I’m enamored with Netbooks.

Holding James Deaton's new Lenovo Netbook

Wes Fryer with the HP Mini 1000 netbook

Get Hooked on a Netbook

The light weight of a Netbook is alluring, but most I’ve tried have keyboards that are just too small for my fingers. The HP Mini 1000 is the best I’ve tried, but I want to find/purchase a Netbook with even LONGER battery life. Dell is supposed to be releasing a new Netbook sometime before September, which I might be willing to consider. According to Chris Davies:

As for the Dell Inspiron Mini 11 (codenamed the Mini 1110 Argos), that will be “very thin and light” with “laptop-like performance” from an unnamed processor. The 11.6-inch screen will HD capable, presumably 720p, and there’ll be 250GB HDD and 2GB RAM options to go with the Vista OS. It’ll start from $499.

I’m delaying a personal purchase of a Netbook, however, until after Apple WWDC June 8-12, 2009. Why should I wait? Well, I’ve been reading the Apple rumor blogs off and on (as well as traditional news sources who reference these issues) the past few months, and a few things seem to be adding up.

In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal article, “Jobs Maintains Grip at Apple” authors note:

Apple co-founder Mr. Jobs, who is considered the company’s creative leader, is also involved in the development of future projects, they say. People privy to the company’s strategy say Apple is working on new iPhone models and a portable device that is smaller than its current laptop computers but bigger than the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Sound intriguing? Absolutely. We are planning to add an iPhone to our family phone collection this summer, and CNET’s report “Analyst: Apple placed chip order for 32GB iPhones” suggests we’d be wise to wait till after WWDC to purchase a new iPhone. New iPhones are to be expected, I suppose, but what about this “new portable device?” What will it be?

I don’t have a crystal ball, and I also do NOT have inside information on this from anyone at Apple, but I’ve got a hunch Apple will turn the Netbook-oogling world (myself included) upside down this summer with a new product announcement.

Don Wilson told me months ago he thought an iPod Touch device with a digital camera could be THE transformative solution for 1:1 computing in his school district. The explosion of available applications for the iTouch as well as the iPhone continues to be amazing to witness and experience. As a digital textbook, a platform for photo and video consumption, and of course an engaging gaming platform, the iTouch is already an amazing device. In my view, however, it can’t be a 1:1 learning tool until it supports audio, photo and video recording with a microphone and camera capable of enabling these functionalities. (CCC pedagogy.) I think we’re going to see a 10″ touch screen device from Apple this June which is going to do that.

The functionality of iPhone applications AudioBoo and Geo-Graffiti is amazing for mobile, digital storytelling. For K-12 contexts, however, iPhones which require costly monthly service plans can never work for scaled, school-wide 1:1 learning projects. A device WITHOUT a phone contract is essential. Given the rumors of the past few months, I think we’re going to see this sort of device (along with a larger capacity iPhone) announced this June.

That’s why I’m waiting on purchasing a Netbook. 🙂

Rachel watching Harry Potter on our family iPod Touch

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11 Responses to Why I’m delaying a Netbook purchase till June

  1. Thanks Wes for sharing your perspective and your research. Our district has been piloting different Netbooks and we have some of the same concerns that you mentioned. I also share in your hope/belief that Apple will get in the game and give us an alternative to the existing offerings. In order for districts to realize 1 computer per 1 student, the cost of the equipment has to come down. You have given me something to watch for in June.

  2. Kyle A says:

    I am right there with you. I think you have the right line on Apple and their plans. But here is an interesting link to some people who might be wanting to beat them to the punch. http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/10/about-those-new-crunchpad-pictures/

  3. doug says:

    Anyone would be crazy to buy an iphone now with the release of the new one so close simply because you are signing a 2 year contract for the device, so for most of the next 2 years, you will be stuck with a last generation device. I have a day 1 iphone and I skipped the 3G version last June because it used the same processor and did not have video. I think the new model will be much faster device and have much better photo and video features.

    As for the netbook, I have the MSI Wind and have converted it to a hackintosh. The Wind was born to run OSX. I recommend it highly, but if you are waiting for apple netbook, I am thinking they will not step on their iphone announcement and push a netbook announcement to Aug/Sept time frame, unless the apple “netbook” is an iphone/ipod type device only with a bigger screen like the crunchpad referenced above. I am hoping they offer a true small form factor computer. My Wind has proven to be invaluable as an alternative to lugging around my MacBook Pro 17.

    I think good things are coming for apple fans that are patient.

  4. I am waiting too. Even though the rumors are almost always too good to be true, it is worth the wait to get the newer version of the iPhone I think.

    I am almost sold on a Dell Mini 12 but am going to wait to see if Apple comes out with something cool in the netbook category.

    Roll on June!!!!

  5. Kathleen says:

    I hope any announcement precedes the release of my pre-order for this TouchBook: http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/ –camera and recording would be nice but I am thinking they could be added via USB.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Thanks for putting this together and letting us know what might be on the horizon. I too see the potential for 1:1 ipod touch. A teacher recently asked a high school class how many student had a touch and half of the hands went up. A larger version of the touch would open up greater possibility for creating projects onboard. Right now I see it being used mainly for consumption of content. One feature I would really like to see is some kind of video cable, for apps (not just video output), this would be useful in the classroom.

  7. Kansas Nana says:

    CrunchPad seems a lot like a Kindle.

  8. I am with you. I would love to have an Apple tablet to use at school. I am not really interested unless they will make one that is around $500. I would have a hard time not going with the hacintoshed MS Wind if the price isn’t similar.

  9. Wesley Fryer says:

    @kansasnana Well I haven’t used a Kindle personally, but I’d say it’s quite a bit different since you can’t run color web apps on it and other apps like you can with an iTouch or iPhone.

    @Lindsey I agree the iTouch is basically a consumptive media device at this point, where the iPhone’s camera and microphone make it well suited for media production. Hopefully the “new device” will add this functionality without the need to have a monthly phone contract!

    @wmchamberlain I really wish the price would be something in the $300 range, but I’d be really surprised by that. I’d bet on a $500 price point.

  10. Kent Chesnut says:

    Wes,
    Great article. Let’s hope Apple repeats the Newton -> eMate 300 (kid friendly laptop for schools – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMate_300 for details) – but this time based on the wildly popular iPod Touch platform and with a more friendly price tag.
    Kent

  11. Wes,

    Consider a solid state drive. You don’t mention it much, but with all the free online storage available now, and anytime-anywhere office productivity applications (also online anywhere, with features much like Google-Docs), there’s more and and more advantages to SS drives and fewer disadvantages to moving parts (rotary HDDs).

    Worried about bandwidth? Lots of netbooks are now 3G embedded, and check this out: http://tr.im/jknJ “AT&T likely skipping 14.4Mbps, moving straight to HSPA+”

    Regards,
    Paul

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