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back to article 2008's top three netbooks

Launched as a product class in 2007, it was only in 2008 that the netbook hit the big time, with World+Dog rushing to follow Asus and launch one, and the rest of us dashing to buy one. Acer Aspire One Acer Aspire One Acer's Aspire One was the world's most popular netbook in Q3, and it quickly became our favourite too thanks …

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Dead Vulture

901, not 1000

Surely the eee 901 should be listed here instead of the eee 1000 - which costs £100 more but doesn't do anything new apart from the slightly larger keyboard & screen. The 901 is a great netbook, whilst the 1000 seems more like an undernourished laptop.

Hope to see more small CHEAP computers next year, like the AA1 which was the best netbook by far.

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Happy

Samsung NC10

Wot? No Samsung NC10? These amazing little Netbooks have a beautiful keyboard and a battery life that defecates on all other Netbooks from a great height.

Samsung NC10 all the way for me!

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EEEPC 1000

85%? The review says 80%.

Regardless of that, how is it rated higher than the 901, since the review even says to get the 901 instead plus that 901 got 90%.

Hmm.

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Paris Hilton

WTF?

Samsung NC10?

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no samsung nc-10?

i am surprised the samsung nc-10 isn't on this list (or at least the nearly made its) based on it's excellent build quality, very competitive price, large usable keyboard, 10" screen, normal trackpad button location, ability to easily upgrade ram, integrated bluetooth, 1.3mp camera, favourable reviews everywhere else etc.

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Aspire is cheaper than review suggests

I have seen the AA1 for £171 on Amazon.co.uk and PCWorld has it for £176. What would this do to it's score?

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why get an underpowered netbook

Why get one. I have had the eee pc the first one with 4gb ssd and its very fussy wifi problems. and a Toshiba NB100-12a and and they have problems loading webpages and if its longer than the screen it takes an age.

Even when trying to load a search on ebay uk it will start to load the page then wait an age then loads the rest of it. as they are called netbooks my be they should be good at the net.

And to be honest I did find the keys to small but i guess thats how they are. But I have found a laptop thats good for speed and size its still only 12" but has a Pentium Dual core @ 1.73ghz and 1gb ram but vista basic but it does the job better. and I can type on the keyboard and its only £322.. still no cd/dvd but as its for the net anyway. I know people like battery life but as Its only for at home as a look at net while watching something rubbish on tv laptop. But I think I would if needed buy a second battery as the laptop got the power to do things for real...

What I really found funny about the Toshiba I could install the demmo of quake 3 and it runs very nice with very playable fps. yet has problems with web pages....

The laptop that I like is the Packard Bell Easy Note BG45-U-300.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@All

Re. Eee 1000 vs 901

We picked the 1000 over the 901 because we feel the top three should at least contain one 10in netbook. Our preference is for 8.9in machines, but plenty of folk want bigger models, and we feel it's important to take that into account here.

As for changing scores: that was then, this is now. Any given machine's value will change over time as a result of better alternatives, cheaper pricing etc. Nothing stays the same.

Re. Samsung NC10

The Samsung may well be the best netbook ever and micturate on the others from a great height, but until Samsung deigns to send us one to review, we can't comment on it, and so it won't appear in our top three. You guys are welcome to add your thoughts on it here, however.

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samsung nc-10?? cont...

oh yes and of course the standard 6 cell battery that gives 5hrs plus

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more info

AA1 is a good choice for first place - its positioning between PDA and computer is well thought out. Screen is bright enough to use outside. 2 card readers is a briliant idea... and the WiFi reception is exceptionally good.

Tesco is advertising the basic AA1 for £175 and a bit of change. HDD versions were going for £200 on Amazon; but haven't checked if that is still the case. For £50 you can find an 8 hour batt for the AA1 (which also doubles the weight!).

The HP 2133 deserves an honourable mention - overengineered in the classic HP way, it is a bit too heavy & too slow with a squinty screen. A surprise advantage is that the VIA processor has AES hardware, meaning full disc encryption has a negligible performance penalty.

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NC10

Likewise... I've got a Samsung NC10 and it's absolutely superb!

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Linux

Having used most of these...

