netbooks

haven

Expedition Leader
Let's track developments in the market for "netbook" small laptops.

I think "netbook" refers to laptops with screens measuring 12 inches or smaller, that weigh 3.5 lbs or less, that have built-in WiFi, and that cost less than $600.

The first group of netbooks to reach the market generally have a 9 or 10 inch screen, weigh less than 3lb. and cost $400 to $500, sometimes less.

I'm interested in this type of computer because I think it has potential for use in overland vehicles. The combination of LED backlighting, low power CPU and solid state hard disc should make the computer more reliable in an off-road vehicle, while still being useful for GPS navigation and simple computer use. The smaller dimensions of the netbook help it fit into the crowded cockpit of an overland vehicle, too.

Models available:

The Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee 900, Asus Eee 1000, MSI Wind, Dell Mini 9 and Lenovo IdeaPad all use LED backlighting for their TFT LCD screens. These models use the Intel Atom processor. Most use WIndows XP, and some offer versions of Linux.

Hp Mini-Note uses traditional fluorescent tubes to illuminate the screen. The Mini-Note 2133 uses a VIA processor which is a little slower than the Intel Atom.

One problem with netbooks is the small keyboard. The HP Mini-Note and the Acer Aspire One are generally acknowledged as the models with the most usable keyboards.

Chip Haven
 

haven

Expedition Leader
HP has announced a new netbook model called the Mini 1000. This marks HP's switch away from the VIA processor. The screen is 10 inches measured diagonally.

The Mini 1000 will be available with Windows XP or a version of Ubuntu Linux developed by HP for this machine. Rumors say the Mini 1000 will have a touch screen interface. Price will be about $400.

Dell also recently announced a new netbook model, the Inspiron Mini 12. The Mini 12 will push the boundaries of the netbook design, with a 12 inch display with resolution of 1280 x 800, a more powerful Atom processor, larger hard disc, and Windows Vista. At $600, it's also more expensive.

Both the HP Mini 1000 and Dell Mini 12 will be available in December.
 

haven

Expedition Leader
Samsung is releasing a netbook called the NC10. Its features are similar to others already on the market: a 10.1" LED screen with 1,024x600 resolution, an Intel Atom CPU, an 80GB HDD, a 6 cell battery and Windows XP Home. Weight is slightly less than 3 lbs. The keyboard of this model is supposed to have better feel than most netbooks.

One unique feature of the NC10 is a dusting of antibacterial silver coating on the keyboard. I've used socks with antibacterial properties that really does help. Maybe this will become a trend in control surfaces, too.
 

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Scott Brady

Founder
Nice summary Chip. Are you seeing any trends towards solid state drives, or are the compacts mostly driven by price?
 

Travelmore

Adventurer
After reading this thread I saw this on the news wire. "Packing the latest 1.6-GHz Atom processor and a roomy 80-GB drive, the Wind boasts some legit PC cred."
http://www.wired.com/reviews/product/msi_wind_u100
There are some links to other reviews as well. A thing to watch out for with these is the lack of a optical drive (DVD or CD). You can use an external drive to get set up but the lack of a drive can be a real hassle with many mapping programs that have a CD based key.

One comment on that page mentions that Costco.com has the ASUS also no optical drive and 12 Gig of solid state memory with a two year warranty. It also claims to be shock proof.
http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11298381&search=asus&Mo=4&cm_re=1_en-_-Top_Left_Nav-_-Top_search&lang=en-US&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Sp=S&N=5000043&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=Text_Search&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=asus&Ntt=asus&No=4&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1
 

BKCowGod

Automotive ADHD is fun!
interestingly enough, Target is selling an Asus 7" for $269. With Linux, 8gb solid state, and USB ports you could easily toss a cheap external drive on it and put all of your mapping software on the external. They have a WinXP version for $299, too.
 

eugene

Explorer
Your calling 12" laptops netbooks as well, so do you want to list all the 12" laptops (Dell LAtitude C/D/E 400 series for example).
 

kjp1969

Explorer
I assume that any of these could run TopoUSA or Garmin mapping software, and would accept a USB/GPS puck? If so, this sounds like a viable alternative to a full sized GPS, one that would have a whole other life out of the vehicle.
 

haven

Expedition Leader
The Wall Street Journal ran an article saying HP is talking with cell phone carriers about selling netbooks at a steep discount, in combination with the purchase of a cell phone contract that includes internet services.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122531979090681955.html

If you were planning to buy a 3G modem for the laptop anyway, this could mean a big savings.

