Netbooks – Who’s Using Them?


Netbooks – those ultra small portable PCs – are they a niche product, a passing fad or an up and coming product just in its infancy? PC Pitstop analyzed the prevalence of netbooks that ran our on-line diagnostic scans during Q4 2008 and Q1 2009. For the purpose of our analysis, we looked at processor descriptions as well as the display size for portables. For the most part, we found that the netbooks usually contained the Intel® Atomâ„¢ processor. We also set a filter for portable display size of less than 11 inches for the purpose of our analysis.

We also analyzed the prevalence by PC brand for the netbooks. Acer Aspire showed a commanding lead over second place ASUS Eee PC. Netbook users also revealed that they are generally satisfied with their small form factor PCs.

Netbooks – Overall Prevalence

The analysis revealed, that overall, netbooks represent a relatively insignificant percent of the PCs in use today (approximately 1%). Overall prevalence of netbooks was around 0.3% in October 2008 and has steadily grown to approximately 1.1% of total PCs in March of 2009.

NetBook Prevalence

PC Pitstop – Netbook Prevalence by Worldwide Region

Acceptance of the small sized portables appeared to be similar across world-wide regions. US and Europe showed the strongest acceptance with Australia trailing the regions.


PC Pitstop – Netbook Prevalence by Age Groups

When we took a look at the prevalence of PC form factors by major generation age groups, it was interesting (but maybe not surprising) that older folks were less likely to use portables or netbooks. The acceptance of portables and netbooks appear as a stair-step increment with each subsequent generation.


PC Pitstop – Netbook Usage by Gender

Considering the small form factor of the netbooks, it was a little surprising that male’s netbook usage showed a slight increase when compared to the full sized portable group.


PC Pitstop – Netbook Prevalence by Home and Business

Unsurprisingly, netbooks are primarily used for personal purposes. Undoubtedly as the name implies, netbooks are popular for accessing the internet for checking emails and web browsing.


PC Pitstop – Netbook Model Popularity and User Satisfaction

PC Pitstop also took a look at what brands of netbooks were most popular. At the point of our analysis, the Acer Aspire appears to be the undisputed king in the netbook arena with an impressive 45% of the market. ASUS Eee PC came in second with approximately 18%.

Based on user’s self reported satisfaction ratings, netbook users are generally satisfied with their scaled down portables. Generally, the percentage of satisified users were in the mid to high 90’s.


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17 thoughts on “Netbooks – Who’s Using Them?”

  1. I was wondering if you could make up a list of the best prices for the smaller note books and what they come stock with.I am planning on buying one but I just can’t seem to decide on which one to even start to look at.

    Sincerely yours
    Lord Walking Bear

  2. SuicidalRobotChicken

    I bought an Acer Aspire One (ZG5, A0A150, 8.9″ screen, 3 cell battery) a few weeks ago at trusy old Wal-Mart ($299), and overall, I’m definitely a satisfied customer with it. Only reason I am not one-hundred percent happy with it is there’s a known glitch with the Atheros wireless card the Aspire uses, where the wireless will just cut-out completely and not even reaappear in Network Connections, nor in Device Manager; only solution being a hard reboot (power down completely, then manually reboot, don’t use the ‘restart’ function). This is the only well-known and widespread problem with the Aspire One- use your favorite search engine and search ‘wireless problem Acer Aspire’ and you’ll see just how widespread it really is.

    Other than that, I am really satisfied. I’ve used Photoshop, Movie Maker, and play multi-tables of online poker all at once on this netbook without issues or slowdowns.

    I’ve owned a Compaq laptop, a Gateway laptop (both bought brand new), and the Compaq lasted a little over a year, and the Gateway lasted about a year and a half before the motherboards on both failed, so I no longer see the reasoning behind spending another $1000 every year to 2 on a new laptop, so even if the life expectancy isn’t that long, at only $300 at least I’m not out an arm and a leg.

    Only other complaint would be the unusual mouse design (left click is LITERALLY on the left side of the mouse, right click is literally on the right); however, this netbook came with an external USB mouse that I use whenever possible, and although it feels really cheap and flimsy, it gets the job done effortlessly, and the way I’m used to it being.

    Overall, an A rating on the Acer One; and whoever sees it always says something to the effect of, “That’s Bad-Ass!”…

  3. I also just bought a ASUS Eeee pc900hd, WOW ! finally a “real” small PC, i have had almost every small model built by everyone, starting with the Toshiba Libretto series back in the 90’s , but this newest run made by ASUS and ACCUS makes portable a real deal ! its not a fad, its the way to go if you travel a lot. if you have been thinking about it, now is the time !

  4. Eleanore Avery

    I just bought an Asus Eeee PC 900HD. Since I am now shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II camera (that can record HD Video clips), I was at a loss for downloading in the field…My trusty Epson P-7000 portable storage cannot playback 5D video, and neither can similiar others.
    I finally looked at 160G NetBooks that solved my problem without adding much weight….perfect for this particular use. I also bought a mini external hard drive for double backup. Keeping cables and chargers to a minimum is a headache in the African bush, but I think the netbook will work great. I was also amazed that all I did was input wireless code and I was on the Internet!

  5. I just bought the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE and upped the RAM to 2G and I’m delighted with it. I plan to use it primarily as my GPS with MS Streets & Trips. My wife and I travel six months a year in our RV. I suspect this may replace my laptop and my desktop pretty quickly. I will also use Photoshop CS2 and several fractal generation programs. Wish me luck!

