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Portables Hardware

11.6" Netbooks Face Off 238

Posted by kdawson
from the category-benders dept.
Dr. Damage writes "Netbooks have grown from tiny curiosities with 7" screens into surprisingly well-rounded little computers. The latest step is 11.6" displays with 1366x768 resolution and near-full-sized keyboards. Two such systems are available now for under $400 at US retailers: the Aspire One at Walmart and the Gateway LT3103 at Best Buy. The Gateway packs an Athlon 64 processor and Radeon graphics. The Tech Report bought them both and has compared them head to head in some depth, choosing a clear winner between the two." Like most such in-depth reviews, this one is spread across 10 pages.
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11.6" Netbooks Face Off

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:09PM (#28945775)

    soon we'll be marvelling at the 15" netbooks with core 2 duos!!!

    I can't wait!

    then we'll see the introduction of some amazingly tiny 7" microbook!!

    I can't wait!

  • Slashvertisement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WilyCoder (736280) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:10PM (#28945795)

    Nice slashvertisement.

    Not.

  • a netbook? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seringen (670743) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:15PM (#28945881)
    11.6" and only five hours of battery life for the "clear" winner?

    i guess it's the cheapskate route for people who really want a 13 inch macbook, but don't need bluetooth or wireless n.

    i personally think it shouldn't be called a netbook if you really can't use it all day without carrying around a charger.

  • Re:a netbook? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:25PM (#28946017) Journal
    Yeah, I think the term "netbook" has come to mean "smallish low-end laptop with no optical drive". No doubt better for profit margins, but not much of a win for the consumer.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:26PM (#28946039) Journal
    Then the microbook will grow to be 17" screen full keyboard QuadCore 64 bit CPU with Nvidia graphics card and all the users will abandon this and flock to Nanobook that has a 7" screen and all the marketing gurus of these hardware vendors will sign and start it all over agin.
  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:29PM (#28946081)
    I am with you. 11.6" is just too big.
    Lets get back to the 7" and 8" models please.
  • Re:!netbook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:36PM (#28946185) Homepage Journal

    A device with a 9" screen and 8+ hours of battery life is a netbook. A device with a 12" screen and just 5 hours of battery life is a sub-notebook.

    Or, you know, a notebook...

  • by luvirini (753157) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:38PM (#28946217)

    I have an original eee 701 and I am very happy with it. It is about right size, has large enough keyboard to type short notes and so on. The only complaint really is that it is a bit on the thick side and the use time is slightly too short. I really like the use of a solid state disk and lack of windows too, not to mention the 199 euros I paid for it as new.

    I am hoping that once the current crazyness of calling ever larger things netbooks is finally over someone will make something revolutionary.. whatever they call it then... something the size of eee PC, though hopefully by then they can make it thinner. I will likely personally need such in about 4-5 years or so.. hope they have again such on the market at that point instead of the current "netbooks"

  • Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:40PM (#28946257)

    The Tech Report bought them both and has compared them head to head in some depth, choosing a clear winner between the two."

    One time a scientist friend of mine talked about a pet peeve of his regarding some academic papers: when the Abstract section reads like an advertisement for the paper, rather than a summary.

    I wish kdawson had the same sensibilities.

  • by Shark (78448) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:56PM (#28946517)

    It'll just drain his batteries faster...

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:59PM (#28946549)

    The Gateway one "won" in the writer's estimate, due to a larger screen, faster CPU, better graphics.

    Well that's effing retarded.

    The entire -point- of netbooks is that they are small. The whole netbook industry seems to be grappling with its product identity, and reviewers aren't helping by routinely grading them on how close to a laptop they are.

    Netbooks should be graded on size, favoring SMALL. Performance is important, but secondary to battery life. Items like durability, and comfort of the keyboard, position of the trackpad (or inclusion of a track point), operating system options, connectivity (usb/firewire/vga/dvi/etc), dvdrw internal or external, ram, flash, hard drive, etc should all factor in.

    Selecting for "Largest screen and hard drive" however is demented. I can buy a Toshiba at Bestbuy for 299$ with a 15.4" screen and a 160GB hd. If I wanted a large screen I wouldn't buy a netbook. For $50 more I can make that a 300+ GB Hd.

    What then? the best netbook on the market is ... not a netbook!?

    When that happens something's wrong with your selection criteria.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:02PM (#28946597) Homepage

    Netbook is a computer optimized for getting on the net while mobile. Small size (for mobility) and low power (for longer battery).

    If you have an optical drive, a large screen, or a fast (power-slurping) processor, you're not using a netbook. You're using a laptop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:26PM (#28946947)

    I believe the point of a netbook is to be low powered and small, they're not meant to replace notebooks. The manufacturers are falling into the old game of bigger is better (or bigger numbers are better), only in the case of a netbook all consumers really want is the long battery life and portability. Keep the size, up the specs as much as you want but not at the cost of battery life.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:27PM (#28946955) Homepage

    Yeah, have to agree here, once you clear a 10" screen imho, it isn't a netbook any longer. Also, if the battery life isn't at least 4hrs, it shouldn't be praised either. I got a netbook because it was small and portable, and I didn't need to be tethered to a wall after two hours of use. I did bump my ram to 2gb, and my hdd to 500gb, and in win7 with the hardware changes I went from about 5.5hrs of typical use to about 4.5... most of that is likely the change in hard drive. Still, my phone's (rooted G1) wifi tethering runs down the phone's battery in less time than my netbook lasts anyway.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:50PM (#28947311) Homepage

    The entire -point- of netbooks is that they are small.

    Let's be honest- whether or not it counts as an "official" characteristic of a netbook- the other thing associated with them, and as much a raison d'etre for their initial popularity as the size, was the fact that they were *cheap*.

