We have a continuing argument in my household about whether the iPod Touch or my Asus Eee netbook is a more useful device. I find the netbook falls right in my sweet spot. I’m happily willing to carry it around everywhere, and in return it gives me all the functionality I need to work, play, or check the Web for info. (Minus the embedded mobile broadband, but that’s another story) The iPod Touch, on the other hand, can literally fit in a pocket, but is much more limited in functionality. Check email? Yes. Write a blog post? No.
While I love my netbook, however, other folks have reasonable complaints. And it appears that several companies are working hard to address them. First comes the price drop. Kevin Tofel reported yesterday that Sprint is now subsidizing the Compaq 1040DX netbook with a two-year contract commitment. Price? 99 cents. If you’re planning on paying for mobile broadband anyway, why not pick up a netbook to go with it? You could fill it with widgets and dedicate it as a media player, hand it over to your kid, or keep it in the car. Who cares if it doesn’t do everything you want it to do? It’s hard to argue with the under-a-buck price tag.
Second comes the feature tweaks. Several outlets have reported the news today that Sony is ready to enter the netbook market with the 10″ Vaio W due out next month. Its big differentiator? A resolution of 1,366-x-768 pixels instead of the more common 1,024-x-600 pixels. Screen real estate on most netbooks can be a serious issue, so the higher resolution is a nice improvement. Unfortunately it also comes with a (slightly) higher price. MSRP for the Vaio W is $499, whereas many netbooks today slide in somewhere between $250 and $400.
Whether a cheaper price or an improved feature set will increase the popularity of netbooks remains to be seen. What’s clear, though, is that we’ll witness a lot more experimentation in the space in the near future.