I'm still trying to understand the mini-notebook PC. I see today on CNET that we are expected to annouce our own mini-notobook any day. It isn't clear from this article what the HP product is so I did some digging to understand. First of all, I seriously doubt this PC will ship any day now with a 64GB SSD drive. Checking current hard drive prices, I see that these drives retail for over $1000. However, it appears that drives that are 16GB and below may be consistent with a $499 PC. I guess well soon see …. Here's the current HP offering that this new PC is supposed to be based upon:
The obvious question that comes to mind for me is why would I buy this over ~$500 notebook with a 12-in screen. Yes, at 8.9-in the mini-note is small, however how easy is it to type on and how useful is the monitor? I see the target audience is traveling business people and school children. Now, looking at other mini-notebook from Sony and Fujitsu, I see that their strategy is to pack a lot of computing power into a small package. Sony's starting price is $1899 (11.1-in) and Fujitsu's starting price is $999 (5.6-in) and $1749 (8.9-in). Sony seems to be focused on weight, thickness, and style (they look like are aimed at people who want to appear to be fashionable and unburdened by their PC — sorta like a clutch purse.) and Fujitsu's are distinguished by touchscreens (they look quite utilitarian to me). And then there's the Apple airbook with its thin Appley-Appleness starting at $1799.
Taking into account matters of practicality for school children — you want to indoctrinate them into the prevailing OS and software (which currently is Windows), you want them to have rich Internet experience, and you want the computer to be powerful enough to last a few years — so I don't see an advantage of having a small screen and hardware that is barely good enough for now at a comparable cost to a base model 12-in notebook. Get the $499 full sized laptop. As for business people — if all you really need is a PDA, then get a PDA or a smartphone. As for a laptop, I think the issues of fat fingers and poor eyesight are universal, so I don't really understand the need for laptop smaller than the one Sony is offering. It seems to me, like in that past, engineers and marketing folks might be more intrigued by the idea of a small computer rather than considering the practically of it — in other words a product in search of a customer. The space this kind of product would fill seems to be encroached upon from both sides by PDA's and smart phones and low-end fullsized notebooks. I guess, my feeling is that there is a limit to the size at which a laptop screen is no longer usable. For me that is around 10-in. As a traveller, I'm not so much concerned about the width of screen, so much as the weight and thickness of the devise. This will become more important as the airlines get desparate and start charging separately to transport luggage. In this sense, I think that Apple and Sony are on the right track by concentrating on weight and thickness and then adding style cues for style concious young folk with money. At the same time I do like the rugged aluminum case and the spill-proof keyboard of the HP model. Perhaps in the future we could take a look at the reality of travelling and children's backpacks and push on weight, thickness while maintaining ruggedness and imparting “HP Style.”
Well, enough of my rambling. Here's the CNET write up.