    Now that they're pretty much touching the lower-end "ordinary" laptops in both size and price, I'd question whether such machines are actually "netbooks" in the sense that people first associated with the name 18+ months ago. The term has pretty much been massaged out of any meaningful existence by marketers.

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:59PM (#28947433)

    I am with you. 11.6" is just too big.
    Lets get back to the 7" and 8" models please.

    Today, we call those "Phones"

  • Re:a netbook? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10MENCKENlink.net minus author> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:23PM (#28947807) Homepage

    so we don't get a blister-packed $99 netbook.
    Mobile phones are still pretty expensive if you pay full price for them (here in the UK even payg phones are subsidised to some extent by the carriers). Looks like it's about $70 for a basic phone and goes up dramatically for the ones with larger screens (even the basic phones seem to support downloadable apps theese days).

    It seems crazy to me to expect a netbook to be similar in price or cheaper than a smartphone with a much smaller lower resoloution screen any time soon.

  • by jabuzz (182671) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @06:05PM (#28948337) Homepage

    I never quite understand why I would want a VGA or DVI or any other external graphics slot on a netbook. Seems to defeat the purpose of a netbook. The only thing I can think of that might require that is a presentation, in which case turn it into a PDF and do your presentation using Acrobat on what ever PC happens to be connected to the projector.

    I also somewhat struggle with the concept of a RJ45 socket for ethernet, a WiFi connection is perfectly satisfactory for a netbook.

    All these external ports make the device more expensive, and prone to failure.

    Then again my perfect netbook has a Cortex A9 ARM processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of flash, coupled with a 9" screen using the technology from the XO-1, with WiFi and Bluetooth, a few USB sockets, Mac style calculator keyboard, a battery life of 12 hours minimum and cost under $200

  • In other words, it won in his review because... erm, it has all those attributes that make it not a netbook...
  • by an unsound mind (1419599) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @06:40PM (#28948771)

    Except when you don't have a WiFi connection.

    And I actually have used the VGA socket to connect my netbook to a projector.

  • by an unsound mind (1419599) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @06:42PM (#28948795)

    And I want a pony.

    You're not looking for a netbook. You're also not getting all of those features in the same system.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @06:53PM (#28948963)

    I never quite understand why I would want a VGA or DVI or any other external graphics slot on a netbook. Seems to defeat the purpose of a netbook.

    For me the purpose of a netbook is to be an ultra portable computer to get small amounts of work done ("bite sized tasks") without being a drag to haul around. To that end, it has to interface with whatever I encounter whereever I go. From a clients board room to their server room.

    The only thing I can think of that might require that is a presentation, in which case turn it into a PDF and do your presentation using Acrobat on what ever PC happens to be connected to the projector.

    So now you have to arrange for there to be a PC connected to the projector. I've been to a lot of meetings where I as the presenter am the only one with a laptop at the meeting. Sure I can pull out my flash stick and ask if someone can grab their laptop... but that's markedly less professional, and wastes time.

    Other uses for a VGA port - showing pictures, home movies, watching a movie. Sure I can in all these situations burn CDs or DVDs, but why bother, if I can just plug it in? When we visit the grandparents its so handy to just be able to plug in, and show them stuff. (Actually that's my biggest complaint about the Apple laptops... they all have ridiculous port types that noone else uses - minidvi, mini displayport... so you have have to carry an adapter everywhere you go. That and apple charges stupid amounts of money for these adapters -- THAT is the apple tax.)

    As for RJ45 - I think its pretty critical.
    1) Its the fall back position, if you don't know the wifi password; or if the router hasn't been setup yet, or if there is a problem with the network. (something I encounter a lot as a network admin)

    2) I can't rely on having wifi wherever I go. I can't rely on having a cable either. But between the two, I'm pretty safe.

    I suppose I could get a USB-ethernet adapter, but then I'd have to carry it around, and my ideal netbook doesn't require me to carry a bag of parts and dongles and adapters around everywhere I go.

    Then again my perfect netbook has a Cortex A9 ARM processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of flash, coupled with a 9" screen using the technology from the XO-1, with WiFi and Bluetooth, a few USB sockets, Mac style calculator keyboard, a battery life of 12 hours minimum and cost under $200

    Whereas my -ideal- netbook, is probably an atom or equivalent so it can run x86 software, a few usb ports, SD card slot, rj45, vga, and a good old fashioned 9-pin serial port(!!)

    For my purposes I could probably drop bluetooth, but it would be a nice bonus. I'd also add a good GPS. (and a power switch for any power hungry module (e.g. wifi, bluetooth, gps modules). 2GB RAM, and I'd bump it to 64GB of Flash so I could dual boot OSes (Windows / Linux). 12 hrs battery would be a godsend, and I'd even accept only getting it while one of gps, bluetooth, and wifi are turned on.

    Oh, and it shouldn't get stupidly hot either.

    But then I'd be willing to pay $1000+ for it, too. I can't even find a small laptop that meets many of the above specs, never mind all of them.

    For me the ideal netbook is a small bundle of connectivity and computing. Price isn't the key factor. Functionality and Size are.

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @08:00PM (#28949785)

    The problem is, IMHO, that reviewers don't get what netbooks are for. Or rather, they don't need a netbook, they're given a few netbooks to review at work on a table and so in these conditions all they see is how big and nice the screen is, or how fast the machine is.

    They prefer the bigger ones because size isn't an issue to them, they're not going to carry them around, they're just going to test them on a desk so there's nothing inconvenient about the thing being huge. Or to use a car analogy, that's if you're given to review a bunch of very cheap low end cars, you don't care about the price cause you're not broke and you're not paying for it anyways, so of all the el cheapo cars your favourite one is more likely to be the more expensive one. In other words the reviewers can't appreciate what's good about what they're reviewing, because they're reviewing them like another class of products.

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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