Netbooks Buying Guide
When you're looking for a laptop you've got a plethora of c...
Netbooks Buying Guide
When you're looking for a laptop you've got a plethora of choices out there when it comes to manufacturers, sizes, specifications and features, so it can be a very daunting task just trying to find the right one for you and that fits your needs. Within the last year a new type of laptop has emerged and became very popular, the Netbook, and it deserves it's own category as it's not really a laptop, but then again it is a laptop, for all intents and purposes. The Netbook has added more confusion to the already confusing task of buying a laptop, as really they are their own product in themselves, they've taken on a life of their own really.
Technically a Netbook is a laptop, at least in size anyway, but they're really not meant to be used as one. A laptop usually has a nice large screen, large capacity hard drive, numerous connections and a powerful CPU to enable the user to use it as a desktop replacement to work on the go. The Netbook on the other hand is an internet-centric device that is primarily for email and internet only, you can of course run office applications on them, but the screen on a Netbook averages between seven and ten inches, which makes it not the best for office type applications and getting 'real' work done. Most Netbooks have a low powered CPU that gets the job done, but is mainly for energy efficiency, Netbooks also usually have small capacity hard drives built into them, and normally they are SSD or Solid State Drives which aren't as fast as a standard hard drive is. The majority of Netbook users utilize the internet for most everything, they use applications that are online, like Google Docs for instance, and even save all of their information online as well.
The Netbook name even suggests internet, many people use them as a supplement to their regular laptops and desktops when they don't need to carry around a full sized, powerful laptop. The portability of the Netbook is what makes them so popular, they're small, and easy to take with you everywhere you need to go, and at this point in time it's very easy to find an internet access point to connect to check email and get work done.
So to help out with your decision in purchasing a Netbook, I've got a list of things you should consider when looking to make the purchase:
Size and weight: Obviously Netbooks are small, lightweight and are made to be portable, but they can vary in size as there is no real specification of the common size of a Netbook, every manufacturer has a different idea of what he size of a Netbook should be and many have different sizes themselves. Since small size is the main idea behind a Netbook, you'll want to find one that is small enough to meet you needs but yet handle the tasks that you need it to.
Battery life: Since a Netbook is a portable device you'll be using it on the go, so you want to concern yourself with the battery life obviously. Netbooks now come with three cell or six cell batteries, and there is word of nine cell batteries on the way soon to offer even more run time for the Netbook. This of course does add more overall weight, but not much, most people opt for the six cell types as they offer a nice balance of battery life and weight.
Storage: As I mentioned already most Netbooks come with SSD drives, these are great because there are no moving parts to worry about, but SSDs haven't caught up to the overall speed of conventional hard drives just yet. Many people complain of lag with these drives, and if the option is available they'll choose the conventional hard drive over the SSD type. Of course though with the conventional hard disk you're adding more drain on the battery so expect less battery life than you would get with an SSD in the computer. Also of course to consider is capacity of these drives, SSD drives have not yet reached the sizes of conventional hard drives, so if you think you'll need a lot of storage space you might want to opt for the standard style hard drive.
Ram: With ram or memory you're always better off with more of it, the more the better really, but many entry level Netbooks come standard with 512MB of ram, while this works, you can experience more overall improvement in performance if you opt for more ram in the Netbook. Ram is much faster than paging to the hard disk, be it SSD style of conventional, ram is still faster. I would suggest getting at least one gigabyte of ram, or more if possible if the Netbook allows it. Many people might decide to upgrade ram later after the purchase, due to the compact size of the Netbook though this can be a difficult task, and really is much more worthwhile to just get the ram size you want shipped with the Netbook when you order it.
Features and specs: A lot of Netbooks look very similar on the outside, but when comparing the specs and features, they can differ a bit, especially with the processors, included ram, HDD capacity, type of HDD included, operating system, screen size and even the other features like Bluetooth capability, and included ports available to the user.
Most Netbooks have many USB ports in anticipation of the end user utilizing many external devices, but there is no common number really, so if you anticipate the need for many UBS ports make sure you check to see how many are there.
