Dual Core Netbooks – Should You Buy One?

It was only a matter of time before manufacturers started catching onto the netbook trend and responding to users’ complaints about speed and efficiency. While I was pretty happy with the netbooks I’d tried over the years in terms of what they could accomplish while on the go, some people wanted more. They wanted a netbook that could replace their laptop or desktop computer as their main computing device. A dual core netbook is simply a netbook that incorporates a dual core processor instead of a single core, theoretically meaning more speed than the predecessors. Although, the upgrade and price difference may be more than meets the eye.

In General

Before we waste your time reading the whole review to tell you what we think, we’ll just give you the basics here. A dual core netbook sounds like a good idea on paper, but doesn’t always pan out so well in reality. Most netbook users don’t crave the multitasking ability that a dual core processor provides because of the small screen size and inability to play high quality multimedia content with ease. Multi core processors are a great jump forward for netbooks, for sure, but only if you’re willing to still go without that extra screen real estate to have many of your favorite programs running at once.

The Contenders

Asus EEEPC 1015PEM

The only netbooks currently available with dual core processors are the Asus EEEPC 1015PEM and the Dell Inspiron M101z. Each of these dual core netbooks features the newest Atom processor, the N550. In benchmark tests compared to their single core cousins, both of these dual core netbooks performed almost identically to their older siblings. The only difference? As said before, the only difference any user will notice is an upgrade in terms of multitasking performance, which I cannot deny is a plus.

Positives

You may be wondering why we’re not breaking the reviews for each of these dual core netbooks into separate sections. The reason is that because most netbooks are built on almost exactly the same platform, the only difference you’ll see between products like the Dell Inspiron M101z and the Asus EEEPC 1015PEM is a change of faceplate and maybe a slightly different screen size.

That being said, the advantages of dual core netbooks still remain. Netbooks are renowned for their for their long battery life, meaning more time out and about and less time spent near a plug trying to charge it. The small change in price from a single core version of the same computer to a dual core version(less than $50 in most cases) is well worth it for some users. Multitasking capabilities do indeed increase, which is nice for those that like to work while on the go.

The Dell Inspiron M101z

Negatives

We could get nitpicky with the downsides here, but we’ll try and keep it light. Our complaints aren’t just for the computers listed here, they’re for almost all netbooks out at the moment. The fact is they’re not meant to replace a home computer that has full computing capabilities. Working on the go is fine, but expecting to watch a high-def movie on the plane while you’re chatting to your girlfriend on Skype via in-flight Wi-Fi is just unrealistic.

The dual core netbooks have a marginally better time playing back high definition content, but not enough to warrant selling your current computer to rush out and buy one of these. And since the screens are small and the keyboard is a little tight to maneuver about, I know that I won’t be grabbing a dual core netbook just because it’s the newest installment in the netbook lineup. Call me when HD video is standard and I don’t have to worry about upgrading the RAM to get things working smoothly.

The Verdict

To recap what has been said before, unless you’re looking to buy your first netbook and the dual core option is available on checkout, we’re not sure that we would recommend selling your current computer in exchange for what sounds like a nice upgrade. The small price increase is worth it in our opinion if you’re the type of person that likes to get work done while on the go and doesn’t mind the smaller keyboard and screen. It’s tough for me to work on the go, but then again, I don’t travel often enough to warrant having to “work on the go.” Any users that have experience with a netbook and full time working with it, please share your thoughts below.

For the general consumer, it seems as though big netbook names are simply trying to take advantage of a small feature increase in exchange for some extra cash. While it isn’t a ripoff considering the price of an extra processor isn’t cheap, dual cores just aren’t necessary yet. You’d be better off looking at a higher priced “premium” netbook if you’re looking to take advantage of the extra dual core speed boost.

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