Notebook Holiday 2009 Buyer’s Guide: Netbooks

by Reads (10,183)

This unique category of budget ultraportable laptops burst onto the scene in 2007 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

Toshiba mini NB205


Toshiba’s first consumer-oriented netbook in the United States, the Toshiba mini NB205, promises to be one of the hottest netbooks for 2009. Like most of the low-cost companion PCs available in stores, the mini NB205 helps you stay connected with a simple laptop that easily fits in a purse or backpack. This netbook certainly offers a lot with a nearly full-sized keyboard and touchpad and all-day battery life. At a price of just $400 ($350 street price) this might be a popular netbook for parents looking for a cheap school laptop.

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Acer Aspire One D250


Acer managed to strike gold in the middle of a global economic crisis thanks to their affordable Acer Aspire One netbooks. These low-cost, ultraportable laptops have quickly become popular travel companions for people who don’t want to haul a heavy notebook to Starbucks. The latest 10-inch Acer Aspire One, the D250 series, offers a great balance of features at a starting price of less than $300. If you’re looking for a low-cost laptop to take with you to the coffee shop then the Acer Aspire One D250-1165 might prove to be a very good choice.

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Samsung N120


The Samsung N120 is the company’s latest entry into the 10-inch netbook market. The N120 has typical netbook specifications but sets itself apart with an eye-catching design, light weight, and long battery life. The Samsung N120 should be high on the list for anyone in the 10-inch netbook market. At less than three pounds and with over eight hours of battery life, the N120 makes for a superb traveling companion. A stylish design, great screen, keyboard, and touchpad sweeten the deal.

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$400-$500

ASUS Eee PC 1008HA


ASUS created the “netbook” market with the original Eee PC, but the new ASUS Eee PC 1008HA Seashell might prove to be one of the best netbooks yet. With a new thin and light design and long life battery the 1008HE Seashell has a lot to offer for a modest price. Recently, the team at ASUS took the popular Eee PC 1008HA Seashell and made it even more attractive thanks to the inclusion of Windows 7, extra RAM, and more storage. Yes, you have to pay $480 for this “new and improved” version of the netbook, but it’s money well spent.

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Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2


The IdeaPad S10-2 is the latest generation 10-inch netbook from Lenovo offering the 1.6GHz N270 Intel Atom processor and a 6-cell extended battery. Lenovo redesigned this netbook to make it look slimmer and more attractive than its predecessor, giving the edges a rounded look and a more modern appearance. The IdeaPad S10-2 did quite well in our tests, showing consistently better performance results than the previous model. The design looks much cleaner than before, and with the black color scheme the netbook is visually excellent. Battery life was improved, no doubt due to the large extended battery that sticks out behind and below, giving us more than 7 hours in our battery test.

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Dell Latitude 2100


The Dell Latitude 2100 probably deserves a place on the shopping lists for most schools and maybe even some parents should consider purchasing this netbook for their youngsters. For between $400 and $600 you get a very rugged laptop that is easy to use and portable enough for kids to toss in a backpack. Extra features like the dual security lock slots, network activity light, personalized window over the battery, and optional mobile computing station will certainly prove very attractive to educators and parents.

Although Dell clearly had schools in mind when they designed the Latitude 2100, this netbook might honestly offer a little something for everybody. Individual consumers or businesses looking for a durable business-class netbook will likely be attracted to the Latitude 2100 for everything from outdoor activities to on-location training and customer service. Bottom line, despite the bulk and weight this is indeed one impressive netbook.
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Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include every netbook currently available on the market. This section of our buyer’s guide merely highlights some of the recent netbooks we’ve reviewed that our editors think deserve your attention. Be sure to take a look at the other reviews published on NotebookReview.com.

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