Mini Notebook / Netbook Snapshot

I’m sitting here, away from my desk waiting to be joined by a guy I work with to discuss mini notebooks/netbooks that may fit his needs.

Given I’m writing this entry on my ASUS EEE 701, I guess I should declare a slight bias, but none the less – the 15 minutes of Googles and link pasting I did to get the information he needs was an interesting exercise to say the least.

Since I bought this EEE last year, the mini/sub/net notebook market has exploded, it seems that every manufacturer has something small they want to offer to the market and, while the original roots of lowest cost, smallest form factor, no moving parts for robustness seem to have faded into a distant memory, the amount of technology now being crammed into these small shells is nothing short of astounding. Despite the range of offerings however, there are only a few standouts in my opinion and I’ve listed these below (with a complete bias toward the New Zealand market – because that where we are). As always, I’m happy for feedback, links to reviews and anything else which may be relevant – so comment below and tell me if I’m wrong (and why):

MIni Notebook Faceoff November 2008

Winner:

ASUS EEE 1000H

  • $800-850ish (XP Home)
  • Up to 2Gb RAM
  • 80-120GB HDD
  • 10” Diagonal, 1024x600px
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth + Webcam
  • 6-cell 6600 mAh standard (~5 hrs std use) vs. 8-cell 8800 mAh (~7 hours)
  • Review here

Contenders:

HP 2133

  • $890-1000ish
  • Up to 2GB RAM
  • 120Gb HDD (or 64Gb Solid State)
  • 8.9” Diagonal, 1280x768px
  • 802.11 a/b/g
  • 3-cell battery std (~2.25hrs) vs. 6-cell battery (~4.25hrs)
  • Review here

MSI Wind U100

  • $850-900ish (XP Home)
  • Up to 2Gb RAM
  • 80-120Gb HDD
  • 10” Diagonal, 1024x600px
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth + Webcam
  • 9 Cell Batteries available (7800 mAh vs. 2200 mAh of the Stock 3 cell)

Also Ran (but eliminated due to inability to configure options in online store):

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

  • $850ish (XP Home)
  • 1Gb RAM
  • 16GB SSD
  • 8.9” Diagonal, 1024x600px
  • 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • 4-cell standard battery

So that’s the wrap up, there’s a ton more options out there but take care as many ‘mini/sub notebooks/netbooks’ (whatever you want to call them) are so close in size and price to a ‘real’ laptop, that you’re more than better off getting something full size.

The most important thing is to define your requirements and decide how the device will be used to best determine what features you require. As an example, my list looks something like this:

  • Solid state/no moving parts
  • Connectivity options
    • Is WiFi is all you need?
    • Perhaps bluetooth for easy no cable links to a cellular data connection?
  • On-board storage capacity
    • Personally I use the device to bootstrap to ‘the cloud’ where my big files are stored, most of the apps I use are web based so there’s little need for massive amount of on board storage.
  • Applications you wish to run / users who will utilise the device
    • Many of the apps I need to keep things usable for others useing the device are windows based so, despite the performance hit – I’ve got Windows XP installed after a couple of attempts to use Ubuntu.
  • Price
  • Screen resolution

I hope this has been helpful to at least some of you who may be considering an iminent purchase. For those with more time and money on their hands, you may want to hold out for the touted Apple Netbook

4 thoughts on “Mini Notebook / Netbook Snapshot”

  1. I am a fan of the ASUS EEE 1000H as well. I tried an ACER AspireOne which is not listed here and I did not like it much. I vote for the ASUS machine. *raises hand*

  2. Thanks for making it easier to comment.

    I'm surprised that you kicked the Inspiron out for not being configurable — the NZ model is configured at the highest spec possible, which meets all of your stated requirements. It is one of the few SSD models, and I think the only fanless model available. It is still far from perfect (battery life, ) but as I said on twitter: “Works for me” 🙂

    I think this category is going to light up a little with the recent approach to embedding mobile data cards in them. Dell are already doing this [but not in NZ], and I think someone launching a new network <whistle> would look at what VodaUK or AT&T are doing. I wish mine had one, as a netbook that is constantly connected is pretty damn useful.

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