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Choosing a Netbook--a picture can be worth a thousand words

Is a 9 inch Netbook too small? How well does a mat finish reduce glare? See them side by side.

If you are in the market for a Netbook computer there are many decisions to be made. The pictures here may help with a couple of them. Shown below are an Acer Aspire One and an Asus Eee PC 1000.

The Acer Aspire One (left) and the Asus Eee PC (right)

The machines are as different as any two Netbooks can be. The Acer runs Windows XP, the Asus runs Linux. The Asus has an SSD, the Acer a traditional hard disk. The Asus supports Wi-Fi N, the Acer doesn't. The smaller Acer machine has a weaker battery and was significantly cheaper.

But the picture above points out other differences (see a larger version of the picture).

The smaller Acer has a 9-inch screen, the larger Asus is 10 inches (approximately). Measuring the other sides of the triangle, the Acer screen is (approximately) 7.5 by 4.5 inches, whereas the Asus screen is 8.5 by 5 inches. Both screens have the all-but standard Netbook resolution of 1024 x 600, which means that everything is just a bit bigger and easier to see on the Asus machine.

And, the picture points out a sometimes often overlooked aspect of the screen, a matt versus glossy finish. It's fairly obvious that the Acer has a glossy screen whereas that on the Asus has a mat finish (you also see this in the picture below). Personally, I prefer the mat finish, but this is a matter of opinion. Cheaper machines will tend to have glossy screens because they're cheaper to manufacture.

Another difference between the machines is the placement of the mouse buttons. On the smaller Acer Aspire One, they are on the side of the trackpad; on the larger Asus Eee PC they are in the more traditional location, underneath. Using the Acer machine, I have found the placement of the right mouse button to be an annoyance, but, this too, is a matter opinion.

Netbooks compared to VHS video tapes

If you haven't seen a Netbook in person, then perhaps the picture above (larger version), with a VHS video tape in front of each machine, can help put the size in perspective. It offers an even more dramatic example of the mat versus glossy screen.

Taking a step back, my opinion is that a 9-inch screen is too small. While the smaller screen allows the machine to be smaller, I don't need my Netbook to be that small. Plus, smaller Netbooks have smaller keyboards. Anyone with adult hands and less than perfect eyesight is better off with a 10-inch model Netbook. Children may have a different perspective.

From a woman's perspective, the 9-inch Acer Aspire One could fit in some pocketbooks, whereas the 10-inch Asus Eee PC 1000 is likely to be too big. From a man's perspective, each will easily fit in any briefcase.

When the Asus Eee PC 1000 was first released, way back at the end of August, it sold for $700. Now, the price is around $500 and I've seen it on sale for even less.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.