I am sticking with my AA1, running Kubuntu. An absolutely first class machine, and, at about £180 now, a bargain.

Best purchase of the year, for me.

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Happy

1000 all the way...

I brought a 1000 on the day it was released in Holland. I tried the Acer (but the screen is pretty much standard for Acer which falls well below what I expect from a modern machine) and I didn't find they keyboard anything to write home about. I tried the 901 - great screen, great size same spec as the 1000 but the keyboard felt the same as the 700 that my wife has (not bad, but...)

The 1000 has a great screen, great keyboard. Runs XP on the train for 6 hours so I can work in the same document format that I use in home / in the office - and don't have to use open office (which I have tried a few times but sucks beyond all belief by really screwing layout and formatting when converting back to office format). I can use it in meetings should I need to RDP to my dev machine to show something and they keyboard (save the stupid up arrow / shift key ) is wonderful. And the difference in size is minimal for the ease of use it brings.

The only thing I would want to improve are the keyboard layout as mentioned and the resolution - but then getting a decent res would up the cost...

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It's about how you use it

I've got an Asus 901 and i do a lot on it, from simple browsing the internet to writing c++ code on it when slouched in front of the TV and a myriad of things in between. It's certainly capable enough to do all these things, although i'm running netbeans and bloodshed c++ rather than visual studio

However, the first thing i did when i got my 901 was to n-lite the version of windows XP on it to trim down the bloat which helps out a lot, from cold boot to been able to use it fully takes about 15 seconds, plus it's a lot smaller (think it's about 450-500mb) so get more space on the faster SSD to put other stuff on.

When i can afford it i'll upgrade the RAM to 2gb and when they become cheap enough replace the 8gb SSD with a 32 or 64gb model and it'll be even better than it is now. It's been getting a lot more use than my amazingly fast and expensive desktop atm!

If you use a little bit of nounce then these things are capable of a lot more than people give them credit for.

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Alert

Smugly reading this . . .

. . . on my new AA1

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

/ducks and runs

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Silver badge

One for the tightfists/low budgets

The CnM Minibook (sold under various names, mine is from CCL as the CCL Minibook) is a very underpowered netbook, but it is also very cheap.

Although it is not nearly powerfull enough to replace a desktop for browsing purposes, as a tool to;

a) check your email and/or browse on the move or while watching TV, or

b) run network diag/maintenance tools,

it is a fantastic tool. I mainly use mine for (a) while watching TV, plus playing solitair. But when at work, with no PC to hand (coz you are on your way to fix something else) and a vital server is having a problem of some sort, it works great for ssh etc to diagnose the problem on the move.

Although it has severe limitations, I love mine, and I see no reason to pay more (mine was £120) except to get decent video playback. For that I can just get an MP4 player.

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Yes... another Samsung NC10 fan

Likewise... perplexed as to why you don't rate the Samsung NC10 more highly.

I looked at them all (well, most), but my lovely new Samsung (in white) had that winning combination of decent keyboard, huge hard disk, 6 cell battery (they say 8 hours, I got 6 hours working in openoffice.org, middle'ish brightness), it was sub-£300 AND it doesn't look like a toy!

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Bez

AA1

I'm always a bit baffled by the praise lavished on the AA1. When I went shopping for a netbook I went straight to it, but found the touchpad unusable: it's incredibly imprecise, too small, and has the buttons in totally the wrong place. I didn't look at it any further. For me it makes the whole thing an unusable brick - they might as well have gone the whole hog and put the keyboard on the underside of the thing.

(A happy Eee 901 owner here, and loving the two-fingered touchpad...)

