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Designing The Ultimate Netbook 354

Posted by Soulskill
from the unique-blend-of-herbs-and-spices dept.
Harden writes "TrustedReviews has an interesting take on what the 'Ultimate Netbook' ought to be. From the article: 'How to solve a problem like the netbook? To my mind, despite nearly every manufacturer taking a stab at the thing, none has yet quite distilled my idea of what the Ultimate Netbook would be. This is partly because, until recently, not everyone had a clear understanding of what a netbook was meant to do, but also because manufacturers have all been far too busy jostling for market share to put a lot of thought into the finer details.' What would your Ultimate Netbook include?"
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Designing The Ultimate Netbook

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  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:31AM (#25183953) Homepage Journal
    one that can transform into either a Decepticon or a Hooker bot, and is smart enough to know when to turn into each of those.
    • I better start practising my delivery of the lines

      "Back off, pal. She's with me."

      Didn't realize it would become a netbook requirement.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Windows Ultimate of course.

  • Cheap. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:34AM (#25183965)
    The Netbook needs to be cheap. Preferably in the $150-250 range. It should have a low to medium-end CPU, at least 256 MB of RAM and should run Linux (or if it has a high-end CPU at at least 512 MB of RAM, XP). It should have Wi-Fi out of the box, and a decent video card. It should have a minimum of 3 USB ports, and should be relatively shock resistant.
    • Re:Cheap. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zashi (992673) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:53AM (#25184073) Homepage Journal
      Bingo. On top of what the parent said, it should also be small (less than 12.1" screen) and lightweight with a battery life of at least 3 hours.
      • Toshiba Libretto (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @12:10PM (#25185039) Homepage Journal

        Bingo. On top of what the parent said, it should also be small (less than 12.1" screen) and lightweight with a battery life of at least 3 hours.

        Bingo. On top of what the parent said, it should be small (less than 7.2" screen) and lightweight with a battery life of at least three hours...

        Seriously, the best laptop I've ever had was a Toshiba Libretto 100CT [wikipedia.org]. It had a screen resolution of (if I remember correctly) 1024x600, a perfectly usable (though small) keyboard, and mine ran Debian. It did everything I wanted of it, well - it even ran a full Oracle 8 database - and it fit easily into a coat pocket.

        If I was designing a netbook now I'd start with the Libretto form factor, use solid state memory for backing store (definitely no hard disk) and finish it with about 2mm of rubber all round, for splash proofing and increased shock protection. It would run Ubuntu (possibly the netbook special build) and weigh not more than the Libretto - which is to say 910 grammes.

        If Toshiba could build that machine in 1996, it shouldn't be difficult to do the same now, with solid state storage and better battey life. A Netbook - or a Libretto - is not meant to be your main computer. It's meant to be something you have with you virtually all the time. It needs to be robust because it's going to take knocks. It needs to be small, otherwise it's awkward to carry. It needs to be light for the same reason. If it doesn't have the graphics or the horsepower to run Crysis [ea.com], well, frankly, I can live without.

      • Re:Cheap. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Eil (82413) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @12:22PM (#25185135) Homepage Journal

        1. Cheap
        2. Powerful
        3. Portable

        Pick one.

        That said, it sounds like the author of TFA doesn't really know what he wants, and/or doesn't understand how computers are built. On the first page, he bemoans the cheap plastic toy-like look of the Eee PC and others while praising the solid professional construction of the MiniNote and then finally concludes that a professional business-class netbook should cost the same as your all-plastic Eee PC. Good luck with that particular wish.

        There are tons of other inconsistencies as well, such as stating that he doesn't need video capability but then later saying that HDMI would be nice, so he could watch videos on a TV. Wot?

        Finally, I have a huge time trusting a site called "Trusted Reviews" when every page of the review contains a prominent ad to buy the Acer Aspire One netbook at the bottom with a link to shopping.trustedreviews.com. An impartial article, this is not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302)

      I'm not sure how much of a PC you're going to get for $150. I'm in the UK, and that's currently roughly £75. You'll get fuck all for that.

