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Over the past decade or so we have seen the capability of portable laptop computers advance way beyond that we may have thought possible. Thanks to powerful chips and advanced manufacturing processes, they have also become surprisingly affordable.
It became the thing to boast of having a super-capable laptop that could do anything, and they flew out of the shops.
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Then, a strange thing happened; the advent of the tablet computer – fitting neatly between the smartphone and the laptop – led to these devices usurping the laptop in popularity, as people realised that they didn’t really need all that power, but could get by with a portable hand-held device. Thus, the market for a cheap, less-powerful but still capable laptop – or hybrid tablet, one perhaps with a detachable keyboard – came to be, and this heralded the birth of the best netbook.
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|Name||Hard drive size|
|Zaith 2 in 1 Android||16 GB|
|Samsung XE303-C12 Chromebook||16 GB|
|HP Stream 14 ax000na||32GB|
|Acer Aspire-One A150 Netbook||120 GB|
|iOTA 1 – 2 in 1||32 GB|
What is a netbook? It’s a term used to describe a computer that is compact, very portable and not too powerful, yet still with enough capability to perform tasks such as word processing, accessing the internet and other necessary functions. It can easily be stored away in a small bag, and sometimes comes with a keyboard for added versatility.
These are popular with a wide range of users from executives who need to work on the move to students who need only the basics, and they are offered by all the major names in the market. Do you need a netbook? That depends upon what you are looking for!
Before we go on to give you a run-down of the top 10 as we found, let’s talk a little about what they can do, and why you might find one useful.
Table of Contents
- Best Notebook (Our Top Picks)
- Netbook Reviews - Features to Consider
- Best Netbook - How It Works
- Let’s Wrap It Up!
Best Notebook (Our Top Picks)
1: Zaith 2 in 1 Android
One of the major defining factors in recent computing has been the development of the Android operating system. This has allowed developers to break free from the shackles of Apple and Microsoft and move forward.
This netbook, from Zaith, uses the very latest Android operating system and will appeal to people who have the same on their phones. It has a 10.1” screen, has a 64-bit quad-core processor, and 16GB of memory as standard, upgradeable if required.
A 1.5GHz processor is fast enough for most requirements and it is designed with two keyboard options: you can use it as a full touch-screen tablet, or you can connect the detachable keyboard for more practicality – great for writing essays, for example.
It comes with full Wi-Fi capability, a very bright and clear screen, Bluetooth connectivity, a dual camera and all the connections for headphones, charging and more, and it is offered at a very attractive price that puts it firmly on our shortlist.
2: Samsung XE303-C12 Chromebook
They brought about a series of portable laptops explicitly geared towards their operating system – Chrome – which they called Chromebooks, and this is one. They are very popular, very usable and neatly designed, but may lack some of the features you might find on a similar Android device, for example.
This one is, to all intents and purposes, a mini Samsung laptop. The screen – which measures 11.6” – is not detachable, and it is not a touch-screen model. However, you do get a full-size, very practical keyboard – one that is optimised for use with Chrome for more practicality – and it is a very nice, bright screen with impressive resolution.
It has 2GB of RAM, a full charge on the battery will give you as much as 7-hours running, and as with all Chromebooks, it comes with all the main Google stuff pre-loaded and access to a wealth of further apps. It’s good, it’s well-priced, and if you want a small laptop it is worth looking at.
3: HP Stream 14 ax000na
HP has forged a reputation for producing compact, capable and affordable laptops such as this one, which in truth does not quite fit the bill as a netbook as such. However, we think it worthy of inclusion as an example of what the brand is all about.
It is, to all intents and purposes, a mini-laptop – you get a 14-inch HD screen, which is smaller than a standard laptop but bigger than your usual netbook – and it does a good job for such a small package. It’s not as advanced as you might expect from a bigger machine, but is perfectly capable.
This is a laptop that is intended for travelling; it’s very thin, nicely made and quite robust, and you get the usual 2GB RAM plus Microsoft Office 365 on a one-year subscription with options to extend. This covers all your office activities, and more.
It is not a touch-screen, and it comes with just the basics pre-installed, but it is very usable and has excellent Wi-Fi and connectivity options. This Windows 10 mini-laptop will give you as much as 9-hours use on one battery charge so is great for portability, and at the price is a good choice for a little more than your average netbook.
4: Acer Aspire-One A150 Netbook
Another brand with a reputation for decent machines at sensible prices, Acer has a wide range of netbooks and laptops and also likes to cater for those who don’t want to use the standard operating systems.
