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Thursday, April 22, 2010

important features for a netbook

So I've owned the Toshiba NB 205 netbook for about 6 months now... and I've learned a few things about what's important in a netbook/laptop. Some of the things I knew already, and was part of my buying decision:

Good keyboard/track pad - You've really gotta make sure that these are going to be good for you. I think the trackpad is even more important than the keyboard, because people use the mouse for surfing the web the vast majority of the time. Keep that in mind. Make sure the trackpad is large enough, feels good, has good buttons & responsive.

Battery life - High on my list was having a netbook with an extended battery life, and man, that has to be one of the best decisions I made in choosing a netbook. Trust me, unless you are dead-set on purchasing a particular model of netbook that only has a 3-cell battery, DO NOT settle for an average 3-cell battery that will only give you 2-3 hours of life. That may sound ok when you think, "well, that's good enough for some evening work. It's not like I'm going to live on this thing..." but in the real-world experience, I find it ESSENTIAL to have at least 6 hours of battery life if not more. The more the better. Sometimes I am nerding it up all day on this thing, but usually it's a case of simply needing the battery power and not having the chance to recharge it. When I went to Vancouver for a few days, I didn't even bring my NB205 AC charger, because I figured the battery would last me a few days of light netbook use. I have to admit I was debating whether I should bring it or not (I wanted to pack light) but I wrote a few blog posts & did other things like check bus times, etc. in that time, so I had ample power for that limited use. I did bring my PSPgo AC charger 'cause let's face it, the PSPgo has a pathetic battery life-- just like a regular PSP without the extended battery, it has to be charged every night....

Now some important things that I learned only after owning a netbook:

If possible, don't settle for integrated graphics! Ok, I never expected any basic netbook to be a graphics powerhouse. But until my recent debacle trying to play games on my NB205 I hadn't realized how important it is to have some sort of half-decent GPU, like ION or something. I am currently in lust over the Dell Alienware m11x netbook, because of it's graphics capabilities.

Glow-in-the-dark or lit keyboard - Again, the Alienware m11x has this, and I never realized how important this feature is for someone like me, who uses my netbook at night in low-light situations. I really wish my keyboard lit up, that would be awesome.

There are other important factors to consider when buying a netbook, like size/weight, screen resolution (I would prefer at least 768 than the 600 I got in the NB205), screen gloss, USB ports, monitor output, etc... but these are just a few important observations from someone who's used one for awhile.



Anonymous said...

Hi there! Hey, I've been looking for a good laptop/netbook. Is your netbook good with playing flash games or light 3D games? I'm just curious. Also, can you tell me what model graphics chip it is? And can it use Microsoft Office? Thanks.

Don said...

No, my netbook (all netbooks really) are not great with games.

My try at gaming on my netbook.

But in the time since I wrote that post, netbooks seem to be phased out & laptops are more prominent. The same advice still applies, if you want gaming get a good graphics processor.


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