Netbooks for 2009: 5 new releases tested and reviewed
Love or hate them, the Netbook is here to stay in 2009. We take a look at five new models: some are contenders and others are likely to be quickly forgotten.
2008 was a big year for the netbook. MSI had the mighty Wind
, which wound up as a fan favourite (especially since they included the 6 cell battery), while Acer had the Aspire ONE
, which won many supporters early on for its decent spec and attractive price (under $500 with cashback).
Although we didn't compare them directly against each other, our reviews this month include the eargerly awaited Dell Inspirion 9, Toshiba's long-awaited effor; the NB100 and Lenovo's Ideapad S10. Based on our latest benchmarks and ratings, they all sit in a cautionary Netbook grey area; these models lack the outstanding features of the best netbooks, but are not deliberately awful - they still get the job done.
Apart from HP and Asus, these are a fairly generic bunch of netbook releases and feel slightly undewhelming.
It might also be that most of these netbooks are being churned out by the same factory in China
with little thought given to long-term usabilty by the manufactuers, who seem ultra-keen to jump on the netbook bandwagon. Netbooks go mainstream: A look back
Asus brought us the original netbook with the world beating Eee PC 701
just over a year ago to this day. They continue to look very solid with their current line-up.
Look at how much has happened in a year since the release of the 701; Asus virtually pioneered the budget notebook catagory with several subsequent releases and attracted many imitators.
Thus far, Asus have managed to stay most resilliant and immune from the growing compeitive pressures of the netbook market by staying fresh with regular updates of their ever-popular Eee product. The best netbook on the market?
Asus managed to dethrone MSI and Acer in one swift blow with the release of the Eee PC 1000H
late last year - its improved keyboard size and 6 hours of battery life make it THE netbook to beat for functionality and performance. The 1000H is listed as one of the few netbooks in our elite A-list group. Yes, it's that
Critised early on for it's overly expensive price ($745 did seem a little overdone for a netbook), the 1000H has since been reguarly discounted online
- and worth a look.
HP's new Mini 1001TU
is an admirable contender for best of 2009 so far, but poor battery life (under 2 hours) lets it down considerably.
By comparison, the newly released Asus Eee PC 1000HE (seriously Asus - how many variations can you have of the Eee?) could be the one to watch when it hits Aussie shores later this year. Ultra battery life?
The 1000HE is claiming battery life of 9.5 hours at CES 2009
, which if true, could signal the start of the first truly efficent workday netbook
, with enough juice for an entire day at the office. Take that you pesky netbook underpeformers!
Even more exciting is the release of the Sony Vaio P
, which PC Authority Online editor William Maher is betting could be the one to watch this year. It looks amazing (16:10 screen and light weight remain strong points), but early pricing reveal it to be around $1500 when it hits in Australia, and this may have something to do with the flucuating exchange rates.How much should a netbook really cost?
Unfortunately for Sony, at that rumored price, its more of an luxury ultra-portable than a budget priced netbook.
Memo to Sony: You'll have to find a better way to reduce those production costs, because netbook pricing can make all the difference in this perilous financial crisis. In that respect, it's hard to consider any netbook over $799 these days on price principles alone.
Even so, 2009 is set to be a big year in netbooks. For now however, its still dominated by only couple of real players worth taking notice of. There's going to be an interesting case of netbook musical chairs happening this year and manufactuers will be keen to get hold of our hard-earned customer dollars. We'll keep you updated as the market plays out.
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