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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things to look out before purchasing a NetBook / Netop

gnome-laptop The current wave of mobile computing has turned towards NetBooks or Netops for sure. The NetBooks’ on offer are from almost all the major brands like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, HCL, Sony, Acer, WIPRO and MSI. Almost all these brands have atleast 2-3 models on offer with varying configurations and setups.

Well – what is a NetBook or Netop?
NetBook’s are basically mini laptops that usually run on the Intel Atom Processors and have features that are most needed for people on the go and need a computer to do some basic operations. They come in a variety of Intel Atom Processors ranging from the 1GHz to the latest 1.66GHz (N280) one. NetBooks also come with a choice of hard disks from SATA drives to SSD (Solid State Drives). They have 1-2GB of RAM and usually with no CD / DVD ROM Drives. But what actually sets them apart is the shear size of these beauties – they have screens varying from 7 inches right upto 11-12 inches.

Hope that was quite an explanation – Now getting back to what was on offer and how I zeroed in on one… Here it goes.

Processor :
cpu There isn’t much options on this front – the only contenders are from the Intel family currently. We have the Intel Atom architecture that was conceptualized / designed specifically for the NetBook market. The Atom range of processors are pretty small in footprint and also consume way too less power than conventional processors. The latest Intel Atom Processor on offer is the N280 which runs at 1.66GHz

gnome-dev-pcmcia We have a choice of the older SDRAM as well as the DDR RAM’s. But there is a cap of a max of 2GB RAM. All the NetBooks I researched came with 1GB of RAM.

Hard Disk :
drive-harddisk The minimum that was on offer was at 80GB and the max was at 320GB. But do you really need that much of memory on the go? Well, that depends on an individual’s needs – as for me, I had a requirement of a minimum of 100GB. So the higher capacity I get – the better bang I get for my buck :)

Display :
computer-laptop Now this is an area where you least expect to have choices – but you really have a competition here too. There are the touch screens that have become the latest fad and then you have the BackLit LED displays and the regular LCD displays. Though touch screens have a lot of takers but do you really need it? We all know that hand-writing recognition has always been unpredictable at the most needed hour. Also, all the extra care that you need to take care from fingerprints and the gloss.

Battery BackUp :
gnome-dev-battery Most NetBooks come with a 3 or 4 cell Battery that lasts for 3+ hrs. Again the hours that are claimed by different companies vary for the same specs. Also, on the higher end you have 6 cell ones that have 7-8 hrs of battery life. This is very important when you are shopping for a NetBook since the longer juice it has the better. The cost of the NetBook varies based on the cell that it has.

Wi-Fi :
network-wireless Almost all of them have a Wifi receiver that have 801.1 g/n. This is very important when you are on the go, since you can easily access the internet from the free access points. Wifi does drain a bit of the battery.

USB Ports :
drive-harddisk-usb The number of USB Ports greatly varies from different models. 2-3 ports are usually present in the NetBook. A thing to watch out is that a few models have 1 USB port which has power and the rest don’t have power, which basically means that you can use only 1 USB port for charging an iPod or Phone – while the other ports can be used for connecting accessories that don’t need power for operation.

Hope these tips are useful in you making a more calculative decision. As always, feel free to contact me if you need any suggestions.