Netbooks came out of nowhere almost 2 years ago and quickly became popular among home and business users alike. Their small screens and keyboards have held back many users, but new 12″ models are blurring the lines between netbook and standard laptop.
Netbooks differ from standard laptops in several areas. Netbooks are generally much smaller and thinner (no optical drive), use low-power processors and can be had for $500 or less.
First-generation netbooks only had 7″ and 9″ screens available (diagonal measurement), but now 10″ is standard. Newer 12″ models now offer more viewing area and larger keyboards, and are still small enough to be carried around easily.
Prices are a bit high right now on 12″ netbooks, close to the price of a standard budget laptop, but still worth considering if you’re looking for more portability and battery life, and can live with less screen area. The resolution on these LCD panels is usually 1280×800 or 1366×768 pixels.
Below are some current netbook models available. Note that many factors will affect the availability of these models, such as increased demand, pressure from manufacturers (Intel wants netbooks to die so they can sell more expensive CPUs) and component availablility.
Dell Inspiron Mini 12
Starting at $500, this netbook stands out by being very thin and light. It is less than 1.1″ thick closed and less than 3 pounds. The base model includes Windows XP Home, Intel Atom Z520 Processor, 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, webcam and bluetooth.
Lenovo Ideapad S12
This netbook can be had starting at only $400, since it’s based on the budget VIA Nano ULV 2250 processor and chipset. The base model includes Windows XP Home, 1GB RAM and a 160GB hard drive.
It is also available with the faster Intel ATOM processor, NVidia ION graphics and 2GB RAM for more multimedia power. Windows 7 Home Premium package available.
HP Mini 311
The HP Mini 311 features an 11.6″ display, and is based on the powerful (for a netbook anyway) NVIDIA ION platform, which includes 256MB of dedicated video memory, an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor, 1GB RAM and a 160GB hard drive.
Other notable features include a 5-in-1 card reader and integrated webcam. Windows 7 Home Premium is an available option. Starting price is about $400.
Finally, this netbook offering is one of the most expensive at about $600, but it packs a lot of features into a small package.
It’s based on the NVIDIA ION LE graphics chipset, is powered by an Intel Atom N280 processor, and has 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive standard. Webcam, bluetooth, and card reader are standard, as well as Windows 7 Home Premium.
Don’t expect as much battery life here as with the average netbook.