How much netbook can you get for $400?

Apr 09, 2009 By Etan Horowitz
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE

The hottest segment of the computer market right now is not fancy new Apple laptops or PC gaming machines. It's tiny laptops with older operating systems, cramped keyboards and designs that look like they might have come from Playskool.

Netbooks are small PCs perfect for travelers who want to do Web browsing, e-mail and other tasks without having to lug around a heavy laptop. In early 2008, I reviewed the ASUS Eee PC 4G, one of the original netbooks. It cost $400, had a 7-inch screen, 4GB of storage space, 512MB of RAM and ran the Linux operating system.

A whole lot has changed in a year. Nearly every computer maker has released a , which can range from a few hundred dollars to $900, and most typically feature Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. Instead of smaller, solid-state drives for storage, many netbooks feature large hard drives.

Since $400 was the price of the first netbook I reviewed, I decided to see how much netbook you can buy with $400 today. You can get a great machine at this price, but you will have to make some compromises.

All of the ones I reviewed have at least a 10-inch screen, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive, built-in webcam, memory card reader, at least two USB ports, Wi-Fi, ethernet jack and a port for connecting to an external monitor.

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE ($399)

The latest model in ASUS's landmark Eee PC line features a battery the company claims will last a whopping 9.5 hours. It's the only one of the bunch that features Intel's Atom N280 processor, which is supposed to let you do things faster.

PROS: Battery lasts a long time (about six hours without adjusting Super Hybrid Engine settings that slow processing but extend ). Touchpad supports multitouch gestures, such as using two fingers to scroll up and down a Web page. Includes Bluetooth capability and carrying case.

CONS: At about 3.2 pounds, it's heavier than the others and when the touch pad gets sweaty, it's a little hard to use.

BOTTOM LINE: If you can stand the extra heft, this is the best of the bunch.


Acer Aspire One AOD150 ($349)

One of the most popular netbooks, the Aspire weighs 2.95 pounds.

PROS: Trackpad is sturdy and not affected by sweat. Includes carrying case.

CONS: Battery juts out and it only lasted about three hours in my tests.

BOTTOM LINE: A lightweight netbook with a comfy keyboard. Although it's not as full-featured as the ASUS, it is cheaper and more stylish.


MSI Wind U100 ($350)

The model I reviewed is not the newest offering, but it does feature a 160GB hard drive and a six-cell battery. The newer model, the U120, has a new casing and costs $430.

PROS: Comfortable keyboard, battery does not jut out.

CONS: Computer hums when it's running, does not seem to be as sturdy as the others. Battery only lasted about three hours.

BOTTOM LINE: A good deal at this price.


Lenovo S10 IdeaPad ($399)

These netbooks come in a variety of vibrant colors (I tested the pink one) and weigh just 2.43 pounds.

PROS: Very lightweight and attractive.

CONS: Small touchpad, keyboard is not as comfortable as the others, battery life only about two hours.Only two USB ports; others have three.

BOTTOM LINE: The smallest and lightest of the group, this netbook will take up the least space in your bag, but you may be frustrated by the battery life and cramped keyboard.

___

(c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Visit the Sentinel on the World Wide Web at www.orlandosentinel.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Asus 1000HE Netbook Claims 9.5 Hour Battery Life

Feb 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Asus has just introduced an Eee PC netbook that uses the Intel Atom N280, which has slightly better performance than the previous N270 chip. The N280 runs at 1.67GHz, up from the N270's 1.6GHz, ...

Samsung NC310 Netbook Claims 11 Hour Battery Life

Mar 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most standard netbooks offer between two and five hours of battery life, the newly released Samsung NC310 goes beyond these limits and can achieve 11 hours of computing time on a single charge. ...

Asus Eee PC Netbook 1000HG WiMAX Coming Soon (Video)

Feb 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the Mobile World Congress this week, Asus has announced their up coming 1000HG netbook that comes with both WiMAX and Wi-Fi capabilities. Asus has made no commitment to a release date but ...

Recommended for you

Drivebot aims to touch driver bases for safety, savings

3 hours ago

Five Thailand-based engineers have developed a dongle device that serves as a fitness tracker for cars and have turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for bringing it forward. The attraction is that it is a simple ...

HP announces Sprout—a truly innovative workstation

6 hours ago

Hewlett-Packard Co has announced the development of a new kind of computer workstation—one that combines the power of a desktop computer with 3D scanning and projection—and adds a second display surface ...

Microsoft unveils fitness gadget, health tracking

Oct 30, 2014

Microsoft is releasing a $199 fitness band that also checks your email and even pay for coffee as the software company seeks to challenge Apple and others in the still-infant market for wearable devices.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.