Quest for the Perfect Netbook Upgrade

I’ve been hunting for a new netbook for about two months, and have come to the conclusion that my perfect model does not exist. My requirements don’t seem out of line to me, but apparently netbook makers don’t agree. I need a model with: a 10″ screen, 2GB RAM, a Pine Trail processor (or equivalent or better non-Atom chip), a six-cell battery, and Windows Home Premium. Initially I was hoping for a higher-resolution display than my current 1024×600 Asus Eee 1000HA, but I’m willing to give on that. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that most 10″ netbooks don’t come with 2GB RAM or Windows Home Premium. I’m willing to upgrade those elements on my own, but I’m finding the cost starts to add up pretty quickly.

Two netbook models top my list of contenders at the moment: the Acer Aspire One 532G (recommended by good friend Brad Linder) and the ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005PR. Unfortunately, neither one is shipping yet. (!) Both use The Aspire uses the new NVIDIA ION graphics chip, and the ASUS uses a Broadcom Crystal HD video accelerator, which are nice benefits, but both also look to be pretty expensive for the netbook market. It’s not clear what OS gets bundled with the Acer, but list price in Europe is 379 Euros, or $505 at current exchange rates. Pretty great if the bundle includes Windows 7 Home Premium and 2GB RAM. Not so great if it doesn’t. Meanwhile, the ASUS is available for pre-order at Amazon. With a 2GB upgrade it lists for $543, but it doesn’t ship with Home Premium. Again, upgrading further gets pricey. Also, my current Eee PC model has not held up well over time. I still love a lot of things about it, but the hard drive died at eleven months (replaced under warranty), my left mouse button has stopped working (tap to click only), and the battery no longer charges very well. I’ve only had the device for 16 months.

I was also considering the Lenovo x100e, even though that netbook/notebook comes in a 11.6″. However, the battery sticks out, and more importantly the battery life is reportedly terrible. No thanks.

The quest continues.

12 thoughts on “Quest for the Perfect Netbook Upgrade”

  1. Brad’s pretty much convinced me the 11″ lines are where I need to be looking. Higher res screens, more powerful processors, more memory, bigger keyboard, but still relatively compact and lightweight. Not sure how big your purse is, tho…

  2. Arguably, you seek a notebook, not a netbook with those specs. Netbooks are pretty much littered with Atom processors, 1gb of RAM, and non-premium OSes. They are nice and cheap though!

    There are some good $500, 4lb 12″ notebooks in your spec, but again – hardly considered a netbook.

  3. Scott, I think it’s somewhat artificial line though, and we know for sure the memory limitation on XP was (imposed by Microsoft). The non-premium OS is a cost/benefit thing. Cheaper to give out Starter, which is all most folks probably need in this category. Combined, it sort of emphasizes Steve Jobs point about netbooks though…

  4. Phil- That is a solid recommendation. Bigger than I want, but it’s got everything else, and for a good price. They appear to carry the model at Walmart. I’ll try to get some hands-on time. Thanks!

  5. Dave,

    I have been on the same quest! I start with the netbook but when I load it up, I realize I could get a real notebook for the same price. I’ve looked at some of the Dell Vostro 13″ machines as well as the Thinkpad Edge 13. Once I add the features I want and Microsoft Office, the $550 machine is now $800. Then I think to myself what don’t I just buy a macbook pro! Of course now I am up to $1200 and way out of budget and it starts all over again with me thinking, “If I get a netbook..”!


    P.S. Look at for some good refurbs. I am thinking about picking up a Dell latitude 410 for under $300.

  6. Mari,

    If you’re not going to go over $400 and the size isn’t critical, I concur with Phil’s recommendation of the Acer Aspire Timeline AS1410. Its got the higher screen resolution you want, in a “slightly” bigger form factor (still under an inch thick) with a good keyboard and trackpad, much better performance than you’ll get from an Atom-based netbook, and various things you might care about–HDMI out, eSATA, faster HD, more RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium, etc. And of course fantastic battery life–I easily get over 8 hours on my AS1810tz (the one with the faster CPU, but it costs more). I find its still small enough for me to take anywhere I used to take my Dell Mini, and its far more usable.

    It is not however the same size as a netbook. It IS bigger. Not thicker, but wider and deeper. If you don’t care about this too much it might be a good fit for you. Plus you don’t have to worry whether your system can play fullscreen HQ/HD flash video etc.

  7. I’m late to the party, but have to second (third) the recommendation of the Acer 1410. I got one for my wife at Christmas, and she is loving it. Small, light, powerful, decent screen, great battery life. It might be the most successful tech purchase I’ve ever made for her! ;) (Not to say it’s girly or anything, I would happily use it as well)

  8. I’m in the same boat – I’ve loved my ASUS 1000HE, but it’s rather bulky and doesn’t handle HD video well.

    I’m stuck on the 10″ size – I already have a 13″ Dell XPS, so 11″ on my netbook would be a bit silly.

    I’m wanting something a bit more slick, with a matte display and a backlit keyboard, really. A tablet form factor would be awesome, but an iPad won’t do – I need a hardware keyboard and other niceties, as I use it to blog periodically, too.

  9. My wife has the Lenovo x100e (red, 2GB RAM, Win7 Home Premium, 720p screen) and she loves it. It’s true that the battery life isn’t what some of the smaller netbooks can do, and it can run a little warm, but it’s a nice machine for the money (around $500).

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