Dell scraps 12" Netbook range

Reports are surfacing that Dell has decided to discontinue its 12" Netbook range. According to Dell, its decision is based on a perceived 'sweet spot' by consumers of 10" screen sizes for the netbook market.

Lionel Menchaca, the Chief Blogger on Dell's US website gave the following statement after the news was reported on news bulletin websites:

So, should you read anything into this as far as Dell's commitment to the netbook space? Nope. It really boils down to this: for a lot of customers, 10-inch displays are the sweet spot for netbooks. That's why we offer two different 10-inch Inspiron netbooks for Mini 10 and the Mini 10v. And on the Latitude side, the Latitude 2100 netbook is finding a home in schools all over the place. Portability is one of the key points for netbook customers. Larger notebooks require a little more horsepower to be really useful. More to come from Dell on that later.

But back to the subject of netbooks.The Inspiron Mini 9 is available again on Dell.com for the time being. I tried to reach the Mini 9 to see how long she'd be around, but she wasn't available for comment like she was last time.

This seems like a fair reason to disband a line of products, however some on the internet disagree. Famous blogger Michael Arrington posted an article on TechCrunch giving his thoughts on the situation.

In short, Arrignton argues that this makes no sense. He states in his article that it requires no additional hardware horsepower to power a 12" netbook versus a 10" netbook. "It only costs a few more dollars to build a 12 netbook and users get s bigger screen with the same performance." This fact lies in stark contrast to what Intel perceive as the future for netbooks: "If you've ever used a Netbook and used a 10-inch screen size–it's fine for an hour. It's not something you're going to use day in and day out."

Arrington goes on to suggest that perhaps Dell has other reasons for disbanding the middle sized netbook. He argues soundly that it could be the fact that Intel is pressuring OEMs to build netbooks with 10" or smaller screens due to the fact that it keeps people in the Dual Core market, where there are higher profit margins for Intel. In short, if you want a larger screen, you have to invest in a Dual Core machine. Intel prices Atom chips based on the size of the device's screen: anything over than 10" is priced higher.

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I discovered this few months ago.
I purchased 7 of these 12" netbooks and the build quality was awful.
Ended up sending them all back as they weren't fit for purpose. I wanted them replaced as I assumed I got bad build. Turns out I probably got the last 7 in Europ.

I've had my 12" Mini for 4 months now with zero problems. I ordered it with XP, tried several flavors or Linux, and finally formatted it and loaded Win7.

Netbooks are a complete joke as it is. They are all underpowered big time. My 5 year old notebook is MUCH faster than any current netbook is. And no, I'm not talking about just games.... I'm talking just browing the internet and trying to view a simple video, or taking forever to boot up.

TC17 said,
Netbooks are a complete joke as it is. They are all underpowered big time. My 5 year old notebook is MUCH faster than any current netbook is. And no, I'm not talking about just games.... I'm talking just browing the internet and trying to view a simple video, or taking forever to boot up.

Netbooks are designed to be cheap, small, and light. Your 5-year-old laptop probably does not fit into all of those categories.

TC17 said,
Netbooks are a complete joke as it is. They are all underpowered big time. My 5 year old notebook is MUCH faster than any current netbook is. And no, I'm not talking about just games.... I'm talking just browing the internet and trying to view a simple video, or taking forever to boot up.


*Sigh*

There's always someone who sees new hardware releases as a high water mark and think anything that comes after that must somehow be superior.

The point of netbooks isn't to run circles around your 5-year old laptop, performance-wise. You don't mention the size of your laptop's screen, but I suspect a netbook is a lot more portable, and you've also probably paid a lot more than $300 for it.

m-p{3} said,
Too bad, I like those 12" with a resolution of 1280x800.

Agreed. I looked over the 9, 10, and 12" Dell Minis and found the 12" to be the sweet spot. It's still lightweight, barely bigger than a couple magazines and perfect for taking anywhere I need to go. The 9 and 10 are too small.

If you've ever used a Netbook and used a 10-inch screen size–it's fine for an hour. It's not something you're going to use day in and day out.

