Netbook Buying Guide
With the low price and ultra portability of the newest generation and type of laptop called netbooks it is easy to see why they have become so popular. As such every manufacturer seems to be entering this market which has led to an amazing amount of choices. Netbooks themselves come in a wide range of features and prices so we have created this buyers guide to assist you in making a selection to meet your personal needs. To do so we have created a list of questions and features for you to choose from which will help you focus on which netbooks most closely match your needs and budget.
Current generation netbooks have feature sets that compete very well with full sized laptops. Netbooks can come equipped with just as much storage, high speed wireless, biometrics, a webcam, USB 2.0, bluetooth, HDMI, and much more. So really it becomes a question of how much do you want to spend and what size/weight notebook are you preferable to?
So what is the real difference between a netbook and a notebook? Take a look:
Thanks to Michael Lynch and Matthew Homan for the demonstration.
Which laptop do you want to carry through three airports or take on a trip?
- Screen Size: Standard Screen sizes on all current generation netbooks range from 8.9 to 10.2 inches.We consider anything smaller than 8.9 inches to be to small to effectively use for regular computing. Netbooks are intended to enable consumers to browse content online and do light computing. Screens smaller than 8.9 inches do not provide an acceptable computing experience. Resolutions on netbooks tend to range from 1024 x 600 to 1280 x 768.
- Processor: Currently 90% of all netbooks use the Intel Atom 270 running at 1.6GHz. The Intel Atom 270 is hyperthreading enabled and provides just enough power to standard applications that most users will need. The other popular alternative is the Via C7-M and soon to be released Via Nano.
- Hard Drive (Storage): All laptops and netbooks employ either SSD or standard rotational hard drives as storage. While SSD's typically have faster read/write times and longer battery life they also come with a few trade-offs being price and overall storage capacity. Standard included netbook SSD's max out at 64GB so if you need more storage space you must select a traditional hard drive equipped system. In some of these systems the SSD is not upgradable. Note: Remember to allot space for your programs and files when selecting a netbook.
- Operating System: In an effort to try to reduce the pricetag and market netbooks to a larger consumer base they come with a variety of operating systems as alternatives to Windows. Almost all netbooks are offered with Linux as well as Windows XP and some come with Vista Business.
- Keyboard: As your main method of interaction and data entry the keyboard is of utmost importance. Being ultra portable and small laptops the keyboard and screen are the first areas impacted. Some netbooks have nearly fullsize keyboards such as the HP 2133 while others like the original Eee PC's had very small almost toy like keyboards making data entry difficult. As such it is important to take note of the size and layout of the keyboard.
- Weight: As one of the primary reasons for getting a netbook, weight should play a big factor in determining which netbook you select.
- Battery Life: Even though netbooks utilize low power CPU's with no optical drive built in and much smaller screens the battery life for the most part is not significantly longer than traditional laptops. This is because the batteries in them are also smaller due to weight, price, and design issues. These concerns aside you can expect an average of 4 hours battery life all the way to 8 hours on the high end and 1.5 to 2 hours on the low end.Depending upon the specific vendor you will want a netbook equipped with a 6 cell battery leading to much longer life.
- Price: Netbooks can be found for as little as $200 and as much as $999 (USD) with the average netbook costing approximatelty $400 to $450. For this price you can expect a 10 inch model equipped with wireless N, bluetooth, and at least 160GB of standard hard drive space. If SSD's appeal to you more than the same $450 will get you the same specifications along with a 16GB SSD.
A Word on Warrenties:
It still amazes me how often I am asked if getting a warrenty for a netbook is a good idea. If you are purchasing on the low end of the scale ~$200 to $400 a warrenty for your netbook may be a waste of cash. Typically netbooks come with a 1 year warrenty, the exception being the Asus N10 which has bumper to bumper accidental damage coverage of 2 years for simply filling out a registration card. A warrenty can cost you as much as 1/2 the price of the netbook or more which considering the replacement cost for a NEW netbook which will probably perform better you may be better served saving your cash towards the replacement. If your netbook dies within the first year it is more than likely covered by the standard warrenty after which if it dies your worst loss is probably the data which most companies dont cover. Save your self the money and buy a large USB drive and store your data on it instead.