This one, for example, runs on Linux, which will appeal to users who want to steer away from the Microsoft monopoly and who want a simple yet clean-running laptop that is portable and easy to use. It’s a neat and simple design – there’s no removable screen for example – and is very popular.
This one has only 512MB of RAM, but that should be easy to deal with for any competent user and is equipped with an 8.9” hi-tech screen. In other words, it is akin to a medium-sized tablet with a keyboard attached, and as such is very portable indeed.
It can be used for basic duties such as word processing, can access the internet, and is perfectly usable, but we feel it may be a bit small for office use. Nevertheless, if you want Linux, this might be for you.
5: iOTA 1 – 2 in 1 10.1”
This model is more in line with the first on our list in that it is a convertible model; that is, you can use it as a standard 10.1” tablet, with a fully responsive screen, or you can attach the neat and usable full keyboard and it operates as a mini-laptop.
It’s very nicely made, runs Windows 10, has a nice high-resolution screen with great colours, and is easy to set up and go. It also comes with both full and micro USB ports, which is very handy in a device of this size.
The Intel 1.44GHz processor is more than capable of providing decent speed and processing power, while 2Gb RAM is pretty much the standard with one of these, and it comes pre-equipped with the mobile version of Microsoft Office, providing you with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more for use on the move.
Light, compact and suitable for execs or students, this touch-screen netbook is also very good value, if you are happy to be tied to Windows.
6: Fusion5 14.1 Full HD
So far we’ve covered two distinct types of machine that come under the netbook banner: the very portable devices with detachable keyboards, and those – like this one – that are in essence very small laptops.
This one, from Fusion5, is a very neat mini-laptop with a 14.1” screen, that’s big enough for regular daily use, but is suitably compact for taking between places for use. It’s light, slim and usable, and comes with some very nice specifications for a machine of this price.
To begin with, the display really is very impressive with excellent colours and true HD resolution, while the keyboard itself is a standard QWERTY model of a very decent size, but not detachable.
You get 4GB RAM and a quad-core Intel processor that provides very quick boot-up and fast performance throughout, as well as Windows 10 operating system, all the usual connectivity options including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 3.0, and all at a sensible price. This is one to consider if you want a small laptop for business or study use.
7: ACER Chromebook 11
With the popularity of dedicated Chromebooks, it is no surprise that most of the major laptop manufacturers have got in on the act. This one, from ACER, is a typical model offering all you would want from such a device, and as such is worth looking at.
It runs Chrome, naturally, so is fully compatible with the many thousands of Android apps that you can download, and it is a neatly designed and very capable model that offers you an 11.6” screen with very bright resolution and nice colours.
This is a very portable device that would be great for the student or for the professional on the move. It’s powered by an Intel processor for quick operation, you get 2GB RAM and upgradable internal memory, and you have a Chrome keyboard for added ease of use.
Built in webcam is designed to facilitate video use, the Wi-Fi is latest version and very powerful, and it’s a decent price if you want a small laptop without a detachable keyboard.
8: Lenovo S21-E 20
This is a small laptop – you get an 11.6” screen which is the perfect choice between ultra-portability and suitable for daily use – and it is a very nice one, too, with lovely colours and excellent resolution. It runs Windows 10, the default now for any Windows-based machine, and is very smooth thanks to the powerful Intel processor.
This Lenovo gives you 2GB RAM, again pretty much the standard with a netbook such as this, and has a dedicated keyboard as it is not a touch-screen model. It has an excellent graphics package, however, and would be perfect for students or for the executive who needs to work on the move.
The keyboard features very nice design touches such as rounded buttons that make it easier to type, and at the price, we have no hesitation in saying that if you want a dedicated laptop-type netbook, this is well worth looking at.
9: Lenovo IdeaPad 120S
The Lenovo IdeaPad range offers a choice of smaller-sized laptops that offer excellent performance at a sensible price. If you need a full-keyboard machine to take with you on your travels or are a student looking for a capable machine on a budget, this model – the 120S – could be of great interest to you.
You get a 14-inch screen, that’s between the true netbook size and full laptop, and it’s very clear with excellent anti-glare properties.
Now, we will say that this range comes with a choice of processors and internal memory options. We are reviewing one that has an Intel Celeron processor with 1.1GHz speed potential – more than enough for simple use that these machines should be put through – and 4GB RAM, plus expandable memory.
It runs Windows 10, so is bang up to date, and can offer you as much as 8-hours of usage on a single battery charge. That’s really all you need to know, bar that at the price we think it’s a good value for a smaller laptop.
