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Eee PC With Optical Drive: Still a Netbook?

The original idea of the netbook, at least in modern terms, was for a light, no-frills, barebones PC that was used to access and communicate on the internet. After all, that’s why it was called a ‘net’book.

Like in many other product categories, companies are not only competing on price, but also in features. Just as how the Honda Civic grew far enough from its humble origins that it’s no longer the entry-level offering, it seems netbooks are growing closer just becoming notebooks.

According to Digitimes, Asus will next month launch the Eee PC E1004DN, which will have an optical disc drive. The E1004DN reported to sport an Intel Atom N280 CPU paired with GN40 chipset, a 120 GB hard drive, and will retail between $531 and 590 -- sitting straight inside the territory of budget notebooks.

In May Asus is expected to launch the aesthetically-oriented 1008HA, which could also encroach on full notebook ground.

There’s no arguing that today’s netbooks are more capable and feature-filled than products from just a year ago, but are netbook makers losing sight of the original philosophy behind the concept?

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • korsafist
    seriously $500 for a netbook?
    i'd rather get a 13 inch notebook with a core 2 duo and 2gb of ram.
  • jeanluclariviere
    Agreed - I have an asus eee 900HA. At 1.6ghz & 1gb of ram, it does everything i need. I dont think these netbooks need optical drivers - it just adds to the weight.

    I use a flash drive & external harddrive to transfer files back and forth, and if needded, i would just get an external burner.

    Optical drive doesntjustify the cost increase, either...
  • judeh101
    the EEE pc can now be considered as laptops.
  • jsloan
    $531 what are they apple, i mean nuts, i could get a nice dell for that, not an underpowered, over priced, old hardware junk, sounds like apple...
  • Tekkamanraiden
    At that point you might as well get a notebook.
  • JimmiG
    No matter how many bells and whistles they put in, no device running the Atom CPU can be worth more than maybe $399 max. The CPU itself is just too slow to be a viable alternative in more expensive note/net/notbooks.
  • thejerk
    Agreed. Crazy to think that price is remotely reasonable.
  • joex444
    In response to the title: false. It is now a budget notebook. Not because of the optical drive -- you could always attach a USB DVD drive to the old EEE, but the price. $531 is notebook territory; cheap, sure, but notebook nonetheless.
  • kewl munky
    I honestly think that an optical drive is a must for a netbook. My aspire one doesn't have one, but I can usually use my 8GB flash drive for most of my data transfer needs, and where my flash drive can't do the job of an optical drive I have my external dvd drive.
  • waffle911
    I think the industry needs a standardized and regulated definition for "netbook", in much the same way that there are standards that dictate the classification of a car. In may ways, this is similar to what's happened to the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4, and the Kia Sportage. They were originally intended as economic, no-frils, compact SUVs—and now the RAV-4 (or was it the CR-V, or both?) offers third row seating. This was a class of SUV that originally competed with the Suzuki Vitara/Sidekick/Geo-Chevy Tracker and the Jeep Wrangler, mini-utes, the whole lot of them, many of them with ragtops, no less. They've lost sight of what they originally intended to create. The Honda Fit/Jazz, Honda's entry-level sub-compact, is in fact larger and more powerful than the first-generation Honda Accord, whose successor is now within a stone's throw of Large Car status, a segment housing the likes of the Dodge Charger and the ancient Ford Crown Victoria.
    People are always going to demand small and cheap, and when they get it, they want something just a little bit bigger, and just a little bit higher quality (and consequently, more expensive). That turns into a vicious cycle, the grass always being greener on the other side. They go bigger and better until they realize that it's too big and they decide to further downsize from the (now super-sized) "down-sized" option.