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Asus Eee PC 901  (Source: Asus Marketing)
The first in a series of netbook blogs.

This is the first part of a series detailing my experiences with netbooks. All products mentioned were purchased at retail by the author.

Netbooks have been out for almost a year and a half. Their portability and low price make them attractive to a whole new market of people who won't or can't purchase laptops.

Sales are expected to top 35 million this year, and Intel may be starting to regret introducing them since they are now cannibalizing high-margin notebook sales, thus lowering their ASPs (Average Selling Prices).

With my return to writing, I needed a solution that was portable, lightweight, had long battery life, and came with rugged storage.  It was time for a netbook, and I figured I might as well blog about it.

Since I do a lot of travelling, I need something with a Solid State Drive (SSD) for the highest level of mechanical reliability, whether I'm on a plane, on the subway, in a truck, or in the field.

My regular notebook is a Lenovo T500, which I like because of its Hard Drive Active Protection software. It stops the hard drive from spinning if it detects motion in any axis, with user definable thresholds.

Performance is not a big issue, since I will be mostly using it to write articles. I do like to multitask and keep multiple windows open, so a RAM upgrade might be in order.

Unlike most notebooks, which are generally desktop replacements and plugged in most of the time, netbooks need maximum battery life for maximum usefulness.

The most important feature for me is battery life. I'm looking for something in the eight hour range, which should last me for a weekend in the field or a week of commuting. Weight and size are also important to me. If they weren't, I probably won't be getting a netbook.

So, I'm looking for something with a 6-cell battery, SSD, and a nine-inch screen.

My choices are narrowed down to the Acer Aspire One AOA110-1698 and the Asus Eee PC 901, both with Atom N270 processors, 8.9 inch screen, and 6-cell batteries.

The Aspire has less battery life (by an hour), but has an extra 512MB of RAM soldered on. The 901 has only 1GB in a single SODIMM slot, but is upgradable to 2GB, the maximum supported by the chipset.

Acer's model is wider by an inch. This makes the keyboard a little bit easier to type on since the keys are bigger. The Aspire has a 0.3 megapixel webcam, but the 901's webcam has 1.3 megapixels.

The Aspire One, however, is $100 cheaper.

After considering my usage model, the superior specs of the Eee PC 901 have won me over.

Next Week: My first impressions of the Eee PC 901

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By Screwballl on 2/7/2009 1:23:04 PM , Rating: 1
Why not do a side by side comparison of a $400 netbook versus a $400 laptop with dual core CPU, same/more memory and more hard drive space (using the platter based drive)...

A direct comparison will help people decide:
netbook or notebook

RE: comparison
By luseferous on 2/7/2009 1:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
Easy Laptop wins on power and flexability. Netbook wins on portability and convenience.

Going any deeper than that is fairly pointless imo you may as well compare a laptop to a desktop to a netbook to a smartphone, all have their particular niche.

RE: comparison
By luseferous on 2/7/2009 1:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
On the point about the laptop winning on power. (power of the machine not power draw)

You probably won't notice it as the laptop will be saddled with Vista and will probably under spec to run it well, cancelling most or all advantages in processing 'grunt'.

RE: comparison
By therealnickdanger on 2/7/2009 11:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
Not really, Vista is very light on its feet if you have 2GB RAM in just about any other configuration hardware. If you do only menial tasks, it feels smooth even with only 1GB. BTW, Vista runs very well on my Wind.

RE: comparison
By reader1 on 2/7/2009 5:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
Netbook prices haven't settled yet. They're still targeted at early adopters. In a year or two, the average netbook will cost about $200.

RE: comparison
By GaryJohnson on 2/9/2009 6:15:11 AM , Rating: 2
The average netbook now is around $300-$350, so where is the OPs $400 coming from?

RE: comparison
By amanojaku on 2/7/2009 6:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
What laptop can you buy for $400 that includes a dual-core CPU? The closest I've seen is $500.

RE: comparison
By Screwballl on 2/8/2009 10:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
What laptop can you buy for $400 that includes a dual-core CPU? The closest I've seen is $500.

Take a look at some of the main online retailers such as

They had some the other day which were normal dual core CPU based laptops for $379-399, looks like they are sold out right now. Here is one for $449:

TOSHIBA Satellite L305-S5921 Intel Pentium dual-core T3400(2.16GHz) 15.4" Wide XGA 2GB Memory 160GB HDD DVD Super Multi Intel GMA 4500M NoteBook - Retail

RE: comparison
By phusg on 2/9/2009 9:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the link. Do you have an idea's on a laptop which can handle 1080p HD video and send it out of a HDMI output? That's the achilles heel of these netbooks AFAIC...

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