February 9, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Help me buy a netbook!

Looking for a 10" screen netbook, ideally under 400 dollars with built in webcam, decent graphics, etc.

I´m leaning toward the MSI wind-- any thoughts?

where to buy?
posted by maca to Technology (37 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I bought an older version of the HP mini-note when it was on sale for $299 (currently, the model with 10.2" screen retails for about $450 and features XP and an upgraded Intel Atom processor). I am extremely happy with it and can't recommend it enough: every other netbook I've played with feels like a flimsy and cheap toy in comparison, including MSI, Acer, and Dell netbooks.
posted by halogen at 10:00 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I bought the ASUS EeePC 1000HA from Newegg just last week and couldn't be happier.

The build quality is excellent.

I have it running the Win 7 beta and it's as snappy as XP.
posted by elpiconeroalcognac at 10:03 AM on February 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

My SO has the HP mini-note and it came with a non-functional webcam under XP. He's happy with it otherwise.

I have a Sylvania G Meso. It's smaller than what you're looking for, but I love it--Atom Processer, big hard drive, Netbook Remix OS.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Acer Aspire One is excellent in its 9" version (I have one), and a 10" version is coming out in March.
posted by smackfu at 10:10 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the MSI Wind LOVE edition. I got it from with a rebate for about $300. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they're offering that anymore tho.

I adore this thing! It has 120gb of storage so I don't have to worry about loading too much music or media, and it runs anything I ask it to. Doesn't feel like a compromised machine at all.
posted by ginagina at 10:14 AM on February 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Dell Mini 9's are on sale right now. Starting at $250 (!)
posted by nitsuj at 10:23 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

You mention decent graphics- does this include HD video playback or any gaming of recent games? I ask because the current-gen GMA950 graphics processor used on netbooks isn't always up to par for HD playback or gaming. That would be my one hesitation based on decent graphics.
posted by jmd82 at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2009

Samsung NC10 -- a brilliant machine, 10-inch screen, good keyboard, long battery life, light, quiet, excellent for library/cafe working. I don't know how good it -- or any netbook -- would be for gaming or graphics-intensive applications, though.
posted by davemack at 10:44 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same situation of looking for a netbook, so I can't really provide an informed opinion, but I'm currently leaning towards the Lenovo S10, $300 at PC Connection, or around $350 direct from Lenovo. It seems like the specs on most of the 10-inch netbooks are very similar, so I'll be curious if anyone has any suggestions other than "I got this one, it's good".
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:00 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Samsung NC10. I bought mine because it had the following:

- 10.2" screen: I didn't want to take a chance with anything smaller.

- Bluetooth: I use a bluetooth mouse and only the Samsung and the Lenovo have it built in as far as I can tell.

- 6 cell battery standard: Many of the other netbooks have 3 cells which will keep you going for two or three hours, but the Samsung can go four or five without breaking a sweet and the manufacturer actually claims 8 hours probably in "miser mode." I've been using mine for weeks now in three hour long classes and I've NEVER had to bust out the ac adapter, even when I forget to charge it between classes.

- Excellent keyboard: Supposedly 93% of the size of a regular laptop keyboard. It has normal, full size keys. Watch out: some of the netbooks have screwy shift keys and the like. My only gripe with the Samsung is that you have to use the Fn key to engage the Home and End... but I got use to it quickly.

- 3 USB ports: Handy when you've got it connected to a monitor and are using two of the ports for keyboard and mouse and want a third free for something else.

- Fit and finish: It's really well built. I haven't seen the Lenevo first hand but everything I've read indicates this one of the best made, best "feeling" of the netbooks. Check out some of the YouTube reviews, everyone raves about the build quality. It really turns heads too... people can't believe how small and light it is.

For me it came down to the Lenovo and the Samsung... I went with the Samsung because it has the 6 cell battery standard.

It has lots of other nice features: Built in camera, microphone (you can actually use the thing as a handsfree device for your bluetooth phone... not that you'd want to...) 160gb hard drive, Windows XP Home, 1gb of ram, upgradable to 2gb, the 6 cell battery doesn't stick out like some do... The Samsung software for managing the battery, touchpad, power management, etc is all actually very sublime and non-bloaty. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things.

The Samsung isn't cheap. I bought mine from a eBay retailer for $470 shipped. I spent another $20 on a 2gb stick of ram from Newegg, and probably $15 on a better neoprene carrying case. (Oh yeah, another $40 damn dollars for the Logitech V470 bluetooth travel mouse, which I love... but damn, that's expensive for a mouse!)

