Saturday, 6 March 2010


At this moment, I'm thinking of getting a netbook. The problem is that there are so many netbooks around and it is pretty difficult to choose. I am only looking for a netbook of a particular screen size - either it is 11.6" or 12.1" big. So far, I have come up with a list and it is not easy to choose considering that there are Nvidia Ion platform which will perform much faster than a typical Intel Integrated 500 or 950 graphics card. At the moment, Nvidia is going to launch the Ion 2 graphics. This does not include an ATI x1250 graphics card on certain netbooks. Certainly, when you have netbooks fitted with other than an Intel graphics card, it will push the price of the netbook up.

I am also thinking about the newest Intel Pinetrail chipset, notably the N450 and N470 single core cpu from Intel. At the moment, I could not find a suitable 12.1" netbook with the Pinetrail cpu. It is meant to integrate the memory controller within the cpu itself and supports DDR3 memory.

Why not have a look at the list then?

(1) Acer Aspire One 751h
This is quite an old netbook coming from Acer which runs on an Intel Atom Z520 (1.20Ghz, 512KB L2 cache) cpu. It has a 11.6" screen and a well balanced keyboard. Its graphics card is powered by Intel's Integrated 500 graphic chip. Although it is fitted with only 1GB of DDR2 memory and with 160GB HDD, you could increase the memory to 2GB as it will be recognised by the pre-configured Windows XP Home Edition. You do have 3x USB 2.0 ports and a memory slot which takes many formatted cards including xD cards!

With a 6-cell battery, you would be able to achieve around 6 hours of juice. Well, it is quite alright considering that it is just a netbook with the Z series cpu. The best part is that the graphics engine is powered by an Intel GMA 500 and will run just about anything on low settings. The 751h is priced around the £250 region with selling the 751h with a 3-cell battery at £199.00. Amazon UK is selling the unit with a 6-cell battery for £250. The best website which I have come across is SimplyAcer where they are selling a black 751h for a mere £245 which comes with a 6-cell battery, bluetooth and also a 3G card. Wow! That is just perfect, don't you think so?

(2) Samsung NC20
I have been observing the Samsung NC20 for quite some time now. I had the intention to get my hands on it but the price was just to expensive. At the moment, the NC20 is selling around £399 which is a little bit too expensive. However, you have to understand that the NC20 is rather different from many netbooks.

First of all, it comes with a 12.1" screen, an anti-bacteria keyboard, 1GB of memory, 160GB of HDD, a VIA  U2250 cpu which supports 64 bit OS (you can install Windows 7 Pro 64 bit on it) and its graphics engine is powered by the latest Chrome. I have seen one of it before and I have to tell you that the unit is silent! The fan spins very slowly and it is easy for you to upgrade the existing 1GB DDR2 memory to 2GB. With the upgraded memory, you will be able to see a recognisable speed bump! The only thing which puts me off is the price. Other than that, I have nothing against it. Besides, I had some fun with its so called 'secret menu' in the BIOS where I have managed to tweak the BIOS, giving the machine some 'turbo boost'.

However, with the 'turbo boost', it sucked the 6-cell battery much faster. I don't really recommend overclocking though. However, I do fell that the NC20 is a good buy if you are not on a tight budget.

(3) Lenovo Ideapad 12
Originally, Lenovo's laptops are not that particularly interesting. You could see a resemblance of IBM's trademark all the way. However, Lenovo has come up with the idea of introducing their S12 series netbook. Don't be confused with the Intel GMA 950 graphics engine on the S12 as they have released an updated S12 with an Intel Atom N270 cpu with an Nvidia Ion graphics engine.  This is what I was looking for. Sadly, having all the standard specifications of a netbook, apart from the screen size of 12.1", the price of the S12 with Nvidia graphics card is rated at £399. It is pretty pricey though...

(4) HP Mini 311c
Alternatively, I could choose the netbook from HP. The Mini 311c is also equipped with the same specifications of the Lenovo Ideapad S12 (Nvidia graphics) but it comes with a screen size of only 11.6". The good news is that the netbook is so much cheaper than Lenovo's S12. At £330, it is a bargain. However, the keyboard on the Mini 311c might be an issue as well as the fan noise as it spins a little bit louder than the Lenovo.

(5) Dell Mini 12
If you are thinking of getting a Mini 12 from Dell's website, don't bother. This is because they have stop selling the Mini 12. It is noisy and consumers will have difficulty in upgrading its 1GB memory to 2GB, just like the one on the present Mini 10v. You would have to take almost everything apart before you could actually access the memory slot on both the Mini 10v and the Mini 12 to upgrade the memory to 2GB. Don't get the Mini 12 even on amazon or ebay.

(6) MSI Wind U230
This is a sub £300 netbook which runs on AMD's Neo chipset. It is relatively fast and supports up to 4GB of internal memory! It has a 12.1" screen and the graphic engine is powered by ATI's HD3200. Not too bad though! The rest is similar to other netbooks but the best part is that it is only priced at £260 (with 3 cell battery) on ebay UK!

So far, I think my best bet is still on the Acer Aspire One 751h unless someone is kind enough to get one for me from China as they are selling the same machine over in China for a relatively lower price than in the UK.

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