Finding the Right Netbook
December 17, 2010 4:19 PM   Subscribe

What's the best netbook for a 17-year-old boy for Christmas? Yes, I know I am an idiot to be asking this at the last minute.

He will use it mostly for checking Facebook and watching videos, Netflix, and tv. What should I look for to get smooth playing of videos and long battery life?

I've researched websites such as and From what I can gather, my criteria should be RAM (2GB) and battery (6-cell). Have I got that right?

A cramped or awkward keyboard is not a big issue, since he types with two fingers anyway. Style isn't important as long as it's not pink. Durable would be a plus.

Oh -- and I'd like to spend $300 or less. Is it hopeless? Or am I headed in the right direction?

Thank you SO MUCH!
posted by Srudolph to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I will tell you something that recently surprised me: I bought an ASUS Eee like six weeks ago, and I won't play Netflix Streaming. I love it otherwise, Amazon seems to have them for the best price with the largest battery and add-on 2GB RAM, but it does not seem to be able to reasonably do that one thing. I get 3-6 minutes and then it hangs. I haven't tried again since that first shock about two weeks ago, hopefully somebody else might say theirs is fine.

It does everything else, though. And I think all told with RAM and a sleeve I paid $330.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:10 PM on December 17, 2010

I have a Samsung NC10 and it streams video just fine, as long as it's in "Speed mode" (unthrottled CPU).
posted by zug at 5:43 PM on December 17, 2010

I love my ASUS Eee. I bought one with 1GB RAM (for just under $300) and upgraded it to 2 myself (by taking out the 1MB stick and putting in a 2MB stick that I had laying around) but be warned if you want to do that, it takes a bit of BIOS tweaking. I haven't actually tried to stream Netflix on it but my guess would be the low memory might be a problem. Then again, you can stream Netflix on an iPod Touch... My Eee runs Farmville just fine, but anything more intensive than that would probably not work.

Small keyboards aside (I have small hands and still have problems typing on it), a small travel-sized mouse (if not a full-sized one) would be a nice addition, as trackpads are sometimes awkward. A wired one won't need battery changes, where a wireless one would, and if the wireless is bluetooth I believe that drains the pc's battery a bit as well. And, of course, optical, so it can be used without a mousepad.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:00 PM on December 17, 2010

I haven't tried again since that first shock about two weeks ago, hopefully somebody else might say theirs is fine.

Mine is fine. My wife and I both have Asus eee netbooks, and we do Netflix streaming all the time. But you have to have 2GB RAM (we upgraded to that) and set it on high performance for it to work smoothly.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:09 PM on December 17, 2010

My husband and I have been extremely impressed with the Eee PCs -- actually, we liked the quality of the hardware so much that we both now have Asus laptops.

All round, the Asus computers have high quality, robust hardware with a really nice design and feel.
posted by jb at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2010

Sorry - just to be specific - the Asus netbooks are very durable. My husband carries his at all times in his side bag, in the slim slip case that it came with. Both his current Eee pc and his previous have stood up to a great deal of use -- he upgraded for the performance, but his first is still ticking along (now with my mom).
posted by jb at 8:53 PM on December 17, 2010

I have a Lenovo S10-3 and I love it. It only has 1gb of RAM, but I can stream Netflix with no performance issues. It seems to run forever on the battery, full movies are no problem.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:26 PM on December 17, 2010

A friend of mine has the HP subnotebook from CostCo ($350 IIRC) and is happy with it for Facebook, Youtube, etc.
posted by zippy at 1:45 AM on December 18, 2010

I chose an Asus Eee specifically for battery life (and keyboard size, which doesn't matter to you, but fwiw I had zero issues transitioning). I carry it daily for my long-but-internet-enabled commute, and am not gentle with it, and have had no issues. It plays Netflix fine (firefox).

I didn't even upgrade the RAM, but I use it pretty strictly for browsing and web apps; all my docs and other are stored in various clouds (Google, Dropbox).

It was like $330 a year or so ago on NewEgg.
posted by librarina at 9:44 PM on December 18, 2010

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