Mini Laptop

NetBooks and Mini Laptops Buyers Guide

Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:11 pm
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If you have been in a coffee shop lately you may have seen someone with a small laptop, and you are not sure what they are. Some people may mistake them for portable DVD players, but they are real computers.

In reality it should be noted that they are small - that is the point of their design. And along with the size comes certain limitations. The processor is small, more efficient and generally slower than a larger computer. The SSD (Solid State Drive) drives, if present are much smaller than traditional hard drives, but many come with traditional hard drives anyway.

Netbook Operating Systems and Software

One of the points to consider is the operating system, Windows XP or Linux. If you are not used to Linux there are a couple of versions various makers have chosen to implement but they ultimately are based on Linux. To date there does not seem to be a version that comes pre-installed with Windows Vista, although it seems that will be coming soon.

If you are not used to Linux, having a portable, secondary computer with Linux may be a great way to get used to it, otherwise Windows XP seems widely available. For those choosing Linux most of the important applications (Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentation Software...etc) come pre-installed. Some of the limitations with Linux are the minimal driver support for such devices as scanners, and perhaps some printers. Although most HP, Epson and other large makers are supported.

In terms of adding other software with Linux you may be confused and/or disappointed by the titles available for this operating system. If you are not familiar with command line or synaptics package installer you are not likely to want Linux. But most of the useful software is already installed and you may not need to install anything anyway.

We have been seeing more and more traditional stores (Fry's, Best Buy, Costco, Target...etc) carrying these netbooks on their shelves. But besides a few Asus models most of them are coming pre-installed with Windows XP.

The real issue is portability, they are great because they are small. As some makers begin adding larger 10 ~ 12 inch screens some of the luster is lost, but even at 10 inches most of them are still quite small.

Selling and Displaying Netbooks in Stores

It is interesting how many stores like Fry's display these computers. They tend to have them away from their "normal" line of laptops, and they designate them as "Netbooks". When you see their traditional line priced at $700 - $2000 and then you see a couple of small laptops at $300 - $450 or so sellers are desperate to make you think they are not "real" computers. But in reality they are completely real computers, so much that if you do not play games you probably don't need anything else.

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