The joke is, "I'm under-compensating." You can use that one.
posted by wfrgms at 11:07 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh and as for your requirement of "decent graphics" - that's pretty vague. There isn't a netbook out there that is suitable for gaming for high end graphics editing. That's not what these machines are built for - they are intended for web browsing, and office applications.
posted by wfrgms at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2009

Nthing Asus EEE PC.
posted by Rolandkorn at 11:14 AM on February 9, 2009

NC10 is the best of the current breed. I spent a long long time going over the options. Actually usable keyboard, easy to get to 2GB RAM, big hard drive, easy to "upgrade" to OSX, great battery life, bluetooth.
posted by neustile at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I hate the eeepc keyboard. Its a joke. Look at the key size difference in this photo.

The 10" HP mini-note has almost a full sized keyboard. Its really impressive. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to get some hands-on time with one before you purchase it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had the Advent 4211, the UK rebadge of the MSI Wind, for about six months and it is an excellent bit of equipment. A longer-lasting battery is a must, though.
posted by tapeguy at 11:19 AM on February 9, 2009

I hate the eeepc keyboard. Its a joke. Look at the key size difference in this photo.

If you have small hands, this really really doesn't make a difference. I got used to the keyboard on my G meso almost immediately, although big-handed friends who have tried typing on it have been scared off. You might want to try a keyboard in-store to see if it makes any difference.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:30 AM on February 9, 2009

About decent graphics: If by "decent graphics," you mean it's able to decode video well, the current chipsets won't do that, BUT Nvidia just recently developed a chipset called Nvidia Ion which includes a GeForce 9500 integrated graphics card, which can decode BluRay video and other formats, which makes it well suited to set top boxes and can give these netbooks better video playback. It's likely to be picked up by these manufacturers in the near future, as it has other benefits as well, such as being smaller and using less power (IIRC).

Of course, video playback will be hard on the go on many of the models because of limited disk space, but there are some models coming out that have larger hard drives (60-180 GB). That will drive up the price. Video streaming over the internet or a network/USB hard drive is a different story.

If you meant viewable screen size and resolution by "decent graphics," then disregard what I said. If you just want to surf the web and do office work, Ion is not as big a deal.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:48 AM on February 9, 2009

The ASUS 1000HE is coming out pretty soon in your price rage. It's a 10" with nice hard drive size, uses the new N280 processor which is supposed to be good on battery life. ASUS claims 9.5 hour battery life, but even 7-8 would still be pretty good.
posted by some idealist at 12:07 PM on February 9, 2009

The keyboard issues with previous Asus Eees has apparently been fixed with the 1000HE; the shift key has been moved so there's less mishitting of the arrow keys, and the keys themselves are now a chiclet-style like the MacBooks. I preordered mine on Amazon yesterday.
posted by catlet at 12:12 PM on February 9, 2009

I'm a little in the market for a netbook myself. Indeed, they seem largely alike. Here are a couple distinguishing factors:

HP - aluminum case
Dell - fanless, therefore silent when equipped w/SSD
Lenovo - ExpressCard slot, some-say-best-in-class wireless reception, some-say-best-in-class build quality
Acer - some-say-best-in-class wireless reception, slightly smaller than most, good battery life in the 6-cell version

Also: the Lenovo, Acer and MSI models seem to be widely considered the best choices for an OS X install.

Personally, I'm leaning toward a Lenovo, and I'll probably pull the trigger as soon as I convince myself that the Lenovo build quality is worth the price premium (aside: if Lenovo made an S10 with a Trackpoint, I would've bought one already).
posted by box at 1:06 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't have one but my brother just upgraded to an MSI Wind, from an Eee, primarily because his model Eee, was just too small for him to comfortably type and he seems satisfied with the 10" Wind.

I am a little surprised to see the HP Mini Note recommended as a contrast to flimsy cheap toys that are the other netbooks. We checked out the HP and it seemed fragile and poorly made. The keyboard was warped and would deflect with with minimal pressure. The machine itself was flexy and bendy. Unless the two we looked at, at two different stores, are outliers I wouldn't feel comfortable purchasing the HP.
posted by 6550 at 1:08 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

My Eee PC keyboard drives me crazy. I get repeated 'r' and 'l' strokes far, far too often.

Other than that, I like the machine. But that's kind of a big minus.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2009

I have a Wind and it's pretty darn nifty. I would caution that the integrated webcam is utter crap. I'm not sure if other netbooks are any better.
posted by chairface at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2009

I *heart* my Acer Aspire One: boots quickly, decent keyboard (I wrote part of a book chapter on it), sharp display, quick & reliable wifi (note: works better with the machine plugged in), and the battery lasts forever. Absolutely not recommended for any sort of entertainment apps, though, especially given the terrible sound.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:52 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I ordered an MSI Wind U100-432US for my wife (6 cell battery, 160GB HD) for $430 from Amazon, but while it was in the process of being delivered, I found that Amazon also sold the U120-001US for $80 less. It lacks the bluetooth interface and the carrying pouch, but all else appeared to be the same. I cancelled the first order yesterday and the different version is on it's way.
posted by jaimev at 2:02 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've got an MSI Wind U100 3-cell: it's a good netbook, but with two major shortcomings:
* Bad battery life (go for the 6-cell)
* Bad balance

Bad balance? Yep: if you have it on your lap the tilt of the screen has to be further forward than you might like otherwise it will fall backwards. This is annoying.

