With all the variety in the netbook marketplace, and especially with Windows 7 now available, choosing the best netbook for you can be difficult. Here are some helpful tips to find you the right netbook.
The netbook is a fairly new class of computer. Netbooks, which are sometimes called mini notebooks or ultra-portables, are a type of sub-notebook, a fairly rapidly evolving category of small, light and inexpensive laptop computers. They are well-suited for light general computing and especially for accessing web-based applications, thus the name â€œnetbook.â€
Netbooks are utilized in two primary ways for several different reasons. The first, of course, is as a person’s main computer. In this usage, the user does not generally need to perform any truly demanding computing chores on their systems, certainly no film editing or Photoshop usage, or system-intensive game playing. Instead, they are most ideally suited for people that use their computers for email, other fairly simple text documents, surfing the Web, and for using applications in the cloud, (i.e.Â software as a service (SaaS)) where most of the application processing occurs on the server.
The other primary reason for selecting a netbook sees the device as an auxiliary to another computer, either a powerful notebook or a desktop system. In this scenario, the user is seeking a lighter, easier to carry, and less expensive alternative to their main system. They desire the convenience of the small size and light weight of the netbook, and do not feel the need to do anything other than light applications and Web usage when away from their primary system. The netbook is an ideal system with which to travel light, but the user has to truly understand that traveling light is what they are doing; no heavy lifting on netbooks, please.
A wide variety of netbooks are available with Windows 7, from an even wider variety of manufacturers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Toshiba, ASUS, and a host of others. Many of them come with Windows 7 Starter, an operating system which is a nearly perfect fit for a netbook for the average user. The pricing sweet spot for such low-end netbook systems is right at $300. Most of them have a 10-inch or so display (measured diagonally) with a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600. The processors are generally in the class of the Intel Atom, most in the 1.66GHz speed range, single core, low power. Disk size is generally 200 GB or less, and most netbooks of this class are shipped with 1GB of system memory, often shared between the system and the computer’s video functions.
The top end of the netbook range is generally shipped with Windows 7 Home Premium. The same general group of manufacturers is involved at the netbook top end. At this level of netbook, the prices tend to be around the $500 level. Most of the high-end netbooks have larger displays ( usually around 12 inches) with slightly higher resolutions in the area of 1366 x 768, though that varies by manufacturer. Hard disk sizes range from 250 GB to 320 GB. Memory size generally increases to 2 GB. Processors tend to be exactly the same at the high end as they are at the low end, though the additional memory makes them seem faster.
As the prices of netbooks increase, the systems tend to get very close to low-end notebooks. Remember, too, the purposes for which the netbook was designed: small form factor, lightweight, and mainly internet usage. The $300 breed of netbook generally weighs somewhere in the area of 2.5 pounds. At the top of the genre, the size and weight increase markedly, up to as much as 25-30 percent. The more expensive netbooks are larger by 2 diagonal inches and as much as a pound heavier.
Unless the netbook is going to be your only system and you absolutely cannot afford a notebook, you would be well advised to stay at the bottom of the netbook pack, somewhere near the $300 price point. Such a machine will generally do its assigned job well, as long as you do not try to exceed the normal netbook limitations. Netbooks are the epitome of the â€œKeep It Simpleâ€ philosophy in computers. If you can’t keep it simple, you don’t want a netbook, you want a notebook.
This adage also holds true for the version of Windows 7 utilized. The Starter version is the simplest and easiest to use of the bunch. It is smaller and lighter, and gets in your way less, than do the more costly versions. It is the perfect match for the simplicity of the hardware of the basic netbook. Again, if you really need the functionality provided by the more complex versions of Windows 7, you probably should not be buying a netbook.