A Quick Guide to Netbooks


Asus Eee PC What a difference a year makes. It was only 10 months ago when the first true netbook, the original Asus Eee PC 701, hit the market. The Eee was a ground-breaking little computer but had a few flaws, the biggest being the limited 800×480 display. Today there’s an overwhelming array of low-cost but highly portable and efficient little laptops.

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Each is a full-featured notebook with displays in the 7- to 10-inch range and all are easy to tote around. Nearly all offer several USB ports, a webcam, LED backlit screens, integrated speakers, Wi-Fi and more, so there are very few differentiators. But the many choices in this nascent netbook market can overwhelm, so below is a quick hit list of popular models along with some basic information to help you decide which one might work best for you. [digg=http://digg.com/linux_unix/A_Quick_Guide_to_Netbooks]

  • Asus Eee PC: The one that started it all has blossomed into over a dozen models, ranging in size and features. You can pick and choose between hard drive-based units or those that offer limited-capacity, Solid State Disk flash modules. Asus offers a simple and effective custom Xandros Linux build, but supports and offers Windows XP as well. Early models use Intel’s Celeron CPU but Asus is transitioning to the newer Intel Atom, which is becoming the de facto netbook standard. Expect to pay between $299 and $599 for a netbook from the Eee PC line.
  • HP Mini-Note: As you can see in our video review, we were very impressed with this 2.8-pounder from HP. Although it’s the one non-Intel netbook available, the VIA C7-M processor handles most tasks fairly well. And while the Mini-Note comes in a single size, it’s not one size fits all: You can configure the hard drive capacity, processor speed, memory and operating system. SUSE Linux, Windows XP and even Windows Vista Business can be had. The HP stands out from the pack with its higher resolution screen; it fits 1280 x 768 pixels into the 8.9-inch screen. Current prices range between $499 and $829.
  • Acer Aspire One: This 2.1-pound netbook approaches more of a sweet spot in terms of pricing: The Linux version is $329, while the XP model is only $20 more. Acer includes a lite build of Linpus Linux, which I found to be great for quick, out-of-the-box computing, but most people would be better served with the XP edition. The incremental extra price also includes twice the memory (1 GB vs. 512 MB) and a faster 120 GB hard drive instead of the slower 8 GB of flash memory. Even at this low price, there’s plenty to like about the Aspire One.
  • MSI Wind: The 2.6-pound Wind from Taiwan is very similar to the higher-end Asus model; in fact, the specifications are nearly the same, as is the price. For $599, you’ll get a 10.2-inch display, Windows XP and a 6-cell battery, which should offer double the run-time over most other netbooks as they use a 3-cell battery. Only this model and the Acer Aspire One offer a full-sized and correctly placed Right-Shift key, something very important to touch-typists. I personally returned my Acer and ordered a Wind partly for this reason, as well as for the fact that the Wind includes integrated Bluetooth for my wireless mouse.

There are other netbooks on the horizon as well. Lenovo has already announced their Ideapad S10 and Dell is expected to enter this market with a small Inspiron model rumored to start at $299. Essentially, these models are very similar to what’s currently available. In fact, there are very few differentiators amongst the crowd. Price is probably the most compelling, followed by the feature set. In my own experience, I’m finding that the Linux implementations are a third factor. While many netbook makers are offering custom Linux builds for simplicity, they have to balance that with the ability for the everyday consumer to add, extend and customize their own experience. Regardless, after using a low-powered computer and just the web for 60 days, I’m convinced that netbooks are well on their way towards becoming personal cloud computers.

Related Research: The Future of Netbooks


Pink Laptop

There really are some great netbooks out there and choosing the right one is quite tricky, but you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. My personal favorite is the dell mini 10.


Does anyone know if you can hook up a Netbook “Emachine” to a data projector?

james braselton

hi there what i like about the eee pc eee keyboard hp netbooks dell netbooks is that you can buy them with solid state flash drives not hard drive lets see hp 311 has a optional 80 gb ssd the 2111 netbook from hp can opt for a 128 gb ssd the eee keyboard has a 16 gb ssd or opt for 32 gb ssd but ssd standard about 50% of eee pc have ssd standard the alien ware 11 have a 256 gb ssd optional dell has a dell 10 series with a 32 gb ssd with xp or 16 gb ssd with linux


Eventually I’ll get one of these things but for now I’m waiting for some friends who are getting Netbooks from Acer, Asus and HP and I’ll get to try them first!


Seems the post is bit outdated, in fact i needed some help to choose a netbook, I have a big enough dell dual boot[vista/ubuntu], but now I need an extra piece of hardware to run windows as I plan to convert my dual boot to ubuntu only for work , but unfortunately my necessary tools like google talk, some other voip software don’t work in it. I am looking for something with a decent webcam, also at a cheap prize, without compromising much on the quality.


Netbooks are a late arrival and are really behind the times, look at what I have been using for years now. A Sony Vaio PCG-U101. It was good on performance when I bought it; however, with all these netbooks can’t do much better when it comes to screen resolution, my smaller display had 1024×768. Now, I would like a netbook with a display of at least 1280×1024, but what is the best that they offer 1600 x 768, ug. A wider screen but I also want a bigger picture up/down. A Vaio P has an 8″ screen, my screen is 7.1″. So, now you all know what the draw back is about these netbooks.

BTW, my U101 is dual bootable Windoze XP/Slackware, and Slackware is not scaled down.

So, when will the rest of the world realize that they want a higher resolution? Lets see its taken about 7 years for sub notebooks to catch on, even though they are not quite as small, hmm.

sarki indir

I don’t feel like spending the extra money for the extra hardware to make Windows run at half decent speed. On the other hand, I can strip down Linux to the bare necessities to make it run faster on that same limited hardware.


The ability to extend, customize and add to linux based machines is far greater than any windows box. For instance, lets just look at the verizon usb727 broadband modem. With windows you must install a driver and special software to use the device while the linux based machine is pure plug&play. The modem works right out of the box. There is no need for anti virus software as well which hogs resources on any windows box.

Mike S

I just finished a new product for netbooks called the NetBook Riser. It raises your netbook for better viewing and reduces heat.

Abner Noyce

I’ve been watching the netbook market for a while now. I finally got a really good deal on an ASUS EeePC 1000HE at http://tiny.cc/1TZsO. Aside from the small size and light weight, the biggest deal is the battery. I can go 8+ hours on a single charge, which really transforms the usability.


Really nice choice Abner. Especially its battery life is very good for people who will use netbooks away from home uses.


You’re right Abner, the 1000HE is excellent.

Unbelievably, Asus has now bettered themselves with the 1005HA – it’s got a 10.5 hour battery life (we know in most cases it won’t last that long, but it’ll run for a fair bit longer than most!) and clamshell design. It’s Atom 280 based, with the usual memory / hard disk specs. Can get it at Amazon for similar price as 1000HE (link here).

I’ve recommended it to the readers on my blog because there’s nothing more frustrating than having the battery die on a long journey. Hopefully this will make it a thing of the past!

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