      For £200-250 you can get something like what you're after. I went for the Acer Aspire One - £250 ($500) for a 1KG, 1gig ram, 120gig hd Intel Atom based PC running a customized version of Fedora on a 9inch 1024x600 screen. It has Wifi and a webcam, a well usable keyboard and a touchpad, and the OS has been made extremely easy for non-nerds to use (ie s

      • by billcopc (196330)

        Keep in mind UK prices are atrocious on any imports, compared to the USA.

        For $500 you can buy a cheap full-size Dell with a lot more horsepower than the Aspire One or any other so-called netbook. That's the problem.

        Everyone still thinks portable means expensive, but the fact is today's laptops are mostly empty shells with cut-out motherboards. If we could do without I/O connectors on one of the sides, they could probably cut the board down to half the size of the chassis! There's no extra cost in "miniat

    • by amdpox (1308283)
      Yes, the original concept was to keep it cheap, and all the manufacturers seem to have thrown it out the window... I think it would be possible to get a 9" Atom model retailing for $200. However, personally I prefer the upper end of the netbook market - if I could get an 11" 1280x800 screen to suck up the 1000H's bezel, it would be an excellent machine. I'm surprised none of the manufacturers have pushed into the 11" range since Microsoft lifted the 10" limit on XP licenses - I can understand Asus not wan
      • I'd rather think 12" is the sweet spot.

        That 0,9" added screen-size makes a surprisingly huge difference in terms of ergonomy and almost no difference in terms of portability.
        Speaking from expirience here, as I own a Vaio TX5N (11.1") and a few MacBooks and Dells of various sizes.

        When you start talking about screen-sizes below 12" then every tenth of an inch suddenly starts to really matter.
        You probably wouldn't notice the difference between working at a 13,5" versus a 14" screen. But you will notice the dif

    • by aliquis (678370)

      What is a decent video card? I guess something integrated? Because kind of even those are overkill vs 256MB ram.

    • by pmontra (738736)

      Being cheap is always a good thing but notebooks have always been more expensive than equivalent desktops. Mobility and lightness come with a price premium. For this reason I think that netbooks will always be more expensive than an equally powerful notebook.

      Said that, I agree with most of TFA but I really can't use track points. I'll never buy anything that doesn't have a touch pad. Bluetooth is a nice to have feature but not strictly necessary. The single most important feature is a 4+ hour battery life f

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      While I am a Linux user I have to say that there is another option.
      How about OS/X?
      Apple has shown that OS/X can run on some pretty low end hardware like the iPhone. Apple could come out with a Netbook to fill out their lineup.

      • Not cheap (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MsGeek (162936)

        Apple netbook would own. I'd like to see something that was almost the resurrection of the Newton eMate, but with a more modern Mac OS X derivative OS, 802.11n, and an option for Mobile Phone Company-provided bandwidth. However...and this is a big HOWEVER...this Apple netbook would be more expensive than any of the other netbooks. It just comes with the territory of machines with better "fit and finish" than the average computer.

        I would say such a machine would be sort of like the offspring of an iPhone and

  • macbook nano (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eobanb (823187) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:36AM (#25183977) Homepage
    A Macbook nano. $699, 10" screen, dual-core Atom, 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB flash drive, 6-cell removable battery, Airport/Bluetooth, Snow Leopard; no CD/DVD drive. Many manufacturers already have models similar to this; with subnotebook sales at an all-time high it's only a matter of time before Apple jumps onboard.
    • by Zashi (992673)
      Well if you're going to call it a nano, you might as well use the nano processor.
  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:38AM (#25183985) Homepage

    Why is it that the 'original' netbook - the XO1 [wikipedia.org] - can get 9-10 hours of battery life, even with a basic NiMH (rather than Li-ion) battery, and yet all the followup netbooks seem stuck at 4 hours tops? Even with the new ultra-efficient Atom processor, most new netbooks seem to have a relatively heavy power draw. I wish somebody would sort that out.

    • by wisty (1335733)
      Have a look at the history of the PDA. Apple came in with the Newton (in 1994), which failed to capture a sustainable market. Lots of competitors also dived in, but it wasn't until the technologically inferior Palm Pilot came along (in 1997) that the market took off. Palm Pilot made the four main use cases (address book, memo, date, and todo) easy to use. No more, and no less. It used inferior technology, but superior design.
      The X01 is good enough, hardware wise, but it is an educational tool, not a netboo
      • The X01 is good enough, hardware wise, but it is an educational tool, not a netbook.

        Thank you for pointing this out! I have an XO, and the first thing most people do when they see it is compare it to the EeePC. There are some compromises, like the rubber keyboard, that were made differently on the XO then on the EeePC due to the target market, and people need to realize the target markets aren't the same!

    • The XO gets its 9-10 hours of battery life when reading ebooks by turning off everything but the LCD and DCON (display controller). The system goes into suspend-to-RAM but leaves the screen on so you can read it. If you use this with the screen in reflective mode (no backlight) it can last a hell of a long time. Doing anything else, though, it gets a normal 2-4 hours of battery.

    • by hyperz69 (1226464)
      The Intel 945 Chipset does NOT help! The atom platform thats coming out should GREATLY improve battery life and heat issues.
  • The new Asus N10 seems to hit the mark pretty well for me.

    http://www.mobilecomputermag.co.uk/20080926939/hands-on-with-the-asus-n10-gaming-netbook.html [mobilecomputermag.co.uk]

    The only thing I would add to it would be a firewire port.

    Cheers,

  • captain obvious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vajorie (1307049)
    it would include a price tag of below $300... And linux please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      it would include a price tag of below $300.

      Exactly. Before, when the sub-notebooks were selling for US$1200+ (many models being US$2000-3000), there wasn't a thriving netbook category. Asus, whether you like their first models or not, broke the ice, bigtime, thanks to the low price of the Eee PC.

      What worked then, will work now: keep the prices low. Most people don't give a shit about high-end graphics and fingerprint readers, in a netbook. They want it small and cheap. And that's pretty much it!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Glonoinha (587375)

        This.

        Netbook = Internet capable mini notebook.

        Internet capable means
        - wifi
        - a screen big enough to view most web pages
        - a keyboard good enough to type this post on or do email (not type a doctoral thesis)
        - a lightweight'ish operating system that runs Firefox and maybe Adobe Reader and plays flash for YouTube. And if we're feeling generous, a VPN client with a TermServer client.

        Basically a device I can bring with me to let me jack into the 'net from wherever I happen to be (catch a wifi signal pretty much a

  • by Anonymous Coward
    1) Gentoo 2) A quantum processor
    • by igny (716218)

      1) Gentoo 2) A quantum processor

      Doesn't one of these require the other?

  • ...An e-ink display (several generations ahead of what we have now, grayscale or color doesn't matter, just needs a decent refresh rate) plus integrated light (something along the lines of the thinkpad thinklight, but for the screen), wi-fi/bluetooth, a trackpoint (screw touchpads), be small (maybe along the lines of an eee701, just wider to accomodate a full-size keyboard), have a 5+ hour battery life, run a very light OS that is easy to customize (and preferably open source), enough storage for basic docu
  • Why just one? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj245 (732906) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:44AM (#25184021) Homepage
    Everyone has different needs and tastes. Some want a smaller package at the cost of features and screen size. Some of us want a little more hardware available and can't see a 7" screen anyhow. Many Japanese would be happy with a 4" netbook even if it had a 200Mhz arm processor. Most Americans would complain. This is why Asus etc have so many models and sizes. Trying to jam everyone into one model is like Henry Ford with the model T. He lost market share because he thought one car would be enough choice for everyone.
  • by bigdavex (155746)

    [Buy a laptop!]

    I think that . . .

    >

  • by slk (2510) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:46AM (#25184031)

    I'd say the ultimate netbook would be a slightly ruggedized version of the Lenovo X61s I already own, plus the built-in 3G that I wish I had ordered. (not that 3G via a USB 'modem' is bad)

    For that matter, how about an X200s? Starting weight of 2.5 pounds, but a 'real' computer. The only disadvantage here is that they are expensive, but the article said 'ultimate', not 'ultimate when compromised to make it cheap'.

