Can Netbooks Do Business?

Updated: June 24, 2009

Although they don't have as much storage as the big boys out there, some SMBs are finding that these little computers can make a big impact on their business. Michelle R. Donovan, who is a franchise owner of the Referral Institute of Western Pennsylvania, says that her Samsung NC10 has totally exceeded her expectations.

"I take it to meetings to take notes and then wirelessly transfer those notes once I return to my office. I take it to conferences for the same reason… It fits perfectly on the table tray of an airplane and is very light to transport. I use it to check emails wirelessly when traveling in hotels," says Donovan.

Michael Fisher, who is one of the cofounders of ElephantDrive, a cloud storage company, says his recent switch to the Dell Mini 12 laptop has him thinking of switching most of his team to the little babies. "Based on the cost and the portability, I'm inclined to get only mini netbooks for the rest of our team as they need new devices. We'll continue to use desktop/tower workstations for technology/development purposes, but when coupled with simple access to cloud storage the netbook is a fantastic and cost effective tool," says Fisher.

But for all the businesses that are having success with netbooks in their rotation, some say they need more power all the time. The fact is that the little machines aren't equiped to run bigger applications and that can lead to big hiccups for some SMBs.

"I have a client that has been trying for the past two months to replace aging Dell Latitude D600 laptops with the new Dell Mini 9," said Jesse L. Jones, owner of Matsu Technical Services. "The theory was that the Mini 9 would be smaller and more nimble, easier for a sales person to get around with. Being a distributing company in Alaska, specializing in bingo and pull-tab supplies, this is an important part of their business. The lack of advanced network features forced us to remove the OEM Windows XP Home install and upgrade to XP Pro. This has produced some serious issues with drivers and compatibility, so much so that the entire project (about six devices) has been put on the shelf and they are in search of 'Plan B.'"

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