Small, cheap computers for scholars
Product Roundup Tablets may have taken the wind out of the netbook's sales, and prompted some manufacturers, Dell and Sony among them, to stop selling them, but if you're looking for a small and, crucially, cheap personal computer for the kids, for offspring heading off to college, or just for emailing while travelling, a netbook is well worth considering.
For a category not so long ago considered moribund, there's still an awful lot of models out there, many slight variants of the machines I've brought together here. So watch out for similar model numbers that bring you higher or lower capacity batteries, though their price will vary accordingly. There's no reason to pay much more than £200 for a 10.1in netbook unless you want a bigger battery. For an Intel Atom-based netbook, there's no need to go for a machine with a processor whose number is less than '2100' unless you're getting a big discount. But there are a fair few older, N570- or N270-equipped netbooks still around.
There's also the new breed of 11.6in netbooks to consider - though some might say they're simply small notebooks. You'll pay around £300 for one of these, getting not only more memory - and we all know Windows needs as much as you can throw at it, and these machines come with full Windows 7 rather than the pared-back Starter edition - but also much higher resolution displays. They're slightly larger than ten-inchers but no less portable for that.
Acer Aspire One D270
Available for around £230, Acer's Aspire One D270 delivers the now standard netbook spec: Atom processor, 1GB of Ram, 320GB of hard drive storage, 10.1in 1024 x 600 display all running Windows 7 Starter Edition. The Atom in question is the dual-core 1.6GHz N2600 - you'll see that name a lot here. Also like most of the other netbooks here, it has an HDMI port and 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi. The D270 comes in a choice of colours, if you want a machine with a personal touch. The battery life is a bit weak, mind: just four hours.
Reg Rating 65%
More Info PC World
Acer Aspire One 725
Not all netbooks follow the Atom standard - here's the first of a number of AMD-based machines. In addition to the AMD processor - a 1GHz dual-core C-60, in this case - you get 4GB of Ram, an 11.6in, 1366 x 768 display, and a full version of Windows 7, not the cut-down Starter edition. That makes it wider and deeper than a 10.1in netbook, but thinner: it's just 20mm thick. The cost is higher, though - £300 - but that's worth it, I think for the higher-resolution display and Windows 7 performance-boosting extra Ram. The five-odd hour battery life isn't anything special, but aesthetically this is the best netbook here.
Reg Rating 75%
More Info John Lewis
Next page: Asus Eee PC 1015BX
Asus Eee PC 1015BX: "at up to 26mm thick, it's one of the chunkiest netbooks here"
Asus Eee PC X101CH: "just under an inch at its thickest point making it one of the thinnest machines here'
Seriously? 0.6mm between thinnest and chunkiest?
There's a reason for El Reg units, you know.
and while we're at it, where's the EEE girl?
How much of that price is the Windows tax?
Netbooks really shine when you put something like Linux on them. Just a pity you can't buy any without paying Windows tax.
Still too expensive...
When netbooks first came out three or four years ago, they were £229 or thereabouts. And they are STILL that sort of price. They've got slightly better specs - but that's all.
They seem to be the only form of computer life which doesn't go down in price. I cannot see any good reason why they shouldn't be sub-£150 these days.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if Asus or Acer were to produce a fairly minimal spec box for £149. I reckon it would fly off the shelves.
"I'm assuming the thumbs are mostly industry shills."
Everyone who disagrees with you must be an industry shill - couldn't possibly be because your writings are somewhat of the n00b could it.
Win7 Starter is limited to 2GB, Wikipedia would have told you that if you'd bothered to research before upgrade, it would also have revealed Starter is 32bit so if you did an in-place upgrade then the resultant Home/Pro will also be 32bit and thus not fully utilise your 4GB as "any fule no".
Try installing from a USB stick (very very easy to do, Google it) a 64bit version, you can pop the 64bit ethernet or wifi driver on the same USB stick and install it afterwards and then you can just visit Windows update or download whatever drivers you need direct. Simples?
Lin Line Lin Line Ux
I got my AAO for under £150 a few years ago.
Great wee machine, still gets a lot of use.
It's Linux distro allowed it to come in at such a low price, and with a fairly low spec still run very well. Boot up into Linpus is seconds, and you have your browser, office suite and documents in front of you.
(Of course I later upgraded the RAM and Wireless card and triple boot with XP and a certain OS that rhymes with Oh Ess Ex)
Windows 7 killed the Netbook through Windows tax, the need for notebook/desktop specs to run, and when they finally relented and released the Starter edition - it is so cut down that you can't even easily change the wallpaper! (there are tricks to get around this)
Sceptical about ChromeOS, I want my data on my machine, not in someone else's fog-- I mean, cloud.