Smaller and cheaper than a laptop, netbooks continue to make a strong impression in the market. The next trend in computing is the introduction of the super compact netbook computer or mini laptop computers which sacrifice very little in terms of features and computing power while giving the user a portable alternative to trying to type on a smart phone and enjoying almost all features of a full sized computer. Announcements of upgraded netbooks are coming through thick and fast in the market !! So here are the top 10 netbooks in the market today.
1. Toshiba Mini NB305
Toshiba has applied the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ adage to its latest netbook, the NB305 – not a bad way to go, considering the NB205 was one of our favourites in 2009. The newer model uses the same stylish hardware design of its predecessor (available in blue, brown and white), but throws in the 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a larger 250GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Starter Edition. The new Pineview processor has enabled Toshiba to shave 100g off the NB305’s weight to 1.2kg, and extend run-time with the 6-cell battery from nine hours to a remarkable 11 hours – this works a treat with Toshiba’s Sleep and Charge technology, which lets you use the netbook’s battery to charge gadgets over USB even if it’s hibernating or switched off. The 10.1-inch display still has the same dinky 1024 x 600 resolution..
2. HP Mini 210-1142CL
Netbooks are more than capable at playing music and standard definition videos, but try to run a HD video on one and it’ll curl up into a weeping stuttery mess – a problem that hasn’t really been touched on in the new Pinetrail platform. Like the previous Atom architecture, however, Pinetrail supports third party video processors, and the HP Mini 210 HD takes advantage of this by running the updated Broadcom BCM70015 Crystal HD video accelerator; this enables it to play 1080p movies (as well as videos in other codecs like H.264/AVC, MPEG-2, WMV9, DivX and Xvid) “with no frame drops or jitter”. But high-def video isn’t the Mini 210 HD’s only talent. HP has blazed a trail for sexy netbooks with its highly-regarded Mini series, and the Mini 210 HD is no exception, offering the same glossy edge-to-edge display, a distinctive Celtic design on the lid, and shapely curved corners. The HP Mini 210-1142CL includes a high-capacity battery that delivered over 9 hours of battery life.
3. Acer Aspire One AO521-3782
What a difference a year makes. In 2009, $499 would’ve gotten you a last-gen netbook with entry-level specs. This year, however, the same money will land you the new Aspire One AO532h. Compared to some of the other new netbooks, its feature set isn’t so impressive, but it’s nevertheless fantastic value for money and raises the bar significantly for entry-level machines in this category. Features include the new 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, Windows 7 Starter Edition, a 250GB hard drive and 10.1-inch 1024 x 600-pixel display. The standard 6-cell 4400mAh battery lasts for eight hours, and the optional high-density 6-cell 5800mAh battery runs for up to 10 hours. 6-cell battery notwithstanding, the AO532h weighs only 1.1kg and measures less than an inch thick – a testament to the space and weight savings achieved with Intel’s new Pinetrail platform (last year’s netbooks with 6-cell batteries averaged in at 1.3kg). The colours it’s available in are blue, red and silver.
4. Asus EeePC 1215N
The Asus EeePC 1215N is updated with a dual-core Atom processor and Nvidia Optimus technology, trumping all other netbooks in speed and graphics power. Up to 13 Hours of Battery Life, The only dual-core Atom netbook. Nvidia chip is great for 1080p HD video and light gaming. Lightweight. 2GB of memory. HDMI port. Windows 7 Home Premium. With the Cons being Resistant mouse buttons. Plain design and a
Bottom Line with Asus updates the EeePC 1215N with Nvidia’s Optimus and dual-core Atom processor, making it the fastest netbook on the market..
5. Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t
Move over Asus Eee PC T91MT – you’re no longer the only multi-touch convertible netbook sheriff in town. The IdeaPad S10-3t borrows liberally from Asus’ tablet design in its ability to swivel the display 180 degrees to fold back onto the keyboard, but goes two better by offering a capacitive touchscreen (the T91MT uses the older resistive touchscreen technology) – which should prove to be more responsive to finger taps – and a larger 10.1-inch screen. The extra screen space also allows for a larger keyboard, making the S10-3t equally good to use in netbook and tablet configurations. Lenovo has reportedly leapfrogged over the competition by tricking this netbook out with an Intel Atom N470 processor, which has a faster 1.83GHz clock speed, although the inclusion of this faster chip means we won’t see this netbook until after March. It comes with a 320GB hard drive and a standard 4-cell battery that’s good for four hours – the optional eight-cell battery brings the run-time up to 10 hours.
