The netbook is quite possibly the single coolest innovation in consumer technology that we’ve seen in the last five years. For a good part of the last decade, manufacturers failed to deliver a cost effective, low-performance notebook that was assigned to important elements such as size and weight without costing an arm and a leg.
Today, with current prices on offer hovering around the $340 – $750 mark, netbooks are now well established in the market to become the dominant player in the notebook space.The birth of the humble netbook
It’s hard to believe that mini notebooks or ‘netbooks’, as they’re better known - haven’t been around longer. A new market for ultra-cheap and ultra-light notebooks (the netbook moniker hadn't yet been coined) was established almost a year to this day when Asus first unveiled the EEE PC 701 at Computex Taiwan on October 16th.
A little piece of tech history was created on that day; even though the model was hardly spectacular - the 4GB SSD was a step forward and the included Intel Celeron chip was perfectly servicable, proving that a light and cheap notebook was indeed possible. Fast forward one year and it seems that just about every major notebook manufacturer has since released a netbook, with the exception of a couple of big players including Apple and Sony – although we expect them to get their act together in this scene fairly soon. How big should a netbook really be?
It might be the oldest cliché in the book, but when it comes to netbooks – size does matter. The sweet spot among netbooks currently appears to be around 10 inches. For a while, the 9 inch netbook became quite popular (MSI wind, Acer One, etc), but with the recent news
that Asus may phase out their entire range under 10 inch and solely concentrate on the bigger size netbooks, we wouldn’t be surprised to see other manufacturers conform to similar specs in the near future. Remember the prediction here first: we think netbooks will be largely be dominated by a 10inch screen size in the foreseeable future.
Besides, the single greatest advantage that a 10 inch netbook has going for it is (in most cases) - a much improved keyboard. The Eee PC’s have never had great keyboards and it’s been a constant criticism of an otherwise perfect product. The latest Eee PC release, the 1000H, has a workable, noticeably enlarged keyboard for fat fingered users and that has to count for something. The price is right: this weeks results
Our search this week uncovered a couple of gems. The Acer Aspire One is currently our best bet for cheapest netbook with a decent spec. Although we’ve heard rather unkind reports about the Acer’s pitiful 3 cell battery life. The always dirt-cheap Shopping Square
has the Linux version for $458; an excellent deal for an Atom powered netbook any angle you try to spin it.
Still, XP fans will need to fork out an extra $32 for the Acer One at Laptopdiscount
to get the most out of having the sentimental windows favourite on board. But don't despair - it gets even cheaper. Acer currently have an advertised $59 cashback offer on the Aspire One, which would bring the total price of the Linux powered model closer to that unbeatable sub $400 mark - which is unbelievable value for an Atom powered netbook.
However, if a 3 cell netbook battery isn’t your to your liking, then we suggest the Eee PC 1000H/HD models. They provide extremely long battery life (6 cell – upto 7 hrs) and a much improved keyboard. It's a $145 difference between them, but the differences are debatable. Be careful to note the how similar the the models sound; the 1000HD is a cut down version of the 1000H (just to confuse, thanks Asus) and the 1000HD features a smaller 80GB HDD and a slightly slower 900Mhz intel processor.
The 1000H features a larger 160GB HDD with the Atom chip. For value, the HD shows good form, but probably won’t have the same battery efficiency without the Atom chip. The 1000H is probably the best netbook on the market presently and for that reason, it's hard to overlook. Organiser World
has the 1000H for $745 which is the best price we could find online.
Finally, if you’re trying to save money and wanna go dirt-cheap, it’s difficult to look past the original EEE PC 701. It’s ultra basic in spec and by comparisons to the others – feels ancient. But it’s very small (7”), light (around 900g) and was good enough to win gazillions of awards when it came out a year ago.Dirtcheapstores
has it for $341, and at that price, you can’t ask for much more than a web surfing/document reader anyway. It would make a great present for somebody who admires the space and weight saving. The contenders
We’ve included the main netbooks on the market; but not surprisingly, Asus still owns the scene.
Acer Aspire OneSpecs:
Intel Atom Processor (1.60GHz, 512KB L2 Cache)
Mobile Intel 945GSE Chipset (DDR2 400/533MHz), Windows XP Home, 8.9" WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixel resolution), 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 120GB Hard Drive, SD Carder, 802.11b/g wireless, webcam. Battery Type: 3-cell Li-ion.Weight: 985 gWhere? XP Version - Laptopdiscount
and the Linux version at Shopping Square Shopping Square RRP?
$699 (XP) and $599 (Linux)Best price?
$491 (XP) or $458.95 (Linux) - not including cashback offer.Any Bonus offers?
Yes. At Laptopdiscount, you can pay an extra $19.99 for an upgrade to 2GB RAM. Acer
is offering a $59 cashback for either model.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9Specs:
Intel Atom Processor (1.6GHz, 512KB L2 Cache), Windows XP Home,1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 8.9 inch display (1024X600), 16Gb SSD , 1.3MP webcam. Battery: 4 cell Li-on battery.Where? Dell Online Best Price?
$699Any Bonus offers?
Yes. You can upgrade to 2GB Ram using the customisation tool online.
MSI Wind U100(white)Specs:
Intel Atom Processor (1.6GHz, 512KB L2 Cache), Windows XP Home,1GB (DDR2),10” display (1024X600),80GB HDD, 1.3 MP web cam, 802.11b / g Wireless Lan with Bluetooth. Battery type: 3 cell Li-onWhere? Shopping Square RRP?
$579.95Any Bonus offers?
Yes. There is a 6 cell battery available for this model. Best to ask before you buy to make sure you know which battery you’re getting. (-- More Price Watch netbooks on Page 2)