Netbook Roundup

March 27th, 2009

Right now the hottest term in computers is Netbook, it's a combination of Internet and Notebook, and generally refers to laptop computers that have smaller than a 10” screen. For the most part, Netbooks are primarily used for browsing the Internet, email and intended to be small enough to take anywhere. There is a sacrifice to be made with them, and that is generally in terms of a much slower processor compared to a full sized laptop, smaller hard drives, less RAM and usually a condensed keyboard. Most Netbooks come in well under $500 though, so they are attractive to someone who needs to accomplish a little more than their Blackberry or iPhone can do, but doesn't' want to haul their full sized laptop around. Some interesting features on Netbooks coming out also include facial recognition software for security, built in card readers and built in 3G Internet connections though various mobile cellular phone services. Following is a roundup of some of the most popular Netbooks on the market today. MSI Wind Among the leaders of the pack is the MSI Wind U123H. With a 10” screen, it boasts one of the largest native resolutions of 1024x600. Compared with a 13.3” MacBook that runs at 1280x800, you realize you're getting a lot of screen real estate for 10”. Other key features are an Intel Atom 1.66GHz processor, 1GB of onboard DDR2 RAM, a built in web cam for video chat, 4 in 1 card reader, 3G communication and Bluetooth. One of the most appealing aspects of the Wind is that it utilizes a standard sized 2.5” SATA internal hard drive, available in 80, 120 or 160GB configurations. This dwarfs some of the other Netbooks. All of this does come at a slight tradeoff though, weighing 2.2 pounds fully loaded, it's slightly heavier than the competition. Dell Inspiron Mini 9 The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is one of the better known Netbooks with prices ranging from $249 for the entry level unit running Ubuntu Linux to well over $500 for a fully loaded unit with Windows XP. You'll find a smaller screen than the MSI at only 8.9”, but the same 1024x600 screen resolution. Additionally, you will find the same DDR2 memory in the Mini 9, but only 512mb, no card reader, no 3G mobile broadband and a meek 8GB hard drive. In fairness, it is a solid-state hard drive, so battery life should be long (over 6 hours), but 8GB is barely enough to do, well anything with. Dell's buying power and selling volume helps keep their prices lower than most others, but the lack of extra features is enough to make the lesser-known competition look really interesting. Acer Aspire One One of the most customizable and feature rich laptops is the Acer Aspire One, available in 8.9” or 10.1” configurations with enough options to make your head spin. Acer offers dozens of pre-configured models so it should be possible to fill your needs with just about anything they offer. The 8.9” version sports the same 1024x600 screen resolution as the Mini 9, comes pre-loaded with XP Home or the lesser known Linux distro Linpus, options for 120GB / 160GB SATA hard drive or 8GB / 16GB solid state drive, a slightly slower 1.60GHz Intel processor, 512MB of RAM, built in webcam, 3G connectivity and multi card reader. Depending on the configuration you get, battery charge times should last between 2.5 and 4 hours, and prices can range from $299 - $600+. HP Mini 1000 The heaviest Netbooks of the bunch are the HP Mini 1000 collection, available in several different configurations, they start tipping the scales at 2.3lbs and go up from there. HP has done something unique in that they've rolled out their own operating system of sorts, called Mi, short for Mobile Internet, built on top of Linux. The goal is obviously to reduce the overall cost of the Netbook, but the buyer might not be ready to try a whole new interface, and just spend the extra money to get it loaded with Windows XP. Powered by Intel Atom processors, only having 60GB SATA hard drives as an option and lack of some of the other featured packed Netbooks out there, Mini 1000's are the most lackluster of the bunch. It has a reader for SD cards, no 3g, no webcam and a weight that is 20% greater than most other Netbooks. Asus Eee PC If there was a grandfather to the Netbook revolution it would be the Asus Eee PC, offering cheap, small, feature rich Netbooks to the masses. Since their initial launch they've continued to lead the way in Netbooks, offering them in countless variations from 7, 9 and 10” versions, SATA and solid state hard drives, card readers, mobile broadband and battery life in some models that will exceed 8 hours. The Eee PC comes with Linux or XP operating systems and most feature the standard 1024x600 screen resolution. Prices also vary from sub $300 to well over $600 depending on configuration. Accessories The one thing that all of these Netbooks have in common is that they were not designed to be a primary computer. For the most part, they are intended to be a secondary, on-the-go computer to help you be more productive than a smart phone without the bulk of a full sized laptop. Since most Netbook users will have a need to offload data onto their primary computers on a regular basis, IOGEAR makes a USB Laptop KVM Switch with File Transfer. It allows the user to seamlessly control a secondary computer with a laptop as the console. An onscreen menu system allows you to easily transfer and backup data from one computer to the other and an extra USB port allows for another peripheral to be connected, such as an external hard drive. Add an IOGEAR Wireless USB Hub and Adapter and you can put up to 30 feet between your Netbook and other devices, such as printers, scanners or external hard drives, to help eliminate cables and clutter. The Wireless USB Hub and Adapter will give you the freedom to move around your home office with your Netbook and still use all the devices you normally would.



About the Author

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IOGEAR enjoys long walks on the beach and romantic getaways. While not traveling, IOGEAR enjoys a great game of shuffle board whilst playing the banjo.