Friday, 17 October 2008

Deciding On A Netbook

Some time ago I purchased a new laptop. Through work I managed to get a good discount, and have found that is a pleasure to type on.

My Acer Extensa 5620 has a pretty good specification too, with a 1.5GHz Core2Duo CPU, 2GB of 667MHz RAM, 120GB hard drive, 15.4” widescreen, webcam and a pretty good battery.

I use it for the majority of my computing needs, including email, web surfing, blogging, some movie watching if I am travelling by bus and even listening to music while at work.

However, since my fiancé dropped her own laptop I have been able to use it less and less since she uses it more and more!

So lately I've been considering selling my laptop, my fiancé's non working laptop and my PDA to raise enough money to buy a couple of netbooks, one for myself and one for the missus.

A year ago, when ASUS released the EeePC, a miniature laptop with a solid state hard disk and 7” screen, the choice would have been made for me as to which netbook to buy, since the EeePC was the only one on the market. However, I decided then that I could wait a year or so and see what else was available since technology moves so fast.

Now, just a little over a year on MSI, Acer, Elonex, Dell and many others are providing the once niche market with model after model, each with higher specifications than the last.

Today is a good time to buy a netbook, as the choices are many and the competition is strong which drives the prices down.

I reviewed the CnM miniBOOK in a previous article, and was impressed by it's weight and size, but since I fall into the power-user category of computer users found that it would be unsuitable for me. My fiancé on the other hand falls into the “it must be broken because it's taking ages to load Facebook” category (the impatient type), and because of these factors neither myself not the missus are suited to using the device. It's a shame really as at that price-point (£169) it is the cheapest netbook available.

This led me to looking at the ASUS EeePC and the MSI Wind. The ASUS is nice, the first to market and the real innovator, but that's exactly why I have decided against the EeePC. Companies who innovate at the speed that ASUS do with the EeePC range will inevitably burn themselves out. I want a netbook from a company with a good and long history.

Since MSI haven't been building and selling laptops all that long, I think that I will be staying away from them too. In addition to this, I think the MSI Wind is, although very nice, very expensive. I can get a fully fledged laptop, with a screen half as big again, complete with bluetooth, DVDRW and a fingerprint scanner for just a few quid more than MSI are asking for.

The Elonex does not interest me, not even remotely, and certainly not enough to even research it's specification.

At the end of the day, this leaves me with just one choice, which is Acer and their AspireONE netbook.

I have had in total no less than 3 Acer laptops in the past 5 years, and have been selling and using them at work for just as long. Their customer service is proven and the quality of their builds is good, which leads me to consider the AspireONE to be the netbook for myself and the better half.

The AspireONE's 1.6GHz Atom CPU is nothing unusual today - every manufacturer is trying to squeeze them into anything they can – but the 1.3MP camera, the excellent and large keyboard, 10” screen and the SDHC and 4in1 card readers are different, especially since you can buy it for less than £200 (excluding VAT), which is much less than any other equivalent I have seen elsewhere so far.

So for my intended use (email, web-surfing, blogging, MP3's, a little video etc.) the AspireONE is likely perfect for me. For the other half, the size, weight (980g) and speed is perfect for her Facebook and Ebay addictions.

I am looking to buy two AspireONE's next week, so expect a review soon after!

Do you have a netbook yourself? Which one? Do you like it, and what would you do to change it if you could? Please feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments below.

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