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dan

reasons i went for the nc10

i looked at a lot of the different flavours of the netbooks out there before purchasing the samsung nc10 and as a lot of the basic components are very similar it generally came down to the following differences for me over the acer, asus, msi etc.

the combination of the following i found better on the nc10 than any of the others... although obviously some of the others have these features:

trackpad button layout - the samsung nc10 has a small trackpad but after about 30 minutes you get used to it and the right hand side allows page scrolling. clicking can be done with the trackpad meaning you only need to really click the button when right clicking. i found i just couldn't get used to the trackpad buttons being on the side with the aspire one.

screen size - i personally prefer the 10" screens like the nc10. I find with the 8" models that you don't always get that much size difference in device as there is a large border round the screen.

hardrive size - the nc10 came with 160gb and windows (although windows is not necessarily a plus, its handy to have a licence when it is comparatively similarly priced to those that don't include it)

cost - the nc10 was cheaper than msi wind varients of similar spec by about 40-50 when i got mine

bluetooth as standard

build quality - compared to the plasticy cheap nature of some of the netbooks i found the samsung, espec for the money, the best of the bunch.

samsung software - i didnt know much about this until after purchase and cannot vouch for what the other netbooks provide but i find the samsung system backup and restore software that starts on first load pretty handy. (it keeps a 6gb partition for storing the o/s which can be then used to restore without messing about with the supplied cds)

battery life - the 6 cells battery really does allow over 5 hours use which I find invaluable for using it as commuter machine

its all down to personal preference as to which bits are most important... if you have small hands and good eyes the 8" models are probably suitable... being a sausage fingered oaf i need something with as big a keyboard as possible.. espec when trying to do anything like use it for coding.

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Happy

Eee 904HD

All these products are compromises in some shape or form by their very nature. I looked at just about every one before choosing the 904HD as the best compromise for me, and having read the review of the clone on here. It's got the same keyboard as the 1000, and that was pretty important to me; and as I want it for mainly photographic purposes in the field, it needed decent storage capacity, had to run Windows (I use Adobe Lightroom on it) and be capable of upgrading to 2GB. Screen size wasn't critical, as the resolution is the same and my eyesight is OK, but battery life is important. In short, the 904HD gave me pretty much the spec I wanted at the right price - i.e. a decent compromise. I would've preferred an Atom to the rather feeble Celeron M ULV, but you pays your money... only the 1000 of this list would've been suitable, and that costs somewhat more. Others clearly have different requirements, and thus will come to different compromises; what I like is the fact that there's a machine for everybody - machines that don't do much more than net browsing, through to machines as capable as many full-sized laptops, but a lot more portable.

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AA1 all the way

I picked up the basic AA1 model for £180 and it's ideal for quick browsing, messaging and emailing. I've never had any problems with the trackpad and it takes all of 5 seconds to get used to the positioning of the trackpad buttons.

Best gadget purchase in a long time.

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Boffin

AA1 < EEE 901 < NC10

The AA1, whilst nice, has the unforgivable failure of an unusable battery. End of.

So what do you do?

Spend the dosh on the bigger battery? But then the EEE 901 suddenly looks like a better option. It's only failings are the keyboard, and to a lesser extent, for some folk, the screen size and styling.

So what do you do?

For a few extra quid and a marginally bigger machine, the EEE 1000 will remedy the keyboard and screen size issues. But it's basically the same price bracket as the NC10.

So at the end of the day, the choice is:

EEE 1000 w/ 40GB SSD + 'awkward' package, or

NC10 w/ 160GB HDD + slick package.

Anything costing less than an NC10 / EEE 1000 has shortcomings, which is why they are cheaper. And that's fine. Anything that costs more is adding in something over and above the current sweet spot or is simply overpriced in comparison (hello, to the Dell Mini 9).

Fair shout for the Packard Bell EasyNote - it's a capably specced machine at a reasonable price. Not for everyone, but it fills a gap in the market.

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Linux

where is the HP Mini-Note 2133 ??

I bought a top of the range HP Mini-Note 2133 (1.6Ghz C7, 2GB RAM, 120GB hdd, WXGA screen, 6 cell battery) for 240 quid and I'm extremely pleased with it:

- best keyboard of any netbook

- best screen (1280*768) of any netbook

- solid all-aluminium casing

- a/b/g WLAN + bluetooth inbuilt

- PCIexpress card slot (for 3G network card

- 4+ hours real life battery life

Yeah I know it has a Via C7, but the 1.6GHz version with Linux (just replace the horrible Suse Linux with Mandriva 2009!!) combined with 2GB of RAM feel very quick, my concerns regards to performance were completely unfounded.

And it looks miles better than any other netbook!

