Will Smartbooks Thrive In A Netbook-Crazed World?

Smartbooks aren't entirely new; we've heard of them before, and we've seen prototypes before. Basically, they're the machine that is supposed to be cheaper than a netbook, yet more capable than a smartphone. They way we see it, they only have a few short years to thrive, as the converged smartphone is becoming all the more powerful by the minute. These so-called smartbooks won't typically run on a conventional OS (like Windows 7), but instead on various kinds of Linux builds that are designed for easy access to the most commonly used applications: Firefox, Office tools, etc.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that CES 2010 will be the smartbook's coming out party, where a bunch of new ultra-small notebooks (that perform more like advanced smartphones) will first make public contact. These machines will be engineered to be "always-on" with regard to Internet connectivity--be it Wi-Fi or integrated 3G, a feature that'll really get the attention of the web-obsessed world that we find ourselves in. What's interesting is just how thin this line is that smartbooks straddle; netbooks are often found at around $200 on sale, yet they run full-featured operating systems. Smartphones, like Apple's iPhone 3GS, cost just $200 on contract and can surf the web, edit documents and even make phone calls.

So, what's the market for the smartbook? That's the $64,000 question, we guess. Most smartbooks are expected to sell for between $200 and $450, yet they'll require a learning curve when it comes to the OS. Also, they won't feature typical Intel CPUs; most will use ARM-based platforms which will enable the battery life to be excellent. Reports found that many early netbook buyers returned their machines quickly when they realized that Linux was onboard--people just don't have a desire to learn an all new OS when they know they can get a version with Windows on it.

So, does the idea of a smartbook intrigue you? Would you opt for this over a netbook? Does your smartphone handle the most of this already?