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Is Intel Killing 12-Inch Displays On Netbooks? 297

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?"
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Is Intel Killing 12-Inch Displays On Netbooks?

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  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @02:55PM (#29004001)

    why have a 12" screen when you can pack all those pixels into 10" or 8"?

    If you want extra-large print, buy a 24" LCD and run it at 800x600.

  • 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 ) <.ku.oc.troperelbbiweht. .ta. .700torraC.> 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.

  • 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 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:10PM (#29004107)

    why have a 12" screen when you can pack all those pixels into 10" or 8"?

    That might be fine when you're 18, but when you're 40 and your eyesight is starting to go you'll be glad of the larger pixels; I'm not sure about today with larger LCD screens but most of the old farts I know used to run at 800x600 on their 17" CRT monitor so that they could actually read the text.

    If you're using a cut-down 'social networking' interface that's designed to show one web site at a time then a 10" display at 1024x600 is probably OK, but the 1280x800 display on my 15" laptop is already too small for programming in an IDE. For web-browsing, email and document processing (i.e. things which don't need much processing power) I'd really want 1280x800 or similar on a 12" display for a netbook. I've been looking at buying one so I could carry it around in my gear bag but finding a good compromise between resolution, display size and price is not easy.

    At the other end of the scale I've noticed a few small netbooks appearing at work plugged into racks or manufacturing gear for intelligent equipment monitoring, and an 8" display should work well for those applications.

  • 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 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 Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:34PM (#29004243)
    If X size screen isn't profitable for Intel or Dell, why should they make it? Should they, as for-profit companies produce a money loser just because there are some people that want that size? No.
  • 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!

  • by basementman ( 1475159 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:42PM (#29004289) Homepage

    That used to be true of a desktop.

  • by Mprx ( 82435 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:48PM (#29004315)
    Unless you're using some obsolete OS like Windows XP, screen DPI has nothing to do with text size. Higher DPI will actually be more readable on any modern system because the letter shapes will be more clearly defined.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @04:04PM (#29004425)

    Hmmm.... Let's see where your logic leads. Apple has a 100% share of the market for Apple computers. Wow. That's so incisive. Read below to see where your logic takes you.

    Dell has a 100% share of the Dell computer market. Ergo, Dell is now a monopoly. AMD has a 100% share of the AMD cpu market. Ergo, AMD is now a monopoly.

    Your logic is so flawed, so "strawmanish", that it's not funny. Every company now qualifies as a monopoly because they hold a 100% share of their own sales, and no one else can manufacture and sell their brand.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:24PM (#29004947) Journal

    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 soldered to the board, four 1MB SIMMs - was not a good idea regardless of screen space) but even individual apps seem to need to be bigger.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @05:34PM (#29005015)

    They have a 100% share of MacOS computers, they are a monopoly in that market.

    Um, everyone has a monopoly of their own products, genius.

    What you're saying is that Apple doesn't license Mac OS X to other computer makers. That's not the definition of a monopoly. Monopoly isn't about specific products, but about product categories. "Macs" isn't a product category (as regards monopolies), it's a brand and a product line.

    Or, if you say that's not the case, that their computers are just PCs and compete with all the others, well then you are hard pressed to call MS a monopoly at that point.

    MS wasn't a monopoly because they were the only source of MS Windows. They were a monopoly (and still are in many regards) because they sold the overwhelming majority of computer operating systems, and used that status to significantly abuse the market.

    I really can't see a situation where MS is a monopoly, but Apple isn't.

    You seriously can't see a difference? Both have a "monopoly" over their own products, but only one had a greater than 90% share of their particular market, and only one went on to abuse that market share sufficiently to trigger anti-trust investigations that resulted in conviction, and only one of them faces seemingly non-ending sanctions by the EU.

    The other has had a few lawsuits filed against them, and an investigation here and there (mostly regarding the iPod and iTunes), but has never once been found guilty of being a monopoly.

    How much more difference do you need?

    If having a monopoly over your own product is sufficient similarity, then everyone has a monopoly, and the term is useless.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @06:00PM (#29005181) Journal
    Sigh. Apple doesn't have a monopoly. It's the wrong word but the right general concept. So while people are arguing semantics, they're totally missing the point.

    A Dell PC is trivially replaceable with a PC from a number of other manufacturers. Everything else will be more or less the same.

    An Apple PC is not trivially replaceable. Changing to any competitor will require changing go a completely different OS, which behaves in a noticeably different way and requires different software. If you want an Apple computer with a configuration not available from Apple, you don't have a lot of options. You have to pick the closest Apple product. If you want a Windows PC with a configuration not available from Dell, you find a manufacturer that does make a PC with that configuration.
  • by trjonescp ( 954259 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @06:01PM (#29005187) Homepage
    Despite what MS would like you to think, Windows XP is not obsolete.
  • by bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @06:06PM (#29005215)

    "YouTube is no problem at all, even HD clips."

    Bullshit. Unless, of course, a slideshow is what you call "no problem at all"... ;)

    Maybe you mean the HQ mode - that's NOT HD.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @06:13PM (#29005261)

    In what other realm of life is it normal to tell people to buy a crappy product because it's "good enough" for their simple needs?

    Lots of them, so long as you're willing to replace "crappy" with "low performance". You tell someone to buy a cheap commuter car instead of a Ford GT if they're just going to commute back and forth from work.
    You tell people to buy a cheaper cell phone and phone plan instead of the huge awesome everything setup when they only talk on the phone a small amount.
    You tell people to get a modest apartment instead of a huge luxury suite when they don't have a lot of stuff and the suite isn't free.

    People compromise on quality ALL THE TIME because we don't need to and can't all afford to have all the best stuff all the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @06:54PM (#29005557)

    It's called a Thinkpad. Their x line has been filling this niche for business users for almost a decade. 12" screen, ports galore, good battery life, and you can pick up a used one on ebay for about the same price as a new "netbook".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @07:45PM (#29005931)

    Yes, you do tell people these things. No, they don't have to take your advice and no, you shouldn't rub it in. Their life, their choices.

    I personally told a young newlywed couple I am friends with that they shouldn't buy a house just before the collapse, because it was inevitably coming soon, and that they should rent for a year or two. They ignored me and are down 20% so far. They wanted to "own" a house.

    I don't ever mention it because it's pointless and petty, but NOT giving friends and family good advice is silly because, when you give good advice, you help them. If you're telling someone what they should and shouldn't do with their money and they're trusting your judgment, you need to take into account the utility of whatever it is they're buying and then take into account the marginal utility of spending more money on something nicer. If you buy more than you ever need, you overpay.

    If you think netbooks are insufficient for their tasks, then absolutely you can and should recommend a more powerful machine. But what if someone wants a cheap machine to run a *nix-based Half-Life server for a club, perhaps with different common locations for lan tournaments, and nothing more? That's possible on hardware far inferior to a netbook, why buy even a mid-range machine for that?

    Also, you should work on improving your ability to dispense in polite discourse. You don't need to curse so much.

  • by Kanasta ( 70274 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:30PM (#29007073)

    my 10" netbook almost has enough plastic around the display to fit a 12" screen, I'd jump at a 12" netbook at/near 10" netbook prices. Until that happens, I won't upgrade my 10".

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:09AM (#29007671)

    Well ok, but back to the first point: monopolies aren't about products, they're about how much you can charge for them.

    Not true. MS got in trouble for giving IE away for free.

    It had nothing to do with the price, and in spite of what you keep saying, it had everything to do with the products. Specifically, the tying of IE to Windows.

    Intel is not a company I see as a monopoly, but as something very close to one.

    Actual courts of law have ruled otherwise.

  • by bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Monday August 10, 2009 @03:16AM (#29008351)

    Once again, you're forgetting that MBPs cost 5x as much as a netbook. If you don't need the processing power that the MacBook offers, why not save a thousand bucks or so?

    Yes, there are regular laptops that can keep up with or beat netbooks in terms of battery life - but they're in a completely different market segment, just like good old ultraportables/subnotebooks.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.