There are plenty of reviews out there comparing the latest phones, the latest tablets and the latest notebooks, but very few ever reference something more than 18 months old. Most people don’t upgrade their kit anywhere near that frequently which makes the comparisons rather useless. In the 4–5 year timeframe which is a more typical upgrade cycle for most people there have been huge changes to the computing power available.
In June 2008 I was asked for help to choose a device for a family member which would meet basic online and app needs whilst being as portable as possible. The Asus eeePC 700 had been released a year earlier and the new 901 with the new Intel Atom processor had just become available. It did everything required — capable of running Windows XP, with wireless‑n and at around 1Kg it was just powerful enough, and impressively portable. Battery life was way beyond anything else comparable and could only be matched by spending an order of magnitude more.
Jump to June 2012 — a scant 4 years later and my mobile phone contract expires. After long deliberations I eventually opted for the Samsung Galaxy S3 over the HTC One X. Having spet considerable time looking at specs it dawned on me that superficially it had specs not all that dissimilar to the good old eeePC. Always interested in the progress of these things I did a quick comparison
|Asus eeePC 901||Samsung Galaxy S3|
|Date of release||Jun-08||May-12|
|CPU||DualThread 1.6GHz||QuadCore 1.4GHz|
|dimensions||225 x 165 x 35||137 x 71 x 9|
The specs speak for themselves. The phone is much thinner, lighter and more powerful. It comes with comparable storage and RAM and has better connectivity and a better camera. The eeePC is of course still much more suitable for working on word or excel documents, but it isn’t all that great for that itself.
I suspect that most eeePC’s were, like the one in my case, bought for basic internet access. Modern smartphones have made this function completely redundant. People needing to do serious document work aren’t likely to opt for a netbook either — an ultrabook or similar notebook is far more likely to be deemed suitable because you just can’t get away from needing a good size physical screen and real keyboard. Whilst the demise of the netbook due to tablets was much exaggerated, I believe the modern smartphone really will put an end to the netbook market almost completely.
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