Netbook Recommendations

We’re thinking of getting a netbook as a family Christmas present, but we haven’t done much research yet. Does anyone have any recommendations, or things to look out for?

Buy from Staples. They have a good selection and remarkably good prices. I have no idea why.

I believe that’s their new slogan. :wink:

I have an Acer Aspire. I adore it, but I have small hands and the small keyboard doesn’t bother me, although I have read a lot of complaints about it.

It’s tiny and weights about 3lbs. It gets hot sometimes but not too terrible.

It doesn’t cost more to get it in different colors, like with Dells.

There are two things I don’t like. One is that there are no firewire ports (there are 3 USB), which was a pain with my old firewire iPod.

The other is that to upgrade the memory on this particular one is supposedly very hard to do yourself, or impossible.

It doesn’t need a memory upgrade necessarily with its 1 or 1.5GB, but I wouldn’t mind bumping it up a bit and I can’t.

Might as well have been. I went round to all the local stores last month because my desktop and monitor died more or less simultaneously. Staples was $200 less than any of the other places for the spec range I was looking at, and I got home and checked online and it turned out the specific laptop I got wasn’t available cheaper anywhere!

Also, they don’t charge a restocking fee if you return it. That’s worth my business. Fuck you, Best Buy.

Love my Acer Aspire. Mostly I just use it to surf and email, so RAM is not an issue.

I strongly recommend the one I have, a Samsung GO N310. It weighs 3 lbs. I chose it for two reasons:

  1. The keyboard is 90% full-size and I mostly wanted it for writing papers and fiction.

  2. The battery life is the longest I’ve found out there – the average life is reported to be about 9 hours, though I’ve yet to actually have it ever die on me so it’s hard to say how much longer it would last than that. Sufficed to say, it lasts at least 8 hours at full capacity, and I suspect it could last 10 on a good day.

There is no DVD drive, but I installed Word 2007 using an external DVD drive and it worked fine. I have no problem with video playback, sound, or anything. I take it class with me all the time to write notes, and I am the envy of my peers. I am using it now, in this very moment, even though I have a perfectly good desktop sitting 10 feet away.

I started out keeping it in a case but that has become unnecessary, it has an extremely tough, almost rubbery exterior and I can easily drop it in my purse without worrying anything is going to happen to it.

It cost $400.

My one regret: I do not recommend the Sunset Orange. Blech.

Wired really went ga-ga for the Samsing NC20 this year.

I recently bought an Acer Aspire. I went for it partly because from the reviews I’d read before hand, it was one of the few with the right hand shift key in the right place for touch typing. (The other one I’d heard about being the MSI Wind.) The other main reason was that I could get the laptop free with mobile broadband over here in the UK.

Read some online reviews. There a lot of new netbooks hitting the market. Acer scores OK but not fabulous. Most netbooks have extremely similar hardware feature sets so distinguishing them is more a matter of build quality, battery life and ergonomics than anything else, and some of the newcomers have substantially improved ergonomics, battery life, and a bit better feature sets over the Acer offerings. The Acer netbook keyboard is a particular point of hate it/like it contention.

Of all the units I’ve tried Lenovo (was IBM Thinkpad manuf) has the best netbook build quality. The latest Toshiba units have some amazing battery life specs, but are pricey. MSI Wind units are pretty good build quality and are value leaders. Re online stores Tigerdirect and Newegg have among the best net book selections.

I bought an Asus EEEPC 1000HE about half a year ago and I really like it. I haven’t looked into what has come out since then though, and this was one of the more expensive ones. It has a large keyboard which feels great to type on and has a great layout. I’ve compared it to the others’ keyboards and I definitely prefer this one. It also had the best battery - it’s supposed to last 8 hours and I can get about that out of it. It feels nice and durable, and I think the touchpad is great. It has multi-touch capability which I’ve found to be very useful and I wish more laptops had it. It also has a normal 160GB hard drive.

From what I can tell, the only areas that it is beat in by some others is size and weight (it’s a bit bigger and heavier than many), and price. I got mine for about $450 Canadian.

I got the Toshiba Mini NB205-N310 a few months ago, and totally love it.

I went netbook shopping yesterday and am leaning toward a Toshiba nb205-n325. The keyboard fit my fingers really well.

If you want long battery life, be sure to get one with a 6-cell battery (not 3), which are generally not the cheap specials you see in the stores. I ordered my 6-cell Acer Aspire One from TigerDirect, and it goes on and on like the Energizer bunny.

Also watch for the ones with 3 USB ports, not 2. Many of the cheapos have only 2.

You may want to get an external CD/DVD drive (netbooks have no optical drive) if you have software on CDs that you want to install (in my case, MS Word and Paint Shop Pro, maybe a few other things). The one I ordered uses 2 USB ports (bus power only, no AC adapter), but once your software is installed, you shouldn’t need it anymore.

Thanks everyone for the comments. We will go looking at some of these this week, so I’ll post again if I have any more specific questions.

Are there any netbooks that function as a GPS? I notice on the Dell site a mention that such a feature is coming soon to their netbooks.

I just bought a brace of MSI Wind U100’s for my kids for Christmas - I’m really impressed with them - the keyboard is particularly good.

And I’ve just ordered a Samsung NC10 for myself, which looks good on paper.

Just deployed a pile of 50 Acer Aspires for a school; three of them had keyboard failures out of box, and I didn’t much like the keyboard feel in general… it felt, well, cheap. But functional…

Now that I’ve quit programming, mostly it’s really the input and output that I care about: ie, typing, mousing, and the display. I picked up an Asus EEE PC model 1101HA, because it’s slightly on the larger side of netbooks and has a great display resolution, and the keyboard is a bit more solid feeling. Threw in an extra gig of ram and installed windows 7 immediately, and it’s been great-- a little slow on video processing, though. Gets 8-9 hours of battery running windows 7, reported to get 10-12 on xp.

Right now we’re leaning toward the hp mini 311-1033. It looks like its features fit right at the level we’re looking for.