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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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  • netbooks, eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:18PM (#28945927)

    Is my 12" Powerbook with 5-hour battery life now retroactively a netbook?

  • Acer Aspire One (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:21PM (#28945963)

    For all it's worth, I own one, and I find it fantastic. The resolution is finally high enough to actually use it (I couldn't stomach a 1024x600 screen), and it's VERY thin and light. What did it for me, is the ease with which this netbook can be upgraded. Both the hard drive and memory are easily user-serviceable. Actually, I purchased a 2gb memory kit along with the notebook, and I don't even think I booted it with the 1GB it comes with. I got the WinXP version sans bluetooth from newegg for $380... a little over $400 w. the memory upgrade. The computer also has an internal minPCI slot and a SIM-card reader, which makes it theoretically possible to install an internal 3G card for ultimate portability of communications. The battery lasts about 6.5-7 hours with Wifi usage and brightness set to about 75%. Overally, some of the best $400 I've spent in the digital world.

    The glossy shell does attract fingerprints, but I don't really care too much (I lost that compulsion a little while after I got my iPhone). When it really bothers me, I take a damp microfiber cloth to it and the fingerprints come off... really same idea as my car.

    As an aside, to be honest I am not a big fan of WinXP these days. I've become spoiled with WinVista64SP1 on my gaming desktop, and Ubuntu on my work laptop.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @03:31PM (#28946105) Homepage

    I'd still like to get a somewhat bigger Linux netbook. I have some EeePC 2G Surf units, and like them, but the original version with the tiny screen just isn't quite enough. Has Microsoft totally crushed the Linux netbook market, or is something cheap still available with no Windows?

  • [madatory subject] (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ethana2 ( 1389887 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:03PM (#28946607)
    Any machine with an Intel GMA500 is pure garbage. ..but both of them come with Windows and there don't seem to be any Ubuntu options, so I view this more as two clear losers rather than one clear winner. I know, I know. We're outnumbered.
  • by emag ( 4640 ) < minus bsd> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:05PM (#28946623) Homepage

    This past weekend, the wife picked up an Acer Aspire One (AO751h) @ Costco for about $330. Came w/ 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, 11.6" screen, WinXP Home w/ SP3, Atheros 802.11b/g. My impression of it, up until last night when we finally booted it w/ a USB-stick live linux distro was, in a nutshell, "worthless piece of crap that can't stay running more than a few hours".

    I mean, quite literally, every few minutes, to every few hours, this new from box thing would just randomly lock hard, no keyboard, touchpad, or even power button response. Unpingable. Needed a battery pull to recover. This is with the from-factory supplied OS (WinXP Home 32-bit, w/ SP3, remember). Even sitting idle, it would do this. With or without any USB devices plugged in. Connected or disconnected from the network. With or without AV software running. With the original or updated BIOS or drivers (newest from Acer's site).

    As of last night, booting off a USB-based Debian Lenny, trying to exercise as much of the machine as possible, from memtest86+ to md5summing the entire 160G drive, to just sitting idle all night long, it's _still_ running, as of about an hour ago with no lockups. Go figure. Alas, lenny's too old to have decent ath5k support (not sure that'll even really work), so I wasn't able to connect to our WPA2-protected wireless network, to see if that caused issues.

    The only other caveat I've found so far, is that it uses the Intel GMA 500 graphics chipset which...isn't very well supported at all (the only Intel GMA one that isn't). Vesa resolutions are OK, but not 1366x768 native (IIRC, it's coming up 1024x768). A little too blurry/not crisp for me, but the wife seems happy enough, coming from a Thinkpad T30 that looks downright dull in comparison.

    I'm not sure I'd get one for myself.

  • Taskbar... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:12PM (#28946731) Homepage

    Is it just me, or is the windows 7 taskbar much taller (ie consumes more vertical space) than previous versions?
    That, combined with thicker titlebars, doesn't make for very efficient use of vertical space on widescreen displays and especially on small netbook displays...
    The Ubuntu netbook interface seems far more suited to such devices, it has no bar at the bottom, and the menu bar at the top combines with the titlebar of any open window to use very little of the very limited vertical space on the screen.

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

    by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <.plugwash. .at.> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @04:19PM (#28946841) Homepage

    not much of a win for the consumer.
    I disagree, it used to be that most cheap laptops were big, usually 15 inch, occasionaly 13 inch. The large screen size combined with poor build quality meant that theese machines were pretty damn fragile. If you wanted an ultraportable you went to sony and payed through the nose or bought a secondhand toshiba with really crappy specs.

    Then came the OLPC XO, it was cheap but this was tempered by the fact it was only availible though a G1G1 program (pushing up the effective price), it couldn't easilly run windows or normal linux and it had a weird screen and keyboard.

    Then came the EEE 700 series which were really pretty crappy machines. They had a case big enough for a 9 inch screen but only fitted with a 7 inch, hardly any storage and a crappy old processor that they then underclocked. Still we jumped on them because they were way cheaper than previous ultraportables while still being pretty conventional machines.

    Since then the gap between the first "netbooks" (I hate that term, it implies the machines are far more crippled than they really are) and regular laptops has been gradually filling and I regard this as a good thing, users can now pick there preffered tradeoff between size and functionality.

    Personally I want a 10 inch with a vertical resoloution of at least 768 pixels. There was the HP mini 2140 but the "HD" option for it was never released in the UK and my attempt to grey import one failed. Both HP and sony now have 10 inch 1366x768 models about to be released and i'll probablly end up buying one of those unless something better comes out in the meantime.

    The power issue doesn't bother me too much, most long distance trains here now have power outlets anyway. I can see for some people it could be annoying though.

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <.plugwash. .at.> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:05PM (#28947513) Homepage

    But it's barely smaller than the macbook I have now which I have decided is a bit on the big side for using on the go.

    TBH unless you are gaming (which afaict all netbooks are pretty poor at) or running some power hungry specalist software CPU and graphics aren't too much of a concern. Storage was an issue with the flash based netbooks but with the hdd ones I can go as high as with regular laptops. On a screen that size do you really need anything better than DVD?

    Screen resoloution is the biggest issue now as far as i'm concerned. Too much stuff was written with the assuption that screens were going to be at least 1024x768.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @05:19PM (#28947741)
    Microsoft wants the netbook segment gone so there's been pressure to move the spec up from where the segment started, in the $200-$300 range. It helped that Windows required more hardware than the original Linux installs did and now with Windows 7 on the way, there's a new push to boost the specs and the price.

    We've already seen the manufacturers state that they were afraid of Microsoft so it'll be interesting to see who will, or can, produce the ARM based netbooks this fall. IIRC, ASUS had to spin off their ARM department of their manufacturing facility and they were also the ones to say they were sorry for showing and ARM netbook at a computer show. So far, the press is doing Micrsoft's bidding and confusing the segment by calling small notebooks netbooks.

  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @07:41PM (#28949547) Homepage Journal

    They've been doing this in the automotive market for decades. The 'best' subcompact is a little bigger outside, a little bigger inside, with a little bigger engine.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors