Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Portables Intel Hardware

Is Intel Killing 12-Inch Displays On Netbooks? 297

Posted by timothy
from the 12"-seems-a-bit-easier-on-the-eyes dept.
HangingChad writes "Dell has retired their 12-inch Intel Atom-powered netbooks, they said today. The official reason — 'It really boils down to this: for a lot of customers, 10-inch displays are the sweet spot for netbooksLarger notebooks require a little more horsepower to be really useful.' Or is the real reason that 12-inch displays on netbooks cut into Intel's more profitable dual-core market and Dell's profit margins on higher-end machines?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is Intel Killing 12-Inch Displays On Netbooks?

Comments Filter:
  • by tsa (15680) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:47PM (#29003931) Homepage

    I remember when I had a 12" iBook. Back then it was considered a normal laptop. OK, it wasn't wide-screen, but isn't 12" just too big for a netbook?

    • I'm eyeing the 11.6 notebooks, with ~1300x768 resolution, because they are the first workable machines for me (1024x600 res of the 10" just isn't enough although I would buy a smaller one if the resolution was up to par).

      Anyway, at these sizes, it's not much cheaper than the cheapest full size notebooks - but it's still a lot easier than lugging around the average 15", has much better battery life than the cheapest notebooks, and with the typical browsing/email most people do, having max processing power is

      • For me, my 14" HP is the sweet spot. I got good resolution and great battery life.

        A 12" seems to be right in the middle of two distinct classes - the netbook and the laptop.

        At 12", its too big to have the convenience of a netbook, but its too small to serve as a fully functional laptop. I'm not sure how well the 12" was selling, but for myself at least I would never buy a 12" because it wouldn't be ideal for anything I want to do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by popo (107611)

          A 12" netbook is definitely a netbook. Samsung makes some awesome 1280x800 display netbooks with Nano processors that are imho, the best netbooks on the market.

          Dell's decision is a little hilarious, in that all they will accomplish is helping their competition.

          I'm sure Samsung will welcome all those disappointed Dell shoppers with open arms...

      • I'm eyeing the 11.6 notebooks, with ~1300x768 resolution, because they are the first workable machines for me (1024x600 res of the 10" just isn't enough although I would buy a smaller one if the resolution was up to par).
        10 inch machines with that screen resoloution do exist at what I would consider a tollerable price ( £500). They have been availible in the US for a while and it looks like they will soon be appearing here in the uk as well (there are a couple of models here in the UK availible

    • No, no it isn't.
      What we have discovered is that 10" is actually too small.
      This is due to the fact that you look like a squinting hunched over idiot while using
      it, especially if you are over six feet tall. Petite women, and very small men, netbook away!
      Ya'll are so cute with those lil' 'puters!

      • by tsa (15680)

        I know what you mean. I have a very small lady friend who has a nice 10" Samsung. She is very happy with it.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        No, no it isn't.
        What we have discovered is that 10" is actually too small.
        This is due to the fact that you look like a squinting hunched over idiot while using
        it, especially if you are over six feet tall.

        That's, to an extent, what makes a netbook a netbook.

        The way I look at it is, if its a perfectly usable, "just right" size computer for every day use without any severe complaints regarding size, hard drive speed, keyboard, etc, then it's not a netbook, it's just a notebook (regardless of the size). What makes a netbook a distinct category is that you're giving up on some (really, usually just about every) aspect of the computer in order to gain something that is extremely portable, and significantly cheape

    • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:16PM (#29004143)
      Exactly. And, there is already the term subnotebook [wikipedia.org] for laptops of that size.
    • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:26PM (#29004197) Homepage

      [...] but isn't 12" just too big for a netbook?

      I find that the most important dimension when it comes to whether or not a computer is comfortable or is awkward and annoying when I'm carrying it loose is thickness, not length or width.

      Same when it is in a backpack, as I use a backpack that has a padded divider to separate the computer from the other items in the backpack. The thickness of the computer is the only dimension that determines how much space the computer takes up in the backpack.

      • by Kozz (7764) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:57PM (#29004377)

        I find that the most important dimension when it comes to whether or not a computer is comfortable or is awkward and annoying when I'm carrying it loose is thickness, not length or width.

        Oh-ho! A computer, you say? Is that what the kids are calling it these days? I can read between the lines, mister.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Funny. I've come to the opposite conclusion. Flying in coach, the taller the laptop is off the table, the more likely you are to break the screen when the guy in front of you leans back. Thickness doesn't mean much because it is in a bag anyway.