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Aspire One

The Aspire One is a good box. I'm very used to the keyboard. So much so that my 15 inch laptop feels enormous by comparison. The big laptop is very much quicker for surfing but I still use the One as it so portable. Google macles for customising the One.

Wish it had 3G and I wish I could have the laptop in a bag, that sort of stays on, and have a dinky little bluetooth handset to take/make phone calls on.

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Alert

Basic Acer Aspire is roughly HALF THE PRICE of some netbooks

As previously mentioned, when comparing models some people seem to be missing the fact that a basic Acer Aspire is half the price of some other netbooks. I wouldn't disagree that some are technically better but the price differential should not be ignored.

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SCC

OK, the new Sammy looks great, but it ain't all that small or cheap. If you ask me a SCC has to be A) under £200 and B) have a SDD to make it truly chuckable. I'd say that makes the AA1 and Dell the obvious contenders for the top 2 spots. Start spending £300 and wanting a 160GB HDD and you may as well spend a few quid more and by a "proper" laptop.

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Paris Hilton

FOTW! Sorry your wrong!

I love my HP2133

Runs a full copy of Ubuntu 8.10, loads of storage and Dabs were flogging them for silly money a couple of weeks back.

The screen might be tiny but it's perfectly formed.

Anything less than a 1280 wide display is a slide rule!

Paris, coz even she's not as beautiful as my net book

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A

Re: AA1

> found the touchpad unusable

They're all unusable; that's pretty much the dictionary definition of a touchpad.

OED sez:

Touchpad (n): Device used to make the cursor jump randomly around the screen; also useful for deleting arbitrary words whilst you type.

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AA1 ftw!

I've got the very basic AA1 (£180ish from Amazon), and I love it, netbooks are supposed to be small, cheap and portable, and the AA1 just is :)

I can watch films on it, browse, send emails, do small office type things (docs and spreadsheets) - yes the battery life is a downer but I can totally forgive it because of the plus points.

And the touchpad just takes a bit of getting used to, it's no biggie.

And the biggest point is cost - the eee 1000 costs almost twice as much, do you get double the functionality? Double the fun?..... no, you don't. Case closed.

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Dell

After owning three netbooks in the end i got a secondhand Dell D400 with 1.6ghz Pentium mobile ( centrino chipset lol )

and its got bluetooth and wifi built in. Plus I can also play some games on it at lower res. like San andreas...I did not get it for games but i had to try it like you do...

12" screen 4:3 and its ok. and It came with the external dvdrom drive thats powered from the D400.

All for £180 with six months warranty.

Sorted. Do not like full size but i do like netbooks but to slow. but each to there own i guess. whats good for me will not be good for everyone..

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Alert

Darn you, Register!

A scary warning of how fashionable netbooks are becoming. One of our (how do I put it nicely?) less-than-tech-savvy salebods wandered in and innocently asked if the Acer Aspire One was included on our list of approved laptops. A quick interrogation later brought the horrific news - salespeople are reading The Reg!!! Can't the Reg block them, maybe distract them with a pic of a shiny Bimmer?

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Coat

Re: "Twice as much"

Er, no.

Bottom of the range AA1 = £180

EEE 901 XP = £250 = AA1+39%

EEE 1000 XP = £300 = AA1+66%

Sammy NC10 - £315 = AA1+75%

...and for your extra dosh , they all iron out the creases of the cheapo AA1.

£360+ machines (i.e. £AA1 x 2) are either tricked up HPs running Vista at a 1280 res, something quite removed from an AA1 running a broken Linux on an 8.9" 1024 screen for 2hours at a time. Or they're an Asus S- or N-series which are little more than a cosmetically tarted up EEEs for those that can't/won't afford a Sony.

If you pay £180 you get an machine that (out of the box) can do a limited number of mainly internet related tasks for a couple of hours.

Pay between 40% (£70) and 75% (£135) more, and you'll have a machine that can do nearly any commonplace (non-gaming or especially intensive 3D) task for a nearly a whole working day.

£70 - £135 is not a *huge amount of money* considering the extra

You get what you pay for.

