Thinking Tech

Your Christmas netbook

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Two of the coolest netbook trends I found at this show are flash memory and waterproofing.

Netbooks, which I define as 2-3 pound PCs without moving parts, have evolved rapidly since their introduction last year.

I am at the CompuTex trade show in Taiwan this week, checking out the latest trends.

Two of the coolest netbook trends I found at this show are flash memory and waterproofing.

Transcend is the leader here in flash memory technology, and they have a very large booth here.

For netbooks they are pushing plug-in devices less than two inches square containing anywhere form 60 to 120 Gbytes of memory. These are hard drive replacements, which manufacturers can slap onto the bottom of a unit on its way out the door, right before the cover comes on.

Consider that the netbook I'm writing this on, an HP Mini, has just 2 Gbytes of memory in order to meet a $270 price point. With the new Transcend flash they will be able to pack 60 GBytes in there, almost as much as the two year old hard drive on my desk.

The waterproofing trend comes from Nu-Global, and was shown here on TVs, GPS devices and sports equipment, A company representative in the show booth confirmed, however, that its system could also work on Netbooks.

"Relax in the comfort of your own bathroom with a glass of wine and your favorite movie," the company's brochure suggests. Add a wireless keyboard and some plugs in the back and you've got yourself a PC.

Given the built-in ruggedness of netbooks without moving parts, I bet you could sell a ton of this to the Marines.

One final, minor point. Netbooks have become so standardized, at 9 inches diagnonal and 2.4 pounds, that there are many booths offering to customize them, with whatever you want printed on the part holding the screen, while the keyboard and innards remain standard.

This is why firms like Asus and MSI are abandoning this low-end of the netbook line, either beefing up capabilities or making bigger devices with bigger screens and usable keyboards. They would be eaten up if they didn't move fast.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure