Let’s say that you’re on a long vacation. You start missing your laptop, which you didn't carry because you wanted to travel light. Your cousin then pulls out something from his backpack that looks like a part of his sports gear. Only, it isn’t. He opens up his sporty netbook and starts chatting with friends at home. He then uses the webcam to share the scenic beauty in real time and updates his blog and Twitter feeds while on the way to the Bahamas. Before you’re completely thrown by the features this tiny thing has, he mentions that he bought it for a little over Rs 23,000.
Owing to their ultra-compact design, utility and style, netbooks are perhaps the most convenient computers yet. In the initial stages they started off with boring design and hardware, but now things are changing.
Since the inception of netbooks, there hasn’t been much change in the hardware. The few noticeable changes are a couple of chipsets that have been changed or variants of the Intel Atom processor swapped for better performance. But now, manufacturers are coming up with newer ways to push netbooks so that more people add them to their arsenals of gadgets.
Currently, where some netbooks offer astounding battery life, some flash sporty, sexy designs, and others are extremely lightweight or affordable.
The Samsung N310 is easily one of the smallest and lightest netbooks around.
Weighing in at a little more than a kilogram, it looks very different from other netbooks. While it features a robust exterior, its solid and vibrant shell makes it look sporty and funky.
Its hardware configuration isn’t different from other Atom-N270-based netbooks, but its looks and design will definitely turn heads. The N310 will attract young adults who have a more casual approach to computing.
Small enough to carry as a diary or be slipped into a satchel, this netbook can be used for work, studies and even entertainment. On the hardware front, the N310 shares the same configuration as that of Samsung NP-NC10, except that the former features a 10.1-inch screen as opposed to 10.2-inches. This one too is built around an Intel 945 chipset and is powered by the Intel Atom N270, with 1 GB RAM and a 160 GB hard drive.
The N310 performs as well as the NC-10 and other Atom-based netbooks, which suffices for mainstream applications and light entertainment. Considering these factors, it’s safe to say that the NC-10 has been given a smart facelift for stylish users.
This netbook connects via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet and has loud built-in speakers and a decent screen, which is good for watching movies. Three USB ports, a card reader, Ethernet and audio jacks, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and a VGA port are all standard features.
Despite the robust build we were a bit concerned about the external shell partly detaching due to weak internal clamping on the screen’s inner surface. If you’re looking for a standard netbook, which looks sporty and casual and is very convenient to carry, the N310 is one of the best options.
Asus EeePC 1000HE
The Asus 1000HE isn’t very different from the 1000H, except for a couple of hardware tweaks and a hiked battery runtime. The former is mainly intended for people who need a netbook that has an outstanding battery-life—even better than full-blown mainstream and high-end laptops. You can watch at least three movies back-to-back before the battery dies. So it’s safe to say that the most striking feature of this netbook is the battery life. It is simply amazing.
The 1000HE does pretty much everything that most standard netbooks can. Running mainstream applications such as Microsoft Office will be seamless and even light gaming will be stutter-free. Utility-wise it’s as good as the 1000HE. Exchanging emails, chatting, surfing the Internet, it suffices for most applications. The standard features include 3 USB, an Ethernet and a VGA port, audio jacks, a Kensington lock slot, a 1.3 MP webcam and a multi-card reader. Connectivity is offered via 10/100 Ethernet, the latest Wi-Fi N standard and Bluetooth. Apart from the high-capacity battery feature, only the hardware has been changed a bit.
As opposed to the Intel Atom N270, which has been used in most netbooks including the 1000H, the newcomer—Asus 1000HE—is powered by the Atom N280. Owing to the better FSB speed and a slightly higher clock speed—1.66 GHz—of this processor, this netbook performs better than most N270-based netbooks out there. The rest of the hardware is pretty much the same. 1 GB DDR2 RAM and 160 GB hard drive. Well, Asus also offers an extra 10 GB of free online storage for a limited period of time. So if you run out of disk space, you know where to store your surplus data. Looks-wise, the 1000 series has been a winner. We tested the black unit and the 1000HE has a more glossy approach, except for the screen which is matte. Other things are pretty much the same. For instance, the design and ergonomics are good, including the keyboard, the large touchpad and nice mouse buttons.
It’s a great netbook. We’d say grab it if you want terrific battery run time and an edge over other netbook users.
Acer Aspire One D250
The Acer Aspire One D250-0BK is a fine example of an affordable, stylish and rugged netbook. Unlike most netbooks this one features a 6-cell battery, which offers a whopping runtime of nearly seven hours. This is a big advantage for an ultra-portable all-in-one computing device.
While the most striking feature of the D250 is its battery runtime, its design and build quality can’t be ignored. The netbook looks pretty stylish and classy, just like its predecessors. Young professionals and businessmen, who need something classy yet compact, will like it. Despite the 6-cell battery pack, the weight isn’t much to be concerned about. Also owing to the slim form factor, the D250 will easily slip into a back pack or handbag. It’s tiny, can do most of what other netbooks can and most importantly, it’s affordable.
If you’re a college student who likes to watch movies, surf the Internet or simply complete a project on the move, you’ll probably need more runtime on your netbook. In this case the D250 is definitely for you. Professionals too can make the most of the features that it offers. Executives usually travel extensively and might want to use the computer on the go. Also, when visiting clients for giving presentations, they don’t need to attach the A/C power adapter. Just connect the netbook to the projector via the VGA port and you’re set. On a fully charged battery, the D250 will let you give around six presentations (an hour each) and still have some juice left.
As far as the hardware is concerned, most netbooks feature one of the few Intel Atom variants. This one has the N270 and is built around a usual Intel 945 chipset variant. There’s 1 GB RAM, a 160 GB hard drive and a 10.1-inch screen. Connectivity is offered via 10/100 Ethernet, Wi-Fi b/g and Bluetooth. Although the latest Wi-Fi N would have been great, at this price there isn’t much to complain about. Other features include 3 USB ports, mic and headphone jacks, an Ethernet jack, a multi-card reader and a webcam.
The overall build quality and design are impressive. It shows off an anodized brushed metallic finish on the bezel, while the rest of the unit is black. Parts of it such as the lid, screen and its frame are all glossy and are prone to finger print stains. Also, the touchpad, including the mouse buttons, could have been a bit bigger.
Owing to the clichéd hardware used, there isn’t much to talk about with regard to the delivery of this netbook. Its performance is as good as any other N270-based one. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that the sound quality is quite good and the loudness is best when the netbook is used on a desk. Since the speakers are in front of the base, you might block them when using it on your lap.
If you’re looking for affordability, excellent battery runtime and a good feature set in a light-weight netbook, just pick this one up!
While the Asus EeePC 1000HE offered over seven hours of battery runtime, the Acer Aspire One didn’t shy away either, with 6 hours and 40 minutes, thanks to the six-cell battery pack. So if you need better performance and a more sophisticated design, go for the 1000HE.
The Acer Aspire One offers good battery-life, performs well, has all the standard features and most importantly has an attractive price tag. If these are your criteria for a netbook, choose the Aspire One.
The Samsung N310 is a standard netbook and performs as well as any other. However, its looks and design set it apart from the other two, as well as most others in the market. If you opt for this model, it would be for its sheer eye candy value.