Help Me Decide Which Netbook to Buy!

By  |  Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Technologizer Wants YouTime for a new Technologizer feature! In theory, people come to sites like this one to seek wisdom about technology. The truth, of course, is that there are a lot more of you than there are of us Technologizer bloggers–and collectively (and, in many cases, individually) you know more about this stuff than we do.

Enter “Technologizer Wants You,” in which we’ll cheerfully and selfishly seek your thoughts as we make tech-related decisions.

Such as the one which is on my mind now: Which netbook should I get? For years, I was a fan of undersized notebooks (such as this Fujitsu). When I started toting a Mac, I bought the smallest one that Apple offered–the 12-inch PowerBook, which at the time seemed large to me. Then Apple discontinued it and replaced it with a heftier model, the 13-inch MacBook. And last year, when I mostly stopped using desktop computers for day-to-day work, I switched to Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro in the interest of more screen real estate and additional pixels. (In Photoshop and other graphics applications, bigger is definitely better.)

But with netbooks so cheap, I’m now tempted to buy one as a second laptop, for use when lugging around 15 inches and 5+ pounds of notebook is a burden. Here’s what I’d like to buy in a netbook:

–10 or more inches of screen (8.9″ is just too squinty)
–1GB of RAM
–Windows XP (although I may put Windows 7 on it eventually)
–A decent-sized touchpad with the buttons below (which rules out HP’s otherwise appealing Minis, which put the buttons on the sides, where my fingers and thumbs have trouble finding them)
–The more battery life the better (which means a six-cell battery)
–Draft-N Wi-Fi would be a plus

Price? A deal is always nice, but I’m willing to pay more for the right netbook, and even the priciest one I might buy will likely be the cheapest notebook I’ve ever purchased…

I have a few brands and models in mind, but before I mention ’em, I’ll just ask you: Which netbook should I buy? Advice welcome from both netbook owners and other folks who, like me, are still in research mode. I promise to let you know what I decide…


Read more: 

16 Comments For This Post

  1. Vulpine Says:

    Personal opinion: None of the above. While I might agree that ‘really small form factor’ is good for some purposes from what I’ve read of your needs, they are not good for your purposes.

    I would elect to wait and see what, if anything, Apple is going to do in that direction. I expect it will blow away the “baby laptops” that currently exist and really give you something useable in a smaller package; something that doesn’t include having to put it down on something to use it.

  2. Fred Paul Says:

    I’m in the same boat, with a very similar list of requirements. The only addition is that I need a decent size hard drive, as I plan to keep my music collection on it. So none of those 16G SSD models will do.

    That said, I’m looking at MSI Wind 120. Seems to be the best combo, tho you may not like the buttons. But I’ll be using a mini-mouse because I hate ALL trackpads.

    For a fuller list of business netbooks, check out:

  3. DZ Says:

    Seems like the conventional wisdom is that the Asus Eee 1000HE is the new 10″ king. A little bulkier, less sexy than some of the others but great specs and price.

  4. AuroraDizon Says:

    I really think you’ve already made your choice go with the lighter one you will thank yourself later. You can always add on a small travel mouse if you need one. The biggest problem is probably switching between mac and pcs and what your comfortable with. If I was getting a mac for travel and photo’s I’d probably look into a modbook but again I don’t travel as much as you do so I’m not familiar with the weight.

  5. Tri Says:

    DZ is correct, the Asus 1000HE is currently the one.

  6. DZ Says:

    AuroraDizon, many of these ‘netbooks’ can easily run OS X. The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and the MSI Wind are two good candidates for a fairly smooth install and experience. Much more economical and lighter than a Modbook.

  7. ds Says:

    Why not a MacBook Air? You can use it as a real computer, has a great full normal keyboard. slimmer than most netbooks, runs Windows if you need to. OK to good battery life. Light. Great quality screen. Good support. Comes with great software. Backlit keyboard.

    Just my two cents.

  8. DZ Says:

    MBA is a poor value. Better off with a 13″ Macbook. I traded in my 10″ Wind and my 15″ Macbook Pro to setlle a 13″ MB. Zero compromises and portable enough. I’d also rather maintain just one laptop.

  9. Kevin C. Tofel Says:

    After owning or using most every netbook on the market, here’s another vote for the ASUS 1000HE. Prior to its launch, I would have said the Samsung NC10, but the 1000HE is an outstanding value for $374. It meets *all* of your requirements by far and offers up to 9.5 hours of battery life, per ASUS. I’d equate that to between 7 & 8 in the real world. ASUS redesigned the keyboard to fix one of my pet peeves: the Right-Shift key is finally in the right place. This is the one to beat for now.