Let's revert to the ever-faithful friend - the car analogy:

You could buy a Fiat Panda (EEE701) or a Ford Ka (AA1). Or you could get a Fiat Punto instead (EEE901), or a slightly larger Fiat Bravo (EEE1000). Or maybe you're feeling flush and fancy a VW Golf (HP) or Fiat 500 (S101).

Don't tell me... you're waiting for them to bring out a Deisel (Linux) Fiat 500, and like the idea of modding it to run on LPG (OSX) or VegOil (BSD).

You wouldn't catch me in an overpriced MINI (Sony) though, that's for sure. Whilst the Renault Clio (Tosh) ain't bad, it's big bum puts me off. Similarly, the Corsa (Wind) just doesn't quite press my buttons. Nissan (Dell) might not be everyone's cup of tea, but they're popular so perhaps I could be tempted by a Micra (Mini9)?

Nah? I'd probably buy a Toyota Yaris (NC10). And run it on paraffin (AmigaOS).

See... horses for courses. There's room on the road for everyone.

On second thoughts, who needs a car anyway???

But you wouldn't catch me on a bus (laptop) or a train (desktop)....

-Taxi (mobile phone)!

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Unhappy

eee 900A anyone ?

While I understand it's up to the editor to limit himself to 10" netbooks, I think the article's title is very wrong not to mention it. So we have in fact the top three 10" netbooks, which is rather limiting.

I, for one, wouldn't even consider the 901 because it's already bigger than the 701 form factor. So after a careful review of the available models, I chose a 900A, which packs in the exact base size of the 701 most of the 901 features. I know which compromises I've made, and I live happily with them.

10"ers certainly have a niche to fill, but I can't pack them with my full size laptop, or I would collapse under the combined weight. A small netbook is all I can carry along, because I wish to read mails, blog, and write personal thing and such on a personal machine, as opposed to my company laptop. I've 2+ hours daily commute time for this, I'm not robbing anyone time, and just want a real physical barrier between what I do for my leisure and what belongs to the guy who feeds me.

Dismissing sub-10" netbooks out of hand is certainly unfair, and not mentionning it borderlines intellectual fraud. All in all, it's a bad article.

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Maybe make the title 'Top three netbooks we've reviewed'?

Maybe if the test is only going to include netbooks that have been sent to you for review, you could make this clear in the article.

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reghardware = fail

"but until Samsung deigns to send us one to review, we can't comment on it, and so it won't appear in our top three."

well, well, well, (as i suspected) you only review products that are sent to you for free, that pretty much explains why some models have been AWOL from your round up reviews.

What a biased shambles.

reghardware = fail

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s
Bronze badge

@Viet

I think you may find that the editor included *A* 10" netbook, not that they are all 10" netbooks. The Dell and Acer are both 8.9" machines.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@n

*All* UK technology publications of any note - US ones too, I believe - evaluate product submitted for review by manufacturers.

In that respect, yes, they're free. But not to keep. They are all returned.

If you think we - or any other UK magazine or website - is floating in a see of freebies, you are *very* much mistaken.

This is standard practice, whether a publication's reviewing gadgets, enterprise-oriented products, cars, hi-fi, TVs, whatever. Only books, CDs and DVDs tend to be offered gratis, largely because they're so cheap. We don't review those.

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Paris Hilton

@s : you're right, my mistake.

I was a bit confused yesterday. You're right. But I still think that downgrading a product to fit another one, even from the same manufacturer, in its place without warning the reader is somehow wrong. What's the purpose of a top if you handpick the winners ?

Paris, because of my sudden IQ drop.

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Happy

To each its own...

Like W says above, every glove has its hand... or a car its driver... or a netbook its owner!

From all those *I have seen* I must say that the 901/1000 would be my choice, followed by the Wind and the Acer as 3rd.

Like I commented in the SSD article, the one I will end-up buying for me will have a 10" screen, >16GB SSD, >1GB RAM and most importantly >8h battery. It just has to be priced right and allow for each upgrade and customizations. The 1002H might fit my specs, but price and battery life are still to be assessed.

I still haven't seen the NC10, but unless it comes out with an SSD it might not be an option for me... unless one can replace the disk with a sata ssd without voiding the warranty!

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So what if the AA1 is the Fiat Panda of netbooks?