Bluetooth is not a standard on Netbooks, it's usually on optional feature and on some it's not available at all. So if you use Bluetooth a lot then you'll want to check to make sure the Netbook you're intending on buying has this features built in.
Operating system: With Netbooks many of them have a variation of Linux on them, it's a smaller, faster OS, that is also essentially free, so the overall cost of the Netbook can be lowered. If you're a Windows user though you'll have to essentially learn how to use a Linux based computer, many people have no problem with this while others have a lot of difficulty making the switch. Of course though there are Netbooks available with Windows installed on them. If you feel you can handle learning a new operating system then go for the Linux flavored Netbook, if not get the Windows version, which of course will cost a bit more than it's Linux counterpart or equivalent will.
Manufacturer: Honestly Netbooks have been around for quite a while, just called Ultra Portable Notebooks, but many manufacturers now specialize in Netbooks, which are have become something totally different from the Ultra Portable Notebooks as they were originally. When Asus came out with the EEE PC, their's was essentially the first real Netbook and it's popularity has skyrocketed since the first one came out, and of course many other companies came out with similar products as well to get in on the action. Since this is sort of a new technology, companies that have followed Asus have come out with their own, and some of them have run into problems along the way, like very low battery life among other things. Personally I would buy from a company that has an established reputation for manufacturing Netbooks, they've got all the bugs worked out and they know what they're doing. I'm not saying others are bad, I'm just saying you might run into unknown problems with newer Netbooks on the market today.
Warranty: Netbooks are relatively cheap, but still you want to check the warranties on them, they are a portable device and thus will be subject to more stress by traveling than other technological products. Warranties will vary between manufacturers, and some might offer extended warranties, and even specialized ones as well. Considering you'll most likely be traveling with a Netbook often, you might want to consider the warranty and the overall service quality of the manufacturer, you never know when disaster might strike and you'll need to have your Netbook serviced.
Ease of Use: This one is a bit hard to really take a look at the only way you'll be able to tell how easy a Netbook is to use is to check out reviews and talk to other owners of similar products. Of course though since you'll most likely be taking a netbooks with you many places, I'm sure you'll want it to be easy to use, with a good keyboard layout and easy access to the expansion ports.
As with any product, but especially newer ones like Netbook, it's always best to do quite a bit of research on them through reviews online and through product ratings sites like TestFreaks. You'll learn quite a bit of valuable information about a product through it's reviews, especially with a Netbook, concerning, build quality, ease of use and battery life.Close
Newest Netbooks Reviews
Dell Inspiron Mini 10 reviewed, HP Mini 210-1142CL, Lenovo IdeaPad U260, Toshiba mini NB205 (NB20... See newest reviews
- Summary: The HP Mini 210-1142CL is an affordable, battery-efficient netbook, and it's available at Costco with a two-year warranty.
- Pros: Speedy hard drive. New Intel Atom platform runs on DDR3 memory. Big battery included. Outstanding battery scores. Aggressively priced. Nice keyboard. two-year warranty.
- Cons: Erratic click touchpad. Memory slots not easily accessible. Tired plastic look.
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- Excerpt: The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 offers a minimal design that's geared towards business users, but it looks really for almost anyone. The 12.5-inch display has a 720p HD resolution and you get an HDMI port for high-definition output. There's decent, but not excellent performance, thanks to a slower hard drive.
- Pros: Stylish, minimalistic design, Comfortable keyboard & trackpad, Good quality 720p display
- Cons: Only average performance
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- Summary: Toshiba’s more budget-friendly netbook has a more basic design, but it outshines the competition when it comes to its touch pad and battery life.
- Pros: 9.5 hours of battery life; Comfortable keyboard and large touchpad; Hard drive protection; USB port charges device when system is off;
- Cons: Lid attracts fingerprints; Large display bezel;
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- Conclusion: The Samsung NC10-14GB is a well-equipped netbook whose trimmings include a standard six-cell battery, but we'd like to see its price adjusted down to MSI's and Acer's
- Pros: 93 percent keyboard. 10-inch widescreen. Standard six-cell battery. Excellent battery-life scores.
- Cons: Touchpad is small. Price could be lower.
- Read Full Review