Posted May 5, 2009 in Tech | 0 Comments

Don’t Call me a Notebook!

My first laptop (or “notebook”) weighed about as much as my current desktop, lasted a whopping 45 minutes without AC power, and was “out of the box” fast for, oh, three months. And let’s not forget about the monitor hinges – they’ve lost all resistance and now, if I were to use the laptop, it would be the most important balancing act of my life – because when that monitor starts to fall forward… BANG! There go your typing fingers.

Today’s full-featured notebooks are going the way of actual mobile devices – the smaller and lighter, the better. But still, it’s tough to compete in size with the latest breed of Windows, OS X, and Linux-based systems, the “netbook”. Netbooks come in all shapes and sizes, but arguably the most common right now, is a 8.9-inch form factor that boasts an Intel Atom-grade processor; no optical drive; a handful of USB ports; WiFi; a gig of RAM; a built-in webcam, speakers and microphone; Windows XP Home or a Linux distribution; and either a smaller capacity solid-state hard drive (SSD) or an 80GB, 5400RPM hard drive. Still with me? Good.

Acer

For those who are looking for an Internet machine – one that can view and download multimedia, chat, surf the net, send and receive email, and most other “basic” operations of a computer, a netbook is the way to go. At no more than $500 for a higher-end machine, these are the steal of the century – or at least the year. I’ve tried a bunch of them – the Asus Eee PC (multiple configurations, ranging form 7″ – 10″ diagonal screen size), the Acer Aspire One (8.9″ or 10.1″), the HP Mini-Note (10″), the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (you guessed it, 9″ screen), and some would even classify the MacBook Air in this category, althoguh it’s got a 13.3″ screen and I personally despise it. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a Mac (I have one) but I really just don’t get the point of dishing out a home mortgage on a 13.3″ thin but not so impressive MacBook. All of these netbooks are really compact, extremely lightweight, and believe it or not, the keyboard is pretty manageable, despite its small size. The configurations that come with SSD’s, although are limited in the amount of data you can store, tend to last significantly longer when unplugged, and they have also proven to be slightly higher-performing.

Asus

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly laptop, think about a netbook. You can save money on software by going with OpenOffice.org instead of the classic MS Office suite, and you can find other open source apps for pretty much everything else you need to do with it! The only downside: no optical (DVD/CD/Blu-Ray) drive. But you can get pretty inexpensive external drives if need-be, or throw some pocket change into a 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or even 64GB thumb drive!

Your neighborhood computer shop, as well as the big-box stores like Best Buy and Wal Mart should have plenty of these and similar netbooks in stock. Check out some reviews online, and if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!

Happy netbook hunting!

Dell

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