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Summary:

Earlier today, I received a note from Mike, a jkOTR reader who recently got his hands on an MSI Wind netbook. Not just any Wind either; it was mine. Mike might have a little netbook fever now and he was asking my opinion on the best […]

msi-windEarlier today, I received a note from Mike, a jkOTR reader who recently got his hands on an MSI Wind netbook. Not just any Wind either; it was mine. Mike might have a little netbook fever now and he was asking my opinion on the best netbook for the price; in terms of value. Mike doesn’t have any specific requirements in terms of the hardware. He’s just planning to check e-mail and surf the web when out and about: basic tasks that a netbook is perfect for. He doesn’t even need a high-capacity battery since this is definitely a secondary device for him. Aside from those minimal requirements, he thought he’d occasionally upload photos or post to a blog using Windows Live Writer.

Of course, all I can do is offer an opinion: that and a buck will get you cup of coffee at McDonald’s. But that’s what he asked me for, so here’s my opinion on the best netbook for the money right now.

I ruled out any device with an 8.9-inch display in my thought process. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but the larger 10-inch screens represent nice “bang for buck”. You can always upgrade some components, like memory or storage capacity, but you’re generally stuck with a screen size for the life of a device. This pushed the current Acer Aspire One, the Dell Mini 9 and some of the Asus Eee PCs out of contention.

I then took a peek at the starting prices of the more well-known brands: the Lenovo S10 and the HP Mini 1000, for example. For a Windows XP version with a 10-inch display, you’re looking at around $349 for the Lenovo and a little more for the HP. Each offers the minimal but usable 512MB of RAM but they differ greatly in terms of storage capacity. The HP offers an 8GB SSD drive while the Lenovo provides a very generous 80GB drive for nearly the same price. Both devices offer a three-cell battery, a webcam and WiFi, so there’s minimal to no difference there.

I see that Amazon has my MSI Wind available for $349, which is nearly the same price as the HP and Lenovo. Spec-for-spec, it generally compares equally to those two netbooks with the 3-cell battery, but it bumps the storage up to a 120GB hard drive and provides a full 1GB of RAM. That may not be required, but remember, I’m looking at value here, which I roughly equate as price-for-specification in this case.

For another $40 on Amazon, I think I have the current value winner: the Asus Eee PC 1000HA. It generally offers the same base specs, but ups the hard drive to 160GB. That alone might not be worth the extra $40 over the MSI Wind, but the kicker is the battery. The 1000HA at $388.50 includes a 6-cell battery. Again, it might not be what Mike needs, but these specification bumps for not much additional cash are worth it in my opinion. Of course, some online shopping might yield lower prices, which could easily change the analysis. Additionally, I’d never recommend anyone buy a consumer electronics device this close to CES. Although unlikely, you just might find a newer, better or less expensive option announced this week.

The good thing about opinions is that they’re never truly right or wrong. That’s why I welcome yours here: what would you tell Mike to buy, and why?

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  1. I’d go with either the MSI Wind or the Dell Mini 9 as their both Hackintosh friendly.

    http://gizmodo.com/5112909/boing-boing-gadgets-hackintosh+netbook-compatibility-chart

  2. I bought an MSI Wind in Dallas and am extremely happy with it. I got the last one they had in the store at the time. The store (Micro Center) manager said they sell like hot cakes. He cannot keep them in stock. If you cannot find a Wind than I would recommend the ASUS 1000HA (A is for Atom processor). I would also strongly suggest going with 6-cell since that seems to be the most common complaint among existing netbook owners. you can thank me later.

    MSI Wind Netbook (U100)
    1.6Ghz,1GB DDR2,160HDD,Bluetooth,6-CELL

    BTW, the word “Netbook” is printed on the computer and its carrying case !!! Please don’t call this machine a notebook or mini-notebook.

    1. relax its not a bog deal what people call them. dont go crazy over something stupid

  3. Kevin C. Tofel Monday, January 5, 2009

    jwang392, I’d agree with you if OS X is a requirement. I had it running on my MSI Wind a few months ago and it handled it like a champ. Now that there are OS X drivers for the Realtek WiFi chip, it’s even better. BTW: congrats on your completion of the Honolulu Marathon! That’s an outstanding achievement! I’m thinking of a marathon comeback since I haven’t run one since Chicago in ’99: 3:19:58.

    AndyT, I bought the 6-cell version of the Wind and I don’t think I’ve regretted it yet. Good advice.

  4. Samsung NC10. Great keyboard, full size enter key, multitouch trackpad, 10″ screen, 7 hours battery life.

  5. It’s a little more money (currently $479 at Newegg), but the Samsung NC10 is just a terrific machine. Great build quality, top-notch keyboard, beautiful screen, 160GB hard drive, and supremely excellent battery life of close to seven hours. You don’t hear about it as much as some of the other netbooks out there (they probably haven’t sent it out to sites like this one for reviews), but I can’t praise it enough. It’s just in another league from the other netbooks I’ve seen.

  6. @DP – Spooky! lol.

  7. i’m always a backer of the MSI Wind since well i own one too.

    had a first-gen ASUS EEEpc and really didn’t like the smaller 8.9″ lcd and keyboard. plus, having a usuable kb, bluetooth, wifi, webcam, mic, and an SDHC reader are essentials in a netbook imo.

    i opted for a third-party 6cell and so far am very happy with it (get about 4hours in vista)

    but the NC10 is sounding pretty nice and seems to be the big bang if you want the longer battery and willing to shell out a few more bucks (not sure if teh NC10 has bt though, bt was essential for me since i tether to a mobile via it).

    pick your poison.

  8. Kevin C. Tofel Monday, January 5, 2009

    Good point on the Samsung as it’s a nice device. I kept it out of the post because it’s nearly $100 more and I was focusing on value. Does the extra 2 hours of battery life justify the additional cost? Tough call and the answer will vary depending on who you ask. Still, well worth the mention for consideration!

  9. I have been quite happy with the 8.9″ screen on my EEE 901, and I prefer netbooks with SSD’s as opposed to HD’s but I do agree that if you can go from a 3 to a 6 cell battery for less than $50.00 you should do it. IMHO, battery life is what makes a Netbook great. Third party batteries are often a) really expensive and b) not a “perfect” fit for the computer.

  10. Jonathan Greene Monday, January 5, 2009

    Loving the NC10 after only a few days … this little machine packs a serious punch. I’ve got mine triple booting with Win7, XP and OSX (still sorting out my networking) and really think this is the one to beat. I know it costs a bit more, but it is well worth it.

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