Cheap and tiny netbook computers are so very tempting in this crappy economy, since they promise the full computing experience in a compact, throw-in-your-messenger-bag package for less than $400. The idea of a netbook got under my skin because I want a light computer for traveling that can live in the kitchen and living room for cooking and couch-surfing when I’m home. In the throes of my netbook lust, recently I asked my Twitter followers if they had a netbook and if it was worth it. That tweet drew a whopping 243 passionate replies.
Most people said they LOVED! LOVED! LOVED! their netbook, and many said they make great gifts for teens, parents, and spouses who don’t need a beefy system. Some complained about the tiny keyboard and screen, short battery life, and lack of performance. Of all the netbook owners who identified which models they owned (77), the ASUS Eee PC was the most popular (33 owners), followed by the Acer Aspire (17), then the Dell Mini 9 (9) and Samsung NC10 (8). Here’s the full breakdown, in pretty colors–green for pros, and red for cons.
atyoung: Picked up a eepc in pink at best buy for under 300 and works like a champ with a 160g HD. You can mod them too if so inclined.
silvina_g: Asus EEEPC – I have the Surf one and I’m very happy with it. No complaints at all.
cjm2576: I have an Asus Eee and love it for what it is. I wouldn’t recommend it for prolonged typing tho.. they keyboard is too small.
rfrancis: To be honest, I found the Eee that I had at work for a while not all that great to use. But it was the first gen, so who knows
jonthysell: EeePC 1000HA, $380 with 10″ screen 160GB drive, lovely machine runs XP or ubuntu great!
hassan: most critical netbook aspect? keyboard. bought an eee pc for travel, in practice its tiny keyboard is nearly unusable for me.
tregeagle: eeepc 701 running cruncheee and it is perfect.
poetofzwan: Highly recommend any of the Asus EeePCs. 701 (I have) and 901 are pretty damn cheap now. 1000 and S101 models look awesome too!
XavierLanier: Love the HP Mini 2140- good for rugged travel, 10-inch screen. ASUS EeePC 1000HE is also great for high battery life.
melstarrs: asus eee is great but not for prolonged typing. Very tiny.
merindab: Have an eeePC. Always, always makes people stop and stare. Love it (and not just because of the staring)
merindab: also though, at least for eeePC’s. Small hands helps
aplus01: Definitely love my EEE 701. I’d get something with an Intel Atom processor though so you don’t cook your lap while using it.
wadehays: <3 my Asus EeePC, but if I was buying today I think I would go with the HP Mini 1000
keefmoon: EEE-PCs are great. I’ve got a 701, love it but you’ll need a bigger screen. The Acer Aspire One is now cheap, with 9″ screen.
JacobyDave: Got my wife an EeePC 900 for Xmas. She loves it. But you must be able to work around the lack of CDROM drive.
wixtech: I really like my Asus eeePC 1000HA. I’m running eeebuntu-nbr on it. Just loaded xbmc last night. Windows 7 was also nice.
jmoriarty: Love netbooks; have Eee and Dell Mini. Best for cloud computing; minimal typing; high portability. NOT for heavy writing.
Philbradley: Asus EEEPC 1000H 5hr + battery life, 1.45 kg, clear screen, reasonable price 3USB ports. Very happy with it 3 weeks in.
PRCog: Love my EEE 700 series. Drooling over upcoming netbook tablet T91 coming in March.If works out would be willing 2 wait in line
bsdpunk: I lived off of my EEEpc for about 4 months….left it for a 13″ macbook….never going back.
SonoranDragon: I have a sort of basic Eee PC. It’s sitting next to me right now here at work. Used it a while ago to help rehearse a speech.
awzitcer: asus 1000 w linux and ssd. 5.5 hr battery, less than 3 lbs.
norcross: I have an Asus and love it. I am getting a 9 cell battery so I don’t have to charge as often
RobboM: Like my Acer aspire. works like a charm good wifi and xp got mine at bb for 359cdn
dwax: Love my Acer AspireOne. Most netbooks are same specs, though – not a decision you can really mess up!
andysblog: love mine. Cheapie acer 1 with 1.6, 1mb,120gb. Very handy.
MikeCerm: Netbooks can be had for $300, so I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t have one. I have an Acer Aspire One, and love it.
Stefano_TT: I have an Acer Aspire One and it’s great a true Internet beast
davidswinney: My wife purchased an Acer Aspire One with Windows XP last November and absolutely loves it.
bobstarrorg: the acer aspire one is my new best friend…but any netbook is great!
