If you're looking for a Netbook this holiday season, perhaps this is an indication that today's selection might be as good as it gets for a short while: Acer and Asus, two of the biggest powerhouses and instigators in the Netbook movement, are apparently waiting until 2010 before releasing any new Netbooks. This is according to a report from Digitimes, which claims that both companies are holding off for Intel's newest Atom processor, the N450. This dovetails with an announcement that Acer's Android Netbook is also on hold, perhaps for the same reason.
A representative from Asus wouldn't comment other than to say that its 11-inch Netbook is the only new Netbook announced for now. From our perspective, this makes sense. For months and months, we've noted that Netbooks have all been using N270 (and occasionally N280) processors with fixed RAM and hard-drive capacities, almost to the point of becoming spec-frozen. Increased screen and keyboard sizes, thinner and lighter bodies, and better battery life have been the only significant refinements, along with dropping prices. In such a market, a 5-month-old Netbook doesn't conceivably lose a lot to current models. Asus and Acer might be looking to sell through their existing inventory in advance of a brand-new Windows 7-running Netbook platform next year.
In the meantime, though, plenty of other compact laptops should see the light of day from both companies. CULV processors in thin-and-light notebooks are on the rise, and with the handful of products we've seen so far like the MSI X-340 and the Acer Timeline 3810T, it's been a promising direction for highly portable computers.
Should this make you Netbook-purchase-adverse? Not really. Prices have never been better, and to be honest, most people don't buy Netbooks for their high-tech components. Netbooks are still compact, affordable, and will get much of your basic Web-browsing and home office needs accomplished just fine. Also, newer Pine Trail-M Netbooks will likely sell at higher prices. Considering that many current Netbooks are able to run Windows 7, there's not much reason to wait unless you're hungering for greater HD-video and graphics capabilities.
When Windows 7 debuts this October, Netbooks will no doubt begin to come preinstalled with the new OS instead of Windows XP. But, if these reports are true, don't expect those Netbooks to be significantly different from the ones you see right now.