10: Linx 12x64 Tablet
Our final choice will appeal to anyone who wants a netbook that is a combination of tablet and laptop. This one, from Linx, comes with a very nice touch-screen tablet computer set-up plus a detachable keyboard, and some excellent features.
To begin with, you get a 12.5” tablet screen that is a very decent size for one of these, plus a 1.44GHz quad-core processor, which again makes it very impressive in comparison to some others. It’s nicely made, looks the part, and is surprisingly compact for the size.
It comes with 4GB RAM – bigger than many of the dedicated laptop-type devices we have reviewed – and 64GB of storage, which can be expanded. The screen offers excellent graphics and full touch-capacity, while the keyboard is fully functioning.
It has a built-in kickstand so you can angle it how you like, runs Windows 10 so is bang up to date with the latest developments, and has all the connectivity options you need. One full charge will get you as much as 9hours of usage, so we recommend you check it out.
That’s our list of 10 netbooks to look at, and we’re sure you’ll agree we have covered all the possible options, so which one is best for you?
Before we go on to give our verdict, let’s have a recap of some the important features you need to look out for.
Netbook Reviews - Features to Consider
What do you need to think about when buying a netbook? Well, clearly you are not after a high-performance machine – although you want one that is decent enough for varied use – so let’s have a look at some of the factors you need to consider:
Tablet or Laptop – this is perhaps the most important consideration when looking for a netbook. As you will see from the reviews, some of the 10 are dedicated mini-laptops, while others are tablets with a detachable yet fully-functioning keyboard for when necessary. The latter also tend to be touch-screen devices, and we prefer them, but the choice is yours!
OS – the operating system is another consideration you need to think about carefully. If you are used to a Windows 10 computer, you have a choice of a few running this operating system. Likewise, if you are a fan of Android, you should check out the Chromebooks and other options running that OS. There is also one here that runs Linux, and none of our choices uses the Mac OS.
Processor – even though you are likely to use your netbook for browsing the web and simple processing, a decent processor is required, and all of the above use very capable processing systems to get the job done – check for the various speeds in the descriptions.
Size – the idea of a netbook is that it should be portable; some of the above are more so than others! Screen sizes range from a small 8.9inch to around 14inches, with the standard being about 10inches.
That’s the few main things you need to look for, and you might want to check out the brand if known names will sway your decision, so which of the above is for you? Let’s see if we can wrap things up.
Best Netbook - How It Works
The netbook, at first, appeared to fill a gap that wasn’t really there. However, that myth was soon dispelled when they rapidly became among the most popular of all the available types of a portable computer. This happened for a number of reasons.
First, a netbook is smaller than a laptop and therefore very portable; it tends to have a screen of 10” or less, and this may be accompanied by a keyboard, or not! They offer a sensible amount of computing power and can handle internet transactions with ease, and they are equipped to run software packages including word processing, databases and more.
Because netbook is now used as a catch-all term for various types of portable computer it is essential you know what you are looking for when you begin to search for one. These are not, it needs to be said, gaming machines with super-powerful chips, but neither are they the very basic computers that the term was once associated with. Some are extremely capable and offer very impressive performance at a knock-down price.
Price: we had to get there in the end! The netbook is also popular because it is a cheap option. For example, a student who needs word processing and internet access will find a netbook more than capable of doing the job, and will also appreciate its portability.
So, you want a netbook? Let’s give you a closer look at 10 of the very best models on the market, and see if we can help you find a model that is right for your requirements.
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Let’s Wrap It Up!
Is there a best netbook in the above list suitable for you? Given that we have included at least one of every possible type, we hope so, so let’s have a look at the different types.
If you want super-portable, i.e. a truly tablet-sized mini-laptop, the Acer Aspire-One with its 8.9inch screen is the one, and it is a decent machine for very basic use.
If you are happy with a non-detachable screen – in other words, a smaller laptop – then there are several here that fit the bill, including the Lenovo 120s, and the Acer Chromebook, both of which offer excellent value for money.
We do prefer the models with detachable keyboards, however, as they offer greater versatility and – as happens with two on our list – perhaps the best performance of all.
The choice is yours as to whether you go for the Zaith, the first on our list, with its excellent memory capability, fast processor and simply excellent price, or the Linx 12x64, our final choice, which we like because of its design and performance at the price.
So, there you have it, the best netbook to choose from, and we hope we have helped you find one that suits your requirements!