RosanneLambert: Acer Aspire One netbook owner. Love the light weight. *HATE* XP on it — bloated & slow. Switching to Linux next chance I get!
cripesonfriday: give the acer aspire one a look
BeingGeeky: LOVELOVELOVE my Acer AspireOne. I just throw it in my bag and go. Feels like I’m carrying nothing more than my phone.
duffbert: also went the Acer Aspire One, Windows XP Home, 1GB RAM, 160GB drive. love it.
nilegomez: have the Acer Aspire One and love it. See related article
sakeeler: I use an acer aspire one from newegg.com running Ubuntu Netbook Remix and couldn’t be happier
boredcollegekid: love my acer aspire one, works great for quick trips and basic computer usage.
HockeyPhool: bought my wife an Acer Aspire One at Costco. She loves it (not a geek) – I like the size and portability, but it’s a tad slow
sethmsparks: Love my Aspire One!
anon: Got my son an Acer Aspire One for 13th bday. WinXP, 1GB RAM, 80GB HDD. He loves it. Very light, fast enough. Bright readable screen.
formerglory: Get a Dell Mini 9 and Hackintosh it. 100% hardware support, how-to by Gizmodo.
cadencecase: Have a Dell Mini 900 Linux 1GB RAM. Runs like a charm and feels supersolid. Key board smaller than some, but I like small ones
cadencecase: Hardware flawless, but don’t expect ANY support on Linux issues, even if they’re Dell’s fault. I solve every problem w Google
cadencecase: Finally, ditch the “custom” UI and run the standard Ubuntu desktop. PS Compiz slowed things down, so easy on the graphics. GL!
nickmil: Just bought the wife a Dell Mini 9. She loves it for couch surfing. Can’t wait to tuck that into a carry-on, backpack-free
bglick: I couldn’t use the dell mini 9. Keyboard was too small for typing, too big for thumbs. I do better w/ my BBerry + OperaMini
stuarthall: several of us have the Dell Mini @nvelocity I’ve also seen the HP MiniNote and it looks equally decent. Nicer keyboard.
RubyGrrl42: Had the super-mini inspiron years ago. Loved it for it’s small size running to classes. Now find the keyboards too small.
hifisamurai: Travel with Del 9″ ubuntu. Also comes in handy in the kitchen looking up recipes. Tough getting used to small keyboard though.
fotoflo: Got a Samsung nc10 for trip to Malaysia – replaced a HP dv6000. LOVE IT. Use it daily for Photoshop, Word, Linux, Everything.
fotoflo: Wired guys got it running OS X. I take it everywhere, USE it in the subway, on taxis, etc. ~6 hours batt
justdot: I did some research, I was between the dell mini 10 and samsung nc10, after their fixed 1gb ram, nc10 won, my pick
cazwell220: samsung nc10 all the way… love it love it love it… guaranteed.
Pelanne: very happy with my samsung nc10 – even though it’s a netbook, after RAM upgrade it supports pretty much all of my dev tools.
jeffsandstrom: I got a Samsung NC10 after much research. Hasn’t gotten the buzz of Acer or Asus, but it’s _awesome!_ Best keyboard layout.
shayhurley: Samsung NC10, drop dead gorgeous, runs Windows 7 beta with no problems too.
markmcc: Samsung NC-10 is my new fave….
After a cooling-off period, I decided not to make my netbook purchase just now. I already have a MacBook Pro for portable computing, and a few of the following tweets helped knock some sense into me. (However, if I didn’t already have a laptop and smartphone, I’d be typing this on a netbook right now.)
ifundera: The recession netbook equivalent: Moleskine notebook, iPhone and memory
tomhadley: Too underpowered, keyboard too small for me! Get the same basic functionality out of a 13′ laptop
zen_habits: Internet cafe! Simplest way to stay connected while traveling.
Danjit: Do it! I’ve wanted a netbook for agesâ€¦ I’ve even gone as far as ordering one & then canceling the order after the guilt hit!
jasonsalas: yes for browsing, email or light coding…not so much for blogging.
rodageo: wait till summer so you can get a free upgrade to windows7?
eremiticjude: have had three. all were great, but usability really based on keyboard. if you can type on it, then everything else negotiable
Thanks to everyone who let me in on their netbook experience. For more on netbooks, see Clive Thompson’s Wired article, The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time. Thanks, podcastbunker.