        As for twelve inches being too big, that's only be ause a 12 inch laptop is really almost 14 inches corner to corner because of the wide screen margins. Dump the built-in camera; a netbook isn't fast enough to do much with it anyway. Then, cut it down to the nar

    • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @04:47PM (#29004737) Homepage

      I (still) have a 12" PowerBook.

      IMHO, it's by far the best compromise I've seen between performance and portability. In fact, there wasn't much of a "compromise" at all -- it has the full array of ports that you'd expect (including FireWire), an optical drive, a decent battery, and surprisingly good speakers. At the time of its release, its CPU, memory, and hard drive were all on par with the top-of-the-line. Even today, it's still adequately fast for most tasks.

      It's small enough to take anywhere, but not small enough that you have to squint in order to read what's on the screen. The new 13" MacBooks are actually quite a bit larger (albeit still very nice machines) -- I don't know of any machines today that offer the modern equivalent of performance and portability (even on the PC side of the fence, which I'd happily consider). There's also certainly something to be said for Apple's use of an all-metal chassis for its laptops.

      My only complaints about it are the 1.25GB RAM limit, and 1024x768 display, although these are forgivable, given that it's a 5 year old machine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by koiransuklaa (1502579)

        I don't know of any machines today that offer the modern equivalent of performance and portability (even on the PC side of the fence, which I'd happily consider).

        As someone pointed out: Thinkpad X series has delivered that consistently for quite a long time. Be prepared to pay through the nose though.

    • I remember when I had a 5" portable C64 (in a 40 lb chassis) and back then it was considered a normal laptop. It wasn't wide screen either, but you damn kids these days (shakes fist) have no idea how good you've got it.

      How big is too big probably depends on how you use it. In my line of work, XP on an atom processor with a 17 inch 1920x1200 display would be completely adequate. But because of screen size alone we are relegated to much more expensive hardware.

  • Alternate Sources (Score:4, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:47PM (#29003937)

    Now I might believe this "it's cutting into cash cow" theory if Dell was a monopoly like Apple. But if HP, Asus et all are offering 12" Netbooks then wouldn't they just be losing customers to their competitors--gaining 0 profit instead of less profit?

    • Re:Alternate Sources (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mewsenews (251487) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:06PM (#29004081) Homepage

      What do Dell, Apple, HP, and Asus have in common? Their relationship to Intel. AMD is a non-competitor in the netbook space right now, and Intel has enough clout to throw their weight around and get what they want.

    • by 10Ghz (453478) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:28PM (#29004201)

      "if Dell was a monopoly like Apple"

      How exactly is Apple a "monopoly"? Because the have 100% market-share in Macs? I guess Nintendo is a monopoly as well, since they have 100% market-share in the Wii-market....

  • by temojen (678985) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:48PM (#29003943) Journal
    The whole reason for having a netbook is that it's tiny and portable. If you don't need super portability, you might as well get a more powerful machine. Market forces at work.
    • by rm999 (775449)

      "If you don't need super portability, you might as well get a more powerful machine"

      You are forgetting several other variables, like battery life, heat, and cost. I personally don't need anything more than an underclocked Atom in my notebook, no matter what the size of the screen is. I imagine most people out there don't either.

      I prefer a 12 inch screen and corresponding full-size keyboard to today's netbooks.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      not that "conspiracy" cop out crap again....Educate yourself a little and see who dictates what gets done where in the tech sector. In this case, google for Microsoft's netbook hardware specs for Windows. You probably also didn't know that Microsoft dictated much of the hardware spec for smartphones which run Windows Mobile. I forget which telecom it was but one of them went to much effort to be allowed to put their own UI on their phone. And given the threat coming up from the ARM chips, I would not be sur
    • by fermion (181285)
      Consumers want cheap machines, OEM need to make a profit. There may be some value in having suppliers and anufacutere collude to provide cheap machines. We see the same thing happen with firewire. USB is a cheaper technology, also happens to be intel, so we have USB rather than firewire. Is there some net loss, maybe. Screen size is the same thing. If Intel is optimizing the atom for machines that run on a 10" screen, so that larger machines will need to run more expensive materials, then there we go.
  • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:49PM (#29003951)

    It seems a bit weird to choose to make a twelve inch screen on a netbook, since the entire point of picking a netboo over a beefier laptop is that you highly value lightness and compactness.

