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Thread: Netbook advice

  1. #1
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    Netbook advice

    Any netbook users care to share some advice on buying a new one? The better half finally thinks having one would be useful for working on school papers so we may get one. I thought Asus and HP were the leaders but seems like I saw a review that put Acer on top a while ago.

    Mostly I'd like something easy to use so good keyboard and touchpad is first. After that a good battery life would be nice. I don't think large hard drive is needed or lots of RAM.

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    Hi pretzelb,

    My Dell Mini 9 came out of the box yesterday! No clue what I am really doing with it yet, but I am looking forward to figuring it out.

    The figuring out part is mostly because I bought it with Linux instead of Windows. Out of the box it looks very easy, so far.

    My focus is travel, which is why I went with the smallest mini instead of a larger one.

    A thread on <a href="http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/25931/best-netbooks.html" target="_blank">the RS site</a> about netbooks lasted from January to April, perhaps you could find some useful info in it.

    Cheers.

  3. #3
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    I am using a MSI WInd U100 (current model is U120 or 123). I really like it. Great keyboard. Works great with Windows 7 - comes with XP Home. I have the 6 cell version which has 5+ hour battery life - (3 cell version is a bit less than 3 hours). The Dell Mini has gotten really good reviews - you can find some good deals at the Dell Outlet website (refurbished, sold but never used, open box, etc - most come with new machine warrantee). I also have heard really good things about the HP 10 inch models - perhaps the best keyboards - and the newer ASUS 10 inch machines - they used to have some keyboard problems. All have comparable specs. The machines listed have good keyboards. All have little quirks - the Wind I have has a slightly smaller trackpad that takes a bit of getting used to, for example. Whichever you choose, I'd suggest making sure it has a mechanical hard disk drive rather than a solid state one. On the netbooks, the solid state disks tend to be a bit slower (especially for the early Acers) than mechanical hard drives. If you can, go to a Best Buy or Office Depot type store to test drive the keyboards if the machines are available as that will have the biggest impact on your experience.
    Last edited by rabergnc; 05-22-2009 at 02:29 PM. Reason: corrections

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    I initially got the ASUS 1000HE (highly rated at Amazon) that came with Windows XP. I don't use Windows so I installed Ubuntu on it and it worked ok. My main usage was to watch movie files using VLC and it worked well not to mention the great battery life and useable keyboard. However, I returned the ASUS because of the fan noise and the OS. I am a Mac user so I purchased a refurbished Dell Mini 9 and installed Mac OS on it and am loving it. The build quality of the Dell is quite good although the keyboard could be small for everyday typing. I certainly would not use it only for writing. I also read that the new Samsung N110 is quite nice.

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    I have an Asus Eee PC 900HA which I'm very impressed with. I got it a month ago and just in time since my desktop just broke down two days ago. I'm using it right now. What a champ!

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    Another Mini 9 User...

    I have a Dell Mini 9 (2GB / 16GB SSD / 16GB Class 6 SDHC / 1.3MP Webcam). Love it, love it, love it.

    When I'm out and about, it takes little room inside my Large Cafe Bag in a custom fitted sleeve. My battery life is good for four hours.

    The keyboard does take some getting used to (I did, so...). It's so light, it's a joy to carry around even when I'm out shopping or running errands (gives me an excuse to pop into Starbucks or Panera Bread ).

  7. #7
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    You are right in prioritizing keyboard and touchpad. I find that netbooks 9" and smaller are too small to type comfortably or without many mistakes. Netbooks 10" and larger have keyboards at least 93% the size of a standard laptop keyboard, and I think that's the minimum size acceptable.

    There are 3 models I would recommend that you evaluate:
    - Samsung N110
    - Samsung N120
    - Asus Eee 1000HE

    They are similar but have slight differences in battery, speakers, design and price that may sway you one way or another. You can get detailed reviews for all 3 on this site: http://computershopper.com/netbooks/...s/samsung-n120. They are all available from amazon.

    I have an older Samsung model, the NC10 and am very happy with it. If I were to purchase today, it would be a toss-up between the N120 and the 1000HE.

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    I have the ASUS 900 and found the keyboard and HD way too small. So, I got an ASUS 1000HE--92% size of normal keyboard, fastest processor of all netbooks, great HD size, good for basic office stuff, surfing the web, etc. They are not meant to be game machines.

    So far, I'm very happy with the ASUS 1000HE......I looked at the others and came close to getting the HP because of its keyboard. But the faster processor sold me on the ASUS 1000HE.

  9. #9
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    HP Mini 1000

    Howdy,

    I thought I might as well add my $.02 to the discussion. I have purchased and configured multiple HP Mini 1000 netbooks at this point, and while I love the Asus and MSI models, I just can't get beyond HP's "almost" full sized keyboard. Great weight and feel, same specs as all above models, but a little bit wider (1024/600 I think?) and the keyboard rocks.

    I would recommend 2gb ram (mine came with 1gb, and it was cheaper to get after-market 2gb stick) and 16gb SSD drive (to stretch the battery life.) I also upgraded to the 6-cell battery, which gives over 5 hours of video playback, and better than that w/ light surfing.

