A highly-ranking executive of Advanced Micro Devices recently heavily criticized the so-called netbook computers for their short battery life and low performance amid rather high price-tags. While the claims made are generally correct, the reasons such controversial PCs have emerged are simple: consumers want laptops instead of desktops and they want them for the lowest price possible.
“You would expect 8 or 9 hours out of a netbook because it’s small – maybe you'll compare it to a cell phone. In fact, for some of the ones that I've tested, probably the hottest one has an 1 hour 45 minutes of battery life. You're not going to take that with you as a road warrior... Around the house it seems okay,” said Pat Moorhead, vice president of advanced marketing at AMD, in an interview with UberPulse web-site back in late August.
Besides short battery life of MicroStar International’s Wind U100, Mr. Moorhead mentioned (in early September in a separate post in his blog) very poor performance of Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz) processor and issues with Intel Graphics and Media Accelerator 950 graphics core which did not allow him to watch video in high-definition (1280x720) resolution due to performance limitation or browse certain web-sites due to the fact that they were not tailored for 1024x600 screen resolution.
There is no secret that both netbooks and nettops are intended primarily for Internet browsing and email usage, but not for gaming, video editing or watching high-definition movies. Nevertheless, since demands of end-users are constantly going up, it is hardly surprising that certain end-users will not be satisfied with the ultra low-cost personal computers since they cannot display high-quality photos or playback high-definition videos due to performance limitations or due to low-resolution screen.
Mr. Moorhead also stressed that netbooks, which price started at $299 a little less than a year ago, may now cost about $500 or even more, which is not exactly a low price. In fact, it is possible to acquire a laptop with normal screen, yet single-core microprocessor and low-capacity battery, for about $500. The question is whether customers need just low price, or also need portability, reliability and performance, and are willing to pay a normal mainstream price for a laptop. Based on the fact that end-users in general have been demanding lower-priced systems for many years now, it seems that manufacturers are likely to continue creating products irrelevant to existing workflows or ways of entertainment.
Presently AMD does not offer any platforms for netbooks or nettops.