One of the main trends of 2008 that we can expect to see continue well into this year and beyond is that of the netbook — a small, cheap, low spec ‘mini’ laptop designed to enable access to the internet and allow you to do basic tasks on the move. Since Asus started it all of in 2007 with the Eee PC 701, there has been escalating interest and awareness which has swept many big companies along with it.
Some of the biggest names in the computer industry have invested in this — obviously Asus with their Eee PC, but Dell, Hp, Acer, Samsung and MSI have also jumped on this bandwagon (as you can see from our recent Acer Aspire One review) with many expected to follow. But where is the industry now? Well the recent CES has been a good place to see the netbooks that are going to be released soon, so let’s have a look at them.
First up there is the Archos 10 which is Archos’ first venture into this market, and it does so at the bigger end, with a 10 inch screen. It is a fairly simple design; there is nothing special about it although the smooth design is nice and they haven’t over complicated the ports locations either. It is nice to see a proper trackpad, but the keyboard does not use the whole width, so despite what Archos say it could well be difficult to type.
Specification wise it is a fairly solid machine, with an Atom 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM combination capable of powering the XP operating system with ease. It also has a 160GB HDD, 802.11b.g wireless LAN, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, four-in-one memory card reader, a VGA connection as well as the normal various ports.
On the software side of things it comes preloaded with Skype, Lotus Symphony, 6 months free full version of BitDefender Antivirus 2009 and a parental filter, which will make it ideal for a childs portable work/entertainment solution. It has a fairly average weight of just under 1.3kg and its 10” (or rather 10.2 inch) screen has a 1024 v 600 resolution for the LED screen (which is pretty bright). It should be available this month for £349.
All in all this is nothing special, and is in fact a little expensive for what it is. The use of XP as oppose to Linux adds a fair pit of price on, and the fact that there isn’t even an option for this is a little surprising. And although the hard drive is bigger than average, it is still pretty steep.
Let us compare it to the Samsung NC10 which was released last year and costs around £300, the same price as this is being released for. This nice little machine weighs the same, has the same processor, the same amount of RAM, the same HDD, the same o/s the same standard webcam and the same spec screen. These netbooks have pretty much identical specifications, so is it any wonder that it is so difficult to choose a netbook when the market is so convoluted.
I really wish that Archos could have taken a little longer to think about this and come up with something unique, a low price (like the Aspire One), very good graphics (like the Acer N10) or even something trivial like the light up touchpad the new MSI offering boasts. Yes, it is not a bad netbook, but it is nothing special, and really if Archos want to make an impact they need to stand out from the crowd. Sony, on the other hand, have done something different so watch this space for news on them.
Source – Pocket-Lint