by Allison Johnson
Last week, Kensington announced a line of Netbook Essentials. Featuring a netbook-sized mouse, neoprene sleeve, and security lock, the smaller accessories are designed to save space and travel lightly, just like your netbook. We road-tested three of these new peripherals to see how they perform.
Security Lock for Netbooks
The security lock is designed to travel with your netbook and, should the need arise, secure your computer to a desk or table. Most netbooks and notebooks feature a small notch somewhere along the hinge designed for a Kensington lock. Just wind the cord around a table leg, snap the lock into place, and scramble the numeric code. I had no trouble using the lock with the IdeaPad S10. The directions are easy to follow, and the lock feels fairly secure. Having a security device like this on hand isn’t a bad idea, especially with something as small as a netbook.
Wireless Mouse for Netbooks
The wireless transceiver is small enough to remain plugged into a USB port at all times, which cuts down the hassle factor of plugging and unplugging one more piece of hardware. The mouse itself is a bit larger than the Targus mouse, but still smaller than your standard desktop mouse. With slight curves on each side, it’s comfortable to grasp between the thumb and ring finger and should be equally comfortable for both right-handed and left-handed users.
The Kensington mouse works fine on most surfaces. It operated perfectly on the surface of my desk, but I ran into trouble using it at home on a wooden kitchen table with a light grain. My optical Microsoft Arc Mouse, using a class 1 laser, had no trouble on this surface, and neither did the mini Targus mouse. The Kensington mouse was unusable on the same surface. This might be excusable for a desktop mouse, but this one is designed to go anywhere a netbook can go. It’s a shame, too, because the mouse has a great ergonomic design.
Reversible 10-inch Netbook Sleeve
The netbook sleeve is constructed with stretchy, reversible neoprene. It’s a simple, clean look and a nice layer of scratch-protection for a little computer. The sleeve package specifies that it will hold up to a 10.0 inch netbook. Though the IdeaPad S10 that we used to test the accessories is, in fact, 10.2 inches, we thought we’d give it a go anyway. Apparently, that 0.2 inch makes a huge difference – we could barely wrestle the S10 into the sleeve. Though the S10 was possibly too big to begin with, we feel that this sleeve would struggle to accommodate the likes of any 10-inch netbook with a large battery on the back, so beware. This may be the perfect fit for a skimpy 8-inch Sony VAIO P, or older 8.9-inch and 7-inch netbooks, but it won’t do for anything substantially larger.
Each of the Kensington netbook accessories we tested meets high standards in terms of design. They’re well-built and attractively styled, but unfortunately, they didn’t perform to those high standards for us. The neoprene sleeve will be too small for many netbooks, and the mouse doesn’t function on all surfaces. The accessories are being sold individually through online retailers, so I would recommend picking and choosing carefully.
- Mouse is ergonomic, easy to use on completely flat surface
- Security lock fastens easily, compact for travel
- Sleeve fits smaller netbooks
- Mouse can’t be used on grainy wood surfaces
- Sleeve won’t fit larger netbooks
Pricing and availability
The Kensington Netbook Essentials are available for order through Amazon.com and Kensington’s website. MSRP for the wireless netbook mouse is $24.99; the security lock is $24.99; the netbook sleeve is $14.99.