Netbook recommendations?

The netbook market (which I understand has been largely supplanted by tablets) appears to be a wriggling mass of cheap garbage masquerading as the “barebones but serviceable” device I’m looking for. Most offerings on Amazon have only a few customer ratings each because the market is so saturated with a billion different models of the same basic design. It makes it difficult to get a good idea of the relative value of any given one.

I’m wondering if anybody has any suggestions. My needs are pretty basic. I want:

  • Windows.
  • Full-sized keys, or thereabouts.
  • An SSD.
  • Relatively, but not necessarily ultra, light.

I don’t particularly care about:

  • Playing games.
  • Astounding battery life.
  • A touchscreen.
  • A ‘two in one’ design.

I’m really not looking for much more than something to surf the net on while watching TV, but I do want an actual laptop and I do want Windows so that I can do basic productivity stuff while traveling. This leaves tablets and chromebooks off the table. I’d like to spend around 300 dollars. Less would be better.

Anyway, does anybody have a netbook that they really like? Know of any good ones? Bueller?

As you’ve stated, netbooks are a thing of the past. I owned several Asus netbooks (even installed Windows 7 on a couple of them) before tablets became affordable and they all paled in comparison to even my cheapest laptops and tablets.

It’s not a netbook, but I have two of these:

Insignia Flex 11.6" Win 10 tablet. I got them from eBay for less than $90 each, one refurbished, the other a return. Both work perfectly fine as tablets, but the keyboard on the returned one is picky about the position of the screen/contacts. Note that you’ll need to at least a 11"" screen to get anything close to full size keys. I also have a 10" Asus T-100 with Win 8 and the keys are still slightly too small.

Both are heavy for their size, in part because they have aluminum rather than plastic cases which is actually a good thing because of better heat dispersion.

To get something with a real (i.e. removable/replaceable) SSD rather than soldered on board, you’ll have to get a laptop as the light weight and size of a netbooks doesn’t allow for a regular SSD.

BTW, I agree in not getting a Chromebook. I got a cheap one and despite months of trying to make it useful, it just doesn’t do anything that my laptop and tablet doesn’t do much better.

Which leads to what I would do if I were to travel. Get a cheap 14-15" laptop and a tablet. Use the laptop for “productivity stuff” and the tablet for videos and web surfing. I’ve tried using my Insignia and Asus for Word and Excel, and not only is the screen too small (even the 11.6" Insignia), but they’re too slow for any real work, especially with Excel.

I got the Asus as a cheap alternative to a Surface, but it’s just sitting on the side now. Plus it’s Win 8.1, uggh. The two Insignias I got and use as comic book readers since they’re the perfect size, slightly less so for graphic novels.

That’s tough. My wife has a Chromebook type thing that seems to have Windows on it but the SSD is so small it’s really just almost unusable for much of anything. She had trouble even updating it at times. Just a terrible purchase on our part back then but she was trying to figure out if she would want to have something like that so at least it was an inexpensive foray into that world. She really only likes using her phone to get online. She has a tablet, but only for watching shows she likes and disappearing into her own little world at times.

I had a cheap Asus laptop that was about $300 that I got at Best Buy. I wonder if you might not be able to just go get a cheap laptop and if it would hit enough of your high points for you. Mine didn’t have an SSD, but that was also a while ago so options may be better now. I eventually broke down and got a nicer Dell laptop with bells and whistles that I needed for other more resource intensive things.

I just looked on Best Buy and there are some cheap laptops under $300 with doable specs for someone not doing a lot but surfing the web and a little basic computing. The only kicker is that I don’t see any SSD’s. Some have massive storage but not solid state.

Is your primary “netbook” desire something that’s small in length x width or something that’s closer to full-sized but light? The former is taken over by tablets and the latter by “ultralight” laptops. But I guess an ultralight recommendation wouldn’t help if you wanted a 10" screen.

Hey, I was just on a site I visit daily and noticed some refurbs if you’re amenable to that. Some of these have SSDs and decent specs. There are a couple in your price range.

The “standards” for refurb electronics on Woot is notoriously low. I would strongly advice going there.

If you want good refurb laptops, check out the manufacturers’ web sites.

I have a Dell XPS 13. About 2 years old. I use it for surfing the net, sending emails and what have you. It lives on the coffee table in front of the TV. So I use it the way you would. I love the thing. But it’s more than you want to spend.

Good to know. I’ve bought refurbed cameras there with no issues but never computers.

I’m not too concerned with size as long as the keyboard doesn’t have teensy-tiny keys. At the end of the day, I am literally looking for a laptop. I hate touchscreen typing and I hate mobile browsing.

Looking at refurbished laptops is a good idea. I’ll check that out.

I got one of these about a year and a half ago and it’s been doing fine. I use it every day as my primary websurfing machine. My experience with TigerDirect, including about three refurb’d laptops, has always been very good.

The 12.5" display is a good, netbook-y size, decent capacity SSD, i5, Win10 Pro.
Yes, it’s detachable. I’ve never detached it since the day I got it.
Yes, it’s touchscreen. I use that more often than I expected.
Yes, it is $150 less ($300 vs 450) than when I bought in July 2017. Grrr but no regrets.

Mobile link:


As I mentioned above, be sure the SSD isn’t soldered to the board or proprietary. If it dies (and yes, they do die, usually without warning), your laptop is a goner unless you replace the motherboard. Even it’s an internal drive, they’re usually a bear to get to, requiring disassembly of half the laptop to get to.

I’ve had a couple of cheap latops and always made sure they have a removable DVD drive that I can replace with a 2.5" drive adapter and install a second drive there, an SSD if the primary drive isn’t one. This gives me that advantage of extra storage and an easy backup solution to the second drive. Yes, it makes the laptop thicker and heavier, but to me, well worth the trade-off. If I want portable, I use one of my tablets.