    • by fostware (551290)
      As an X31 owner, my three year old mini laptop runs rings around the current netbooks. The addition of a newer (read cooler and less power hungry) CPU and SSD tech would make it ideal.
  • by MythMoth (73648) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:47AM (#25184033) Homepage

    The Psion clamshells seemed pretty popular in their day. I don't understand why that form factor went away and didn't come back! One of these [wikipedia.org] with a color screen, a modern processor, WiFi and running Linux would definitely appeal to me.

    Netbooks at the moment seem like the worst of both worlds - too large to be conveniently portable, too underpowered to do serious work, too small to be productive for heavily keyboard oriented stuff. They're light at least - but I don't really follow why that's a big deal. Obviously I'm wrong because Netbooks are popular. I just don't quite understand it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by teh kurisu (701097)

      If I worked in marketing and was given a netbook to sell, I'd probably target non-laptop users - people who don't own a computer at all right up to those who have a modern desktop at home, but no mobile solution for casual web browsing and email. People who don't have a real need (or the budget) for a smartphone, but would quite like something that they could carry around the house with them rather than being tied to a desk.

      I think trying to market it as an out-and-about internet and email solution is a no

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

        I agree. Right now, I am using a laptop as a desktop replacement. It's not working out for me with the non-standard keyboard, hitting the touch-pad when I type, etc. It just isn't that easy to use for real work. So my next machine will be a real desktop, and I will get a netbook for mobile connectivity.

        • by MythMoth (73648)

          I am using a laptop as a desktop replacement. It's not working out for me with the non-standard keyboard, hitting the touch-pad when I type, etc.

          Thinkpad! Gorgeous keyboards, sanely laid out. The trackpoint is a winner. You can disable the touchpad in BIOS if you're unlucky enough to have one. I actively prefer my Thinkpads to desktop machines and use them as such. Sadly they don't do a jacket pocket sized one (though I believe they did once upon a time [basterfield.com]).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jamesshuang (598784)
      Ever hear of the Nokia N810? Same form factor, 200mhz ARM proc, microsd slot for expansion, wifi and linux. If you want *cheap*, look for N800's. Same processor minus the keyboard, but two SD slots for 32 gb of memory (or more!), and sells for around $200 now.
  • CPU would be a TI OMAP 3530, and at least 256MB of RAM. It would have a smallish 200dpi screen and both composite video and HDMI out (with a small HDMI to DVI-D adaptor provided) for driving an external screen and a secondary eInk display. Apart from this, all of the standard things (802.11n, Bluetooth, USB and ideally a FireWire 800 port). Battery life would be at least 8 hours with WiFi running and the screen at a sensible level of brightness. No hard disk, but at least 20GB of flash. Oh, and it woul
  • by kisrael (134664)

    I like how the spin in the article description makes it feel like it's doing the industry a service when really it's just some guy politely ranting and daydreaming.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yeah, pretty much. I just bought a netbook for school, and there's really not a whole lot I could or would improve on. The article has some interesting ideas, but nothing groundbreaking. Yes, I too would like my car to come with a 3.5L, 300 horsepower engine with a turbocharger and get 40 miles to the gallon! But you know what? I drive a Honda. I have a 2.0L naturally aspirated engine with 210 horsepower, and I get 27mpg local/36 highway. That's frikkin' good enough. Yes, I know the technology is out there
  • by Enleth (947766) <enleth@enleth.com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @09:52AM (#25184059) Homepage

    Lightweight (under 1.5kg including the power supply), 12h+ REAL battery life, built-in 3G modem, trackpoint or a *properly* calibrated touchpad, a sturdy case - steel hinges (but NOT steel fastened with screws to a plastic frame), titanium alloy or carbon fiber underside and cover - and proper space utilization (if there's space for a full-sized keyboard because the notebook is widescreen, then put this goddamned full-sized keyboard there, not a "normal" laptop keyboard and 10cm of padding on each side). Oh, and a matte screen. Glossy is OK for desktop monitors in a controller environment, laptops are being used where it's often impossible to eliminate direct, bright sources of light that make using a glossy screen almost impossible.

