All about netbooks

Netbooks have taken the portable computing world by storm. Simply put, a netbook is a trimmed down version of a laptop computer, ideal for browsing the internet, e-mailing and watching low quality movies, but not much else.

You will find that the internal specifications of netbooks hardly vary; however, the level of performance and price does change a fair bit.

The biggest thing to remember is a netbook is not a laptop. If you need a fully featured laptop, you should not buy a netbook.

Netbooks are only designed to fit limited tasks, and if you try to push them beyond their capabilities you will be disappointed.

Many consumers are still trying to get their heads around netbooks, which have only really been on the open market for about two years. The questions one might ask: what is the point of getting a netbook? Should I get a netbook or a traditional laptop? What are the best netbooks on the market? What are the pros and cons of getting a netbook?

To help you learn a bit about the emerging netbook market, let’s take a look at some of the top current models and see what they have to offer.

Samsung N310

This upcoming model from Samsung is said to be the most beautiful netbook ever created. Featuring Apple Mac-style elements, from the curved and raised keyboard to the stylised rubber cover, this really is a stunning computer.

Under the hood is an Intel Atom N270 processor, a 10.1-inch screen, 802.11g wireless, three USB ports and an SD card reader.

For the most part this is pretty standard componentry, but with the neat wrapping it could be a winner.

There is a potential drawback with battery life, which has been rumoured to be sub par.

Dell Inspiron Mini 10

Sitting in the middle of the price range for netbooks at $799 is the Mini 10, a reasonable effort from Dell that will hopefully get better with an updated release in the second part of 2009.

This unit features a 10.1-inch screen, a 160GB hard drive, wireless N and comes in a range of colours.

But on the downside it only has 1GB of RAM, does not have WWAN and is currently only available in a three-cell battery option.

It is expected that these three problems will be rectified with the mid-year release, which may be a great time to pick up one of these netbooks.

Toshiba NB200

Sitting close to the top of the heap for value and quality, the Toshiba NB200 can be bought for $949, or you can get a reduced feature version for $799.

The spec is as follows: 160GB hard drive, three USB ports, Ethernet, SD card reader, VGA out, 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless.

As is the netbook standard, a 10.1-inch screen captures your attention, and this one is good quality.

One of the real attractions of this model, however, is its longer than usual battery life. Even at full bore it will last more than 5 hours – a significant improvement on most of its competitors.


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