Netbooks in the business: Do they make sense?

For field forces, the answer is clearly yes. For other users, the fit is less clear

There's still the issue of supporting big apps like Microsoft Office, but as Google and others continue to put productivity applications in the cloud, the performance barrier could disappear -- assuming these cloud productivity apps can truly challenge Office.

Even if such cloud-based productivity apps don't end up displacing Office, several Office alternatives would work well for most "casual" business users -- particularly Lotus Symphony, as a previous test discovered.

Netbooks as notebook killers? Not likely

Is the netbook going to replace the laptop? There are several reasons why this is unlikely.

Their very advantage in field service -- their small size -- means that users can't do much with them other than fill out a form, take an order, look up the availability of a replacement part, or check e-mail.

Ramon Ray, author of "Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses," is a netbook user, but he says its capabilities are limited by screen and keyboard size. Ray says he takes it with him on short day trips and even on one-nighters. "But if I'm going away for two or three days, it's too small."

Ray explains that he is a touch typist and that the small keyboard slows him down; also, he gets eyestrain from the 12-inch screen: "After 30 minutes, it's not going to happen."

Ray kids that you wouldn't want to run a CAD/CAM system on a netbook. Microsoft agrees, and it's not kidding. "A netbook is about consumption not creation," says James DeBragga, general manager for Windows Consumer Marketing at Microsoft. Simple document editing tasks are fine, but DeBragga says you wouldn't want to work on a complex spreadsheet on a netbook. If you're like the average user with 5 to 10 windows open simultaneously, you'll find that navigating among the applications and tackling serious business tasks is difficult, he says.

Not only is the screen small, but the keyboard is three-quarter size, so typing will be harder for most people. From an ergonomics standpoint, netbooks are not big enough to comfortably use over an extended period of time and not small enough to put in your pocket, notes Ken Dulaney, a senior analyst at Gartner.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags netbooks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ephraim Schwartz

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?