One year ago, ASUS started a fire storm of new computers that now go by the name of netbooks with the release of their EeePC. I wrote about this subject just a few months ago, but with the holidays approaching and netbooks are high on gift giver’s radar screens so I want to explore netbooks a little more in depth.
Netbooks make attractive gift giving ideas for a few reasons:
Here are some facts you need to know about netbooks:
Netbooks are in no way meant to replace a desktop computer or even a laptop. Instead, netbooks are designed to be used as a second or third computer for traveling, Internet or email access in another room of your home, light word processing or document creating/editing, making Internet phone and video calls, instant messaging, and even listening to music.
Because netbooks run on tiny batteries and less powerful processors, trying to run a large operating system like Windows XP and especially Vista is completely impractical. Windows XP with all its updates and service packs and security software requires a strong processor and a minimum of 512mb of RAM or 1 GB of RAM on a slightly older processor. Also, Windows XP, and especially Vista) require above average graphics processing to function with any oomph. Vista barely crawls on dual core processor with 1 GB of RAM and is completely useless on a netbook.
Linux, on the other hand, can be completely customized for a less powerful computer like a netbook and doesn’t need to be burdened by excessive updates and security software. This makes Linux a perfect fit for the netbook Plus, Linux laptops come pre-installed with complete office compatibility, games, multimedia software and more…all things you need to spend extra for with a Windows install plus you need to have an external CDROM to install all of these things on a netbook since it has no CDROM.
If you are in the market for a netbook for yourself or to give as gift this Christmas, by all means go for it. I love my little Asus EeePC and think they make the best travel companions and work great for getting a small amount of work or email done while watching TV or sitting outside. But know up front their purpose and don’t expect more from them. Here are my recommendations when shopping for a netbook:
If all this still makes your head swim a little, here are my top 5 netbook suggestions (in no particular order):
Again, keep in mind that netbooks are not meant to be a replacement for a desktop or a full-time laptop, but an adjunct to them for traveling and quick access to a computer. If you already own a netbook, leave a comment below sharing how you use yours and what your experience has been with it.