Since I’ve attended 3 conferences over the past month and a half, I have become acutely aware for the need of a smaller, lightweight notebook. However, with 3 computers in my house (and not being made of money), it’s hard to justify the expense of a brand-new top-of-the-line desktop PC or laptop. But a netbook, on the other hand, is both inexpensive and lightweight. The question now isn’t whether or not I should get a netbook, but which one? Once I started looking into this, I discovered there are tons of them out there. It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest. What I needed was a comprehensive resource. Not finding any to suit my needs, I decided to build my own based on the ones I’m considering.
Here’s what I have so far:
Asus Eee PC: Asus is responsible for starting the whole netbook trend in the first place. The current version of Eee PC, the 901, can run either XP or Linux and comes in 6 colors. The screen is 8.9” and has a resolution of 1024x600 pixels. The hard drive is a solid state drive (SSD) and is either 12GB (XP) or 20GB (Linux). Other features include a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1 GB of RAM, integrated webcam, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.0. Weight is 2.43 lbs and battery life is “up to” 8 hours, but Engadget says they only got 4.38 hours out of it. Price: $599
Asus S101: Another Asus netbook is the slim 0.7” thick, 2.2 lbs Asus S101. This portable has a 10.2” screen backlit with LEDs and a resolution of 1024x600. The XP model has a 16 GB SSD and Linux models offers both 32 GB and 64 GB models. Other features include 802.11n, Bluetooth, 1 GB of RAM, an Intel Atom processor, multitouch trackpad, 4-in1 card reader, 20GB free online storage, high quality speakers, and a 5-hour non-replace battery. It’s available in brown, champagne, or graphite. People are calling this one the ‘Macbook Air you can afford.’ Bingo. Price: $699 (XP), $699 (32 GB Linux); $799 (64 GB Linux)
Dell Inspiron Mini 9: This one is Dell’s first attempt at a netbook. Let’s see how they did. The Mini 9 is only 2.2 lbs and 9” long. The screen is a glossy 8.9” with an LED-backlit 1024x600 resolution. Like other Dell computers, you can get Ubuntu or XP pre-installed on either a 4, 8, or 16 GB SSD. Other features include an Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz processor, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, a 3-in1 card reader, Bluetooth, either a 0.3 or 1.3 megapixel webcam, and 2 GB of free online storage from Box.net. Battery life is only 3 hours. Comes in black or white. Here’s a great review. Price: $349 (Ubuntu), $399 (XP)
Note: If you’re looking to buy a Dell, it might be worth waiting for the upcoming Dell E Slim, rumored to sport either an 8 GB SSD or 40 GB HD with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and perhaps even WiMAX. (See a leaked pic on Engadget)
MSI Wind U120: The 120 is the latest in MSI’s netbook PCs, but won’t be out until December. The netbook will replace the older model, the U100. Specs are still somewhat speculative, but most are in agreement that the U120 will have the following: a 120 GB hard drive or 20/40 GB SSD, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a built-in 3G modem that accepts a SIM card. Beyond that, the U120 should be very similar to the U100: 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 10'’ 1024x600 display, 1 GB DDR2 RAM. Will it still have the U100’s 3-cell battery? Unknown, but the 3G might be worth waiting for. (img credit: Fudzilla) Price: Less than $600 (rumored)
Lenovo IdeaPad S10: Although netbooks tend to be for consumers, Lenovo, the maker of business PCs has jumped on this trend. The 2.4-pound S10 has a 10.2” 1024x600 LED-backlit screen, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 512 MB or 1 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ExpressCard, 4-in-1 card reader, 1.3 megapixel webcam, 2 USB ports, multitouch touchpad, and 80 GB hard drive. Battery is available either as a 3-cell (3 hours) or 6-cell (6 hours). Comes in black, white, or fire-engine red. But the best feature of this netbook is the price. Price: $399 (or $450 for 1 GB RAM + 160 GB drive)
Acer Aspire One: The 2.2-pound Aspire One is Acer’s first netbook offering. The portable offers an 8.9” 1024x600 display and comes with a choice of 80 GB hard drive (XP) or 8 GB SSD (Linux). Other features include a 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, ethernet, 3 USB 2.0 ports, one free mini PCI slot for WWAN, either a 0.3 or 1.3 megapixel webcam, and either a 3-cell or 6-cell battery for 2.5 or 5 hours, respectively. Comes in five colors (white, black, blue, brown, and pink). Price: $379 (Linux), $388 (PC)
Avaratec Buddy: The Averatec Buddy is a 10.2” netbook featuring a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1 GB DDR2 RAM, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Ethernet, a 1.3 megapixel webcam, a 4-in-1 multicard reader, three USB 2.0 ports, and a 160 GB hard drive. Has a 3-cell battery and comes in black and white. Runs XP. Price: $450
HP 2133 Mini-Note: The HP Mini-Note is 2.63 lbs and 1” thick with a 8.9” display. There are all sorts of configurations available starting with a Via processor, 512 MB RAM, Linux, and a 4 GB SSD for only $399. At the top end, the netbook runs Vista and include a 1.6 GHz Via processor, 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM, a 120 GB hard drive, a VGA camera, and a 6-cell battery ($799). However, one of the mid-range offerings might be the best fit like the 1 GB RAM/120 GB HD/XP option for $499. The prices on these just dropped, so they might be in for a refresh soon.
This isn’t a comprehensive listing, but just a few that I’m looking at now. I have to admit, this is a tough choice! Feedback appreciated.