Netbooks now represent a rather mature market whose borders are now blurred. The main argument that made netbooks so popular in the beginning - price - very often no longer holds.
A popular UK-based company is selling a 15.4-inch dual core laptop with 4GB RAM and a 250GB hard disk (but no OS) for £300 (around $475). The number of netbooks actually selling for more than that has been growing ever since the EEE PC 701 launched.
Clearly, Netbooks need something else to differentiate themselves from traditional Notebooks. Qualcomm has released the concept of smartbooks back in May 2009 and in theory, nothing would prevent Asus from adopting this new platform.
We have already said why smartbooks as it stands right now are fundamentally better than current Netbooks. We are convinced that Asus should take a bet and released a new strand of Netbooks altogether.
ARM processors are historically cheaper than x86 models and Linux or even Windows Mobile can be had for a much cheaper outlay than a full Windows XP licence. The Bill of Material for the T-Mobile G1 Android which came with a keyboard and a 3.2-inch screen reached $143.89 in November 2008.
Using an ARM platform and either Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian or Linux OS, Asus could easily build a cheaper, thinner, lighter, longer-running and more powerful netbook than any model it has on the market.
True, it might not be as flexible as say, a Windows 7 netbook, but then just think about it. You will probably be using your browser a lot more than anything. Maybe some instant messaging with VoIP but how of image editing or graphic design do you intend to do on a netbook, certainly not that much.
So to end up, this series, my ideal netbook would indeed be a smartbook (who cares about names anyway) and will have the following configuration.
A Qualcomm QSD8672 chipset featuring two CPUs running at 1.0GHz, Higher-resolution WSXGA (1440 x 900) display support, High-definition (1080p) video recording and playback, support for HSPA+ networks - 28 Mbps downloads and 11 Mbps uploads and
The screen could easily match the Macbook Air's own. What about a 13.3-inch LED backlit TFT LCD displaying 1440x900 pixels? The QSD chipset has improved 3D graphics - up to 80M triangles/sec and 500M+ 3D pixels/sec - The Sony PSP (based on the PS2) for example pushes 33 million triangles per second and has a fill rate of 664 million pixels per second.
Add in 802.11n support, a webcam, 1GB RAM, 32GB SSD, GPS, A2DP Bluetooth support, an oversized multi touch keypad and a chiclet keyboard as well as an aluminium finish and you will have a winner.
Asus could eventually integrate the suggestions and ideas I've proposed in my past postings as well (power adaptor modification, dual microSD readers etc). At £399, such a netbook would be a steal and is likely to be less than 18mm thick, easily beating Apple's MBA.