The Changing Face Of Low-Cost Notebooks: No Longer Big And Clunky

The low-cost notebook is seen as a big, clunky and very much “cheap” option amongst consumers. Recent market data however suggests that manufacturers are moving in the direction of offering smaller, sleeker and more technologically advanced entry-level offerings ; including touch-screen and ultra-portable models in the low-cost category.

The price too of traditional low-cost notebooks is falling, with retail prices for 15.4" notebooks from first-tier branded vendors having been cut $200-300 as vendors hope to spur customers to go for a second notebook. Of the major vendors, Acer and Compaq have already introduced 15.4-inch models priced under $500 in the US market while other major notebook vendors including Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Compaq, Gateway, Everex have also introduced 15.4-inch notebooks priced under $600, according to DigiTimes.

Asustek’s Eee PC meanwhile is at the forefront of meeting increasing market demand for medium-size touch panels in the second half of the year. Small touch screens have already become a big hit on the 5-10 inch handheld and ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) end, and this demand is now spilling into the larger medium-sized notebook market.

EETI, which currently provides Asustek with PC cameras for Eee PCs and is expected to start shipping touch panel controllers for Eee PCs in the second half of this year, estimates that the penetration of touch panels in the notebook market will reach 15-percent by 2012. By then, demand for notebook-use touch panels will reach 25 million units, the designer predicts.

This move towards low-cost notebooks, largely fuelled by the downwards price pressure on desktop PCs, with features previously only seen on premium models (such as ultra-portability or touch screen capabilities) shows that the market is becoming increasingly competitive. Previously to sell a low-cost notebook one simply needed a notebook that functioned and a low price. Now differentiation is required not only in price, but performance and feature set on offer.

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