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AdminSecret's Laptop Buying Guide

AdminSecret's Laptop Buying Guide

Eric Dahl / InsideTech for AdminSecret

October 03, 2008

2. Netbooks Ain’t All They’re Cracked up to Be

Ever since Asus came out with its $400 Eee PC, everyone’s been clamoring for a piece of the so-called netbook market. And these tiny, super-cheap machines do have a lot to recommend them. They’re cheap, super-portable, low-power (therefore high battery life), and super-trendy.

If you’re just looking for a light machine that lets you check e-mail and browse the web, a netbook might be the way to go. But watch out for these netbook drawbacks:

Small keyboard. What good is an e-mail machine if you’re going to hate typing on it? With netbook sizes ranging below those of even tiny 12-inch laptops, keyboard space can get pretty cramped. Try one out before you buy.

Tiny screen. Your average netbook comes with a 9-inch, 1024 × 600 pixel display. Consider that an average desktop monitor runs 20 inches with a 1650 × 1024-pixel resolution, and you can see how you’ll be doing a lot of scrolling.

Lack of horsepower. Here’s another try-before-you-buy situation: Intel’s Atom processor is a technological marvel, but you may not find it as responsive as you’d like if you’re used to faster machines.

No built-in WWAN. This one’s the killer for me. Most netbooks are limited to Wi-Fi connections, which are great if you have a hotspot everywhere you want to go. But the real killer-app for a super-slim web/e-mail machine would be an always-on 3G connection. Unfortunately it’s not usually an option on netbooks.

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