While the battle between mini laptops and tablets rages on, the line that separates the functionality of netbooks seem to be getting less and less visible. But that’s just about comparative functionality. When we speak of overall performance and practicality, a mere entertainment-centered tablet computer wouldn’t stand a chance to the productivity might of a netbook. The main advantage of using Mini Laptops or notebooks is that they provide huge amounts of flexibility; they are inexpensive and highly durable.
Below is a recommended list of the best mini laptops and netbooks available in the markets as of 2012. The list is compiled with the help of experience and reviews from users who already got the chance to use the devices. I will cover here mainly 10inch mini laptops. Please also have a look at the list of recommended 11.6inch laptops.
Recommended 10inch netbooks
HP Mini 210-4150NR 10.1-Inch Netbook
HP Mini netbooks are always known for the cool metallic strips that drive along the contours at the side of the unit. Because this is the charcoal gray version, only the striking combination of white, gray and black can be seen. The matte finish of the unit ensures that no fingerprints would be seen on it.
Keyboard is made in island style. While the spacing of the keys is already adequate to make typing easier, the feel of each key as it is being pressed also adds to the input comfort when typing for extended periods of time.
The computing capabilities of the HP Mini 210-4150NR is primarily provided by an Intel Atom N2600 processor (1.6 Ghz dual-core, 1MB L2 Cache), supported by an Intel Media Graphics Accelerator 3150 (218MB graphics memory) and 1GB of DDR3 RAM. The 320GB worth of storage is quite hefty for a netbook, although this is already widely becoming the normal standard. The 10.1-inch screen is an LED-backlit LCD display.
Connectivity is provided by three USB 2.0 ports (one on the left, two on the right), two audio jacks, a card slot and an Ethernet port. Wireless connectivity is through Wi-fi only (no Bluetooth connectivity). Apparently this product is optimized for better sound output, as shown by the availability of HP’s Beats Audio feature.
The good combination of the components inside the HP Mini 210-4150NR allows it to function almost as if it was a low-end standard sized laptop. For example, you can easily multi-task without experiencing too much lag, and you can watch high-definition videos quite smoothly. The only problem would be its 1GB RAM, which could ultimately limit the performance range of the unit.
The battery seems to live up with its advertised life of 11 hours, as most users usually get around 8-10 hours out of it in a single full charge. The HP Mini 210-4150NR is great for viewing media when killing time, and is also an efficient office machine when you need browse the internet, check e-mail or type some stuff. In fact, this netbook could be a much cheaper (albeit less cool) alternative entertainment machine compared to a more expensive tablet computer.
Best of all, what we really liked about the HP Mini 210-4150NR was its relatively cheap price. Just add around $50 to $70 more to your portable investment, and you’ve already got something that has more than double the performance capacity of the lower level netbook (that you could have purchased instead).
From the outside, the Toshiba NB505-508BL does not look very much different from any other mini laptop. As indicated in the product code, this is the blue version, with the top clamshell “coated” with a weave-design rubbery finish. The thickness is also typical for any regular netbook. It is pre-installed with a 32-bit Windows 7 Starter OS.
The keyboard is full-sized, and is arranged and designed in island style, so there should be no serious problems in typing. The trackpad is also quite easy to use, though there is nothing too impressive about it.
General specifications include an Intel Atom N455 processor (1.66 Ghz single-core, 512KB L2 Cache), Intel Media Graphics Accelerator 3150 (250MB graphics memory), and 1GB of DDR2 667Mhz RAM (upgradable to 2GB). The 10.1-inch screen is an LED-backlit LCD display. The 250GB (5400RPM) storage capacity is sufficiently enough to save all the media and office files that you’ll ever need to carry.
The ports available to the NB505-508BL are three USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port, two 3.5mm jacks for speakers and microphones, an SD card reader, and a VGA port. Wi-fi is of course enabled, though there is no Bluetooth capability. The battery is a 48 watt-hour 6-cell battery, which according to Toshiba, could theoretically last up to 8 hours on a full charge.
The overall performance of the Toshiba NB505-508BL is not that bad. In fact, we believe that in terms of practical usage, it may even have a discreet advantage over other netbooks. The case for example, has an overall rubbery feel, reducing its chances of being accidentally dropped. There is also a surprisingly low amount of bloatware, so there’s less hassle in uninstalling those crap programs that you would never use.
The only downside of this mini laptop is that the speakers are placed under the unit. When it is placed on any surface, the volume gets considerably muffled, although of course this can be easily remedied by external speakers or headphones.
Anyone who plans to buy this netbook is highly recommended to immediately add the extra 1GB of RAM for extra performance mileage. The memory boost adds a considerable system response speed, enabling you to browse away without worrying too much about the number of tabs that you would open.
