2008 Notebook Holiday Buyer’s Guide: Netbooks

by Reads (11,233)

NETBOOKS | Ultraportables | General Use/Mainstream | Gaming and Multimedia | Business

This unique category of budget ultraportable laptops burst onto the scene late last year with the arrival of the ASUS Eee PC. Since then we’ve seen almost every major notebook manufacturer (and even a few newcomers) release low-priced “netbooks.”

Netbooks (also called “subnotebooks” or “mini notebooks”) lack the power of a traditional notebook computer, but have more than enough muscle to provide web access, handle word processing, and even play your digital movies and music files. Best of all, netbooks are smaller than most school textbooks and usually cost less than $600.

Netbooks aren’t designed to be your primary computer. Rather, they’re designed to be your “mobile companion” that provides quick internet access and basic computing needs whenever you need it. Most students who use a netbook in class will also want a full-featured notebook or desktop at home or in the dorm room.

Less Than $400

Dell Inspiron Mini 9


The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is an 8.9″ netbook with a $349 (Linux) or $399 (Windows XP) starting price and some impressive features.

The Mini 9 features the Intel Atom processor, solid state drive (SSD) storage, and a sleek design. Ultimately, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is a fabulous netbook that is sure to end up on many Christmas lists this year, but there’s also a lot of competition.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

Acer Aspire One


Weighing just 2.17 pounds and measuring 9.8 x 6.7 x 1.14-inches, Aspire one is lightweight and compact for easy travel. The Aspire one features an 8.9-inch CrystalBrite WSVGA LED backlit display with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels, a standard 3-cell battery or optional 6-cell battery, and a NAND flash module of 8GB with an additional SD card slot for smart storage expansion or a 120GB internal hard drive.

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$400-$500

MSI Wind


The Wind is another mini notebook in a field originally started by the ASUS Eee PC, but with one primary catch: At the time of launch it was priced well under the equivalent Eee PC. Now having a better price doesn’t always mean you are going to win in any given market, but the MSI really outdid themselves and created a great netbook.

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ASUS Eee PC 1000


The 1000 series of netbooks is one of the latest additions to the Eee PC family of mini notebooks. Featuring a 10″ display, Intel Atom processor, large hard drive, an a larger keyboard than any previous Eee PC, the 1000 series promises to raise the bar for this category of laptops.

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Lenovo IdeaPad S10


The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is a 10-inch netbook with a $439 starting price and some impressive features (such as an ExpressCard slot for expansion) that help place it a step above the competition.
The S10 combines the surprisingly capable Intel Atom processor with a standard hard drive. While budget SSDs are nice, most consumers can’t get over the limited storage capacity of SSDs and that is why hard drives still have a place in netbooks. On the other hand, the S10 still suffers from some of the same limitations as other netbooks: relatively high temperatures, small battery, and a cramped screen and keyboard. Ultimately, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is a great ultra-portable laptop priced below $500.

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HP Mini 1000


The HP Mini 1000 is the consumer version of the HP 2133 Mini-Note and has an Intel Atom processor, 8.9-inch or 10-inch diagonal display, 512MB-2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and a range of storage options. More importantly, it has the same keyboard used on the 2133 Mini-Note: the best keyboard we’ve seen on any of the netbooks currently on the market … something extremely important for students who are constantly typing notes or papers in class.

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More than $500

Dell Inspiron Mini 12


Dell recently introduced the latest addition to the Inspiron Mini family of “netbook” laptop computers: the Inspiron Mini 12. This ultraportable Internet companion promises to be at the top a many Christmas wish lists this year thanks to a solid combination of features and a low starting price. Like its counterpart the Inspiron Mini 9, the Mini 12 is ideal for anyone who surfs the Web, chats with friends or clients, blogs, streams content, or uploads photos to an online gallery.
Thanks to a standard 12.1-inch WXGA (1280×800) display and a nearly full-sized keyboard you can also enjoy online videos, music and games in ways that just aren’t possible with smaller netbooks.

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ASUS N10


Although ASUS technically claims the N10 is a full-featured notebook and not a netbook, the harsh reality is that the N10 is simply another netbook … but unlike most other netbooks the N10 has superior build quality and an impressive feature set.

The N10J has the same Intel Atom 270 1.60GHz processor that many netbooks have, but the available 320GB hard drive, Nvidia graphics and 2GB of RAM help to separate it storage and power wise from the smaller Eee PC.  Asus had enough confidence in this notebooks performance abilities that it went ahead and put Vista Premium or Vista Business on there as the OS.  There will be a downgrade option to XP for those business users whose organizations haven’t made the leap to Vista yet.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

Keep in mind this list doesn’t represent every great notebook currently on the market. Our holiday buyer’s guide is designed to highlight a few laptops we believe appeal to a wide range of people.

Remember, to get advice on which notebook to buy don’t just go with what’s popular, visit our What Notebook Should I Buy forum to ask what everyone else thinks you should buy based on your needs.

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