Which netbook should I get?
August 22, 2009 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Another netbook question: my 4 year old VAIO laptop is just about on its last leg, and I'm looking to replace it with a netbook as my primary computer. More specifics inside.

I've read through all the questions tagged with "netbook", and I guess I'm just looking for some advice specific to my wants - especially because the market for netbooks seems to change so fast.

For example, in this question the consensus seems to be that the 1000HE eeePC is the way to go. Is that still true?

What I'd like:

-- Small is good -- 10" screen or less, I think
-- Want to run Windows and Microsoft Office
-- Not a gamer and don't need to be able to watch movies
-- Longer battery life desirable
-- All I really want besides Office is iTunes - but is my iTunes library going to be too much for a netbook to handle? (sorry, unfamiliar enough with computers for memory numbers not to mean a whole lot to me)

What I think I'm leaning towards is the Dell Mini 10, with Windows, and with the 6 cell battery. Is there any reason I should stay away, or opt for an eeePC or other brand? Any tips on where to order it from, other than dell.com?
posted by Quidam to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh dang, there's more --

if I go with the Mini 10, I should upgrade to the 1.6Ghz processor, yes?

I just priced it out with all the specifications I think I'd want, and it came to $652 (yikes -- well, that includes Office 2007, too) -- is that totally ridiculous? Should I reconsider?
posted by Quidam at 11:43 PM on August 22, 2009

I just bought a Toshiba netbook, and am very happy with it. I was torn between the Toshiba, an Acer and a Dell, but asked people who know about these things. The recommendation was for the Toshiba. The specs on all three were indistinguishable, but the build quality of the Toshiba is what swung it for me.
posted by essexjan at 11:44 PM on August 22, 2009

The current bests are between Samsung and Asus, I'd say either Samsung NC10 or Asus 1005HA.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:56 PM on August 22, 2009

Is my iTunes library going to be too much for a netbook to handle? (sorry, unfamiliar enough with computers for memory numbers not to mean a whole lot to me)

Nobody can answer this without knowing how big your library is.

When you run iTunes and select "Library: Music" (top left), there should be numbers at the very bottom of the main window, like: 6125 songs, 6.2 days, 3.7Gb.

In your case, what are those numbers?
posted by rokusan at 12:22 AM on August 23, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry --

iTunes library is currently about 5Gb.
posted by Quidam at 12:28 AM on August 23, 2009

I got an Acer netbook a couple of months ago, and I couldn't be happier. It sounds like it'd fit your needs, too. For me, two things were really important: a fairly normal keyboard (I want my shift key, dammit!) and a larger hard drive. Mine has a 160GB hard drive.

I really recommend you go test these in a store and not buy them online, or at least test them, then buy them online. I'm so glad I saw mine in person, because I was leaning toward a couple of other brands until I saw all the wacky placements of the Shift (and other) keys.
posted by metalheart at 1:19 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

An example of what I'm referring to with the keyboard: Take a look at the eeePC 1000HE's keyboard vs. the Acer Aspire One's. Note the shift key. It seemed to be the one that all the brands messed with the most. I don't know why they chose such an important key to screw up, rather than some of the other keys, but they did.
posted by metalheart at 1:25 AM on August 23, 2009

I've had an ASUS 1000HE for a few months. The one downside that I don't see mentioned very much is that the trackpad levers that you press for a mouse click are very stiff and hard to press. They actually hurt after a short while. I ended up getting a cordless mouse, but would have rather just gotten a netbook without this problem. The battery life is good though.
posted by eeyore at 1:35 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

a netbook will handle a 5 gb library with ease. My Acer Aspire netbook can handle my almost 100gb, even situated on an external drive, pretty well.
posted by freddymetz at 3:14 AM on August 23, 2009

I strongly advise you not to buy any portable computer right now.