    Only gripe, they moved the left and right-click mouse buttons to the sides of the touch pad. It can be a little awkward at first. I use it primarily intandem w/ a Logitech Nano mouse, and it gets the job done.

    Oh, and you can get a version w/ HP's custom Linux distro "mi" which will get your price down a little. Configured (and with a coupon from Dealcatcher.com) Mine came in just under $380 for one machine, plus another $50 to add a 16gb SD card and the aformentioned 2gb memory. (I run linux on the SD card and XP Pro on the 16gb internal SSD.)

    If you have any questions about installing alternate Operating Systems from flash disk, I can point you to some tutorials. (My buddy just got OS 10x working on his Asus.)

    Best,

    -B

  10. #10
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    i tried the lenovo ideapad s10.

    my objective in getting it was to have a small device that could be used for watching movies and quickly checking email while traveling.

    we have ripped the dvd's we've purchased and have them in our itunes library that gets synced with our appletv. it's a great solution. you have quick and easy access to all your dora, diego and leapfrog videos without having to worry about scratching your dvd's. so it was an easy leap to throw that library onto the ideapad and take it with us.

    and i got over the fact that it runs windows. but i couldn't get over the poor video performance. it was very choppy to the point of being unusable.

    so we sent it back. amazon accepted the return with a 10% restocking fee.

    i really want apple to do a tablet like device. it could just run all of the software that the ipod touch runs, or mac os x. i'm sure apple would choose the right components to provide usable video quality. and of course the user interface would feel very natural. all of those things we take for granted in a device from apple would be present.

  11. #11
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    heh - on the heels of this post, i see an announcement for the lenovo ideapad s12 - "... the S12 can handle HD video playback..."

    i think i'll definitely hold out for an offering from apple, but this sounds pretty nice compared to other offerings i've come across.

    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    i tried the lenovo ideapad s10.

    my objective in getting it was to have a small device that could be used for watching movies and quickly checking email while traveling.

    we have ripped the dvd's we've purchased and have them in our itunes library that gets synced with our appletv. it's a great solution. you have quick and easy access to all your dora, diego and leapfrog videos without having to worry about scratching your dvd's. so it was an easy leap to throw that library onto the ideapad and take it with us.

    and i got over the fact that it runs windows. but i couldn't get over the poor video performance. it was very choppy to the point of being unusable.

    so we sent it back. amazon accepted the return with a 10% restocking fee.

    i really want apple to do a tablet like device. it could just run all of the software that the ipod touch runs, or mac os x. i'm sure apple would choose the right components to provide usable video quality. and of course the user interface would feel very natural. all of those things we take for granted in a device from apple would be present.

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    I think I could get by with a SSD drive. While it might be slower, I don't plan on doing much besides word processing and web browsing and I can't see that impacting the speed much. This is a hard choice. Just when you find something nice and cheap, you find a neat feature for just a bit more, and then something else for a bit more, and on and on. I think I need a hard price target to help limit me. I know I'd like to stick below $300. This is going to be a tough one.

  13. #13
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    I love my little Acer Aspire One. I also have an old EeePC 701 (the really small one) and it's too small to use (for me, anyway).

    The AAO has all that I need, with the exception of bluetooth, which I added with a small dongle. The keyboard works well for me and that was the main criteria that I used to select it.

    I strongly suggest you try out the various keyboards and see which one works best for you. Some of the smaller keyboards are way tiny, while others have put keys in strange places. Test first, if you can.

    The AAO works well with my cell modem and when there's wifi, I've had good luck with signing on.

    The trackpad is much improved if you go into the device driver for it (look for the Synaptic logo - it's a red oval-ish with a swish in it LOL yeah, great description, eh?) and enable all the taps and rotate features. There's a scrolling feature called chiral that is especially convenient. Note that many netbooks (and laptops) have Synaptic touchpads, so check and see if you can enable them in whatever machine you get. (In other words, this isn't limited to Acer or the Aspire One.)

    Get a six-cell battery if you can. The one I have for my AAO has surprised me by often getting more than the rated time. It really does just keep going, and going...

    The netbooks are all similar, but not entirely so, so make sure the features are the best fit for you.

    They are great fun! I have an MBA - and love it, too - but it's quick and easy to throw the AAO in a bag (now the cork Swift ) and head out. Good luck finding the right one for you!

  14. #14
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    I don't think that right now, you achieve these 3 things at the same time: a) Under $300, b) Decent keyboard, which to me means a model with a screen size of 10" or larger, and c) Good battery life, 4 hours or longer of actual use.

    The ones closest to meeting all 3 criteria would be an Acer Aspire One AOD150 (not AOA) or an MSI Wind 120. but they cost slightly more than $300.

    Of course, as with all things computer-related, just wait a few months until the price drops into your range

  15. #15
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    I am, apparently the rare XP user here. A friend of mine gave me the original ASUS which sits unused. I couldn't adjust to the Linux or the tiny screen.

    After reading comparisons, reviews, and user issues I ended up with the ASUS 1000HE. It was between that and the Samsung and price ended up being the deciding factor for me. The ASUS was on sale for $300. I love it. The keyboard is a good size, battery has a very long life- over 7 hours.
    The only negative is that, compared to other models, the ASUS is fairly heavy.

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