posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Apr 2009 11:42 UTC
IconAfter the rather unexpected success of the netbook, manufacturers started looking for more ways to capitalise on the cheaper end of the market. Many of them are now putting netbook internals (the Atom platform) in desktop computers, such as nettops and cheaper all-in-one solutions. According to several analysts, this is going to be one of the few places where the desktop market can grow. And while we're on the subject of hardware, TechRepublic took the Dell Adamo apart to see its internals.

Well then, nettops and all-in-ones. The market for all-in-one machines has been dominated by Apple with its successful line of iMacs, all the way from the fruity original iMac G3, through the sexy lamp iMac G4 and the pale iMac G5/Intel, to the current generation of metal/glass iMacs. Other manufacturers have been playing around with this market as well, but never as successful as Apple has been with the iMac.

This is about to change, thanks to the advent of the Atom-powered all-in-one. Both Asus and MSI have already launched touch screen enabled all-in-one computers, powered by the Atom platform. According to DisplaySearch, these all-in-one nettops can be sold for around USD 450-800, which is considerably cheaper than previous all-in-one offerings. Of course, they are less powerful than previous al-in-ones and normal desktops, but that hasn't stopped the adoption of netbooks either, so why should it be a problem for all-in-one nettops?

There's also a market for nettops without the all-in-one part. They are small, 5.25"-drive-like enclosures with an Atom platform inside, running either Linux or Windows XP. These can also be sold for the cheap, and will probably thrive thanks to the current economic climate, some analysts believe. "Right now, nothing is going to stem the losses in terms of shipment decline that the desktop PC category is experiencing, especially with the (current) economy," said Richard Shim, PC analyst at IDC, "But Nettops and lower-cost all-in-ones will help to maintain some of the market share for desktops. It's a bright spot in the market."

I've looked at several of these all-in-one nettops here in shops in The Netherlands, and while I must admit they have a high geek factor, I'm not so sure if they are that competitive in today's market, taking into account that 300-400 EUR can get you a pretty decent and powerful normal desktop machine. Netbooks are successful because they are genuinely cheaper and smaller than normal notebooks; all-in-one nettops and normal nettops are generally not cheaper than normal netbooks, and size simply isn't as much of an issue when it comes to stationary computers.

An interesting addition to the market, but I personally doubt if they will prove to be as successful as netbooks.

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