    Actually, I think I've just described something similar to my X60, which is a very good design as far as mobility is concerned, but could be improved anyway. Sadly, I couldn't find anything better yet - Eee is nice but underpowered for my needs (no, not gaming) and too small (12.1" is optimal for me), Vaio feels too delicate and too easy to break, while HP subnotebooks are fine at first, but there's something about them that puts me off.

    Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with the "desktop replacement" kind of notebook, which definitely has its place (small apartments, dorm rooms etc.), but is, in my opinion, out of scope of this discussion.

    • by mypalmike (454265)

      > Lightweight (under 1.5kg including the power supply), 12h+ REAL battery life, built-in 3G modem

      Your first 3 criteria are at odds with each other. Weight is largely a function of battery size, and you can't do 12+ hours of 3G without a good chunk of battery.

      • by Enleth (947766)

        Not really, X60 is almost there for me - 10-14h of work time with 3G connectivity in under 1.8kg, with two 8-cell batteries. I just had to make a battery-powered (but very small and light) contraption that plugs into the charging port and keeps the notebook up for a few seconds while I switch the main battery for a fresh one. And that's the normal X60, not X60s with a low-voltage processor.

        So I'd say the technology for a light 12h+ laptop on a single battery will be there soon if it's not already.

  • I actually RTFA... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neokushan (932374) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:04AM (#25184143)

    I read the article. I got about 2 paragraphs in and read this little gem:

    we're still waiting for the Apple iPhone of netbooks - the example that blows all out of the water and sets a new benchmark for all to follow.

    Since when the hell was the iPhone the definitive Phone? I'm honestly not trying to troll here, but it's widely documented that although it's great for web browsing and such, the actual phone aspect of it fails on nearly all points. It doesn't do MMS, it doesn't have bluetooth for anything other than headsets - hell, the shitty Windows Smartphone I had 4 years ago did everything the iPhone does today (and more), with the only exceptions of a multi-touch screen and 3G (Because it wasn't widespread back then). Honestly, what am I missing here?

    • by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:10AM (#25184563)

      Honestly, what am I missing here?

      What specheads usually miss: The secret sauce is usability not specs. Other smartphones can do the same things - on paper. Many people don't buy non-iPhone smartphones because they think those phones are too complicated to use.

      The same might go for the netbook marked - people are talking about RAM amount, price range, 3G etc. Maybe a better user experience would be a good idea? How about a piece of easy-to-use software on a USB thumdrive that allows you to set up a home network complete with sharing? A _lot_ of people with netbooks also have a desktop. If they could access photos, movies, documents on their desktop then that might be a good idea. Or maybe even sync between those computers?

      • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:31AM (#25184725)

        Except nearly every netbook on the market currently comes in WindowsXP form, so what's so different about the Usability of a netbook and a laptop/desktop (for the average joe, that is)?
        Why is it suddenly an issue? What were people doing before? Don't tell me people are only just migrating from desktops to portables, this isn't a new fad, the only difference is that Netbooks are a bit more feature-packed than other ultra-portable devices (like Smartphones or even laptops).
        By your logic, a more usable machine beats a better machine because it's easier to use. If that was true, why did we ever bother complicating our phones at all? Why not stick to the simplest of designs because they're easier to use? The iPhone looks pretty, but the only reason it's "easier to use" is because there's a lot less of it TO use. Aside from the web browsing, you're not exactly getting a great device.