The Dell Inspiron IM1018-AMZBLK 10.1-Inch Mini 10 Mobile Netbook doesn’t look too impressive when you first see its specifications. Its actual performance for office tasks however, is something that we think you’ll get really interested in. For starters, the outer design of the entire netbook is standard, and its color scheme simply spreads uniformly throughout the unit (this is the black version). Instead of using a matte finish, Dell decided to completely envelop it with a nice piano finish. This makes it shiny and nice to look at, although fingerprints are sure to ruin its color “harmony” every now and then.
The full-size keyboard is quite nice to use. It’s not too tacky and is quite solid. You can almost type away with it as if you are using a typical 14-inch laptop.
The central powerhouse of the Dell Inspiron IM1018 is an Intel Atom N455 (1.66 Ghz single-core, 512 L2 Cache), supported by an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150, and 1GB of DDR3 (1333Mhz) RAM. It has a rather low 160GB of storage, and the battery is only a 3-cell one. The 10.1-inch screen is a WLED display.
Connectivity is provided by two USB 2.0 ports, two audio jacks, a 3-in-1 memory card slot, an Ethernet port and a VGA port. Wireless connectivity is through standard Wi-fi and Bluetooth. The unit is also installed with a 0.3 megapixel webcam.
This is one of the really low-end netbooks out there. Though the price is considerably low, we somehow don’t like calling it cheap, as it performs quite well within the standard limitations of netbooks with that price. We like considering it as a reliable, portable and economical office machine.
As always the Windows 7 starter may feel a bit lacking for those who want to fully utilize the office capabilities of the unit (it seems to be particularly designed for pure office use). Bloatware seems a little too much, but a simple uninstall procedure can help clear all the unneeded and unwanted things.
The Dell Inspiron IM1018 may not be the best netbook out there, but the solid, stable performance coupled with a great comparative price value makes it excellent for people who want to quickly purchase a fully functional netbook for their portable productivity needs.
The ASUS Eee PC 1015PX-SU17-RD is one sexy looking portable machines out there. When paired with other netbooks, you can see that it is a little bit thinner, making it easier to slip into bags and easier to carry with your hand. The plastic cover of the unit is matte finished, so there’s no worry about getting fingerprints on the unit.
The full-sized keyboard is made in chiclet island style. But aside from this convenient keyboard button placement, the netbook’s touchpad also has a special palm rejecton feature. Not only can you type easily with it, but you can also type more comfortably without having to keep your palms from accidentally landing on the touchpad.
The central powerhouse of the unit is its Intel Atom N570 processor (1.66 Ghz dual-core, 1MB L2 Cache), which is a standard for the newest generation of netbooks. Supporting this netbook booster processor is a typical Intel UMA graphics “processor”, and 2GB of DDR3 memory. The 320GB storage capacity is a netbook standard, though the unit also benefits from the cloud-based Unlimited Storage system by Asus. The 10.1-inch display is a standard LED-backlit LCD screen.
Ports available for the ASUS Eee PC 1015PX are the basic netbook standard: three USB 2.0 ports, 2 audio jacks (headphone and mic-in), an RJ45 Ethernet port, and a VGA port, along with a 2 in 1 MMC and an SD card slot. Wireless connectivity is through Wi-fi (802.11b/g/n 2.4 Ghz) and Bluetooth (3.0). It also has a 0.3 megapixel webcam.
The ASUS Eee PC 1015PX mini laptop meets all of the expected performance capabilities. Boot time is superbly fast, it could probably even outrace a higher-powered desktop unit. With its 2GB RAM, you can hammer away at multiple small applications/programs and web browser tabs without stressing the unit. It can easily view 720p HD videos, so there’s no problem using it to stream videos for Youtube, Netflix or Hulu.
Though battery power has been advertised to be at around 11 hours, during heavy use, it might only last for up to 5 hours on a full charge. Strangely though, a few units are able to crank up the energy levels to make the battery last for 8 hours during heavy use. When using it for a long time by the way, the unit could get considerably hot, it might get a little uncomfortable, although it could be perfect for colder web-browsing nights.
All in all the ASUS Eee PC 1015PX is a really great netbook that combines convenience, power, efficiency, reliability and affordability in one very neat package. Remember though, it’s still not a full laptop, so don’t expect it to be able to do some of the heavier data processing tasks that you normally do on larger units.
If I were asked to choose from among the laptops in the list I would go for the Dell Inspiron iM1018 netbook. It is affordable, good performance and capable of performing every task an average laptop user needs with good efficiency. If performance is my biggest concern and money is not a restriction, then I would go for one of the ASUS Eee PC 1015PX-SU17-RD. So which laptop will you choose?