Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/01/grouptest_netbooks_best_buys/

Netbooks Best Buys

The pick of the pack

By Will Stapley

Posted in Laptops, 1st September 2010 07:02 GMT

Group Test So which netbooks get the thumbs up? As far as performance goes, they’re all essentially in the same boat, so the judgement comes down to usability, features, battery life and price.

You can see the similarity in performance from the test results:

PCMark 05

Group Test: Netbooks

Longer bars are better

Video Playback Battery Life

Group Test: Netbooks

Battery life in Minutes
Longer bars are better

So where does that leave our contenders?

Mano e mano

While Lenovo’s S10-3 includes useful extras such as 3G module, it suffers from a woeful touchpad and is on the pricey side. Lenovo sells a cheaper, non-3G version of the S10-3, but because of that touchpad I wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

Acer Aspire One D260

Acer's D260: Editor's Choice

HP’s Mini 210 has a great keyboard, but its touchpad also lets it down as does the lack of 802.11n wireless. It’s worth noting that although it has a similar design, HP’s touchpad is no way near as bad as Lenovo’s.

Asus’ Eee PC range has some great models - let’s not forget Asus started the netbook revolution - but the T101MT isn’t one of them. It’s a nice idea to slap a touchscreen on a netbook, but it’s of limited use, whacks the price right up and impacts on battery life.

Despite the Toshiba NB250 being the only netbook to be powered by an Atom N455, there were no performance gains to be seen and, overall, it’s a mediocre effort.

Ultimately, it’s Acer’s D260 that offers the best mix of features and value. For £249 you get a stylish-looking, lightweight netbook with surprisingly good battery life. The keyboard and touchpad might not be the most comfortable to use, but the low price more than makes up for this. Coming so close to the Small, Cheap Computer ideal, it has to be our Editor's Choice.

Samsung N230

Recommended: Samsung's N230

If your budget can stretch to it, Samsung’s N230 was by far the most usable netbook. The keyboard is excellent, as is the touchpad, while it managed to top the tables in terms of battery life. Its matte display will also win it more than a few fans. But it’s the £349 price tag that stops it scooping top spot, so it has to make do with a Recommended award instead. ®