  • My take (Score:3, Interesting)

    by subreality (157447) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:04AM (#25184147)

    The categories are fuzzy, of course, but I see two main ones:

    1) What I call a netbook, which is a reduced-functionality, super tiny notebook, with emphasis on wireless connectivity, startup time, and battery life, to give you a minimal terminal to access your online life from anywhere. It's cheap enough that you'd likely buy it in addition to a normal notebook, and between being rugged (SSD) and cheap, you wouldn't worry about banging it around as you take it everywhere. It doesn't apologize for not starting OpenOffice quickly, or other traditional things you'd do with a notebook (let alone gaming)... That's not its purpose, and if you miss those things, look at #2. The original Eee nailed it.

    2) Sub-sub-notebooks. These are the "larger" ones, which work as super light notebook for people who travel away from their main PC a lot. More CPU, a little heavier, a much bigger screen, somewhat less battery life, and you get a tiny, convenient notebook. It costs more. It's more about "running applications" than "hop online for a second". See: Dell, or the new Eee.

    For me, the perfect netbook starts with #1, and keeps going in the direction of small, light, power efficient, instant-on, connectivity everywhere, and feels no shame about its limitations. To improve, try adding one of those trick transflective flip-around displays from the OLPC, and an ultra-low-power display-only mode to make it a usuable ebook... Or just put an e-ink display on the lid. Some are adding cell data interfaces... Good move, though plan pricing will probably render it useless.

  • X86 under $100 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by newsdee (629448) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:09AM (#25184183) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to see a brand that positions itself as the "under $100" Notebook and delivers at least the same specs as the EEE PC 4G.

    In other words, instead of trying to replicate a laptop, just cram everything you can for the price. They could then update the product every year; at that price you can afford the upgrade often.

    Probably not going to happen, as it would kill margins. But all the current machines will be available second-hand sooner or later and should reach that price point.

    • I agree that this would be desirable but I guess profit margins would be so low that no manufacturer is interested in such a thing.
      It has been said many times that the (almost) perfect laptop can be built today. One in each size. Just nobody is interested in actually building it because to whom would they market their next model?

  • There's nothing to see here. The author doesn't put forward any good points about making a good netbook, he just whines about how the current ones don't suit him as well as they could.
    "Do I need to play games? No" - really? Maybe I do. Maybe I don't necessarily want Crysis running on it, but I wouldn't mind the odd blast at COD4, which the Asus N10 actually runs fairly well.
    "Do I need to decode 720p/1080p? No" Good for you! I actually quite like my Hi-def entertainment and considering some of these have a H

  • by not-quite-rite (232445) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:17AM (#25184235) Homepage Journal

    But I would be very happy with the following:

    an Atom based machine, with
    a USB host port, and an
    SD card slot,
    GPS,
    Wifi,
    Bluetooth etc,
    5 hour battery life

    All in the form factor of an A4 sized(maybe even A5) iphone like device. Ie Glass screen, solid build, slim design.

    If i need a keyboard for the thing i can use a bt one. It would be perfect for reading books, maps, basic games, browsing. And fit into a pack or bag nicely

    Oh, and finally, it would run Linux of course

    (if the price was around the 500AUD mark, it would be fantastic, but twice that would also be tolerable :)

  • Dream Netbook (Score:4, Interesting)

    by archshade (1276436) <ba...parsonage@@@gmail...com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @10:17AM (#25184237)
    Hardware
    1. Battery life => 8hrs (with wifi)
    2. 20GB+ SSD
    3. 7"-10" screen
    4. 256MB+ RAM
    5. midrange(~1.5GHz) single core x86 processor optimized for increased battery life
    6. 802.11n. and wired Ethernet.
    7. 4+ USD port
    8. DVI out
    9. Well made rugged design

    Software

    1. light open OS optimized for hardware (such as *BSD or GNU/Linux distro)
    2. Decent browser (firefox)
    3. Simple Office (Abiworld etc)
    4. Decent Email client (Thunderbird)
    5. Frozen Bubble
    6. easy access to more software and large repositories already activated.

      All for £100-£150 ($200-$300)

    • 1. Battery life => 8hrs (with wifi)

      Agreed. With my IBM T61 with 9 cell and super-battery (fits in dvd drive slot), I routinely get 8.5 hrs IF the screen is off half the time.