    • by rossifer (581396)
      Actually, I value long battery life and low cost. Since this is a DVD player first and emergency laptop second, that really is the order of things. If they can keep the battery life up and the cost down while upgrading to a higher-res 12" screen, I'll take two!
    • But a 12" netbook has a really nice resolution on it, and is magnitudes cheaper than most other 12" notebooks.

      The niche is 12" in $400-500

    • by Narishma (822073)

      Not everybody chooses netbooks for their size. I picked mine mainly for the price and battery life. If 12" netbooks were available I would have prefered that to my 10".

  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:50PM (#29003957) Homepage

    There's a trade-off between convenience and power, and once you get over a certain size, you might as well have something with a really workable screen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039)
      those backlights use a lot of power so there is probably something to power usage considerations for netbooks. Larger displays would also require larger batteries. But, as we've seen in the smart phone and desktop markets, Microsoft dictates many of the hardware specs, not the OEM's hardware design people.

      LoB
  • 12" too large? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_flea (776124) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:51PM (#29003965)
    Isn't the point of netbooks to be small and light? 12" screens start to defeat that; I wouldn't doubt that most netbook purchasers prefer 10" screens (of course, any smaller than that and the keyboard gets pretty cramped). If you're going to get a 12" machine, you might as well make the jump to a full notebook...

    I'm actually on a 12" laptop right now, and love it very much.
    • by temojen (678985)
      Aspire one 8.9" works for me. It makes a bitchin router console/portable manual viewer. Also, it's pretty cool for some of the minor projects I'm experimenting with as a temporary (very low power) server.
    • I bought a 11 inches 6 small netbook. Mostly for watching film while travelling or play old dosbox games or playing usic while on train. Nothing really special. I was searching for long battery time (some train travel can be up to 8 hours). I found 10' and 11'6 netbook. The 11'6 was less powerful but a longer time (8 hours versus as low as 360-420 minutes for more "powerful" netbook). At that point when we are speaking of 6 to 8 hours, the screen power consumption for 11'6 to 10' is probably not too differe
    • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:13PM (#29004133)

      I used a friend's 10" netbook for a few minutes and immediately knew I couldn't buy one with a screen that small. 600 pixels is not nearly enough for vertical resolution.

      I researched all of the netbooks and just purchased (2 days ago) an Acer AO751h. It has an 11.6" display (1366x768), a full sized keyboard and a 6 cell battery that lasts ~7-8h depending on drivers [aspireoneuser.com].

      FYI, if you decide to get one as well, be sure to update the GMA500 drivers to the versions this guy is talking about [aspireoneuser.com] because other versions will cause it to lock up, and also have terrible performance.

      • Oh, and it only weighs 3lbs, too, with the 6-cell battery.
        I used to have a full 6-7lb laptop, it was fine at first but I soon got sick of having to carry it around. This thing being only 3lbs, I can just throw into my bag and go. And, because of the 7-8h battery life, I don't have to worry about bringing the charger with me (before this brought the laptop up to 7-8lbs)

      • I used a friend's 10" netbook for a few minutes and immediately knew I couldn't buy one with a screen that small. 600 pixels is not nearly enough for vertical resolution.

        What happened to GUIs? For years, my primary machine was a 386sx laptop with a 640x480 display in 16 shades of blue. I did word processing, programming, and image editing on it quite happily and never found the screen resolution particularly limiting. I'm not disputing your point, I'm just wondering what changed. Part of it is that back then I used to use one application maximised, while now I run several and they all take a bit of screen space (running more than one app on a 386sx with 5MB of RAM - one

        • App developers optimise arround the minimum screen size they think a significant proportion of thier userbase will have. For a number of years that was 1024x768 then suddenly netbooks started appearing with lower resoloutions. With some apps it's not a problem, others either plain won't fit or will leave so little useful screen area that you won't want to use them.

          Also I suspect our expectations have increased, if living with a very cramped screen is all you've ever known you won't wish too hard for anythin

    • by nxtw (866177)

      Isn't the point of netbooks to be small and light? 12" screens start to defeat that; I wouldn't doubt that most netbook purchasers prefer 10" screens (of course, any smaller than that and the keyboard gets pretty cramped). If you're going to get a 12" machine, you might as well make the jump to a full notebook...

      Netbooks seem heavy compared to high end (=expensive) lightweight laptops. The Dell Latitude E4200 [dell.com] has a 12" diagonal screen, a faster GPU, and a dual core CPU, and yet it weighs 2.2 lbs - as much

      • Unfortunately, it's 5-8x as expensive.
        Which means unless you are very rich or have taken out some expensive loss/breakage insurance you will be forever worrying about losing/breaking it.

