Windows is the enemy of netbooks
First, I want to say (despite the excessive Windows) that these are good reviews, it's good to know there's still some netbooks on the market instead of just those stupid Ultrabooks.
@Jerry, sounds like Windows failed to me, not the computer! Windows 7 is bloated. And your driver experience is typical; people tend to have this mythical belief (based on pre-installed copies of Windows) that it supports all sorts of hardware without drama, when the reality is as you've found that the out-of-the-box driver support is quite lacking. I bet if you ran a LiveUSB (yes, Ubuntu will install off USB stick) you could boot and find everything works out of the box.
"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."
Blame it on Windows. I have a Dell mini 10 with a Atom Z520 @ 1.33ghz on it. It had 512MB of RAM. I upgraded to 1GB solely so I could run the occasional copy of VirtualBox (yes I'm serious.) Ubuntu runs great on it. So this was like $300-400 new (I bought it used) and would probably be well under $200 by now if it were on the market. The original netbooks like this, people would either put XP or Windows crippled edition on it, then bitch incessently on how underpowered they are (phrases like "barely adequate for basic tasks" were bandied about back then) and of course about how crippled the crippled version of Windows is. They are not underpowered, Windows is just too bloated for it! (Well the CPU *is* weak, but I don't have to wait for it even if I have a video playing as well as everything else.) They started phasing out the Linux models, then the specs started going up and up and up... dual core processors, higher clock speeds, more RAM, more storage, faster chipsets, and so on, instead of more modest increases but a decrease in price.
"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."
People would bitch at how bad 7 runs on it, instead of running ones with Ubuntu or something that would run great on it. I'd love this too. My ma just got a Asus with a single-core 1.6ghz Atom, 512MB (I think?) for $120 at the pawn shop. It was less than 6 months old, they ditched it because the copy of 7 crippled edition ran like absolute shit on it. I immediately wiped it for Ubuntu and it ran fast and supported all the hardware right out of the box. I do wish that Penguin Systems or someone did just this, sell some nice cheap netbooks with a nice cheap Linux distro on it.