A netbook is a small, lightweight, inexpensive and highly portable laptop but it has the processing power in less than a full-sized laptop. However, it is suitable enough for general computing, word processing, running a web browser and connecting to the Internet wirelessly. Netbooks are small in size, usually with a 10-inch screen, but some displays can be slightly smaller or larger. Their weight is about 2.5 pounds and they sell for well under $500 these days. Most netbooks come with Intel Atom processor and at least 1 GB of RAM.

With the ever growing demand for the netbook many companies are designing more and more netbook models released into the world market. So, it is not easy to make a right choice of buying a good netbook for buyers. For anyone looking to buy a netbook, here are some important netbook features to consider:

Screen size and display resolution

Netbooks generally come with a screen size which ranges from 7 to 12 inches. That’s a big difference from the average 15 inches on a full-sized laptop. In order to decide which screen size is good enough for you, you should try to run your favorite programs and view your favorite websites on a variety of different sized screens.

Try to buy a screen size of 8.9 inches or larger otherwise the screen and its resolution might be too low and finally make it more difficult to read. A 10-inch netbook usually has resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and weighs less than 3 pounds whereas 11- and 12- inch netbooks usually have resolutions of 1280 x 800 and 1366 x 768 respectively and weigh a little bit more. However, when considering its price and weight together, a 10-inch screen is a perfect choice and is the best selling netbook size on the retailer’s site.

Keyboard and touchpad

A keyboard of netbooks is usually smaller than a standard keyboard of full size laptops and range from 88-93% of the full-size keyboards. The keyboard layout of netbook is quite similar to the full size keyboard but key buttons on netbooks are smaller and closer.

But even if two netbooks have the same size keyboard, their layouts could be different and their keys are closer on some netbooks than others. If possible, please test out the keyboard to ensure they are large enough and user friendly.

Touchpad is one of features to consider. At present, a wide variety of touchpad have been developed and specially designed to offer a more comfortable experience during prolonged use. So, try out and get a touchpad that supports multi-touch gestures.

Operating system (OS)

Netbooks are available for Linux and Windows operating systems and new netbooks have moved to Windows 7 Starter, which is a lighter version of Windows 7 to help with load time and overall performance. As we all know about windows because that most people are familiar with the Windows layout as they have been using it for several years on their home and office computers.

You can also get a netbook with Linux, which is a much more basic and faster operating system. Netbooks with Linux run great for web surfing, email, and word processing via Open Office. However, Linux may be incompatible with some programs. Lastly, you can still find netbooks running on Windows XP or Vista.

Processor

Intel Atom is the most common processor available for the netbooks (most of them run on the Intel Atom N or Z Series). Here you should go for the latest technologies because they are available with more efficiency and try not to buy an old netbook because you can face problem of speed and efficiency.

The latest Atom processor on netbooks for 2010 is Intel Atom N450 Processor (1.66 GHz). Most netbooks launched into the markets last year were Intel Atom N270 or N280 which are being replaced by new Intel Atom N450. We can notice that all processors on netbooks are slower than the standard processor on laptops, which is about 2.1 GHz. This means that a netbook will be slower when running heavier programs. So, you shouldn’t use a netbook for heavy processing, such as photo/video editing and gaming. However, netbooks are perfect for light processes like web surfing, email, and word processing.

Battery Life

Old notebook batteries usually come with 3-cell (less than 30 Wh) units but for new netbooks, they have upped their standard batteries to 6-cell units which can get you unplugged for about 6-9 hours while 3-cell systems usually get between 1 and 3 hours of endurance. If your job or work require traveling then you should look for the 6-cell option that can get you unplugged for about 6-9 hours on a single charge. These are little costly than 3-cell battery netbooks but can be very useful if your activities involve overseas travel or all-day classes.

After Intel has unveiled new Atom N450 processor, new netbooks can consume less power approximately 20% over previous netbook generation (e.g. Intel Atom N270, N280). New latest netbooks are coming with battery life of 10-14 hours such as models Asus Eee PC 1005PE-P, Asus Eee PC 100P, Acer A0532h and Toshiba Mini NB305-N410 (10-inch screen).

Memory (RAM)

Most of netbooks come with 1GB and are up to 2GB. It depends on the kinds of operating system used in netbooks (1GB for Windows XP and 2GB for Windows 7 or Window Vista). However, please make sure you have at least 1GB to keep things running smoothly.

Storage capacity

There are 2 types of hard drives; solid-state drives (SSDs) and spinning hard disk drives (HDDs). The SSDs are faster and more durable than HDDs and consume less power and weigh less. The storage capacity of SSDs is not enough for netbooks because of the high price. The early model Eee PCs have only 4GB or 8GB SSD, and the newer model Eee PC 1000 uses a 40GB SSD. Most netbooks are equipped with the HDDs which have the storage capacity from 60GB to 320GB. Look for a hard drive that has a capacity of at least 160GB and a rotational speed of 5,400 rpm.

Optical Drive

Netbooks do not come with built-in optical drives for playing movies. That means you can’t run CDs/DVDs. However, you can buy a separate drive to plug into your netbook or use another computer to “rip the DVD” to a movie file that you can transfer via a USB drive or external hard drive, but part of its portability and light weight is due to it not having an optical drive.

Additionally, netbooks generally come with a built-in web cam, Wi-Fi, card reader, and USB ports. Some even have extra features such as Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, etc. Reliable brands of netbooks that you can choose from are: Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung, Toshiba etc. Using these brands as a guide, you can choose the models that you like best or that is within your budget.

In conclusion, we suggest at a minimum, an Intel Atom N450 Processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB or larger hard drive, 8 hours long battery life and Windows 7 Starter with Bluetooth as a preferred option for tethering a smart phone for mobile broadband access.

For example, the Asus Eee PC 1005PE-P with the latest Intel Atom N450 processor and 14 hours of battery life is currently the best selling netbook on Amazon.com for $368.59 and the Asus Eee PC 100P with 11 hours of battery life is cheaper and sell for $299.99-$339.99 (10″ screen). Higher-end options are becoming more prevalent, with 11.6-inch displays, higher screen resolutions, and new graphics hardware, for example, Nvidia’s Ion GPU used in Asus Eee PC 1201N (12″ screen).

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