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Portables Hardware

11.6" Netbooks Face Off 238

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 Tynin ( 634655 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:15PM (#28945877)

    Like most such in-depth reviews, this one is spread across 10 pages.

    I highly suggest checking out the Firefox Autopager [] add on. It nicely formats this into a single page for easy reading. Although I do suggest turning off the "Show AutoPager Refinements" as it will give you suggestions on search pages that try to redirect you to some other search engine. Otherwise it is EXCELLENT and fixed a lot of my hatred of viewing this 10 page articles that should be on one page.

  • by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:40PM (#28946261)
    Dell still sells Mini's w/ a modified version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I think Acer still preloads Linpus on some models of the One (Good luck finding one though. If it's on a retail shelf, it's almost certainly running windows) Or you can get any old netbook that strikes your fancy (despite having XP) and try the Windows-Refund route. I imagine you have a preferred distro you'd rather install than whatever comes stock anyway. (I love my 8.9" Aspire One, but couldn't stand Linpus. Running UNR presently.)
  • Re:I know which one. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:43PM (#28946297) Homepage Journal

    Since both have an ATI graphics chip the choice is easy, neither.

    The Aspire One has an Intel graphics chipset. If you'd really rather run that instead of an ATI chipset, be my guest...

  • Executive Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:52PM (#28946475) Homepage

    I read the whole article; I thought it was worth my time. But I'll summarize the most important points for you.

    He liked the Gateway better. The Athlon64 uses more power and radiates more heat compared to the Atom in the Acer; but it delivers more performance, and the author thinks it's worth it. If you want maximum run time and don't care so much about performance, the Acer would be better for you. (The Atom does hyperthreading, and some video codecs are tuned to take advantage of that, so the Acer did slightly better than expected on some video playback; but even so, he felt the Athlon64 was better overall for video playback.)

    Both netbooks come pre-loaded with Vista and piles of bloatware. He scrubbed off the bloatware and updated Vista to the latest service pack, and the machines were a bit faster. He then installed Windows 7 and they were a bit faster again, but not amazingly so. He didn't say anything about Linux, but I'll wager that if he put Ubuntu 9.04 on the netbooks, they would fly.

    By the way, I'm running Ubuntu on a six-month-old 10.6" Acer Aspire One, with an Atom chip, and the performance is great. My biggest complaint is that there are dialog boxes that are just too big for the vertical resolution (600 pixels); the reviewed netbooks both have 1366x768 resolution, so the dialog boxes that annoy me would not be a problem. (I'm talking about the setup dialogs for Evolution. To set up Evolution, I had to judiciously use the Tab key to move the highlight to the "Okay" button, which was not visible because the dialogs were too tall; it worked but it was a huge pain, and not everyone would know you can even do that.) I've been meaning to try the special Netbook Remix version of Ubuntu... but with these new 11" netbooks, there would be no reason to bother; just run Ubuntu 9.04.


  • Re:Executive Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by PacoSuarez ( 530275 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:03PM (#28946605)

    To set up Evolution, I had to judiciously use the Tab key to move the highlight to the "Okay" button, which was not visible because the dialogs were too tall; it worked but it was a huge pain, and not everyone would know you can even do that.

    Most window managers will let you move a window around if you press Alt and then click anywhere in the window. That's really handy for these situations.

  • by city ( 1189205 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:53PM (#28947359)
    No, netbooks should be graded on price, favoring CHEAP, compared to their mobility.

    And if they go for the same price AND they are about the same size. Then why shouldn't you grade on graphics and keyboard usability.
  • preach it brother (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:37PM (#28947953)

    If it's CPU and RAM capacity weren't too small for today's software (and operating systems!), I'd still vote the Thinkpad 240 10.4" screen laptops as the best formfactor notebook ever.

  • by DusterBar ( 881355 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @09:08PM (#28950357) Homepage
    Win7 has significant internal changes. Scheduler, threading system, memory allocator, etc.

    Built on this there are many improvements in other services that have improved performance. Don't get me wrong, Win7 is bigger than WinXP but it performs rather well if you have 512Meg to 1Gig of RAM. (It really shines if you have a 64-bit multi-cpu, multi-core machine with multiple gigs of RAM - the new kernel in Win7 scales up to many more cores/cpus than WinXP or Vista did.)

    Now, this does not mean that Linux is bad - in fact, for many services Linux still out performs (file system I/O is one of the major ones) but the advances with Win7 are real and a major reversal from WinVista (not that it should be hard to beat Vista) and, in many cases it significantly beats WinXP or any prior Windows NT release. (Albeit you must have the compute resources to match... which today is almost any x86 computer over $200)

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley