Netbooks and the end of the Laptop Decade
By chandan on Nov 15, 2008
If you are in the computer industry, it is not uncommon that friends or family often consult you to recommend a computer or a laptop. There are several things that make answering it difficult, especially for an average consumer who may be buying their first laptop with hard earned money:
- A. good $1000 laptop does not offer value-for-money to someone wanting to use gmail and Internet
- B. It will be obsolete in an year and newer software will run slower
When I first heard about the features of OLPC - (One Laptop Per Child) especially its battery life and networking features etc., my reaction was that those features should be part of any average consumer computer - trying to sell it to kids made it look like a scam. If I had 400$ to spend for a child's education, there are a dozen better ways to spend it. A computer would be near the bottom of that list.
Since then a number of commercial small low-cost, efficient and Internet oriented laptops have appeared in the market. These are also called Netbooks (v/s Notebook)
Number of companies making them suggests that these are becoming popular. While the hardware used is pretty awesome, the software stack has to catchup. The personal computer software industry has a long way to go before it is ready for the average consumer.
Especially focus has to be on making software run faster, simpler and more usable. Bloatware should be avoided and software should be able to run with limited resources. System should be able to boot in a couple of seconds and response time for any click should be strictly less than 100 milliseconds (except where the network latency comes into picture).
It seem to be a trend that the common software, (such as browsers, mail clients, games and operating systems) get bloated and slower with each revision. The Gnome desktop my OpenSolaris Indiana takes almost as much time to load up as the system takes to boot up. There is probably one drastic solution to it, that software developers should use old systems which were made 5 or 6 years ago. That way, regressions in performance become visible as soon as they are introduced.