Intro, reviews and info on the best netbook and mini notebook computer PCs by Asus Eee, Samsung, HP, Acer, Wind and Linux
Advantages, features and comparison
The last 12 months have been host to one of the largest shifts in the computer market since the emergence of the PC. Netbook sales are on the rise, and trends indicate that it will continue to climb at an impressive rate. In fact, some experts project that as many as 35 million netbooks will be sold in 2009, representing a 30% increase from 2008.
This spike in sales begs the question: what exactly is a netbook computer? With many students considering netbooks as they head back for classes, it is important for them to understand both their advantages and limitations when making a buying decision.
By definition, a netbook is a streamlined mobile device designed for the Internet, so you can stay connected on the go. Get up-to-date news, the latest scores and weather information, access your e-mail and social networking sites, and enjoy digital videos, photos and music. Netbooks may look like laptops, but they do not have the full capabilities of a computer. Instead, a netbook specializes in mobility and the Web, so it's great for travel or as a supplement to your main PC.
Several factors have allowed netbooks to capture close to 30% of today's PC market. Perhaps the most important is the recent movement to more Web-based applications. As consumer needs have shifted towards portability and "on demand" computing, developers have created Internet-based versions of their productivity software. Quicken, a program developed by Intuit that allows users to manage their finances, is a good example. Now available as a Web-based application, consumers only need access to an Internet connection in order to use the program.
Netbooks also represent the smallest and least expensive tier of laptop computers, making them even more attractive to a prospective buyer. Starting at about $250, netbook computers offer users an affordable option to meet a majority of their computing needs. Saving money is not the only advantage to netbooks. Easy portability is another advantage. At 2.5 pounds with screen sizes ranging from 8" to 10.2", they are easy to take travel with or conveniently store in a book bag.
Different from a traditional laptop
It is important to note some important differences between a netbook and a traditional laptop computer. Perhaps the most important is the absence of an optical drive on a netbook computer. Netbook users typically transfer data via a flash drive or external hard drive. But, netbook users are not prevented from accessing CDs or DVDs. External CD/DVD drives, connecting through the USB port, are a popular and simple add-on.
Another difference is the processing power that comes with a netbook computer. Designed for e-mail and Internet usage, manufacturers of netbooks usually include 1 GB of RAM. A single gigabyte may not sound like a lot, but for the typical netbook user this provides plenty of processing power. Manufacturers also understand that users do not need high performance graphic capabilities, because they are not using high-end games played on Xbox or Playstation 3 for example.
A compelling solution for students
Netbook computers are particularly attractive to students. Their portability makes them easy to carry around campus. They can easily run Microsoft Office and provide access to e-mail and social networking sites, such as Facebook. Their relatively low cost makes them even more appealing as the majority of students are juggling rising expenses with modest or no income, or less financial support from parents.
We wanted to find out which specific models of netbooks have been popular among students, and why. We interviewed Mike Friedman, Customer Solutions Manager at Best Buy in Doral, FLA.
Friedman responded that one of the most popular netbooks for students is the Asus Eee PC Netbook (model number 1005HAB-BLU001X). It features an Intel Atom processor, 1 GB of ram, a 10.2" screen, and a 4 hour battery life, running on Windows XP. Such features make the Asus Eee PC ideal for the most students looking for portability and ease of use. Other features such as the built-in Web cam, media card slot, and 160GB hard drive allow students to easily interact and share pictures and video on social networking sites. The Eee PC Netbook's 160GB hard disk provides ample storage room for those photos, videos and music tracks.
Friedman said that another netbook students are buying in good numbers at the Doral Best Buy store is the Acer Aspire One in Sapphire Blue (model number AOD250-1165). Appealing specs for it are built-in wireless networking, 3 hours of battery life, and plenty of storage space.
Even though students are a large segment of shoppers, Friedman added that they are also popular with business customers. A majority them have been asking for the Gateway L110 (model number LT3103u). He said the businesspeople like it because it provides more processing power and almost twice the storage capacity as the standard netbook computer. He continued that the L110's 250 GB hard drive provides enough storage capacity for plenty of presentations and documents, and its 2GB RAM allows applications to load faster and run smoother. Friedman said another attractive feature of the Gateway L110 is the 64-bit processor, ensuring compatibility with upcoming 64-bit applications. At $379.99 (as of publication date) the Gateway L110 LT3103u netbook is a smart choice for users who demand more from their netbook.