As you've probably noticed by now, everyone is on about the Atom, netbook this, netbook that. If you're one of those people who despise small, underpowered economical cars, and who likes a big, moist lager to go with his juicy steak, you're probably more interested in real notebooks.
What are real notebooks nowadays? Well, for a start they have a real CPU, preferably a dual-core. They have a screen capable of displaying Websites in full res, and you don't have to have corrective laser eye surgery after using them for a few months. An optical drive is also a welcomed addition, as you'll need to burn some music for your car sooner or later (a car that runs on gasoline, as God intended it to, not a diesel or hybrid).
So, let's start with the small, ultra portable ones, and see what they have to offer compared to their meek Atom-powered, inbred relatives.
Well, if you're really keen on getting something tiny and not spending a fortune, Asus is offering the stylish U1F for €899. True, it costs twice as much as a netbook, but it looks that way, too. A very sleek design, powered by a Core 2 Duo U7500 2x 1.06GHz ULV CPU, it packs 1536MB of memory, an external DVD drive, a 11.1-inch 1366x768 screen and it weighs just 1kg, less than an Eee PC. Similarly speced machines sell well north of €1000, so the price is great, too.
FSC is selling the FSC Lifebook P1610, an 8.9-inch tablet powered by a Core Solo U1400 ULV at 1.2GHz for €749. It weighs 1.2kg, it's feature packed, and the price sounds right, until you take a look at it. This is probably the most hideous tablet on the market, if not the most hideous tablet of all time. If you can live with the uber-ugly design, and you really need a tablet, it's not a bad deal.
Moving on to 12-inch units, Lenovo is looking strong, both in the value and thin and light segment.
The Lenovo IBM ThinkPad X61s weighs a mere 1.4kg, but packs a Core 2 Duo L7300 at 1.40 GHz, 12,1-inch XGA LCD (1024x768), 1GB of memory and 80GB of storage. It ships with a 4-cell battery and costs €899. It's a good price, although you'll probably have to invest in a bigger battery and some extra RAM.
On the cheap side, Lenovo is offering the Lenovo 3000 V200, powered by a T7500 CPU 2.2GHz, it has 2GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. It ships with a 3-cell battery, weighs 1.8kg and at €557 it's nothing short of a bargain.
In part two we'll take a look at the bigger models, starting at 13.3-inches.
Notebook holiday shopping guide, part 2