Study: Netbook Buyers Clueless About Netbooks

Tom’s Hardware readers know what netbooks are and also know what netbooks aren’t. It seems, however, that the rest of the buying public doesn’t possess the same sort of knowledge.

According to a study by the NPD Group, 60-percent of consumers who purchased a netbook believed that their machines are the same as notebooks.

While the lines between netbooks and notebooks are blurring, there is still a distinguishing line in the performance differences between the two. Even the fastest Atom processor is still modest compared to the entry-level Intel Celeron CPU, and so netbooks are by nature less powerful.

The confusion between the differences between what a netbook and notebook are capable of may have triggered some consumer dissatisfaction. NPD figured that only 58 percent of consumers who bought a netbook (but were shopping for a notebook) said they were very satisfied with their purchase. In contrast, 70-percent of consumers who planned on buying a netbook from the start were ultimately satisfied with their purchase.

Among 18- to 24-year-olds, one of the main target markets for netbook makers, 65-percent said they bought their netbooks expecting better performance, and only 27-percent said their netbooks performed better than expected, reported the NPD.

“We need to make sure consumers are buying a PC intended for what they plan to do with it," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “There is a serious risk of cannibalization in the notebook market that could cause a real threat to netbooks' success. Retailers and manufacturers can't put too much emphasis on PC-like capabilities and general features that could convince consumers that a netbook is a replacement for a notebook. Instead, they should be marketing mobility, portability, and the need for a companion PC to ensure consumers know what they are buying and are more satisfied with their purchases.”

Portability seems to be a key feature that netbook buyers already understand from looking at the product. 60-percent of netbook buyers cited portability as the main reason why they purchased the product, but interestingly, 60-percent of netbook owners admitted to have never taken their computers out of their homes.

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.
  • mtyermom
    Uh.... I'm not surprised?
  • jerreece

    This just in! The majority of computer purchasers don't know much about the technical details of computers! in a recent study, Common Sense Laboratories conducted a clinical test to see how many computer shoppers knew the difference between Hard Drive space and Memory. In a shocking set of statistical data, CSL determined that the vast majority of folks buying new computers didn't understand how to differentiate between the internal components and what they do, let alone the difference between brands and models of CPUs.

    Like this is a big surprise? Let's face it, most folks don't know the stuff the average Tom's Hardware reader should know. Every computer (Netbook or not) is hyped up to be the best thing since sliced bread. So most folks figure whatever they buy should perform well. Little do they know there's a big difference between a $200 - $300 Netbook to a custom built gaming PC which only cost $1,000.
  • eklipz330
    i think a lol is in order
  • I bought this $200 computer to play Crysis, and I must say that I am VERY DISAPPOINTED.
  • computabug
    Meh, their fault. Gotta learn to exploit the (stupid) general public. Hey, that's how people get rich. Now if only there was no such thing as tax and it was every man for himself...
  • IronRyan21
    Of Course! Netbook Buyers dont know anything. 6 months ago I bought a notebook from a now deceased electronics store for $499 after rebate, with specs: 17 inch Toshiba, Pentium D 2.0 Ghz 160 GB HDD.... way better than a netbook and almost the same cost. F**K NETBOOKS.
  • chaohsiangchen
    IronRyan21Of Course! Netbook Buyers dont know anything. 6 months ago I bought a notebook from a now deceased electronics store for $499 after rebate, with specs: 17 inch Toshiba, Pentium D 2.0 Ghz 160 GB HDD.... way better than a netbook and almost the same cost. F**K NETBOOKS.
    Apparently you are not old enough to not feel like to carry a 8lb laptop for job-related travels.
  • cadder
    So they buy a $300 computer instead of a $600 or $800 computer, then they are surprised when it isn't as powerful? Very funny. Maybe they aren't smart enough to own a computer.
  • By today's standards, 80%+ of people (my best guess) don't even need that much performance. Most people are doing nearly the same thing they were doing 9 years ago on their Pentium 3's.

    That being said, I recently bought my second netbook (my first being the ASUS EEE 701). The new one is a Lenovo S10e, with a 160GB HDD, Atom N270, and an Intel GMA 950 onboard video. I currently have Windows 7 running the Aero interface fluidly. Fades in and out are perfectly smooth, and video playback is perfectly smooth as well. Bought an external DVD-RW that also works perfectly well, and I get 3h 45m on a 3-cell battery to boot. The bluetooth module was $15 shipped off ebay, and I now use it to connect to my Palm Centro as a modem.

    160GB and runs Windows 7 aero interface without any hickups or lag? Sounds plenty powerful for me. It has an express card slot, card reader, and my only gripe is the 2 usb ports.

    Using an external monitor, I can even run some mild photoshop, illustrator, indesign, and acrobat work.

    Sure, a C2D notebook would be faster, but for the vast majority of people, its yesterday's desktop weighing in at 2.75 pounds with a near 4 hour battery life. I wouldn't use it as a business notebook (being a field technician), as I need a bit more power for what I do, but when I'm not at work, I hardly ever find myself needing more performance.

    Best of all, I paid $330 + tax.

    No, netbooks aren't notebooks, but for the 80% of consumers, it certainly does nearly everything you want it to.
    Anybody notice the "we must keep netbook abilities low or the sky will fall" attitude? A netbook could be better, but with all the propoganda, itll be awhile before they do get better