Compare Mini Laptops to See How They Rate on Features and Value

By: Brenda Ballentine

The new mini laptops that have come on the scene recently are gaining in popularity as more and more people discover that they can have the same benefits as a larger laptop, without all the hassles of carrying around an 8 pound battery hog.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to love about regular sized laptops. For one thing, they’re just like using your typical desktop PC, which is nice when you want to do some high-powered computing on the go.

However, do you really need all that computing power most of the time?

This is the main question you’ll need to ask yourself when determining if a mini laptop is right for you or not. Depending on your needs, a small, netbook computer may be just the thing you want to do many of the tasks you now use a larger laptop for.

Another benefit to using the mini laptop is that they’re very economical. While your average laptop runs around $1500, the average netbook computer is around $375. That’s quite a price difference when you realize that the netbook performs many of the same basic functions as the laptop.

Right now, the leader in the affordable netbook field is Acer Aspire, however, there are several big brand names nipping at their heels. The main brands you’ll want to compare are: Acer Aspire, Asus, Samsung, HP, MSI Wind and Toshiba. While there are other big names just now entering the mini notebook arena, the above brands have a big head start and are already very popular.

Okay, so what do you need to consider when buying a mini laptop?

Here are five things you want to compare:

Price – this is one of the most important concerns for many people looking to invest in a netbook. While it’s accepted that you’re already getting a great deal when purchasing a netbook over a regular sized laptop, there are still some great deals to be found on price. Of course, you can just go with the cheapest, no matter what the brand. However, it’s best to look at features and think about whether or not a particular netbook meets most of your needs.

The last thing you want to do is buy the cheapest netbook computer, only to find that you’re not happy with it. There are other things that determine value besides price – remember that.

Screen Size – You’ll find that some popular models have an 8-inch screen size, which is okay, but the average screen size now is 10-inches. So, this may affect your choice and the amount you pay. If the netbook is for a child, then the 8-inch may be just fine. If it’s for an adult, then the 10-inch screen is probably best.

Keyboard Size – This is where many people have issues with netbooks. You see, in order to squeeze all the essentials into such a small space, manufacturers often make compromises when it comes to size of the keyboard. Most netbooks are 80 – 90% smaller than regular laptop keyboards. If you have large fingers, then touch typing will be difficult on a small keyboard. Some keys may be in different locations, and track pads can be a bit testy on some models. Make sure you read reviews on the keyboard for each model since this affects how comfortable you will be using the netbook.

Battery Life – Most netbooks will have a battery life of around 6 to 9 hours, which is great. You’ll need to read reviews to see if this is really the case or in reality, it’s much shorter. Often the battery life the manufacturer states is only under optimal conditions. In real world use, you may have to turn off certain functions to get close to the higher end lifespan. Still, most people seem to enjoy longer usage than on regular laptops.

Performance – In all the excitement over netbooks, the one thing that many people forget is that these are not the same as owning a regular full-sized laptop. Netbooks have their limitations, this is totally due to their small size. It’s just not possible to fit everything onto a tiny hard drive, so you shouldn’t purchase one thinking you can run high-powered applications and games on it.

They’re much cheaper than laptops because they do less.

Now, if you want a mini laptop to do basic word documents, spreadsheets, email, web surfing, music downloading and the like, then netbooks are a great value. One thing that is not included, in order to save space, is a CD/DVD drive. However, you can still download movies from reputable online sources and watch them just fine on your netbook.

For the money, a netbook computer is one of the greatest values you’re going to find that will allow you the same on-the-go freedom that you get with a regular laptop. Netbooks are cheap, lightweight and fun to own. Remember to compare before you buy and you’re bound to get one that you’ll enjoy using for a long time.