Ten best netbooks for students

While there’s been a lot of chat of late about tablets being the next big thing in the portable, lightweight computer space, right now the average consumer still can’t beat a netbook.

Small, capable, easily toted around and in most cases, affordable, the netbook is the democratic PC for every man, women and child. Netbooks are especially suited to students who have little cash and even less room in their bags alongside numerous text books. There sure as heck are a lot of them around though, so we’ve drawn up a list of ten of the best to help you to decide which diminutive device you should go for.


Toshiba NB305

Price
£220 - £230
OS
Windows 7 Starter Edition
Processor
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
1GB
Screen size
10.1-inches

Boasting respectable speeds and a decent LED-backlit screen, the NB305 benefits from a well-designed keyboard and a spacious trackpad, something lesser rivals are often let down by. It really shines when it comes to battery life, managing around 10 hours of moderate usage while nice touches are the Bluetooth connectivity, an HDD Protection system and one of the three USB ports offering Toshiba’s clever Sleep and Charge tech that juices up your gadgets even when the netbook is off.

Full Review

 

Alienware M11xR2

Price
£879
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor
Intel Core i5 or i7
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
2GB
Screen size
11.6-inches

This pricey little number is just what you’d expect from gaming hardware brand Alienware - i.e., specced to the eyeballs - and boasts the most powerful processor and Nvidia graphics combo on a sub 15-incher. Basically if you want to play serious PC games on a portable netbook (although still hefty - it weighs in at over 4 pounds) then this is what you want to be looking at. Aside from the spec list, highlights include a webcam and that must-have feature for PC gamers - LED lighting in the form of an illuminated keyboard.

More photos

Toshiba AC100

Price
£TBC
OS
Modified version of Android 2.1
Processor
1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250 Mobile Processor
Hard drive
8GB Flash storage
RAM
512MB
Screen size
10.1-inches

Technically a 'smartbook' rather than a netbook, this is a lightweight offering both in terms of heaviness (as in, it’s not) and in terms of capabilities - it runs a tweaked version of the Android mobile phone operating system. It’s super-model thin, claims outstanding battery life and will excite anyone who thinks the future of computing does not hark from Richmond or Cupertino. How trying to be productive, or at the very least, connected, on this in the long term works out we’ve yet to see as it’s not yet on shop shelves, but stay tuned for more.

Hands on photos of the Toshiba AC100

Acer Ferrari One

Price
£339.95
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor
AMD Athlon 64 X2 L310
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
2GB
Screen size
11.6-inches

Firstly, we’d like to say that owning a Ferrari-branded anything instantly marks you out as clearly not owning a Ferrari motor vehicle. That said, if you 'identify' with the car marque for whatever reason, you could do a lot worse than this netbook. It’s not cheap, but does boast some nice spec including a dual core AMD processor and graphics card, the Home Premium version of Windows 7, an LED-backlit, 1366 x 768 resolution display, a dedicated button to launch the browser and 3G readiness.

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MSI Wind U160

Price
£315
OS
Windows 7 Starter Edition
Processor
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
1GB
Screen size
10.1-inches

MSI is now such a well established and big name in the netbook industry we’ve finally stopped sniggering at the 'Wind' moniker. The hardware has never been snigger-worthy though and the latest iteration, the U160 continues the trend of capable, portable consumer-based options. Not as cheap as rival products, with this model you’re paying for a good-looking, sleek design and a rather healthy battery life - perhaps not the manufacturer’s 15-hour claim, but the 8-hours working life we found in our review is definitely respectable, thanks to the 6-cell battery, and certainly not the real-life norm in this category of computer.

Full Review

Samsung N210

Price
£320
OS
Windows 7 Starter Edition
Processor
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
1GB
Screen size
10.1-inches

With the standard spec list ticked, the N210 isn’t going to set the netbook world on fire, but it is a solid consumer offering with decent battery life, sound build quality and crucially for those which prefer it - a matte, rather than the increasingly more popular, glossy screen. The keyboard has been described as slightly cramped and the trackpad “titchy,” so this maybe more suited to those with smaller hands. The N210’s must mention feature is its HyperSpace Instant-on to take you quickly to a Linux online environment with weather, news and Twitter content for the impatient.

Full Review

Asus Eee PC 1201N Seashell

Price
£400
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor
Intel Atom N330 + Nvidia ION
Hard drive
250GB plus 500GB online storage
RAM
2GB
Screen size
12.1-inches

Asus kick-started the netbook revolution with its Eee range, and although at times it’s seemed to have lost its way with overly populated and complicated product lines, the Seashell is a quality option. A dual core CPU and NVIDIA ION makes for a great graphics and video experience, the chiclet keyboard always gets good reviews, while a shiny design and a larger-than-average 12-inch glossy high def display will appeal to those who aren't sure about slumming it with a netbook.

Sony Vaio X

Price
£998.98
OS
Windows 7 - various options
Processor
Up to 2GHz Intel Atom
Hard drive
Up to 256 GB SSD
RAM
2GB
Screen size
11.1-inches

We’re not even going to try and make out that the Sony Vaio X, with its cool £1k starting price tag is a sensible. or even viable option, for the majority of students, but what it is is a thing of beauty. A super slimline design yet promise of decent battery life and built-in 3G connectivity help towards its premium status, as does the crazy-chic brushed metal lid and carbon fibre construction. One spec you are paying for is the SSD storage for faster boot times and less battery drain, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is just an 11-inch netbook, so a reserve of the rich elite in reality.

Dell Inspiron Mini 10

Price
From £279
OS
Windows 7 Starter Edition
Processor
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Hard drive
From 160GB
RAM
1GB
Screen size
10.1-inches

Dell was a little late to the netbook arena, but has since churned out some good options for anyone on a budget, like the 10-inch Mini 10. Opting for a machine with the basic specs won’t get you a star performer, but it will get you a sub-3lb portable workhorse with a keyboard that’s 92% of full size, so ideal for hard-core typers or those with big hands - and no-one is going to fall out with that price tag.

Full Review

HP Mini 210-1002sa

Price
£279
OS
Windows 7 Starter Edition
Processor
1.66GHz Intel Atom N450
Hard drive
250GB
RAM
1GB
Screen size
10.1-inches

Another budget offering (especially at its current price, down from the £329 RRP) this configuration of the HP Mini 210 balances cost and performance well while the option to pick the Sonoma Red HP Imprint Finish will make it stand out from the boring-black netbook crowd. With a 93% of full size keyboard, a 6-cell battery as standard and a why-doesn’t-everyone-do-this touchpad lock option to avoid brushes whilst typing, we can’t imagine many folk suffering buyer’s remorse with this option.



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