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11 inches - big enough?
July 29, 2011 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Is an 11.6" laptop big enough for me?

I'm going to be in the market for a new laptop soon, and I'm torn over what to go for. I've heard very good things about some of the newer 11.6" laptops coming out, particularly ones like the HP dm1-3200 which is supposed to have excellent battery life, but I'm worried that the screen will end up being annoyingly small. This happened with my old Dell Inspiron 10, which I now can't use for long before I want to throw it out a window. I was very tempted by the new Macbook Airs, which sound ideal, but I can't justify the cost right now - my budget is about €600, and the cheapest Air starts at €979.

My main computing tasks are web browsing, writing (lots and lots of writing) and occasionally watching movies/TV shows. I don't need a powerhouse, but I do want something I could use for long stretches of time. Something that doesn't get too hot would also be nice.

Is an 11.6" laptop really big enough to work on for several hours at a time, or should I be going for a 13.3" one? If so, can anybody recommend one with a decent battery?
posted by anaximander to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not familiar with the HP, but there are a couple of considerations aside from screen size for your use: resolution and keyboard size. I know the Air doesn't skimp on either of those, and I believe the high–end Samsung and others have high resolution screens with full size keyboards. Neither of those are trivial things for writing.
posted by mhz at 8:49 AM on July 29, 2011


I believe most of the 11.6" laptops I've had my eye on go for a standard 1366x768 resolution, which is why I figured that wouldn't be an issue. Keyboard and trackpad size could be a bit more difficult, though, which is why I'm wondering what people who have actually bought these things think of them.
posted by anaximander at 8:56 AM on July 29, 2011


I am very particular to aesthetics in a lot of areas. I would think a 13" would be the best portable option. Anything less is just marketing the word "net" or "small"..

short and simple. Good Luck...
posted by kmurray24 at 9:05 AM on July 29, 2011


I have the 11 inch air (which i know you said is out of your budget, but let me just comment on the size issue) -- I use it at home primarily plugged into a 22inch external display, and I would not want it to be my sole computer without that option. It is fantastic for couch surfing, and for taking on trips, giving presentations, etc, but when I write (I spend many hours a day writing), I would hate not to have the external monitor, keyboard, and mouse option.

So if you can afford an external monitor as well (they're pretty cheap these days), I say go for a 11.6 inch screen, b/c the portability factor is amazing.
posted by modernnomad at 9:12 AM on July 29, 2011


I have an 11" Air. It is my only computer. I'm a student and I use it to write my papers and do the graphics for my landscape architecture classes. What's most important on the tiny laptops is the keyboard size, IMO. A small keyboard is a non-starter. Only you can decide if the screen size is going to bug you or not. I'm ok with mine, but I do spend a lot of time scrolling around in PS, AI and VectorWorks. However, It's worth it to me to not have to commute with a larger machine.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:41 AM on July 29, 2011


So if you can afford an external monitor as well (they're pretty cheap these days), I say go for a 11.6 inch screen, b/c the portability factor is amazing.

I actually do have an external monitor/keyboard/mouse already, all hooked up to a very aging desktop that this potential laptop is meant to replace. You're right though, an 11.6" probably would be plenty big enough given that I'd only be using the small screen while travelling.
posted by anaximander at 9:55 AM on July 29, 2011


if your other accessories are also "very aging", just make sure all the necessary adapters exist for you to connect the new laptop to them.
posted by modernnomad at 10:04 AM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've used my acer aspire 1410 with an 11.6 inch for about a year now, and I really like it. Primarily because it is so portable, unlike other laptops that I've had which really weigh down a backpack. Great battery life so I can realistically go out for an afternoon without the AC adapter. Full size keyboard so I can type more or less normally. However..

I'm in the market for a larger laptop for home use, because the smaller screen is tough on the eyes after awhile. Also, the speakers are significantly less powerful than in other laptops I've had (don't know if this is true of all netbooks, but it seems plausible, they're so darn tiny). I used to watch movies all the time on my dell 14 inch, but it's not really enjoyable on this. Also, if I'm really sitting down to do serious work, I definitely prefer a larger workspace. Though the keys are big enough for my fingers, the keyboard area isn't really big enough for my hands to sit comfortably, so if I'm working for more than an hour or two it gets uncomfortable.
posted by skewed at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2011


If you are looking for a small size laptop you need to ensure that the keyboard is 100% or so close as to make no difference. My sole laptop for a year was a 10inch netbook, and I moved to the 11inch air when it was released as my only machine. It is used for programming and some writing( I contributed to a 17,000 paper using this), I love it even with my giant hands.
posted by adventureloop at 4:56 AM on July 30, 2011


Use your current monitor's adjustments to shrink the viewable area to 11' (a tape measure will guide you), then change the resolution to that of the prospective laptop and play around in that space.
posted by Deor at 8:23 AM on July 30, 2011


I dumped my big laptop for a 11.6-inch Acer two years ago. I do an enormous amount of writing and web design on it and I love it. Especially its full-size keyboard, extremely long battery life and the smaller and lighter laptop case I carry around now.

However, it doesn't seem like a 13.3-inch laptop would be much bigger or heavier. If that's true and the battery life is at least an honest 8 hours then it might be a good choice also.
posted by someonesomewhere at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2011


Use your current monitor's adjustments to shrink the viewable area to 11' (a tape measure will guide you), then change the resolution to that of the prospective laptop and play around in that space.

This is possible on a modern (ie. LCD) display? I must go play with the controls...
posted by davidpriest.ca at 12:01 PM on October 29, 2011


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