Michael Dell made a convincing argument when he stated that most users of Netbooks will want to dump the devices after 36 hours of use. He stated that the screens are too small, the processing power is weak, though a Netbook is OK as a second computer. He went on to state that users of 14″ to 15″ laptops eventually find their micro midget laptops not cutting it. The article also states that:

“On the direct business, we’re seeing a lot of excitement on the new processors, on Windows 7. Performance is kind of coming back,” Dell said. “There was this time where the price point was drifting down, where people were just buying the lowest-end device.”

Which is pretty much what you’d expect from the head of a major PC manufacturer still struggling to recover from the meltdown of the worldwide economy. Asked if his company would need more time to recover than its the likes of HP, considering its greater dependence on consumer dollars, Dell pointed out that more than 80 per cent of the company’s business has nothing to do with the consumer. But he also did his best to play up the prospects of his consumer biz, which now taps into more than 42,000 retail stores across the globe.

Then he took another understated swipe at the netbook. “We see a fair amount of customers not really being that satisfied with the smaller screen and the lower performance – unless it’s like a secondary machine or it’s a very first machine and the expectations are low,” he said. “But as a replacement machine for an experienced user, it’s not what we’d recommend. It’s not a good experience, and we don’t see users very happy with those.”

But he did say there are certain niche situations where a netbook makes perfect sense. As an example, he pointed to the Dell Latitude 2100, a small low-cost notebook for schools. “Sales have been many times what we thought,” Dell said. “Schools just love ’em. It fits their applications perfectly. But as a general purpose notebook, it’s not really a great solution with screen size and performance.”

Dell’s company offers other netbooks for non-school types, including the Mini 10 and the Mini 10v. You could buy them here, but clearly, he doesn’t want you to.

So is what Michael Dell saying true or not? One point that was made is that Dell doesn’t want you to buy a Netbook because the profit margins are extremely slim for the company. Or is it that the Netbooks are a handy companion to a grown up laptop? I believe it falls somewhere in the middle. I have both a 17″ laptop that I use for blogging and my personal stuff, and a pint sized mini for traveling.

But on my last two trips I took my laptop. Yes, it is heavy, Yes, it is bulky, But I love the big screen and the full size keyboard. But I also like my Netbook. So for me a Netbook complements a laptop.

What about you? Which do you prefer?