Netbooks: Won't Replace Laptops, But Will Make 'Em Cheaper

While netbooks have become more popular and helped set new pricing standards for portable computers, they're unlikely to replace laptops anytime soon, according to a new survey.  The study was done by, a division of Experian, which is perhaps best known for its credit reporting arm.

One of the key findings was that even among netbook users, perhaps only a quarter consider a netbook to be an acceptable replacement for a laptop. Some other main points:
  • Online consumers who owned a netbook in December 2008 increased from 10 percent to 15 percent in December 2009. And 11 percent plan to purchase one in 2010, though it's not clear if that was an additional 11 percent.
  • 65 percent of consumers say the most they plan to spend on their next computing device is $750; 52 percent spent more than $750 on their last device.
  • Netbook owners are getting older - the largest age group among owners is 45 to 64 years old. A year ago, it was 35 to 54.
  • 86 percent of netbook owners also own a laptop and 73 percent also own a desktop.
  • 72 percent consider a laptop a "feasible replacement" for a desktop, 45 see a netbook as a feasible replacement for a laptop and 27 percent see a netbook replacing a smartphone
A full 55 percent of those surveyed, however, do not see a netbook as a suitable replacement for a laptop. In fact, 63 percent said they considered a netbook "an additional device while on the go." The list of reasons given was topped by netbooks' small size. Other factors included the lack of a CD drive, minimal storage capacity and slower processes.

The low cost of netbooks has had an effect, however. Among the top 10 netbooks in's study, eight retail at $350 or less. The most expensive is less than $500. That appears to have affected laptop pricing, according to, where the average price dropped from $808 in December 2008 to $645 in December 2009 - a 20 percent decline.

Spoiled by netbook prices that are nearly dirt cheap, folks are less willing to spend more on their laptops, the survey found.  So, just what were the top selling netbooks in 2009, according to PriceGrabber?

Not surprising, the Asus Eee PC line took more than one slot but interestingly Toshiba clocked in at #2 with their NB205 and of course Dell's Mini  10v made a strong showing as well.