6. BenQ JoyBook Lite U103
BenQ’s past efforts at netbooks have never really inspired much interest on our part due to their basic specs and uninteresting hardware designs. But the JoyBook Lite U103 – which won a coveted 2010 iF Design Award – could very well change the company’s position in the market. The U103 is anything but ordinary, with a dual drive architecture that pairs a huge 500GB hard drive with an optional 32GB SSD, SRS TruSurround HD audio, and SRS CS Headphone (a technology that simulates 5.1-channel surround sound over standard headphones). It comes with a 3-cell battery as standard – which lasts around four hours – and an optional 6-cell battery that runs for eight hours. BenQ’s Q-charge technology offers a quick recharge function that can restore 4.5 hours of battery life (with the 6-cell battery) in just an hour of charging. With the 3-cell battery attached, the U103 weighs 1.1kg and measures under an inch thick.
7. Samsung N210
The Samsung N210 doesn’t have any single feature that sets it apart from its competitors, but taken in its entirety, the N210 amounts to a solid all-rounder that improves on its predecessors in almost every respect. Like most of the other netbooks in this article, it runs the new 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor with 1GB of RAM and Windows 7 Starter Edition, and it’s equipped with a 10.1-inch display (1024 x 600-pixel resolution), a 250GB hard drive and a 6-cell 5900mAh battery that’s good for around 11 hours. Sound quality gets a boost with support for High Definition audio, SRS TruSurround XT, SRS WOW XT and SRS CS Headphone, and the stereo speakers output an above-average 3 watts. Samsung has also emphasised durability on the N210, with a scratch- and smudge-resistant casing and a spill-proof keyboard. Recommended retail price is $599.
8. Dell Inspiron Mini 10
Not to be confused with the identically-named Inspiron Mini 10 of last year, the updated version has more features than any other netbook hands-down – the only catch is that you’ll have to pay more to add each one of them, as they’re all optional extras that you can tack one when you’re configuring the system. The optional features that are up for grabs include the same Broadcom Crystal HD media accelerator found in the HP Mini 210 HD (only on that netbook it comes as standard), GPS, a HDTV receiver, mobile broadband, a larger 250GB hard drive (the standard config comes with 160GB), a higher-res 1366 x 768-pixel display and two higher-capacity 6-cell batteries – the larger of which is good for 9.5 hours. Unlike most netbooks, all three of the battery sizes fit flush with the bottom of the case, so you don’t have that weird bump on the bottom that tilts the netbook up.
9. MSI Wind Series Special Edition U135
MSI was one of the first vendors out the gate running Pinetrail on its Wind U135 netbook, and while the company has since announced the sleeker U160 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we find the U135 more interesting on account of its support for 3.5G WiMAX. This is an optional feature that lets the U135 tap into the ultra-fast WiMAX networsk for ADSL2-like data speeds over the air, although WiMAX is currently only available in Perth and Adelaide. The U135 uses a similar hardware design to past Wind netbooks, but the colour choices are a lot more eye-catching (silver, black, blue and cherry red) and the lid features a striking rippled water design that’s been treated with MSI’s Color Film Print technology to make it scratch-resistant. The touchpad is also 20% larger than previous models, but we weren’t able to confirm whether it supports multi-touch gestures.
10. Gateway LT21
Relative newcomer (or long-absent veteran, whichever you prefer) Gateway is set to release its first netbook on Aussie shores, the LT21. At first glance, there isn’t much to get excited about in the specs list: a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, 1GB of RAM, 10.1-inch screen with 1024 x 600-pixel resolution and a 250GB hard drive, but hidden amongst its 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1wireless options is the surprising gem of built-in 3G – still a rarity in netbooks. We weren’t able to confirm whether this will be tied to any particular 3G carrier, but in any event it adds welcome flexibility for using this netbook for web surfing and email on the go – especially when paired with the respectable 10-hour battery life. The LT21 is also quite the looker, with the lid available in black, red or white, an inlaid wave pattern and engraved silver logo. Recommended retail price is $599.