      2. 20GB+ SSD

      IIRC, SSD right now have no to negative effect on battery usage. There should be a fair amount of energy used to power these, but right now, they just were working on them to get them to work, not be power-friendly. That'll take time.

      3. 7"-10" screen

      I'd like a screen in the s

  • Each person has her/his own idea of what the "ultimate" notebook should be. There is no one ultimate notebook for everyone, there is, however, one ultimate notebook for each person.
    .

    Must be a slow news day....

  • Start with the iPhone/iPod Touch's design, and scale it up to about 10x7, the same size as a typical large format paperback like an O'Reilly book. Aside from built in WiFi and BlueTooth, he device includes an Express Card slot and several USB ports, so that it can accommodate the broadband network cards offered by both the HSDPA and EvDO providers. The underlying specs will be closer to a MacBook or MacBook Air.

    In iTouch mode, it will be able to do all the things the iTouch does, as well as connect to the

  • That says it all.
  • It already exists. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have an Asus EeePC 901.

    It *is* the ultimate netbook.

    It has a 1.8Ghz Atom processor, faster than my desktop's AthlonXP 1800+. It has no problem crunching numbers or playing highly compressed high-quality video.

    The 1GB of standard RAM is fine. I'd rather 2GB in dual-channel, especially since ram only costs 12$/GB or so, but I also have no troubles running Windows 200 Server, Firefox with 50+ open tabs, thunderbird, Apache2 with 10 concurrent users, Trillian, Winamp, Filezilla, and a dozen other services on

  • Netbooks are close to my ideal the way they are now. I would probably ask for a bit of flexibility by adding an area close to the USB ports where we could hide a USB dongle for 3G or other forms of communications.

    The mass storage should also be a plug-in. I'd be happy with a 4GB SSD most of the time but going back to that other Slashdot discussion on what to take for a roud-the-world trip, a bigger HDD would be great for carrying photos.

    Instead of the trackpad I'd probably prefer a trackpoint or a Nintendo

  • Something I am longing for is a cheap 9-10 inch tablet PC. Is it so hard to make a tactile screen and a hinge that will allow the screen to hide the keyboard? How about no keyboard at all? B/W screen is ok and e-paper would extend the battery life.
  • by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:09AM (#25184555) Homepage Journal

    My ideal notebook would not be Intel architecture.

    Let's face it, designing a notebook around an Intel processor is like designing a bicycle around a V8 truck engine. Even recent attempts to make them low-power are laughable; the Intel Atom may draw an unheard-of 4 watts, but the new generation of ARM chips have about the same processing capabilities and draw *0.3* watts (plus you get a DSP and a PowerVR 3D accelerator for free).

    The only possible reason for wanting an IA32 processor is if you're going to run Windows; which is fine, if you want to do that, but I don't. So why should I, and all the people like me, be restricted to having to using hardware that's crippled by the need by a ludicrously power-hungry processor and all the heat-dissipation hardware necessary to make it go? I have an Asus eee 701; it has a *fan* in it. That's simply absurd in a machine that size.

    Lose the Intel processor, and it'll be cheaper, lighter and you're probably quadruple the battery life...

    • by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @02:28PM (#25186015)

      > My ideal notebook would not be Intel architecture.

      Exactly right. But not a $100 laptop like that HiVision thingy coming next month. Why is it accepted wisdom that only the cheapest model can run Linux? Linux on a netbook works just great and Linux doesn't care about the CPU arch much. But we do need video playback and flash plugin support so the MIPS in those Chinese netbooks aren't going to cut it. You need an ARM.

      My 'ideal' netbook:

      Start with a Thinkpad keyboard. Notice the eraserhead pointer. Must have. Now eliminate the stupid pad and you can cut the form factor down a lot. Yes you have to be wider to have a full notebook keyboard but if you will note the resulting formfactor is ideal for putting a wide display on without any wasted space. Give it 1280x720 or 1280x768 so it can playback HD video. Make sure the rest of the system can keep up, but it isn't required that it get great battery life while doing something that extreme.

