So, I decided to take on this huge undertaking of doing a netbook comparison article to put the best known netbooks on the market today and put them head to head in battle (not really, but it sounds cooler that way) to see which ones live up to their reputation and which ones fall by the way side. It’s usually difficult to try and find the diamonds in the rough in the netbook market, as companies tend to put out more options than any sane man could ever find his way through.
This guide is a no-bullshit approach to the netbooks that are out there in hopes that when you hop online to buy your first or next netbook that you’re better informed about what all of the numbers and features mean and if they’re really worth your time or money. So, without further adieu, let’s hop right into our netbook comparison.
Top 10 Netbooks Reviewed
What We’re Looking For
Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone with what they’d want in their personal computer. Some people may want something that they can game with and others may just want something to bring back and forth to the office. The one common denominator between all consumers though is their desire for quality. There are a lot of poorly made netbooks out there these days and it’s easy to get sucked into the “features war” where companies keep adding webcams, bigger keys, and colorful trim to try and attract customers to buy their product.
I’d like to strip all of that away and focus on whether or not each computer is worthwhile, regardless of who it’s best suited for, gamer or office rep, and see what’s really beneath each plastic shell. So, join me as we look at the top 10 best selling netbooks available today and why they’ve reached those ranks, webcams or not.
Topping almost all bestsellers lists around, the NB505 truly is a force to be reckoned with. Considering the sub-$300 price point, this machine is the perfect blend of beauty and functionality. The NB505 may not be the most feature-laden machine around, but as I’ve said in previous reviews of the machine, that’s what makes it so great. It comes with a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, which is nothing out of the ordinary in the netbook world. The 1.4 inch thickness and less than 3 pounds weight rating makes this a breeze to carry around and throw in a backpack. Why has this machine become so popular? It’s because it doesn’t try and pretend that it’s something that it’s not. No extras or “bonuses” make it likable and easy to use, compared to competitors that throw in useless software and care packages that only end up bogging you down and prevent you from actually computing.
- Intel Atom processor N455 1.66 GHz, 512KB L2 Cache
- Configured with 1GB DDR2 (works at 667MHz, max 2GB)
- 250GB (5400 RPM) Serial ATA hard disk drive
- 10.1? diagonal widescreen TruBrite display at 1024 x 600 native resolution (WSVGA) with a 16:9 aspect ratio and LED backlite
- Genuine Windows 7 Starter 32-bit with a 6 cell/48Wh Lithium Ion battery pack; Battery Life (measured by MobileMark 2007): 8 hours, 21 minutes
The EEE PC has been around the block a few times and then some. It was one of the first netbooks to make it onto the market when netbooks first started taking off. In my book, Asus is a tried and tested brand that not only gets special priority when I’m looking for a new netbook, but also for computer parts in general when I’m fixing or building a new desktop. The 1001 hasn’t changed much since it was released. It still has the Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, but now comes with 1GB of DDR3 RAM instead of the DDR2 RAM that was once standard. The battery life is a little short at just 4 hours, but it’s a lot better than many other laptops, so 4 hours is good enough for me.
- Intel Atom N455 (1.66GHz)
- 1 GB DDR3 SODIMM memory, Max Capacity 2 GB
- 250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM); No optical drive
- 10.1-Inch Matte 1024X600 WSVGA LED Display; 802.11 b/g/n; 0.3MP Webcam; 2-in-1 Card Reader MMC/SD(SDHC)
- Up to 4 Hours of Battery Life; Windows 7 Starter Operating System
I hate to say it, but Acer had quite a long streak of poorly selling computers and laptops for a while. Their name was synonymous with average build quality and poor service. However, that all changed when they began releasing netbooks. Something must have happened over at their company for them to start building the Aspire One, which comes with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and an Intel Atom processor. The screen isn’t huge, but the 1024×600 resolution is nicer than other comparable models, which makes watching movies or videos all the more pleasant on this guy. And being one of the lightest netbooks I’ve seen, it’s a dream to carry around. It often feels like nothing’s even in my backpack.
- Intel Atom 1.6GHz Processor
- 1GB DDR3 RAM
- 10.1” 1024×600 screen
- Windows 7 Starter
- 250GB Hard Drive
- 2.43 Pounds
The next one on our list is kind of a special computer. The reason I fell in love with the Inspiron Mini and still want one today is not because of what it can do out of the box, but what it can do with a little creativity. The Inspiron Mini became synonymous with Hackintosh users all around the globe (installing MacOSX on a non-Apple product) because of its chipsets and innards. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary as a Windows machine, but if you decide to go the route of the Mac, the Inspiron Mini is one hell of a contender in the netbook world. Now if only Apple had a netbook….
- Intel Atom N455 Processor (1.66GHz, 512KB Cache)
- 1GB DDR3 Memory at 667MHz (1x1GB)
- 250GB Hard Drive; Wireless-N Mini-Card
- 10.1″ Widescreen Display; Intel GMA 3150 Graphics
- Genuine Windows 7 Starter; 6-Cell Lithium Ion Battery
An often overlooked netbook is the Samsung NF310. What sets it apart from other netbooks in the same price range is that not only does it come with DDR3 RAM, it’s also one of the first netbooks to feature an Intel Atom Dual Core processor. And not only that, the HD display makes 720P video look as crisp as real life. Samsung knows that there’s a market of hungry young gamers and movie conneisuers that have been waiting to make the plunge into small computer territory for a while. But because of a lack of power and vital components like a fast processor, graphics card, and HD video display, they’ve held onto their clunky desktops. If you’re one of those people who want power without adding much in the way of size or weight, the NF310 is for you.
