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Date:09/07/12

Switched On: The Netbook Legacy

In describing Toshiba's decision to exit the U.S. netbook market, Engadget eulogized that it was "a sad day for those who like their computers tiny." Toshiba, a pioneer in the ultraportable market with the Libretto and Portege, produced what were among the best-regarded netbooks despite entering the market late.

Indeed, even with the many aspersions cast upon netbooks by one-time friends (such as Dell and Toshiba) and perennial foes (such as Apple) alike, the accelerating exit of netbooks will leave a void in the marketplace. Many consumers saw the value of a 10-inch device with an integrated keyboard that can run Windows apps, available new in some configurations for $250 or less.

And yet, even as major PC companies flee the field, accessory makers such as Logitech and Zagg, as well as overfunded Kickstarter projects such as Brydge or Incase's Origami case, present new ways to unite the iPad with its most conspicuous missing component: the keyboard.

It seems incongruous that a 10-inch netbook is undesirable whereas a 10-inch tablet paired with a keyboard for which it is not optimized is. And most keyboards for the iPad use Bluetooth, the use of which is verboten on flights (even as WiFi has been approved).




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