Netbooks: What are they, and which one should I get?

by Yale Nov 27, 2008 fileunderFound in Home

For those of you who don’t know much about the Netbook craze of 2008, here is a bit of history, and some tips on where to start if you’re interested in procuring one for you or your loved ones this holiday season:

Invented by Asus with their original Eee 701 design the basic netbook has 3 criteria: cheap, small and cheap. This generally meant the miniature laptops were underpowered. Made up of small 2-4GB solid state drives, 7" 800x480 LED backlit screens and 600MHz low voltage Celeron processors, the whole package was smashed together into a miniature enclosure that weighed a measly 2 pounds - less than half of a light laptop, and easily carried in one hand. This coupled with the fact that they were originally intended to cost only $199 US the basic 701 models were an instant success – despite hitting the streets at a much higher $299-399 price point.

2008 has seen an explosion in this market, and a complete evolution of the product. Customers demanded slightly larger, higher resolution models, driving the standard to an 8.9" 1024x600 pixel screen. More usable keyboard and increased battery lives also became a common request, and thus 10" models which allowed for wider bodies were introduced. Sadly, the central selling point of the devices – their cost – was ignored during this explosive growth.  Intel launched a new netbook CPU - the Atom - allowing for less heat and power consumption, and every manufacturer launched their own variation of the enhanced netbook – aiming for a $399 price tag, but more often than not falling short of this mark.

Today, many reasonable options exist. But for those looking for more, there is a netbook for every type of individual, ranging between 2 pounds and 3.5, 7” to 10.2” and between $250 and $800:

  • The Asus 701, or basic Acer Aspire One – a great option for browsing and checking e-mail in the living room.
  • The Asus 901 and 1000H – for the student or professional who is serious about mobile computing. These options implement the latest technology while lasting upwards of 6 hours on battery for all-day computing.
  • The upgraded 6-cell Acer Aspire One, Asus 900HA and 1000HA – for the individual interested in attaining the best price, while retaining most of the usability of higher end mobile units.
  • The HP Mini 1000, and its earlier iteration the HP MiniNote, or the Asus Eee S101 – ideal for the mobile professional who doesn’t wish to be chastised as an early adopter of ‘cheap’ and ‘weak’ ‘children’s toys’.
  • And of course, the Asus N10 – the only Netbook to date with a dedicated graphics card – an ideal pick for the mobile gamer that just can’t go an afternoon without a round of counter-strike.


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