I am calling Scheiße on that statement. I have a Mini 10 and love the screen size. I take it with me on trouble calls, it has all the diagnostic info/programs I need on it and enough power to do what I need. I don't need to lug around a heavy full sized laptop. Whoever made that statement needs to have their eyes checked and their brain as well.

ir0nw0lf said,
I am calling Schei�e on that statement. I have a Mini 10 and love the screen size. I take it with me on trouble calls, it has all the diagnostic info/programs I need on it and enough power to do what I need. I don't need to lug around a heavy full sized laptop. Whoever made that statement needs to have their eyes checked and their brain as well.

But enough of this Scheiße!

Really, this is a good thing. At some point, it stops being a powerful ultramobile computer and starts being an underpowered full-size laptop. 12" is really too big for a netbook.

this is the point i'm trying to drive home, apparently people can't see it.... 12+" and you're actually gone BACK in time, to using a 2005 machine for your every day tasks lol make no wonder dell is drawing a line

artfuldodga said,
this is the point i'm trying to drive home, apparently people can't see it.... 12+" and you're actually gone BACK in time, to using a 2005 machine for your every day tasks lol make no wonder dell is drawing a line

And what you're not seeing is that for some people, a significantly cheaper, lighter version of a 2005 machine with better battery life is all they need on the move. For example, I would like a laptop for web browsing, email and programming. Certainly on the final count (and to some extent on the first), 10" screens or below are too small, and the associated keyboards certainly are.
Amusingly, I ended up getting an IBM Thinkpad T23 (a "2005 machine", if you will) from eBay. It's a little bit larger than I'd like, but for me it does the job better than netbooks do.

for a 12" it seemed useless with the crappy screen and keyboard smaller than the mini 10's... not to mention the crappy price either..

what i really cant stand is the 1024x600/576 that so many of these netbooks have. using a few of the newer 11" netbooks with 1366x768 & 100% keyboard make them feel much more useful

profets said,
for a 12" it seemed useless with the crappy screen and keyboard smaller than the mini 10's... not to mention the crappy price either..

what i really cant stand is the 1024x600/576 that so many of these netbooks have. using a few of the newer 11" netbooks with 1366x768 & 100% keyboard make them feel much more useful

/agreed. I wouldn't mind an extra inch and a ~720p resolution on my Samsung NC-10.

In short, bigger netbook screens are a threat to the 13" notebook/laptop market. Sounds like something that actually makes sense. After all, the larger netbooks *are* stealing marketshare from the smallest laptops and notebooks based on price alone. The problem is especially an issue for Dell, which is also a major player in the larger-portable market, in addition to the netbook space. (Is Toshiba selling netbooks today?) What will be especially telling is whether HP (like Dell, a major player in both netbooks and notebooks/laptops) also drops the larger-screen netbooks (because they threaten smaller-screen traditional notebooks).

lol Michael Arrington might be 'famous' but hes also an idiot... according to him netbooks should be getting bigger, not smaller, what the f*ck? haha i already have one of those its a 15" laptop

what do users want? well first a regular laptop with lots of power but also 10" or slightly smaller netbooks with with ever increasing power... nothing too drastic but a little netbook that will get most jobs done, seems reasonable to assume thats the direction. dell is also drawing a line... which is a line that needs to be drawn or you have folks like Arrington building netbooks with 15" screens and little power... does that make sense? lol

I have a large notebook, but after some time, I decided to get an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and hook these up to my computer whenever I'm home at my desk.

I plan for my next computer purchase be a small notebook, since using external peripherals at home, and having mobility on-the-go, now seems to me very intuitive as a 'sweet spot'.

artfuldodga said,
lwhat do users want? well first a regular laptop with lots of power but also 10" or slightly smaller netbooks with with ever increasing power... lol

No, you are wrong. Most users don't want lots of power, these notebooks provide enough power for most people. Unless you are playing complex games, or doing development, you have no need for that much power. This is the whole point, this is why netbooks are becoming so popular, and why Intel are eager to squash this category. The Atom does have enough power, most people don't need a dual core beast to check there email, go on the internet, and write a report.

Intel want people to buy 2 computers, or more. They don't like the idea of a 12" netbook for that reason.

i meant ever increasing... like a laptop, slight increases in spec every year, new Atom processor, maybe 1 more GB RAM, etc and thats that, users surely do not want their netbooks to get 'bigger'... i think 10" is large enough for a netbook, 13"+ and you're in laptop/notebook range