  10. Jeffrey Johnson Says:

    I cast my vote for the new 10.1″ Acer Aspire One. I have the 8.9″ model with 160GB HD, 1GB RAM, shipped with Windows XP. It has handled everything I have thrown at it with aplomb, including Mac OSX 10.5.5, OpenSolaris, Solaris Express Community Edition, the Acer Linpus Linux (which is very fast, light on resources, quick to boot, and very user friendly), as well as various other Linux distributions. I am currently triple-booting XP, OpenSolaris, and Linux. The specs for the new Aspire One 10″ model are:

    Intel® Atom™ Processor N270 (1.60GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512KB L2 Cache)
    Windows XP® Home with Service Pack 3
    10.1-inch WSVGA Acer CrystalBrite™ TFT LCD 1024 x 600
    Mobile Intel® 945GSE Express Chipset
    1024MB DDR2 533 MHz SDRAM Single Channel Memory
    Integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950
    160GB SATA 5400RPM Hard Drive
    Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
    Acer InviLink™ 802.11b/g Wi-Fi CERTIFIED®
    Acer Crystal Eye Web Camera
    Two Built-in Stereo Speakers
    Three USB 2.0 Ports
    6-cell Li-ion Battery (4400 mAh) # Note: you can also get an after market 9-cell battery that would pretty much last all day.
    2.95 lbs.
    10.2” (W) x 8.0” (D) x 1.31” (H)

    Additionally, the 10.1″ model will have the touchpad buttons in the right place – under the touchpad – instead of on the sides of the pad.

    That being said, nothing can compare to hands on testing. I would go to the closest storefront that offers them and try them both out. After all, one man’s joy is another man’s sorrow.

    Good luck in your search!

    Jeffrey Johnson

  11. Rodabi Says:

    Samsung NC10 – $450, looks great, great battery life, great specs
    Acer A150 – $350, looks ok, great battery life, great specs
    Asus 1000HE – $375, looks bad, brilliant battery life, brilliant specs
    HP 2140 – $450, looks brillian, ok battery life, great specs

    For me, it’s between the Samsung NC10, and the 1000HE. Also the new version of the NC10 is just about to come out with even better battery life, and trackpad. I’m all about aesthetics so the NC10 probably edges it for me.

  12. Josh Says:

    How about the Sony Viao P, it aint cheap but, its sexy, small and a good conversation piece too. I am personally lusting over one!

  13. lketchersid Says:

    Harry, I have the same basic specs as you, and I am looking at:
    – the HP 2144 (though I may DQ it for the same “buttons on the side” issue that you mention…though with the 6 cell battery it has one of if not the longest ratings); the screen is brilliant and putting the speakers behind the screen is a nice touch.
    – the Lenovo S10 (touched one today; easy to upgrade, looks great);
    – the Asus 1000HE (will be fondling one from one of my colleagues this week);

    I may add the ACER to my list after reading the comments.

    Any reason why no one is mentioning the Lenovo?

  14. Lisa Bailey Says:

    I was going to get the Samsung NC10 – but today the NC20 was brought to my attention because it has a vertical screen resolution of 800px rather than the more usual 600px. But it’s over £370, so I think I’m going to stick with the NC10 at £300. And 7 hours of memory! Woo hoo! (Hope that’s true!)

    I wrote up my “research” in a Netbook Pick List on Natural Born Shopper:—samsung-nc10-and-memory-upgrade-2mb

  15. Prof1950 Says:

    I have same Mac laptop and am looking for Netbook for the same reasons.

    What confuses me is the 1 Gb memory limit on nearly all these machines. That sure seems puny to me

    And as for Apple’s next “blow you away” product, the rumor mill has a consensus that it will be a 10″ tablet — so if you want an iTouch with a bigger screen, that would be fine. But if you want a computer…

  16. David Says:

    What do people recommend for a netbook nowadays?

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. jkOnTheRun » Blog Archive “Best” Netbook Under $400 Shipping Soon: ASUS Eee PC 1000HE « Says:

    […] At this price,I think the 1000HE is hard to beat if you’re looking for a 10-inch display. Harry McCracken is looking for netbook recommendations and folks seem to agree, although the 10-inch Acer Aspire One competes well on a spec-for-spec […]

  2. Samsung NC10 Mini Review + The Rise of the Netbook Part II at chromewalker Says:

    […] Help Me Decide Which Netbook to Buy! ( […]