The Ctrl and Function keys being swapped is a mild annoyance too, but not a show stopper.

If I was buying again I would go for the Samsung with the HSDPA built-in option.
posted by devnull at 2:04 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have an Aspire One and am extremely happy with it.

(Also seconding thomas j wise's note about wifi with power plugged in)

Test all the netbooks you can. Check the keyboards, that's why I got an Aspire One over an Eee PC. Another thing is screen res, the bigger the better.
posted by sien at 2:09 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Samsung - great keyboard, good screen, 160GB storage, and separate microphone and headphone jacks, which apparently some other netbooks don't have, and which you need if you're using Skype or any other service with a headset. I know, there are built-in speakers and microphones, but I'd much rather use a headset. 3 USB ports and a built-in card reader too.

It wasn't the cheapest netbook, but a lot less than a small laptop with XP would have been. I got mine from Amazon.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:44 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have an Eee PC 1000HA and love it, but I would also look at the NC10 as there seems to be an almost Apple-like cult around it (I kid, I kid). I went for the 1000HA due to the trackpad size/presence of multitouch scrolling, as well as the easy upgradeability. I would stay away from anything that doesn't let you swap the RAM or HD.

The biggest thing I would recommend is to test drive one in person. That's what made me comfortable with ordering the 1000HA. Go to Best Buy or the like and try them out. Don't worry, you can still order the perfect model from Newegg. :)

The only thing I would say is a minus about the 1000HA is the right shift key. It doesn't actually bother me, because I always hit shift with my left pinky. But I have been told that this makes me an incredible freak.
posted by selfnoise at 3:30 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

By the way, if you need to playback 720p video on one of these (and just why in the hell would you want to? but a lot of people seem to want it) try using CoreAVC. It's bitrate dependent but I found 720p trailers on Itunes to be perfectly playable.

You will not be playing any modern 3D games on this platform (at least happily) but UT99 runs great and really, they haven't made a better game since.
posted by selfnoise at 3:35 PM on February 9, 2009

I, too, have been looking for a new netbook, but haven't been able to find one with an integrated CD drive. Do they make such a thing in a 9" or 10" version? And, if you don't have a CD drive, how do you load MS programs?
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 3:51 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

No netbooks come with optical drives. Sony makes some small laptops with optical spindles but they are much more expensive. I think Samsung was going to come out with a 12 inch atom based laptop with one but 12" does not equal netbook in my mind.

What do you mean by MS programs? As long as you have another computer with an optical drive, you can use Daemon Tools or a similar program to image any disc and then mount it on the netbook. Failing that you can either buy an external USB CDROM drive, or restrict yourself to downloaded applications. Really the only thing I had to image was Office 2007, though.

Oh, and UT99. I gots to have my Morpheus DM.
posted by selfnoise at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2009 had a post today linking to a few reviews about the new ASUS 1000HE. Seems like the 10" to get.,2817,2340594,00.asp

Been using an ASUS 904HA that's been upgraded to 2gb memory, 320gb hard drive and Windows 7 beta. Loving it. Plays Warcraft III, movie rips, surfs the web and has incredible battery life.
posted by liquoredonlife at 5:16 PM on February 9, 2009

And, if you don't have a CD drive, how do you load MS programs?
Copy everything on the CD to a USB flash drive and install your programs from the files on the flash drive plugged into the USB port on the netbook.
posted by junesix at 6:24 PM on February 9, 2009

Response by poster: ok, still leaning towards the wind, this looks like a pretty good price

anyone know if zip zoom fly is a reputable vendor? thanks
posted by maca at 6:30 AM on February 10, 2009

I have an asus 1000H and I love it. I run osx, win7, xp and linux on it and all work quite well.
posted by zennoshinjou at 7:34 AM on February 10, 2009

Acer Aspire One here. I'm a translator and do subtitling work and certain types of rendering work, as well as DVD burns to a portable DVD drive (bigger than the machine itself!), for which the machine hasn't noticeably slowed down. It's an old Atom 1.60 processor and has 1g of RAM and a 160g hard drive. I paid $350 for it and couldn't be happier. The fast boots and wireless performance are seriously something awe-inspiring, and the keyboard doesn't feel cramped at all (I'm a 6-foot tall dude with big hands). The lack of bluetooth is fine with me; I got one of those USB knob thingers, and then I plugged a GSM module into the back so it can get online using the cell network.

I run a stripped down copy of XP called TinyXP. It is illegal, but I own a couple serials already, so I think I'm within my rights, aren't I? Google for torrents, it's updated and supported pretty well.

With the latest advances in netbook tech, I'm thinking very hard about getting a few more and using them as set-top boxes/media centers.
posted by saysthis at 12:01 PM on February 22, 2009

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