In Business Standard

Quite a few years ago, I met this CEO who had this unbelievably small laptop. After ogling at it for a while, I enquired its price.

With a tinge of pride, he said its an Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and he paid 1.5 lakhs for it. I gulped and looked at it with even more awe. Ever since, I had a mental note that the smaller the laptop gets, the more expensive it becomes.

That myth got shattered to smithereens when I recently got to look at the ASUS EeePC, a tiny laptop that would smugly sit on your outstretched palm. It weighed less than 1 kg. What really hit me hard was its price. A mere Rs.15,500. It completely changed my perception of small laptops.

The guy at the counter pulled out six pieces with different colors, light green, baby pink, red, navy blue, pearl white and black. My immediate reaction was to pick a green one for my wife and a pink one for my 6-year-old daughter. The minute I realised this impulse buying thought, I knew these small laptops, called ‘Netbooks’ are going to revolutionize the laptop industry.

Netbooks are simple, inexpensive, compact mobile devices that can be used for surfing the Internet, emailing, working on basic office applications, listening to music and even making Skype video phone calls.

In my opinion, these Netbooks are perfect for traveling businesses folks. Let’s face it, we businessmen use our expensive, bulky laptops as a giant word processing surfing machines. Besises they give us shoulder aches from lugging them around.

Really, most of our laptops are over-powered for our use. It’s like using a fire-engine to extinguish cigarettes. These Netbooks’ relative high functionality at low cost is good value for money, especially for small businessmen. What’s more, they are as good looking as those expensive Rs 1 lakh UMPCs. In other words, they’d still impress folks on the other side of the boardroom table.

It’s no wonder that these Netbooks are selling like hot cakes. At the recently concluded Computex exhibition in Taiwan, the Netbooks were all the rage and they hogged the biggest headlines.

Many major computer manufacturers like ASUS, Acer, HP, Dell have come up with their own range of low-cost Netbooks that pack a punch. They feature shock proof Solid State Drives, Super Hybrid Engine Technology, WiFi, Integrated Webcam and the likes. Now, why should you bother? Take storage for example.

These netbooks use SSDs which are not only sturdier than traditional hard drives but produces less heat, much quieter and sucks less power which means more battery life. These new breed of Netbooks will definitely cannibalize the traditional laptop market. This is already rattling the industry and everyone is falling over themselves in reducing prices to stay alive in this cut-throat market.

The cost of the Netbooks currently range from Rs.15,000 to Rs.23,000 and will come down further. One of the main reasons for such low prices is because of low cost chips from Intel, Via, AMD and Nvidia. The growth of these Netbooks are staggering and in a price conscious market like India, the sales will be massive.

The recommended Netbooks are the ASUS EeePC 900, Acer Aspire One and the MSI Wind.