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Netbooks and your money: How to get the most bang for your buck


The IBM Personal Computer (known as the IBM PC) was announced on August 12, 1981 (a detailed history can be read here). Since then, the personal computer has gone through several developments including different operating systems (Windows, Unix, Mac OSx) and the development of laptop notebooks that are portable.  In the last 2 years, the development of an ultra-portable laptop created mainly for internet surfing has surfaced, coined with the name netbook (combination of the terms Internet and notebook).

The typical characteristics of netbooks are:

  • 3lbs or less
  • 10.1" screen or less
  • 16GB solid state hard drive
  • No optical drive (DVD/DVD-R/DVD-RW, CD/CD-R/CD-RW)
  • $400 or less

I purchased a netbook earlier this year, the Acer Aspire One A150, and I absolute love it.  It has an 8.9" in screen, a 160GB hard drive, Windows XP OS, and 1 GB of RAM (memory).  I was able to purchase this at the awesome price of $299 with free overnight shipping at Office Depot.  Although I enjoy it, my husband says "his blackberry screen is larger than that" and I would recommend to anyone purchasing one now to get the 10.1" screen for the sake of your fingers.  If you are considering getting a netbook to satisfy your technology fetish or you just need a machine for quick computing on the go, offers reviews on the top 5 Best Netbooks around (updated July 30, 2009).  They are as follows:

  • HP Mini 5101
    • Good: Excellent keyboard and touch pad, sturdy, durable
    • Bad: No ExpressCard slot, price
    • Bottom line: Expected more features for price
    • Specs: Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Windows XP Home
  • Asus Eee PC 1005 HA
    • Good: Sleek, attractive, price, battery
    • Bad: Thicker & heavier than previous model, upper end of price range for Netbooks
    • Bottom line: Good model, 6hr+ battery life
    • Specs: Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Windows XP Home
  • Asus Eee PC T91
    • Good: Small, lightweight, touch screen, good battery life
    • Bad: Less powerful processor than Asus predecessors, not much space on hard drive
    • Bottom line: Good job combining Netbook and touch screen for a first generation
    • Specs: Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 16 GB Solid State Drive, Windows XP Home
  • Acer Aspire One D250 (10" version of the one I own)
    • Good: Price, size, touch pad buttons
    • Bad: Speakers, battery life, small keyboard
    • Bottom line: Good features for the price, but features are not top-of-the-line
    • Specs: Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Windows XP Home
  • HP Mini 110
    • Good: Budget-friendly
    • Bad: Thick, heavy, file syncing software not impressive
    • Bottom line: Less expensive, some subtle changes not always for the best
    • Specs: Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Windows XP Home

These tiny notebooks are getting a lot of attention because they are small, ultra-portable, and very easy on the pocketbook!  That is especially important right now as economic times continue to be difficult for many families  and yet our needs for communicating electronically remain strong.  The good news is that the website not only offers reviews but gives pricing for several online retailers that sell that computer you are interested in.  

I recommend these easily as a second computer if you have a desktop or a laptop you use primarily for work because they are so light and easy to use.  If you have a new or returning college student these are a great buy too.  Good luck in your shopping and I hope you find the right one for your needs!


  • Andrea 5 years ago

    While I can appreciate the size, price, and portability of the netbooks, I wonder whether or not I can accomplish just as much on a 16GB IPhone. I primarily need a light weight computer or computer-like device that I can use to check MS Outlook and to type, send, and upload MS documents. Which one do you think would give me "the most bang for my buck"? A Smartphone or a netbook?

  • Vernon 5 years ago

    This is a great suggestion. I have contemplated making the move to a netbook, but have yet to make the decision. Your article gives me a great point to start further research before making this purchase. I definitely think I will suggest it to my friend who is in need of something mobile for school. I have heard HP is the best choice.

  • Melissa 5 years ago

    Hello everyone, and thanks for your comments!

    My opinion on that is the iPhone for portability, apps, and on-the-go connectivity. And most banks and online services have mobile websites so you can most of their functionality on the iPhone as well. But if you are composing or editing large documents, the iPhone is definitely NOT the way to go. With an onscreen keyboard it would be quite tedious to do any significant work on a device that small.

  • psikeyhackr 5 years ago

    I built my first computer in 1978 and bought a PC in 1981.

    I worked for IBM.

    If you check the January 1983 BYTE magazine there is an article about benchmarks on many machines of the day. The IBM 3033 mainframe cost $3,000,000 and 600 times as fast as the PC. But that mainframe could only take 32 megabytes of memory and these netbooks are more than THREE TIMES AS FAST as that mainframe. It is just a matter of taste which one you buy they are all more than powerful enough for most people if you avoid bloated software that wastes processing power.

    Search on: Netbookation

    But a USED desktop for home use as backup for your netbook. $350 and replace the worn out hard drive and it's as good as new. That is not what Intel will say to do though. LOL