The small netbooks are lightweight, less expensive than a PC, and can fit into a handbag or a briefcase.
More than 11 million consumers bought one for as little as $269 in 2008, and prices may continue to fall. PC makers say notebook computer prices could be affected by the trend, possibly with a 20 percent drop from early 2008 prices by the end of 2009.
The $269 netbook is made by Asus ‘Eee PCs (Eee stands for “Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play.”). They are designed for basic tasks of Web surfing, email and word processing. They use Wi-Fi but have a limited storage drive capacity. To keep costs down, some Asus models ship with the Linux operating system rather than Microsoft Windows.
The keyboards are small, which could be a problem for some adults, but the size is perfect for kids. Dell’s $349 Inspiron Mini 9 has an 8.9-inch LED screen. It has 512 MB of system memory and Intel’s Atom 1.6-Ghz processor.
You can order it with Windows XP operating system instead of Linux. Dell has three netbooks, all of which have USB ports, other features and four hours of battery life, depending on the applications being used.
The $349 Acer Aspire One has a bright 8.9-inch screen, a 120-gigabyte hard disk and one gigabyte of memory. It’s about an inch thick. The keys are large and separated in order to make typing comfortable for limited work.
For $50 extra, you can get twice the battery power.