Which Netbook Is for You?
The bad economy may well have been the best thing for a new type of notebook computer known as the netbook. You may have heard that term bandied about the Web's tech pages over the past few months, but you might not know what it means. Essentially, a netbook is a low-cost (between $250 and $900), ultra-small-size (anywhere from 7-to-11-inch screens), and lightweight (2-3-pounds, typically) mini-laptop that pretty much every major computer manufacturer (and a few not so major) have started releasing on the marketplace.
Though they're able to handle a lot of the tasks of traditional laptops -- thanks to the inexpensive-but-powerful Atom processor found inside many of them-- netbooks are mainly designed for Web surfing, word processing, e-mailing, music, uploading photos and streaming media -- mainly leisurely tasks that don't involve any high-def DVDs or graphics-hungry computer games.
Netbooks typically run Windows XP, Vista, or Linux. In general, XP and Linux are preferred as they are less resource-hungry and run more smoothly on netbooks, giving them fast boot-up times.
Keyboards are often slightly smaller than average, which can be a dealbreaker for those who need a work laptop. Regardless, if you absolutely must get a new portable PC this year and you don't have much of a budget, investing in a netbook may well be the solution.
We spent the past few weeks trying out some of the most popular netbooks on the market and picked our favorites, narrowing them down by price, features, and user type. You can see our picks in the following pages, along with a video and image gallery at the end. Take a look by clicking on 'Next' below.