Chip Haven
 

lowenbrau

Explorer
I picked up an Asus Aspire One with XP and a 120GB HD for last week's (failed) trip to AZ. Filled it up with about a dozen seasons of TV, a couple movies and a bunch of music. We watched "the office" and laughed all the way back from the border, took it on the plane and then used the wifi all over Montreal to figure out what to do/eat etc.

I've never felt like I got so much value in a computer. Its tiny enough to take anywhere, fits well in a glovebox and cost me about $400cdn ($300US) all-in including an all in one Epson printer.
 

targa88

Explorer
lowenbrau said:
I picked up an Asus Aspire One with XP and a 120GB HD for last week's (failed) trip to AZ. Filled it up with about a dozen seasons of TV, a couple movies and a bunch of music. We watched "the office" and laughed all the way back from the border, took it on the plane and then used the wifi all over Montreal to figure out what to do/eat etc.

I've never felt like I got so much value in a computer. Its tiny enough to take anywhere, fits well in a glovebox and cost me about $400cdn ($300US) all-in including an all in one Epson printer.
Where did you find the Asus for that price?
 

haven

Expedition Leader
"do you want to [include] all the 12 inch laptops"

Sure, as long as they weigh less than 3.5 lb and have WiFi. The
price would have to be taken into consideration, too. Netbooks,
in my view, are inexpensive. Sorry, no MacBook Air.

The form factor for "netbook" is very much in flux. I think it will
take another year or so for manufacturers and the buying public
to decide what screen size, keyboard style and weight will be the
most popular.

Microsoft could spoil the party by insisting that Windows models
use Vista or the new System 7. That would run the price up, and
would mean a more expensive minimum hardware configuration.

This sort of action on Microsoft's part would push consumers toward
Linux distros. But I think the general public would prefer the netbook
to be a Windows machine, particularly since a lot of people will use
their netbook alongside a more powerful computer at home or at work.
Software compatibility is important.

Chip Haven
 

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eugene

Explorer
Reason I asked is traditionally the ultralight laptop has been a 12" model and netbooks have been smaller, i didn't know if the category changed or just your wants/needs. There are quite a few 12" laptops out there though they are a little more $$$ but meet the 12" 3.5lb criteria. I've been running a Dell Latidude c400 for years now, after year 1 I switched to linux because I couldn't stand xp anymore. I've been wanting to upgrade but can't find a decent replacement, it seem all the laptops or netbooks around the 12" and under 4 lb have some sort of limitation, for example the new Dell's use a 1.8" drive which severely limits storage. I'm running a 160G drive now, though the bios hit the 129G limit so I can't even use windows anymore even if I wanted to (I have a small dual boot and it can't see the rest of the drive). My next laptop I hopt to e the same size or smaller and will buy either without an OS or with linux pre-loaded.
 

Roktoys84

Adventurer
haven said:
I think it's the Acer Aspire One, not Asus.

Acer sells many variations of the Aspire One. One that has Windows XP and 120GB disc is the Acer Aspire One AOA150-1570. This model usually costs about $400, but it's available today at Newegg for $350, with free shipping.

Acer Aspire One AOA150-1570
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115499
Just so you know, that model comes with the 3 cell battery that lasts less than 2.5 hours. For $400 you get the 6 cell (5.5 hours) and a 160 gb hard drive. Worth the $50 in my opinion. (I'm getting the white one though)
 
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