Out of the box, The AA1 does exactly what it needs to do do an easily acceptable level. With the addition of VLC Media Player it becomes a great portable movie player too. The battery could be better but who is ever away from a plug socket for longer than two hours? Unless you're relying on it for entertainment during long haul flights then what's the problem? Nobody should have it as their primary machine, but then who uses a netbook as their main machine anyway?

Like the Fiat Panda, it's ideal for doing 90% of most people's day to day stuff but you wouldn't want is as the main motor in the family, but I'd say the same about a Fiesta, Clio, Corsa etc...

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Stop

Netbooks are portable- so tell us how much they weigh!

Netbooks, big selling point is price. Other big selling point is size and weight.

So, why is it that all reviews concentrate on features and price? All the headlines are about SSD vs HDD, performance, but nothing about how much they weigh.

How about making it easier for those us considering a Netbook, by telling us how heavy these things are?

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W
Boffin

"...who is ever away from a plug socket for longer than two hours?"

a) Someone on a journey of more than two hours in a mode of transport without a power socket?

b) Or somebody who works a full day "on the road"?

c) Or one of the other demographics I can't be bothered to spend the time recalling.

_____

Re: Panda vs Fiesta pedantry... - You missed the point entirely. But to indulge you...

Fiat Panda (EEE701) - Functional city car of limited use. Good in the city, but wouldn't fancy driving the length of the UK in it though.

Fiat Punto (EEE901) - When all's said and done, if we're honest, it's a cheapo machine that's entirely capable of many key driving tasks. But it's by no means perfect and most folk wil prefer to spend more money on a more capable machine.

Fiat Bravo (EEE1000) - Small step up in the model range, slightly roomier, but doesn't bring anything drastic to the table compared to the Punto.

Ford Ka (AA1) - Entry level stuff. Spec for spec improves a little on the Panda in some key areas. But still some severe shortcomings for folk, who'll perhaps be more interested in the Fiesta (Acer's coming 10.2 SCC).

VW Golf (HP) - Premium brand. More of a machine. Premium price.

Fiat 500 (S101) - Fancy packaging, but under the hood, it's largely comparable to a cheaper stablemate.

MINI (Sony) - One for those able and willing to spend top dollar on a dead nice machine from a premium brand. But you've gotta admit that you're paying a decent wedge on the branding.

Renault Clio (Tosh) - Not a bestseller. Capable. Big bum (battery) at the back. Otherwise quite tempting.

Corsa (Wind) - Fairly bog standard all-round stuff. Reliable enough. Nowt particularly wrong with it, but I'd spend my money elsewhere.

Nissan (Dell) / Micra (Mini9) - Not for everyone, but most criticism will be borne of ignorance. It's a solid performer from a respected brand.

Toyota Yaris (NC10) - Doesn't always get the headlines, but quietly goes about it's business being undeniably one of the best in class.

Although there will always be folk willing to use (and pay for) a sledgehammer (4x4) just to crack a nut (the school run). Nothing wrong with nuts or sledgehammers, but it's a bit of a mismatch.

If you want to start moving house then none of the above will be up to scratch. You'll want to get your hands on a LWB van (or larger) for a short while. But for the commute/karting a couple of kids around/going to the shops, they offer a fairly cost effective alternative to larger machines.

You just want to cart yourself to the supermarket for a modest shop once a week? Fine, a Panda is the right choice. But most folk will rightly wish to pay more for more of a machine. Which is why Fiestas sell extremely well. Pandas less so.

Just admit that there's a multitude of machines for the multitude of different requirements that folk may have, and very few of these machines are actually bad machines or a massive rip-off when you consider what they can do.

Otherwise I'll break out the dog analogies. ;-)

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Bronze badge

@Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware

I think you missed the point there, Tony, which was that you only provide reviews of what you have been given. Whereas most people want to compare the _whole_ market. I know that would require greater effort on your part, but imagine a comparison of MP3 players, that didn't include an actual iPod, just because Apple wasn't feeling friendly at the time?

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Surprised

I am curious to know why the Samsung NC10 isn't on that list..It's probably the best netbook ive seen out at the moment.

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This topic is closed for new posts.