- Intel Atom N550 Dual Core Processor
- 10.1” HD (1366×768) display
- 9 hour battery life
- 720P Video playback
- 1GB RAM
- 250GB Hard Drive
Samsung’s Fast Start feature, which easily allows the user to put the NF310 in an advanced state of sleep, enhances user satisfaction by reducing power consumption while the device is not in use. A smooth, contoured clamshell exterior highlight the NF310’s sleek appearance, while a roomy island style spill-resistant keyboard and large touchpad with gesture support make the NF310 conducive to comfortable computing on-the-go
In what seems to be a move to steal Dell’s thunder with the “Mini” name, HP also released a netbook of their own called the “Mini.” Unfortunately, the HP Mini doesn’t really have anything in it’s arsenal that makes it stand out from the crowd. In my personal opinion, the high gloss finish all around is tacky looking and the specifications found within aren’t anything to write home about. The biggest downfall of HP though is competing in the feature war. As I said earlier, I’m never a big fan of companies that throw in gimmicks to sell products. HP is hawking their “Cloud” backup and “Quicksync” programs this time around. In all honesty, they’re nothing more than clunky web backup programs that achieve the same thing as an external hard drive. Save your money and steer away from this HP.
- Intel Atom Processor N455 (1.66GHz)
- 1GB DDR3 System Memory (1 DIMM), Max supported = 1GB
- 250GB (7200RPM) Hard Drive (SATA)
- Genuine Windows 7 Starter
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 (shared) with up to 256MB Total Available Graphics Memory
Not to leave the gamers or HD video guys hanging, the Asus 1215N is next up on our list. Designed specifically for those looking to up the ante in their computing world, the 1215 has all of the features of a full computer in a package that’s half the size. Coming with a dual core Atom processor, 1080P full HD video, an HDMI port to connect the computer to an external monitor or TV for watching movies or playing games on the big screen, and a 500 gigabyte hard drive, this netbook may be a tough competitor in the coming months. And with up to 7 hours of battery, it’s no wonder why this computer is flying off the shelves.
- 1.5 GHz Intel Atom Dual Core Processor
- Full HD 1080P video playback
- Windows 7 Home Premium
- 12.1” HD LED-backlit display
- NVIDIA ION graphics card
- NVIDIA Optimus technology for energy efficient graphics and battery life
At the top of the list we covered the original Asus EEE PC with a single core processor. It was updated with a dual core with the 1015PN and was recently trumped again with the 1215N. Why am I bothering to list this one when it’s successor is in the listing right above this? It would be redundant for me to try and relist all of the same features as the 1215, as the only thing that was changed was a bigger hard drive and shorter battery life with the newer version. The reason the 1015PN still sells as well as it does though is because now that a newer version has been released, the price of this particular machine has come down significantly. If you can live with a 250GB hard drive and the lack of an HDMI out, you can save a few hundred dollars going with this almost identical machine in place of the newer version. Now that’s a great deal.
- Intel Atom Dual Core N550
- Nvidia Ion2 Dedicated Graphics
- HDMI and VGA Out
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- 1GB DDR3 RAM, 1 SODIMM Slot, 2GB Max
- 250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM) + 500GB Free Web Storage
- 10.1-Inch 1024X600 WSVGA Matte Finish LED Display
- 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 3.0
- Chiclet Keyboard
- 9.5 Hours of Battery Life; Windows 7 Starter Operating System (32 bit)
- 0.3MP Webcam
At first, I was a bit hesitant to include this laptop in the list as I didn’t think it was anything special when I first took a look at it. It comes with the standard 1GB of RAM that needs to be upgraded, a 10.1” screen, and a 1.6GHz processor that chugs it along at basically the same speed as most other netbooks. What caught my eye before I gave my stamp of negative approval though was a one year international warranty. Other netbooks generally give a one year warranty on certain parts and labor, but this all inclusive one year warranty is much nicer than others in the field. And considering that you never know what can go wrong with a brand new machine, one year is a good amount of time to see if anything is going to crash and burn on you or keep on trucking for years to come.
- Intel N455 1.66GHz Processor
- 1GB Memory
- Win7 Starter OS
- 10.1” Screen
- 250GB Hard Drive
- 1 Year Warranty
- 10.7 Hour Battery
- 802.11b/g/n Wifi
Ah, finally we reach the end of this long list. One last shot to find the best netbook for your personal usage. You may be quick to jump at Lenovo for producing an underpowered machine that only comes with one gigabyte of RAM and the basic N455 Atom processor. But before you jump the gun, take a look at the keyboard. Lenovo really outdid themselves with a 98% full size keyboard, which is absolutely unheard of in all other netbooks around. Not only that, but you also get the quality of a Lenovo machine; a company that has built a stunning reputation for themselves by building only quality machines since they began. Oh, and you may even enjoy the facial recognition login software that keeps your computer secure from finger print fakers and password hackers if you accidentally leave the IdeaPad down somewhere.
- Intel® Atom™ N455 Processor
- Genuine Windows® 7 Starter
- 10.1″ screen (1024×600), 16:9 widescreen
- Intel® integrated GMA graphics
- 1GB DDR3 memory
- 250GB HDD storage
- Integrated 802.11b/g/n WiFi
- USB 2.0 connectors and 5-in-1 card reader
- Integrated web camera
Well, there you have it. As you can see, not all of the best sellers live up to their bestseller name, and with a few bad reviews on Amazon or similar sites, it’s a shame that people are still spending their money on them. My favorite computer from the entire list is by far the Asus EEE PC 1215N. It blows by the competition with its dual core processor and doesn’t stutter when I want to play HD video or hook it up to my television. For a netbook, it’s a damn good deal.
If you’d like to comment on any of these PCs, or would like to ask us any questions, please feel free to comment below and we’ll be sure to respond!