New Things are coming down the pipe in the next two or three months, if you can put it off. Ridiculous improvements in battery life, build quality, the works. The rumored Apple tablet, the new NVidia Tegra/Ion netbooks, ARM processors, Pixel Qi screens, just a ton of stuff that won't hit the market until after this year's student cohort has bought their laptops for the school year.

Nobody should buy a portable electronic device between now and late October.
posted by mhoye at 6:22 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have an eee 91. When I fisrt gt it, the keybard just didn't wrk well. The space bar in particular, smetimes wrked and smetimes didn't.

When ne key entirely stpped wrking, asus sent me a new keybard, that wrked a gd bit better, thugh the key feel was still subptimal. The keybards are really cheap, and the slightest bend t them severly affects hw well them wrk.

Abut six mnths laters, the new keybard went bad. In quick successin, the zer, "", delete, and left arrw keys stpped wrking. Since it just went ut f warranty, asus wn't ship me anther keybard -- even thugh the keybards prbably literally cst them tw dllars. In fact, the "supprt" technician wanted me t reset the machine (and lse all my data] in rder t "diagnse" what's bviusy a mechnaical prblem.

S I can't recmmned buying an asus under any circumstances, and I certainly wn't buy anther. The keybard is sub-ptinal even when it wrks, and asus desn't stand behind its prducts.
posted by orthogonality at 7:36 AM on August 23, 2009 [6 favorites]

Very, very happy with my EEE 1000HE. Best computer I've ever owned. Whatever the current model in that series is, I'd highly recommend it. 160 GB hard drive, it should handle your itunes just fine.
posted by sully75 at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2009

I type to you, ma'am, this answer on my very own 1000HE. Note that I did immediately put Ubuntu on it, so I have no experience running Windows, but it is Fast and Has A Lot of Capacity. (Although your 5G iTunes library is laughable, I'm sure, for most netbooks. Even those with SSD can take that.)

I will second the above answerer's comment that the mouse/buttons are finicky; however, I tend to use keyboard shortcuts for most of my actions, so I don't use the mouse a ton. However, when I do, I don't find it hateful or painful, just slightly sub-par. My only gripe with the keyboard is that sometimes I hit the caps lock key when I mean to tab. Other than that, I love it; great battery life, super-portable even with the AC adapter, all-around awesome.
posted by opossumnus at 10:40 AM on August 23, 2009

I have a 901, and yes, the mouse buttons are awful. I use the multitouch trackpad instead of the buttons. Tap the trackpad for left click. Tap twice for right click. I haven't had any of orthogonality's keyboard problems.
posted by chrchr at 11:06 AM on August 23, 2009

just a side note:
if you are a student you should take advantage of the ms office ultimate steal. it may pull the price tag from dell down a bit.
posted by eebs at 12:12 PM on August 23, 2009

I bought a Samsung NC10 last spring because according to my research, it had the longest battery life and the most natural keyboard layout out of the netbooks on the market at the time. Maybe the marketing sucked because I never see it mentioned in articles or online discussions about netbooks these days, but I love my NC10! It's just small enough to fit in a large purse but big enough to use as my main computer without eyestrain. I've been very impressed with the battery life; I definitely get 6 - 8 hours out of it. It came with Windows XP and I've installed and used MS Office 2007, Dreamweaver, and iTunes. I just transfer all of my music to a portable HD so I don't have to worry about running out of space on the laptop.
posted by thewrongparty at 5:49 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the input -- on further review, I think I'm going to go with the Samsung NC10. You guys are great!
posted by Quidam at 9:17 PM on August 23, 2009

side note, but samsung notebooks are far and away the best i have tested

i own a mini 9 and use it daily, my girlfriend has a higher level eee and its pretty nice and my dad recently got a samsung notebook and its far and away better than the mini 9 and my girlfriends eee in every way possible (battery life especially)

cant go wrong with a samsung at all i dont think! enjoy it!
posted by knockoutking at 10:27 PM on August 23, 2009

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