The netbook is dead in 2013 – here are your netbook alternatives

by , Senior Business Researcher Tablets 08/01/2013
Mobile devices

The end of the netbook

When the netbook was launched in 2007 it was hailed as the future of mobile computing. Initial growth was huge but just a few years in new form factors including tablets such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab have hammered the nail in the coffin of the netbook.

Tablets and ultrabooks have taken a huge bite out of netbook sales, sending them into freefall. With lukewarm consumer interest, all netbook makers have now called time on the little laptop that ultimately couldn’t, and stopped netbook production completely.

But have no fear if you hankered after the best netbook for 2013! We’ve rounded up the alternatives under £350 to feed your tiny portable computing need, and the good news is you can still dash out and grab one of the final netbooks on sale now at soon-to-be bargain basement prices.

1. Bow to the inevitable – get the best tablet in 2013

Tablets offer more portability than netbooks – in most cases they are lighter, thinner and easier to use on the move and they are easier to navigate.

However tablets struggle when it comes to productivity – using a keyboard and trackpad is still the easiest and quickest way to complete spreadsheets and word documents. That’s why we’d opt for a tablet with an optional keyboard as an alternative to a netbook.

Asus Transformer Pad – the 10.1-inch screen on the Transformer Pad is the same size as most netbooks and once the attachable keyboard is clipped on it even looks like one. If you’re new to the Android operating system it’s worth trying our before you buy as it’s quite different to Windows.

Apple iPad 2 – it isn’t the newest of iPads but still a worthy alternative to the netbook. Wi-Fi only models are available from £329 leaving you change to put towards a physical keyboard if needed. Beware though – you’ll have to find a Wi-Fi hotspot if you want to access the internet on the go.

Microsoft Surface RT – this one’s slightly over budget but worth a look at £399. It’s a tablet for people that want to work and play in equal measure. The standard Microsoft software (think Word and Excel) come pre-installed, and there’s a choice of two keyboard covers which make typing and working easier than by touchscreen.

2. Google Chromebooks – the netbook of 2013

OK, so there isn’t a huge choice of Chromebook – one is made by Samsung and the other by Acer – but Chromebooks offer lightweight laptops for a smidge under £200. Both look, feel and work just like a netbook but run on the Google Chrome operating system. This means offline activities are restricted as you have to connect to Wi-Fi to use most applications such as Google Docs.

The plus side of having a device so dependent on cloud computing – the price – starting at £199 the Chromebook undercuts even the cheapest of netbooks with similar specification.

3. Get a cheap Windows 7 laptop

It might be last year’s model, but there’s life in Windows 7 laptops yet! There aren’t many laptops in the same price range as netbooks – this is what made netbooks so attractive in the first place. However, with the recent launch of Windows 8 retailers are keen to offload remaining Windows 7 models as soon as possible so you could find yourself a bit of a bargain.

For example, you could pick up the 15.6-inch Samsung 300VS with 750GB of storage and a healthy 6GB of RAM for £329.99 through Argos. It’s not running one of the latest Intel Core processors and it won’t be the most portable but it will be more than capable of doing anything a netbook could do.

4. Buy the best cheap netbook

If your heart is still set on a netbook then act fast – once all the remaining units are sold there won’t be any more coming in. It’s worth hunting down any remaining netbooks if you simply must have one. Because once they are gone, they’re gone for ever!

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5 comments

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Jon

Sigh. Netbooks are perfect for taking notes. Cheap, long battery life, and you can toss them in a backpack.

Agreed. I commute into the Which? offices each day, and a small netbook with an actual keyboard would be great for getting work kicked off and attempting to be productive. A tablet, not so much, as it’s glass screen and tactile-less keyboard is too much of an obstacle for serious work. However, as an device for reviewing editorial content and reading ebooks it leaves a netbook trailing.

I’d expect that ultrabooks will soon head into the sub-£400 territory, which should make them a decent alternative to netbooks.

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Tony

I have a netbook and have thought about getting a tablet but what are the advantages of a tablet. They are more portable and lighter but that’s about it. My netbook has a 10″ screen a modest 160GB storage against the measly 16 or 32GB for the tablet, has 3 full size USB sockets, a full size SD card reader etc and is about half the cost.

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C.Rogers

It’s not cheaper, but if you like the netbook form factor, check out some of the convertables offered by ASUS. Some of these run full windows 8:
ASUS VivoTab TF810C

Ultrabooks are the new netbook.

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Derek Putley

Two of my best local computer shops, Sainsbury’s and Tesco both still seem to stock small laptops that, to all intents and purposes, look like netbooks to me. Sadly, the days of sub-£200 prices now seem to be over, but then the best quality netbooks were more than that anyway.

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