Netbooks disappoint consumers, says survey

Buyers expect a netbook to equal a notebook, are unhappy when that's not true

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CULV, or "consumer ultra-low voltage," is the term slapped on the processors from Intel, AMD and nVidia that are to power a class of notebooks priced above $500 but below $1,000. They sport screens larger than netbooks, but cost considerably less than current ultra-portable notebooks.

"I think OEMs will be able to convince consumers to spend more on something with a bigger screen and a bigger keyboard," said Baker, answering a question about netbook sales cannibalizing laptop sales.

One response by the consumers NPD polled, however, may make Microsoft a little nervous. "Of the features they cited as important, they said the operating system was the second-most important to their decision," said Baker. Nearly all netbooks now sold run the ancient Windows XP Home.

Microsoft hopes to get computer makers to drop XP Home and instead install Windows 7 Starter, the lowest-price and least-capable edition of the new OS that will be available worldwide. To quiet a growing revolt by analysts and users angered over news that Starter would restrict them to running only three applications at the same time, Microsoft ditched that limitation last month.

"Retailers and manufacturers shouldn't be putting too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook," advised Baker. "Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability and the need for a companion PC to ensure consumers know what they are buying and are more satisfied with what they purchase."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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