26 August 2010

It's 4 o'clock the afternoon on a Thursday and here I am blogging. Shouldn't I be working?
Yes, I should but how does one work when there's, well, no work to be done?
And that's how lucky I am, you would say, but really, when you've tried staring at your LCD monitor for hours on end in your cube, your head an impressive blank, you won't call me as fortunate anymore.

Because I ran out again of websites to check, blogs to peruse (pardon me for the blatant narcissistic desire to use the word "peruse" en risqué of redundancy), I'm writing in response to Laptopmag.com's interesting article about netbooks.
image from itmanagement.com

I won't talk much about the article's content here, so go read it directly from the source linked above, but I'll attempt to answer the question:

"What did I win from the Netbook Revolution?"

A lot.

That is, excluding the amount of Philippine peso which I, technically and validly, lost as I acquired my several netbooks that didn't make it with me through the years: EeePC 701, EeePC 900, and HP Mini 1001TU. These gadgets were disposed off either by bequeathal to a kin (there, I'm overdoing this old English tone ;-) ) or by selling at a local used gagdets forum. Either way, to put it simply, it can be called charity as I never was able to sell them for what they could potentially be worth.

The MSI Wind U100 and HP Mini 311 are spared because the former I use as a desktop replacement at home and the latter as my main portable computer. Suffice it to say, I've exacted and continue to exact the capital I invested in the acquisition of these machines through realiable use.

True, netbooks, in their dawn, were supposed to be different from laptops which were still considered as the "real deal" back in late 2007 to early 2008 when Asus' EeePC 700 first saw the light. In fact, it was not even called a netbook for the term "netbook" itself wasn't coined yet. (I won't go into the controversies of that appellation). But from then to now, netbooks have evolved; so much so that techjournalists and the general public alike got confused with what to call a mere netbook and what to call an ultraportable notebook/laptop.

I think this blurring of boundaries is precisely why Avram Piltch says in his article that the "Netbook Revolution is over". I myself think that the "netbook specie" might even be completely extinct next year but this statement in itself speaks of vagueness: I bought my HP Mini 311 December last year (it was introduced earlier in October same year, 2009) but I no longer look at it as a netbook.

Actually, the more I think of it, it was never one in the first place - I never intended to use it as a netbook from the get-go.If, following the classic descriptions that the category is or used to be bounded by, netbooks are meant only for casual internet surfing, e-mailing, light document editing, then I have not indeed used my HP Mini 311 as one. Nor my MSI Wind U100 for that matter.

The activities previously cited can be summarized into a single phrase and that is: "nothing major" or à la Venus Raj "nothing major, major". However, I have been using the MSI Wind as our main desktop computer at home (its modest hardware more than suffices for what my whole family do with it: access the internet) and the HP Mini 311 as my main portable computer for school and, in general, for all personal stuff. I have always used the Mini 311 as laptop, not a netbook.

So if my mom's addiction to Farmville, our family's dependency on torrent for movies, and my master's degree were to be described, then they can only be concluded as anything but not "nothing major" they are major needs - or again, as Venus Raj would have it: "major, major" activities.

Perhaps the main attraction for me from "netbooks" is that, albeit contrary to what some tech analysts would say, they do not impose limits on what I should be using them for. Netbooks, as Brad Linder's comment on the article states clearly:
"...they were small, light, cheap devices that were at the core fully functional computers."
And this is, in my opinion, a form of freedom in itself which I am more than willing to embrace.

What this so-called "Netbook Revolution" has done that impacted me in a most significant way is that it democratized portable computing.

You all know, or I'd like to fool myself to think that you would care to know, about my computing history - I spent my college years thinking that laptops were only for kids whose moms were ex-consuls, attachés, or whose dads sold Xtreme Magic Sing mic* by the metric-ton bulk.

Now, to be able to compete with "mere" netbooks, ultraportables are getting more affordable or as I prefer it, "more reasonable in price". It took a tiny little machine with a 7" screen and barely serviceable keyboard for a lot of people, to awaken both consumers and the market to an epiphany:

Computer users don't always need the meanest, fastest, baddest machines which come at incredulous price marks.

I don't forcibly need a Php 85,990 MacBook Air for the mobile Mac experience for which I have my HP Mini 311 and the InsanelyMac community to credit.

And there goes my little rambling - instead of enduring yet another near-comatose episode, and in the animé/manga world, a "stand-still", I wrote this.

*Nope, not a paid advertisement - I just link stuff cause I think they might be fun as introduction to my Filipino culture :D

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