        • by nxtw (866177)

          I've carried expensive laptops for years and haven't lost or broken one yet. Perhaps not everyone is as careless as you?

    • The keyboard should be the first thing that people look at on netbooks. I don't care what anyone says, but the Gateway LT3103u keyboard is 1000x more comfortable than anything smaller than the 11.6 screen at 1366 x 768. Its just a low-power 1.2ghz athlon with 2 gigs of ram, a 250gb hdd, a radeon x1270, and a 3.5 to 5hr battery life, and at 350$ shipped its worth every penny. Being able to watch 720p on the go once in a blue moon is all i need, and if i wanted more features i would spend more money. Plus wit

  • The Dell Mini 12 had a horrible graphics chipset and 1 GB memory soldered onto the motherboard, which couldn't be upgraded. It wasn't cutting into profits *anywhere*.

  • At some point... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bschorr (1316501) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:02PM (#29004041) Homepage
    Putting larger screens and larger keyboards in a netbook...the device ceases to BE a netbook. When you start getting into 12-13 inch screens you're starting to get into a form factor that is...well...a laptop.

    The whole point of a netbook is that it's small, compact, light, low-battery...but that's harder and harder to do when your netbook gets to be the size of your laptop. You can call a dog's tail a leg, but that doesn't make it a leg. Just because you call a device that's 5 lbs and has a 12" screen a netbook doesn't make it a netbook.

    So where do you draw the line? I have a netbook and a laptop and a desktop. They serve three distinct purposes (though I rarely use my laptop anymore because my netbook, with the 10" screen, does just fine for most of those tasks).

    Perhaps the reason more people are moving to netbooks instead of laptops is that most people have realized that an Atom processor is just fine for their tasks. That spending more to have a dual-core processor that spends 99% of its time idle and sucking up battery life was wasteful.
    • by Carrot007 (37198) <Carrot007.thewibblereport@co@uk> on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:08PM (#29004099) Homepage

      > The whole point of a netbook is that it's small, compact, light

      That used to be true of a laptop.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Renraku (518261)

        Did it?

        Have you seen some of the laptops of yesteryear? Ten pounds? That's only small, compact, and light when compared to the old mainframes of the same era..

        • by Ironsides (739422)
          Ten ponds? Try twenty. My old 286 laptop was 3 inches thick, had a lead acid battery and a removable keyboard that attached by a wire.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by basementman (1475159)

        That used to be true of a desktop.

      • Should I pull out that Professor Frink quote? What? I took so long reading other comments and scrolling here someone might already have done it? Okay :(

    • So where do you draw the line?
      Why should there BE a line? I'd much rather there was a range of devices and I could chose the point in that range that best suited me.

      12 inch while big by netbook standards is still quite a bit smaller than most other cheap laptops on the market and for some people it may be the best compromise (personally I'd rather pay a bit more to have the functionality of the 12 inch models crammed into a 10 inch).

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:08PM (#29004101) Journal

    Most people I know buying netbooks are doing so because they already own 1 or more computers (often already own a notebook, even), and they just like the idea of having something cheap that could really be brought around anywhere they go without many concerns.

    (EG. I have a custom configured Macbook Pro I bought new, last year. Great machine, and I maxxed out the RAM in it, upgraded the hard drive to a 500GB, and got a great carrying bag for it and its accessories. I take it to work regularly and on vacation trips, etc. But with a value of close to $3000 for all of that, possible theft or loss is a big worry. I'm definitely not going to lug it all over the place without a care in the world.... So I got a $200 or so closeout model of eeePC, and that one is pretty disposable by comparison. It's less functional and the screen gives me eyestrain after a while - but it works in a pinch, in places I'd just do without a portable otherwise.)

    I suspect a 12" screen netbook is approaching the size where it's a little less convenient to take everywhere. (I can throw my eeePC in my car's glovebox .. but don't think a 12" display netbook would fit.) It also has to carry a bit higher price-tag than a 9" or 10" screen model would carry.

