Netbooks - The stripped down, lightweight laptop computers more geared towards those doing more work on.
The Internet - were a hot topic two years ago. The launch of Apple's iPad changed all that, and the debate and the attention shifted to tablet PCs. Cool touchscreens, the Steve Jobs charisma and the arrival of rival tablets from Google's Android platform eclipsed netbooks in the glitter of it all.
Guess what? Netbooks did not stop evolving. Last week, I spotted a Samsung netbook for sale at under Rs. 10,000 and asked myself: "Could the right netbooks be the value alternative to a tablet?"
My simple answer is yes. You could lose out on the glamour of showing off a tablet or caressing a colourful screen for friends to see, but there is a lot to gain on the other side.
Netbooks, with 10.1-inch or larger screens made by brands such as ASUS, Samsung, Acer, Wipro, Samsung and others come in the R10,000 to R25,000 price range. Features vary with price, of course, but I notice some have dual-core processors, solid hard disk memory and cool looks including designs that match a tablet. Weighing around 1 kg or little more, some of them can be light enough to take in a public transport bus or metro - though they are not pocket-sized.
And then, they have card readers or USB drives that help you transfer files easily. That is a big plus over gizmo tablets.
The bigger upside is in the Qwerty keyboards. Seriously, you can't be doing e-books or games or YouTube videos all day. Be it a tweet or presentation, netbooks help you lead a fuller life. Why spend on an artificial external keyboard accessory for a tablet?
Some netbooks come with Windows 7 - which in software terms means the absolutely latest heavy-duty usage. A netbook can come to a tablet, with the heavy-duty features of an old-fashioned desktop, at a lower price.