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Advice on netbook purchase

maranello
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Advice on netbook purchase


In anticipation of having some spare cash to spend in the January sales, I'm looking to get a netbook/mini-laptop. Most that I have seen all seem to have a similar spec, which consists of a 1.6Mhz processor, 160GB HD, 10.1" screen, 1GB memory and 3 hours battery life.
3 hours seems a bit low, and I am looking for something better, Toshiba seem to offer longer life batteries for standard laptops, is the reduced life a result of compact size and lightness of design?
Also, some netbooks are limited in terms of memory and can't be upgraded, won't this make them effectively obsolete in about 5 years time?
In an ideal world I would be looking to expand my knowledge of linux and move away from Microsoft OS, Windoze, etc., but as SWMBO will want to make more use of it I probably won't have the time to experiment or set up an alternative to MS Office, neither will she want to learn to use a different email client, browser or word processor software. So unless I can also get a cheaper refurb or second hand unit I'll be looking for Win XP or Win 7. Would Win 7 be a better choice than XP in terms of performance?
Thanks in anticipation of helpful advice/responses.
My other car isn't a Ferrari
11 REPLIES
grimme
Grafter
Posts: 241
Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Advice on netbook purchase

This Toshiba Netbook is stating 9hrs battery and seems a good price (inc cashback)
http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/Toshiba_NB200-11L_Netbook_PLL25E-00500GEN/version.asp
I've also heard good things about the Samsung N140 and also the ASUS range of Netbooks.
I have a Linux based ASUS 901, memory is upgradeable to 2GB battery life is around 5hrs, you might find it's 20GB HDD a bit limiting though!
Using an XP Netbook but booting up with a Linux Live USB Flashdrive give you the best of both worlds, google  pendrivelinux .
Superuser
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Have a look at the Acer 1005 , that has an 8 hour battery life. Argos have black ones for £249.99 http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5080070/c_1/1|category_root|Office%2C+PCs+and+phone... or £10 cheaper in white http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5080063.htm.
I have an Acer Aspire One running Ubuntu Netbook remix and I think its great. If you want to use Linux and Windows you could always install Ubuntu ( or similar ) in a dual boot configuration. Default it to Windows and SWMBO won't notice any difference. You probably only need something like a 20Gb parttion for Ubuntu so its quite feasible with a 160Gb disc. Ubuntu's side by side install with Windows is pretty good , it just works!.
Simon_M
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Check the vertical screen resolution. Some are 572 & others are 600. Quite a few programs seem to be designed for a minimum vertical resolution of 600 & you suddenly realise just how much is placed in that last little bit of the window! Usually all the Next/Close/Continue buttons for a start. It's not an insurmountable problem, just an annoyance.
pierre_pierre
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

it was on one of my thingies, I have a Medical tag, that has the details on a USB dongle, the program as well.  it displays, but cant find any way to move down the page
Denzil
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Quote from: maranello
In an ideal world I would be looking to expand my knowledge of linux and move away from Microsoft OS, Windoze, etc., but as SWMBO will want to make more use of it I probably won't have the time to experiment or set up an alternative to MS Office, neither will she want to learn to use a different email client, browser or word processor software.

There is very little learning involved in using Linux software. A fair amount of it works exactly the same as it does on Windows. Email clients and web browsers are all very similar to use.
The nearest equivalent to MS Office is Openoffice. It does take a bit of getting used to, depending which version of MS Office you are used to. Even then, all the common functions are right there in front of you, just maybe in a different order.
Setting up a dual boot is pretty reliable these days, and will be a good way to try it out.
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Quote from: maranello
....
Also, some netbooks are limited in terms of memory and can't be upgraded, won't this make them effectively obsolete in about 5 years time?

You could argue that all computers bought today will be effectively obsolete in 5 years time.  Processors will be faster or have more cores, memory and motherboard data bus speeds will be faster, hard drives will be solid state and faster, USB will be faster etc etc.  And the programs that run on these computers will be designed to utilise this extra performance so will not run terribly well on a five year old model.   
maranello
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Thanks for all the helpful advice.
I must admit that in the past I have found Toshiba laptops reliable and to have a good battery life, although it was expensive having to replace the battery in one unit (company machine, so I didn't have to pay).
The idea of setting up dual boot or live USB (as opposed to Live CD) for linux hadn't occured to me, not something I have had any experience of but given some time and help from this forum I'm sure I could get sorted in no time.
Obsolescence is something I am always concerned about, and my current desktop is over 8 years old and still adequate for what I use it for. I've had to upgrade the memory from 256MB to 1GB, but the hard drive is only a quarter full (of its 60GB capacity) as I am obsessive about removing stuff I no longer use. It annoys me that something that you can spend over £200 on can become unuseable in five years (although some people have a strange idea about unuseable). From the responses above it appears that screen resolution could become an issue.
Thanks for the pointers/links to what's currently available, seems there is plenty of choice and lots of variance in specifications, so looks like some research to do over the Xmas holidays.
My other car isn't a Ferrari
pierre_pierre
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Superuser
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Quote
The idea of setting up dual boot or live USB (as opposed to Live CD) for linux hadn't occured to me, not something I have had any experience of but given some time and help from this forum I'm sure I could get sorted in no time.

