Notebook or Netbook, They're Getting Cheaper

U.S. consumers prefer ultra-light, ultra-fast notebooks with Windows XP

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One of the hottest tech products could get even hotter next year with reports that Asus is predicting a netbook that will sell for only $200 next year. That would get the company, which started the fad last year with its Eee PC, back to its original promise of a $200 notebook PC.

The first Eee PC hit the market at $300. The higher price disappointed many techies, but didn't stymie sales. The ultra-light and small notebooks helped propel laptops ahead of desktops for the first time in U.S. sales.

The cheapest models, though, typically come with Linux installed. They're designed primarily for E-mail and getting on the Web, hence the "netbook" tag. U.S. consumers have shown a strong preference for having Windows XP installed. They want them to work with their existing software, as well as their home printers and digital cameras -- which can be tough with Linux.

"So we're just calling them low-cost notebooks," says Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies. "Consumers simply want much smaller computers at an aggressive price."