Netbook prices starting to fall

Netbooks are small laptop computers that ship with the latest energy-saving processors, smallish amounts of RAM, small SSD storage devices, built-in Wi-Fi and stripped down operating systems that can run quickly on such meager hardware. Although you can buy a netbook with Windows XP installed, most netbooks come with some form of Linux on them. In a sense, they’re more like “extremely useful PDAs” than actual laptop computers, but the distinction is slight.

The big draw with netbooks was supposed to be their low price. When manufacturers announced pricing for netbooks, prices of $199 or $249 were bandied about. People were excited – and why not? A laptop computer with a color screen that could play back movies and mp3s and had built in wireless for less than 2 bills? Sign me up!

The only problem was that initial demand was so high that manufacturers felt free to ignore their previous quotes of $199, aiming instead for the $399 to $499 range. One manufacturer (Asus) really ran with the idea, releasing ever beefier netbooks with ever more bizarre price points. The Eee PC 1000, for example, comes with a 10″ widescreen LCD, a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM, an 8GB SSD, and a 32GB SDHC card for $650. That’s a lot of sexy new technology, but for that kind of money you can buy a “regular” notebook from Dell with Windows XP, a 14″ screen, and 80 GB hard drive.

Thankfully, a couple of things have happened that have started to push prices down. Initial demand has fallen off, so manufacturers are dropping prices to keep up sales. And Dell, the 800 pound gorilla of the IT world, just released their own netbook. So prices should fall considerably by Christmas time. Case in point? The afirementioned Asus Eee PC 1000 – the price has recently fallen from $650 to $449.

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