    • by Mista2 (1093071)

      The real kicker with a netbook would be cheap 3G data. For something I take everywhere, it is useless on its own but makes a great citrix or X11 terminal, but it needs network! I just need a 3G card that works for Linux. The machine only has 7GB flash and 512 MB ram so is not suitable for Windows (this is what makes it a netbook to me, not just a small laptop)

    • by amiga3D (567632)
      That's what I use my old iBook for. It's powerful enough to do mobile computing without a problem and gets great battery life but it's old and I don't worry too much about it. I'd hate the thought of having to worry about where my $3000 computer was. It's got a 12 inch screen which is about the biggest I'd want to lug around. I've thought about getting a netbook but really they don't have any more power than the old G4.
  • by bogotronix (1586717) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:14PM (#29004137)
    I think Atom purchasers have to declare the destination of the chip and intel charges more if the destination is a 12" display. The idea being every 12" sold is a desktop CPU sale lost. AMD, NVIDIA, VIA don't have the necessary market share to impose this kind of restriction on the manufacturers using their chips. Dell is probably surrendering now rather than continue with a platform that's had its profit margins hobbled from the start.
  • I've been looking for a replacement for my 12" G4 Powerbook and looked at the Dell Mini 12. Good dimensions and screen resolution, but what killed it for me was the Intel GMA 500 chipset and Atom N530. Underpowered and overpriced, plus flaky compatibility and lousy battery life. Its like a TFT maker had leftover panels and Intel had the junk leftover from making "quality" GMA 9x0 and N2x0 parts and sold it to Dell real cheap.

    Roll in a candy coating and sell it for $100+ more than the good Mini 10 serie

  • by dokebi (624663) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:38PM (#29004273)

    I chalk this up to bad market research. Dell probably asked a focus group how they could improve on the 10" netbook. The focus group probably said a bigger screen and faster cpu. How much more will they pay for it? $150 bucks.

    Now Dell goes and makes one at that price point and screen size. Except the 12" is heavier and eats into the already mediocure battery life, it's waaay more expensive than the the 7" models that are practically being given away. No wonder it doesn't sell well.

    I think Dell market research here forgot that the real desirable factor in netbook is the low, low price, portability, and long battery life. Ignore the core features customers love, and they will ignore you. How shocking!

  • I am not aware of how required processor power is directly related to screen size. While the case might be made that GPU power should be scaled up to match the number of pixels being handled, ATI and NVidia are already nicely handling that end of the equation. To say that a 12" laptop requires a full Core Duo or better, while 11.6" screens run just fine on Atoms, is beyond bogus.

    I am aware of how much I hate Dell for lying.
  • Didn't Techcrunch allege that Intel charge more for their chip if it's destined to a machine with a 12" laptop rather than A 10" one? Or that it was because the lowest spec Windows 7 distribution only works with screens up to 10" in size, so a 12" one, for cost reasons, would effectively be Linux only??
  • hint: max spec for Windows XP Home on netbooks was 12.1", max spec for Windows 7 Starter on netbooks is 10.2"

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/05/22/microsoft-publishes-maximum-windows-7-netbooks-specs/

    This does lead into the question of how fearful of Microsoft are the hardware manufacturers who get hired to build ARM based netbooks with screens larger than 10.2"? I would not be surprised to see ARM products constantly bumped to the back of the production queue for 'mysterious' reasons this holiday manufacturin
  • My 10" netbook is wonderful. The only problem I really have with it is the 1024x600 screen. If a 12" screen would make for a 1280x750 screen I'd be all over it. I've been wanting to buy a few more of these computers for my kids and that size would be my sweet spot. As it is, since the 10" models are all that is available, I'm just going to wait for prices to bounce off the pavement before I pick up any more.

  • Owned 3",4",12",15" computers and DEFINATELY 12" is the technical tipping point at which the display supports desktop functionality. 12" was the perfect form factor in the embodiment of Apple's MacBook Pro 12.

    BUT...the display drives retail pricing and Apple dumped the 12. It has been my thought that the margins didn't support all the same components necessary to drive the larger displays. Profit bought us the widescreen displays.

  • :)

    Seriously tho, i agree with intel. If you are going for that size, might as well step up the horsepower to run more apps locally and just call it a notebook.

  • So, I'm considering an MacBook. I already have lotsa horsepower on my desktop, so I don't need another "ferrari". After looking about, I end up with a $300 Aspire One. I would have gone for the 11 inch next to it, but it had Vista. Good thing too, this machine runs really well once I purged some Startups. The Vista machine on the Atom chip, not so much. I can't get XP on the bigger machine (11 inch) due to MS rules. So, why is anyone surprised that laptop makers are trying to keep the "laptop" market

All warranty and guarantee clauses become null and void upon payment of invoice.

Working...