Netbooks Galore: A Tale of Seven 10-inch Netbooks!


The Entrant

The State of Netbooks Today

Netbooks have been stealing the limelight from its more illustrious notebook cousins since last year, though consumers have started using these mini-notebooks more as a companion to their regular machines due to their limitations. That's not to say netbooks aren't as popular as before because they're still very much wanted for their mobility and affordable prices. As such, manufacturers continue to churn these high volume low profit machines to the public in the hopes of selling enough to turn a profit and buildup their market share.

Form Factor, Performance Concerns and Typical Usage

That said, netbooks still have quite a bit to offer for users who are comfortable with the limitations and form factor. The netbook's primary usage model is as per its name, allows a great internet usage experience on the go as compared to other devices like smartphones which are too small and full fledged notebooks that are more bulky. Fortunately, they also have just about enough processing power to handle undemanding productivity applications and even double up as a simple multimedia sidekick (think along the lines of an audio/video jukebox). Once you factor in a netbook's typical size, weight and capabilities, it's easy to see why netbooks are a useful secondary gadget for many folks. It's also why you see in our reviews that netbooks often score very high in our portability index, thus giving rise to the above mentioned usage scenarios.

The performance of most netbook systems are driven by Intel's Atom processor, though a select few utilize VIA or AMD chips. As such, you'll find that the hardware for netbooks is generally the same from model to model. Yet another reason for the similarity in configuration is due to the hardware specifications limitations as mandated by Microsoft's Windows XP Home license requirements for netbook. And most vendors try their best to meet this guideline in order to obtain a cheaper Windows XP Home license for the netbook and keep the prices of the machines low. It also works in favor of the machines themselves because they really can't comfortably handle anything better than Windows XP.

The Entrants

Since hardware specs are mostly out of the question in determining which netbook to get, it boils down to the design and ease of use of the netbook. Not all netbooks are made the same way; the aesthetics and how ergonomically friendly the netbook is play an important part these days when selecting a netbook. You'll find that while it used to be that manufacturers would prefer making the cheapest netbook possible with minimal thought on aesthetics and ergonomics, these days the designs have vastly improved that consumers should no longer be looking at just the price factor but more of comfort and usability.

For this netbook roundup, we've basically focused on the 10-inch netbooks, seeing as how the 10-inch form factor offers much more usability compared to the 8.9-inch netbooks of last year. Manufacturers are also mostly placing emphasis on this form factor with barely any new 8.9-inch netbooks being released. Indeed, the trend seems to be heading towards the 11.6-inch and 12-inch form factors that's traditionally been the domain of full fledged notebooks, but that, dear readers, is a different edge to the ballgame altogether.

So now that you've waded through our introduction to better understand the current netbook situation, it's time to take a look at our seven stars from the various manufacturers that have made their way to our lab for this roundup. Say hello to the Acer Aspire One 250, the ASUS Eee PC Seashell, the HP Mini 110, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2, the MSI Wind U123H, the Samsung N120 and the Toshiba NB200.

Specifications Roundup for all Netbooks
Processor
  • Intel Atom N280
  • 1.66GHz
Operating System
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home
System Memory
  • 1GB DDR2
Video & Display
  • 10.1-inch LCD
  • Native resolution: 1024 x 600
HDD
  • 160GB HDD
  • 5400RPM
Front & Side I/O Port
  • Card Reader
  • 1 x RJ-45 (10/100)
  • Audio Jacks
  • Integrated webcam
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports:
    • ASUS Eee PC 1008HA
  • 3 x USB 2.0 ports:
    • Acer Aspire One AOD250, HP Mini 110, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2, MSI Wind U123H, Samsung N120, Toshiba NB200
Miscellaneous 3-cell Battery:
  • ASUS Eee PC 1008HA, HP Mini 110, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2
6-cell Battery:
  • Acer Aspire One AOD250, MSI Wind U123H, Samsung N120, Toshiba NB200
Dimensions: Acer Aspire One AOD250:
  • 260mm (L) x 185mm (W) x 33.4mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.33kg
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA
  • 262mm (L) x 178mm (W) x 25mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.05kg
HP Mini 110
  • 261.5mm (L) x 172mm (W) x 26.3-32.7mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.15kg
Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2
  • 258mm (L) x 183mm (W) x 18-25.4mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.1kg
MSI Wind U123H
  • 260mm (L) x 180 (W) x 19.75-33mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.325kg
Samsung N120
  • 272mm (L) x 188.5mm (W) x 29.8mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.28kg
Toshiba NB200
  • 263mm (L) x 192.3 mm (W) x 25.4-32.25mm (H)
  • Weight:1.325kg