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The in-betweeners: 11.6-inch laptops and Premium Netbooks (photos)

Bigger than a standard 10-inch Netbook, but still less powerful and less expensive than even budget-minded midsize systems, these 11.6-inch laptops sit somewhat awkwardly between categories. Some call them premium Netbooks, others say they're ultraportable systems. We say they're a worthwhile step up when a single-core 10-inch Atom Netbook just isn't enough. (As a bonus, we've tossed in a couple of similar 12-inch versions at the end.)

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Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Dan Ackerman
Scott Stein
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1 of 9 Sarah Tew/CNET

Toshiba Satellite T215D-S1140RD

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Better-than-Netbook performance; solid keyboard; good selection of ports for its size.

The bad: Unimpressive battery life; for a nearly $500, may not offer the CPU horsepower one might expect.

The bottom line: An update to last year's T115, the Toshiba Satellite T215D-S1140RD performs like a slightly larger, faster Netbook with better specs and ports. It's definitely a step up, but it may not be enough computer for those with higher expectations.

Read the full review here.

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2 of 9 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell Inspiron M101z

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Dual-core processor in an 11-inch laptop; good keyboard and touch pad; much faster than similar-size Netbooks.

The bad: Upgraded components aren't cheap; limited graphics; merely average battery life.

The bottom line: Dell's latest take on the Mini line is a dual-core AMD-powered 11-inch system that leaves Netbooks in the dust in terms of both power and price.

Read the full review here.

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3 of 9 Sarah Tew/CNET

Alienware M11x (Core i7, Nvidia Optimus)

Editors' rating: 4 out of 5

The good: Solid gaming performance in a very compact form; improves on the original Core 2 Duo version; automatic Nvidia Optimus graphics switching; impressive built-in audio.

The bad: The Core i7 ULV processor is still slower than normal Core i7 processors; higher-end configs get too expensive; no optical drive for installing games.

The bottom line: Equipped with Nvidia Optimus technology and new Core i5 and i7 processors, the updated 11.6-inch Alienware M11x has improved performance, but it takes a small step forward, not a quantum leap.

Read the full review here.

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4 of 9 Sarah Tew/CNET

Gateway LT3201u

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: More powerful than Intel Atom Netbooks; reasonably priced; big keyboard.

The bad: Still a single-core processor; unimpressive touch pad and multitouch gesture controls.

The bottom line: Offering a little more Netbook for a little more money, the Gateway LT32 is a solid step up in power, screen size, and price.

Read the full review of the Gateway LT3201u.

5 of 9 CNET

Gateway EC14D07u

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Compact laptop manages to still have an optical drive as well as decent dual-core performance and battery life.

The bad: Keyboard feels flimsy; for the price, you could always get a larger, faster Core i3 laptop.

The bottom line: By adding a DVD burner to its Netbook-like form factor and dual-core processor, the Gateway EC14D07u fills a need for those who can't say goodbye to physical discs, although it comes at a price that befits a full-size laptop.

Read the full review here.

6 of 9 Sarah Tew/CNET

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Phenomenal keyboard; sturdy build; matte screen.

The bad: Underpowered for the price; battery life isn't as good as many Netbooks.

The bottom line: The ThinkPad x100e is essentially the ThinkPad Netbook users have been dreaming of, with one of the best keyboards we've ever tested. Unfortunately, its performance, though better than Atom Netbooks', comes at the cost of longer battery life.

Read the full review here.

7 of 9 CNET

Acer Ferrari One FO200-1799

Editors' rating: 3.5 out of 5

The good: Speedy Netbook-size system; good battery life.

The bad: Oddly shaped touch pad; priced out of the Netbook market.

The bottom line: Acer's auto-branded Ferrari One FO200 may look like an 11-inch Netbook, but it sports a dual-core AMD CPU and a mainstream laptop price to match.

Read the full review here.

8 of 9 CNET

Lenovo ThinkPad x201

Editors' rating: 4 out of 5

The good: Powerful processor in a 12-inch laptop; excellent battery life; typical ThinkPad-quality construction.

The bad: Bulky for a 12-inch laptop; expensive for a nongaming system.

The bottom line: Anyone looking for the power of a midsize laptop in a compact 12-inch body has only a few choices, and none to date tops Lenovo's excellent ThinkPad X201.

Read the full review here.

9 of 9 CNET

Asus Eee PC 1201PN

Editors' rating: 3 out of 5

The good: Comfortable keyboard, good screen and speakers; Ion processor offers some graphics and performance gains.

The bad: Full laptops can be had for the same price; streaming video and gaming are hit-and-miss with this single-core Atom/next-gen Ion configuration.

The bottom line: Touting the Asus Eee PC 1201PN as the first next-gen Nvidia Ion Netbook is a bit misleading, since it offers single-core Atom performance, with no automatic graphics switching in an expensive package that underperforms its predecessor.

Read the full review here.

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