      With an ARM and a LED backlight it should be possible to get a good battery life on 'ordinary' document creation and web browsing without larding the thing down with too many batteries. You really need to be able to run 6-8 hours to avoid the need to carry the charger around all day.

      What will be totally cool will be when eInk gets perfected with color and fast response time. Imagine what that will do to runtime when the backlight can go and everything but the WiFi can stay powered down 90% of the time.

  • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdotNO@SPAMgaryolson.org> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:12AM (#25184589) Journal
    The majority of the comments are focusing on the "book" part; and mostly ignoring the "net" part. Current wifi, proprietary cellular, or true-high speed wired network are not pervasive or interoperable enough to provide effectively for the "net" part.

    The "netbook" is just smoke so far. No real fire.
  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:16AM (#25184607)

    So, he says he wants:

    all day battery life
    HSDPA (and a contract is okay) so he can surf the web anywhere
    bluetooth

    He says he doesn't need:
    ability to play games
    great sound quality
    a lot of RAM or storage

    It sounds like he just wants a web-enabled cell phone. Google's/T-Mobile's Android G1 should be perfect for him.

    As for me, I'd like more memory, because I know I'll use it. I don't care about HSDPA, because I'm not about to enter into yet another cell phone contract. I don't care about bluetooth, because I'm not going to use an external mouse. I want pre-N wireless, because I'm going to be using it sometime in the next couple of years.

  • Netbooks (Score:5, Funny)

    by edbob (960004) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:23AM (#25184657)

    1. They need to be cheap. Very cheap. They should be cheap enough that they could be given away much like USB memory sticks are today. A high-end netbook should cost no more than $20. Lower-end models should cost no more than a few dollars.

    2. They need to be powerful to run all the new whiz-bang Web 2.0 stuff and any other application that someone might want to run. The Atom processor may be fine for now, but newer netbooks will need four- or eight-core processors to handle loading web pages. When I press the power button, I want to be ready to go instantly. My first computer booted up in five seconds and it had a 1 MHz (that's megahertz, not gigahertz) processor. With the processors we have now, a computer should be ready to go before I take my finger off the power button.

    3. They need connectivity. Cheap or free Wi-Fi or WiMax so that they can perform their primary function -- loading web pages.

    4. They need to be small. Very small. I should be able to fit one comfortably in my shirt pocket.

    5. They need a large screen to view websites without having to scroll all the time. A 17-inch screen should be minimal with a 19- or 21-inch screen preferred.

    6. The battery needs to last a long time. Even using the wireless connectivity continuously, these things should run for a year or more on two AA batteries.

    7. They need to be durable, yet stylish. I should be able to take it from the job site to the coffee shop. They need to be dust- and water-proof. Maintenance should only consist of a wipe-down with a wet rag to clean off any dust or dirt. I should be able to stick it in the dishwasher to clean it and it should be able to survive being washed and dried with my clothes if it gets forgotten in a pocket.

    8. They need to be dead simple to operate. Someone operating one of these things should not need a CS degree. The interface should be navigable by a 3-year-old. It should not require an easily-lost external mouse or keyboard, but it should have expansion ports (preferably USB) to add one or both if desired.

  • there should be a range of computers allowing each person to select their own ultimate compromise of features and price. Collaboration works better if everyone can join in. I have been working with Elonex in the UK on a couple of computers at the low end of the price spectrum, I am not allowed to use the c word to describe them, but they are as inexpensive as chips and dirt good value. The webbook [webbookblog.com] is a VIA X86 laptop running Ubuntu, fairly traditional architecture. Below that is the One and OneT. The One ha
  • First off, a minimum of four buttons should be in there. You listening, Apple? (and yeah, I'm a Mac evangelist). So sell the thing w/ the buttons all programmed for normal click, or two each normal and "right" click. Let the savants reprogram them.
    Trackpad with programmable two-finger, side scroll, etc. like the newer machines tend to provide.
    And first of all, a numeric keypad.
    Second, a keyboard with action much more like a regular keyboard--personally I'd give up the extra 1/4 inch or so of overall lap

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