b/c of the portability. Yet, its Atom processor makes it slow -- another reason why I use my laptop at home. Finally, the lack of dvd/cd limited me to only watching online movies (though same goes for tablets).

My guess is that if he is off to college a netbook would come very handy on-the-go -- specially if he has a desktop. A tablet would be a good idea too, but as you mentioned it can be a bit pricey.

Continued...

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I was able to get an HP Touchpad during the fire-sale and you might be able to find some available for cheap but not quite the $99 price tag.

My best recommendation would be to look at the new Kindle Fire from Amazon. It's $199 -- very affordable compared to other products. It's technically a Kindle and a Tablet. It runs off an Amazon-customized version of Android and has browsing, web apps, video, Netflix/Pandora/Hulu Plus support, etc. It's hardware is impressive too, specially for the price.

I think this would also be a great gift if he likes to read or is going off to college as he can digitally download and (I think) rent textbooks.

There are other cheap tablets out there but you'll realize the Kindle Fire has the best overall reviews and specifications.

Hopefully my two long answers have helped you out a bit.

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Personally, I like having a keyboard. And yes it may not be modern gaming, but your average netbook can handle ROMs/Older Games/ecetera.

Personally I'm looking for something in the "Notbook" category. I want to have mobile computing for taking notes in my masters classes, surfing the web on the couch and around the house, and finally (a big part of the equation) streaming media to my TV (mostly think Netflix, NFL, hulu, etc) via HDMI.

If I can find a tablet that handles flash, streaming, HDMI to a TV, and notetaking well then I may go that route.

Caveat: I have terrible handwriting, to the point that I may not be able to read my own handwriting at a later date - so I would probably need software/app that would recognize my terrible handwriting and translate it to typefont.

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I think netbooks are good for a student to take to class/take notes on etc. I also do not think they are going to be completely replaces by tablets - the physical keyboard is something that is just too hard to replace. Right now I am wondering whether I should get a netbook or go for a tablet, and the keyboard thing plus the ability to do simple word processing and spreadsheet work is what is really keeping me on the fence.

However, as a student, I can tell you that a netbook alone probably won't cut it. If your 18 year old is going to college and does not have a real laptop, or a desktop, then that is a priority. I think the netbook-destop route would work pretty well for a student though. The added battery life of a netbook makes it way more useful in traveling to class.

PS @atomicorange you should look into the asus eee slate tablets that run windows 7. They are basically laptops that have full functionalty, but are touchscreen tablets. Comes with a bluetooth keyboard too.

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I agree with both previous answers. Whenever on my Touchpad tablet I take forever too type, whereas the netbook keyboards are usually 93% the size of a full-sized keyboard and take very little time to adjust to. Some of my classes would last for up to 3 hours and typing was very important to me! Having the keyboard made life a lot simpler.

But then again, since this is a gift if the recipient will not need the keyboard or if the recipient will use the gift purely for entertainment then a tablet seems like the logical way to go.

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I like my netbook. I like having a real (albeit dinky) keyboard. The touchpad drove me batsh*t for a few days until I clued up and got a wireless mini-mouse.

I like my Android tablet too, but it won't replace my netbook.

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I think dockable tablets will replace them in the long run. Or even dockable phones. Basically a dock that has a keyboard, mouse and larger screen (for the phone) and you use the same device, just at a desk. Asus does this with several items and I wouldn't be surprised to see it continue to expand.

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@atomicorange: Netbook or laptop, type your notes as you go. Unless you're in a class that uses a lot of symbols (maths), unless you learn a new keyboard layout. Or transcribe your notes to a text document asap you're able after taking them.

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I really hope netbooks are dying out as much as they seem to be. I always hated the little things.

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For the classroom, having the keyboard of a netbook is definitely better than the touchscreen keyboard on a tablet. That being said, the tablet cases with keyboards built into them are awfully nifty, although by no means inexpensive.

My short answer is that netbooks are fizzling out but are a good value.

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Well I am using one right now.It is great for when I go out and want to be able to do a lot of typing. I know that I could get an additional keyboard for my tablet or phone but this is just easier and cheaper than most tablets. IDK if it is just because I already have a netbook and a smart phone that I do not have a tablet of my own but I feel that today many serious computer users have a main "powerful" computer and then supplement with smart phones, tablets, and netbooks.