It's pretty simple TBH, certainly with the Ubuntu distro.
If you want more info there is a description of the process here https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot
or you can even watch ( or download ) a video of the process here  http://screencasts.ubuntu.com/2009/09/02/Ubuntu_Dual_Boot_Install
Not applicable

Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Forgive me if this is totally irrelevant and you know it anyway, but do consider Wubi if you want to do the Linux thing but SWMBO is reluctant.
It was my first introduction to Linux (via this forum) and it is definitely the best way to go if you are not 100% certain of things Linux-wise (IMO of course).
For added security, create a partition of about 20 to 30GB if you have room and install Wubi on that. When you boot up it'll go straight into Windows unless you press the down key to select Ubuntu.
If you don't like it all you have to do is remove it in Programmes and Features. Also, I thought that the MSI Wind had good reviews?
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Re: Advice on netbook purchase

Quote from: maranello
Also, some netbooks are limited in terms of memory and can't be upgraded, won't this make them effectively obsolete in about 5 years time?

Quote from: maranello
Obsolescence is something I am always concerned about, and my current desktop is over 8 years old and still adequate for what I use it for.

Gotta be honest, most of my machines are that sort of age too (if not older) and they still work perfectly well for me! I do have a LCD monitor now though at least. I only just joined the 1GB ram club a few months ago and until then had been using 756MB which still served me adequately and allowed me to do resource intensive things like running VM's! I've also got other machines which are all less than 1GB ram and they're all used for heavy duty stuff too but admittedly not modern stuff like gaming. For playing the latest games I'd probably be stuffed but I can do everything else needed. What people forget is that its the latest games and OS's that drive up hardware performance year on year. If you just want to run bog-standard XP and do surfing, word processing, spread sheets etc then any lower end machine will do the job with ease. Like I said I even run VMs on mine. Admittedly though VMs on laptops don't work out so well as they boot slower and the battery drains faster.
Again, same arguement goes for laptops. If you want the latest games etc you'll need to look at an expensive model and its upgrade abilities. If you just want the bog standard stuff pretty much any machine in the current market will still be useable in 8-10 years time.
Quote from: Denzil
Quote from: maranello
In an ideal world I would be looking to expand my knowledge of linux and move away from Microsoft OS, Windoze, etc., but as SWMBO will want to make more use of it I probably won't have the time to experiment or set up an alternative to MS Office, neither will she want to learn to use a different email client, browser or word processor software.

There is very little learning involved in using Linux software. A fair amount of it works exactly the same as it does on Windows. Email clients and web browsers are all very similar to use.

In general there are a lot of similarities with linux software like browsers, email clients etc but you should also be aware that things like thefile system setup are different. No drive letter, no direct path to your desktop unless you spend a while searching, there are /usr folders all over the place etc. It can be quite confusing initially but you do get used to it. The only reason I've switched back from linux is the hardware support and programming side of things. Windows is IMO much more friendly from that point of view. For instance you don't need to compile drivers for your hardware (requiring advanced use of the command shell, bash, programming skills etc).
Multi booting linux on a laptop is definitely a neat idea. That leaves it open for anyone to use what ever OS they're comfortable with. As mentioned above though I wouldn't run a VM on a laptop as its too power hungry so for once I'd recommend multi booting (even though its a thing of the past with the introduction of virtual computing). I'd also recommend XOSL as the boot loader (just remember to change the driver letter install FROM c to something else if you install on a dedicated drive or it will destroy everything). In fact you might just be better sticking with grub or lilo..
Quote from: grimme
This Toshiba Netbook is stating 9hrs battery and seems a good price (inc cashback)
http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/Toshiba_NB200-11L_Netbook_PLL25E-00500GEN/version.asp

I took a look at that and added one to my basket thinking it was a good deal. At the basket stage it had worked its way up to over £300 (excluding delivery). This price included a pre-delivery inspection (in other words you knock it off the order and you're stuffed if it gets broken in transit) and restore/recovery CD despite the features specifically stating there is no optical drive. What does really irk me though is you pay for a brand new laptop but they open it up and 'inspect it' for you prior to delivery. In other words expect the box to be already opened and there is no way of knowing if someone else had this machine before you!
If it sounds too good to be true..
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