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Computer Corner Exit Bulky Computer, Enter Netbook Robert Smith - Staff Reporter

Little more than two years ago, a new kind of laptop computer began to emerge on the PC market, and it isn’t what you would normally think of as a laptop. It’s about the size of a portable DVD player, lightweight, and not as expensive as other pricey laptops. Even so, most people don’t refer to laptops as ‘laptops,’ but as “notebooks,” because the size of a typical notebook computer resembles that of a typical spiral bound writing pad. Well, this new smaller laptop is kind of like that, and its official name is “netbook.” The reason why someone might prefer a netbook to a notebook may vary. Netbooks are priced economically based on what is typically included with it. Because these are smaller computers, they typically do not have a CD or DVD ROM drive attached. Their performance is waned by a cost-effective hardware bundle – slower CPUs, smaller amounts of memory, and a lower capacity hard disk. But for people who are looking for a low-cost computer that “just works,” the netbook might be the right solution for you. Bear in mind that laptop computers are fundamentally different from the desktop towers we normally use on a day-to-day basis. Laptops are made for portability and thus the idea of upgrading RAM or other hardware components was paid little to no mind. You might think of a low-cost laptop as a bargain deal, but make sure you know what you’re getting as part of the package – with notebooks and netbooks what you see is what you get. Now, upgrading hardware in a laptop


computer is not impossible, it’s just not advisable. You also stand a good chance at voiding the manufacturer’s warranty. The basic rule of thumb here is: unless you know exactly what you are doing, don’t. Most new netbooks come with Windows XP preinstalled because of the lower hardware requirements the operating system was designed to work with. It is possible to install Windows Vista to your netbook computer, but I wouldn’t do it unless you have at least a gigabyte of RAM installed. Windows Vista uses more hard drive space that XP and its hardware requirements dwarf XP in comparison. If you do decide on Vista, you might see a performance impact with your netbook. If you wish to upgrade your operating system, your best bet would be to wait for Windows 7 to hit retail store shelves sometime later this year or early next year. With Vista or Seven, I recommend using the Home Basic version, as it is designed with installed components that work better with lower-end hardware. The aero interface is a no-no on low-cost desktops and laptops and will usually fail to work on lower end machines. You can find netbook computers at local retail stores, such as the Acer AspireOne, Asus EeePC, and HP Mini. They usually run in an area between $300 and $400.

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