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Netbooks still have their uses. I'm student teaching in a sixth grade classroom right now that has a set of five for student use and they're great for students to use at their desks for projects. However, I think for an 18 year old you're better off just going with an inexpensive laptop if they don't already have one.

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Sadly it looks that way. I've played with the iPad on many occasions and can't get used to the onscreen keyboard. I end up making too many errors for it to even serve as a keyboard. I like the netbooks. A 10.1" screen in which the keyboard never takes up that space (unlike tablets). Many have ~10 hour battery life too. In terms of overall size, sure the netbook is bigger. But neither are pocket size. I'm going to have to take the same precautions with a netbook as I would an iPad (backpack, briefcase, etc). So it makes no difference to me.

As for your 18yr old. I would recommend a tablet made by someone other than Apple. Something running Android. The Samsung Galaxy is on Woot! today, so I'd take a look at that. Also, the Toshiba Thrive has gotten a lot of great reviews. Both much cheaper than an iPad and can do everything it can and more. Android gives the user lots of tweaking/customization too. Something a young kid will really enjoy.

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I honestly can not stand netbooks, They are generally slow. I hoped that they would never take off but they did.

Tablets are the future, android is the future :)

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We may like netbooks, but fewer and fewer are being made. Eventually, I think they will be gone. Too bad.

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I think the margins for Netbooks have been drying up, and we're seeing manufacturers move away from the design. 2-3 years ago when they arrived and could be sold for 3-400 dollars, they were easy money makers for the manufacturer. Now we regularly see much more capable units in the 12/15" form-factor that meet that 300-400 dollar price tag and have 2-3x the processing power.

My own personal experience (and I know some will disagree) is that the Intel Atom architecture needs a real overhaul. 3 years ago it was sufficient, now it's painful to run a netbook equipped with such a processor for anything more than simple web-browsing and email composition.

The netbook is indeed a dying breed, 2 things I think were take aways from the idea: 1) 10hr Battery life is very nice to have. 2) Smaller form-factors can be popular with the mainstream.

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I think initially the lure of a netbook's size and price was too much to resist for some. However, the forward-thinking-techie quickly realized that the form factor and price left much to be desired in the performance area.

I for one really like the changes to notebooks that have come since the advent of the netbook. I have a 12.5 inch Lenovo Ideapad u260(Ultraportable) that has the weight of a netbook, the thickness of a macbook air, the screen-size of some in-between beast, and performance comparable to my $2500 2007 Macbook Pro.

In case you've never laid eyes on one of these sexy beasts, here you go:
http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-IdeaPad-08763BU-12-5-Inch-Ultraportable/dp/B004IZN4AG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1322587399&sr=8-2

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I definitely do not think netbooks are a thing of the past. Like laptops, netbooks are for work while tablets are more for entertainment.

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I was so happy when I bought my netbook, but that's since I was coming off of a many year old desktop. I restored the netbook to new and gave it to my mom who simply wanted a lightweight, portable device to do email, the occasional facebook, and skype with my nieces many states away.
I had maxed out the RAM, had a wireless mouse, and a speaker to plug in to it and it still couldn't hang. Battery life was stellar though.
But, now I have officially retired my desktop, my home computer is my 17" laptop that is 8 months old, and now I'm in the market for a 10" tablet to fill the void between laptop and 4" android phone.

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Love my ASUS netbook - perfect for traveling. Have a Lenovo Thinkpad to use when my old Dell PC flounders. <----it happens! Also still have the 'antiquated' Kindle2. Two 'updated' Kindles have been released in the last year. (Not speaking to the Kindle Fire.) Obviously, I'm not one to get the latest & greatest device. ::content smile::

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@aphroat: I'm an engineer, that's the problem. I actually use to run a little pocket pc with an attachable keyboard, but I always had issues with diagrams.

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A netbook's a niche device. It's a cheap ultra-portable that's more suited to content-creation than a tablet is. A tablet's more suited to watching video and maybe light web browsing.

I bought a netbook in about September 2009 and replaced it 1 1/2 years later with a more capable laptop. I still take the netbook on the plane, or if I don't have room to pack something larger. But seriously, I would've gone insane in college without a real laptop (bought the netbook after I graduated.) A $400-$500 laptop ought to last the 4-5 years of college, if treated nicely, and that would be my recommendation.

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i would suggest a tablet like an Asus Transformer, then get the physical keyboard, its great, plus you can type normally :)