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Monday, 22 December 2008 13:16

Why you shouldn't buy a netbook for Christmas

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Xmas deals:
10-inches for €278


Price-wise,
there really isn't much to talk about when it comes to netbooks. Both in terms of pricing and hardware, most are closely matched, so we'll keep this roundup brief. More and more vendors are entering the netbook market, but offering few innovative products to distinguish them from the competition. There are no real bargains when it comes to netbooks, no models nearing EOL, no obsolete hardware,, as almost all are based on the same platform.

Vendors failed to meet the promise of a cheap, ultraportable machine. We might even go so far to say they've failed miserably, as the cheapest netbook currently available in Europe, the Eee 701, still costs €199. There's no point in getting one, as €20 extra will get you an Eee 900 or an Aspire One A110L. Both have 8.9-inch screens, an 8GB SSD, but the Eee has 1GB of memory, while the Aspire One has 512.

If an 8GB SSD won't cut it for you, and you need some serious storage, MSI's Wind U90 offers an 80GB hard drive for €255. So, these are 8.9-inch units, but we always crave more screen acreage, and considering most 10-inch netbooks offer a bigger screen in the same chassis as 8.9-inch models, they're probably the best choice at the moment.

The cheapest netbook with a 10-inch screen comes from Datacask, and at €278 its Jupiter 1014a probably offers the best value for money in the segment. It's not a pretty sight, but it costs €50 less than a similarly speced Wind or Eee PC. Most 10-inch netbooks retail for €335+, and it's up to you, really. The hardware is almost identical, so is the price, and you'll probably make up your mind on looks or brand alone.

Now for some stylish ones, although there are very few of those around. One of the latest ones to appear is HP's Mini 701EG, a very good looking machine priced at €380. It's not meant to be an overpriced fashion item, but we're mentioning anyway, as it looks a lot better than mose cheaper units. It has a 60GB hard drive, so you can't say it offers great value for money. Asus has the business oriented N10 to offer, and it costs €439. The N10 isn't an Eee, so it doesn't have that ugly sticker, and it was developed by an entirely different team of engineers than Eee series machines.

Asus also has the stylish Eee S101 to offer, and it's a beauty. The only downside is that, at €600, it's just too expensive. The trouble is, sooner or later you will run into someone with an Asus U1F, a proper ultra-portable notebook with a dual-core CPU, 11.1-inch screen and an €899 price tag. The encounter will surely make you feel inadequate, pathetic, and you'll end up spending the €300 price difference on counseling.

Bottom line, netbooks are still overpriced for our liking and you can expect good deals on current models only when their replacements start showing up, not before CES. If you can, wait.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 03:23

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