Has the Nettop lost its charm and power?
Since early this year, we have not heard nor seen any new nettops announced locally. After the craze on netbooks several years ago, companies like Intel were banking on nettops as the next major market.
Manufacturers like Asus, Acer, Dell, Asrock and MSI all did their own version of the nettop.
Dell made that sexy Studio Hybrid back in 2008, Acer had the AspireRevo, MSI had the WindTop and Asus produced a line of Eee Box.
We even tried this Bluray-touting nettop from Asrock.
The nettop proposition was simple — cheap, low-power desktop computing with a very small footprint. It’s also sometimes referred to as an HTPC (home theater PC) since some configurations have the capabilities of full HD playback (mostly thanks to the NVidia Ion chipset).
Looks like that promise did not pan out. I have a couple of ideas why the nettop category did not fly:
- Savings on low power-consumption is hard to explain to consumers. While typical desktop PCs might consume between 100 to 150 watts, nettops promised a much lower consumption rate of between 20 to 35 watts. When translated to real-world savings, it’s somewhere around Php300 in electric bill savings per month for an average of 12 hours a day of use.
- Decent to average processing power from nettop processors also restricted the kind of activities you can do with them. Mostly internet surfing, P2P services and probably HD movie playback (for HTPCs). No serious PC gaming involved. Internet cafes would not use them because of the obvious drawbacks. It’s not just the CPU but mostly the accompanying GPU.
- It wasn’t as cheap as it’s supposed to be. Intel was gunning for $100 to $300 for each box but most of the nettops that came out in 2008 and 2009 were priced between $300 to $500. That same amount could get you a decent gaming PC so why settle for a nettop?
- The netbooks were rapidly invading the price category of the nettop and sometimes, it’s even cheaper. Again, why settle for a nettop when you can get a similarly-specced netbook for the same or lower price?
The last nettop-specific processor that Intel produced was the Atom D525 and that was more than a year ago (released June 2010). I guess that spells it for this PC category.