  6. I have an ASUS Eee PC since beginning of December 2008 and absolutely love it. I hooked up an external DVD player and installed full Office 2007 and it runs fine. My wife did not think she would like it but after carrying around her 17″ laptop once that weighs over 9lbs, she fell head-over-heels for my 2+ lb netbook. It has 1 GB Ram and 120 GB HD w/ Intel Celeron processor. This system will play movies from external source, surf the net, check email, Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access, and much more; will it run as fast as a 3.6 processor w/3+ GB DDR3? No, but will you slide that system in a portable DVD sleeve and carry it w/a book or toss in a regular backpack? You can with this netbook and it is reliable. BUY ASUS NETBOOK, you will not be disappointed.

  7. Very interesting, my wife who’s 59 and travels a lot has been looking at netbooks, decided on 8.9-inch, we were leaning to an Asus 900HA but have seen a similarly-specced Aspire for $A450, very competitive and I’ve read that it has a better keyboard. At 66, I’ll stick with my 22-inch widescreen, definitely not portable.

  8. I bought a Dell Mini-9 back about November 2008, and I’m very happy with it.

    I have a desktop that is in need of work, so I don’t currently use it, and use a Dell 1405 mainly at home. I am an active Union Steward and thought I’d use the 1405 more often, but despite being relatively compact it’s still a pain to take around, especially for prolonged meetings.

    The Mini-9 is fits in all my various bags and even with power supply and mouse is very compact and light.

    I use it mainly to pull up reference .pdf documents and occasionally take note..the smaller keyboard isn’t easier, but for note taking it’s fine.

    Now, I can carry along a portable scanner and I just scan in docs with that so I’m slowly getting away from paper!

    Plus in a meeting…it’s a small profile in front of me so there isn’t such a “barrier” between myself and others.

    For what it’s worth I pushed it to 2 GB RAM, and put in a 32GB SSD, besides the 16 GB SD card in the slot.

    As a plus, I do some digital SLR photography and the Mini is great to view work. I have Photoshop Elements on it and can work with pics anywhere!

    There are limitations, but they are easily worked around and with.

  9. I have had my Acer Aspire One netbook for close to 2 months now. It came with Windows XP but I changed it to Windows 7 Beta Build 7068 and its been really good so far. It has basically replaced my desktop at home, since it’s a little slower than the netbook. Its great to carry everywhere, lightweight, and is good for the everyday things i wantt o do with it.

  10. I am retired and like to travel. I have a desktop, laptop and Samsung NC10. The NC10 goes traveling because it is so portable and enjoyable to use. The battery holds a long charge, the 10″ screen and 93% keyboard are big enough, it boots quickly, it has as much memory as my laptop, and it fits in a small satchel. The wonderful screen resolution allows me to show off my photographs.

  11. Michael Shreve

    Just bought a laptop. The netbook would have worked, but the far more powerful laptop was only $80 more after rebate. The laptop is only 2lb heavier and isn’t carried around all day. I expect a longer life cycle from the laptop as well.

  12. Marni Schroeder

    I own a Lenovo S10 notebook. With a 160G hard drive, 3 USB ports, and a smart card slot I am able to have all the functionality of my laptop. The keyboard is only 90% the size of a regular keyboard and the 10″ screen helps in privacy when I’m commuting. At only TWO lbs it’s amazing. The 6 hour battery tips the scale to which laptop I take with me regularly. At only $400 this notebook beats my laptop and desktop hands down.

  13. Lesley Bennett

    I’ve had a netbook for nearly a year and I love it. I also have a laptop and a desk top. But the net book goes everywhere with me. I only use free software (Open office, Skype)and store all files on Google to be retreived wherever I want them. With the dongle and a handbag containing the netbook I can do anything anyhwhere. I know of 3 friends who have bought a netbook for similar uses.
    BTW I’m female, 60 and don’t recognise the data your research shows.

  14. It’s a trade-off. You’re buying mobility and laptops are HEAVY.

    I have a 4G SSD Dell Mini 9. It is quite fast with either Windows or Ubuntu. And hooked up to a 20-inch LCD, USB mouse and keyboard it is incredible at home.

    On the road the 9-inch screen is adequate for its uses.

    If I Were buying again I’d got for a HD. A fast SSD upgrade is way too expensive.

  15. I got an Acer netbook a few weeks ago. It is much easier to tote around when I go to meet with clients or have to travel. It doesn’t weigh as much or take up as much space – and the battery lasts much longer. I don’t need anything more than a thumb drive and a mouse to go with it. If I need to do a Power Point presentation, however, I’ll take the laptop because the screen is larger – unless the client has a large screen onsite that I can connect to. Then I can take the netbook.

  16. Richard Sherwin

    I use an ASUS Eee 100HE and am very glad I finally got it, after researching netbooks for over a year. Years ago I had an Apple Newton and waited for them to reproduce a new one, but they went elsewhere. Samsung temporarily –about a month– had its own version of a newton… So finally I dithered among Acer and MSI Wind and ASUS, going for the last because of its superior battery life… the other element wasits 92% regular keyboard size. And weight of course.

    Im 75 so I dont fit well the millenial schematic you observed. But I suspect both price and ease of use and mobility will alter traditional desktops as well as laptops in the netbook direction.

  17. I think the biggest flaw in the netbooks is the price. Many laptops are only a little more money for a lot more computer. Especially the Sony one. Its real nice but $1000???? Ridiculous. So netbook makers, lower the cost or lose the market I say.

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