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Need a small, cheap, effective laptop?

Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai | September 04, 2008

Buying a cheap laptop is tough with a host of low-cost options in the market. Branded as netbooks, these laptops are primarily intended for browsing the Internet and not necessarily for data storage or offline multimedia applications.

Of these, Asus's latest update is the Eee PC 1000H which sports a 10-inch screen and larger keyboard (there's another model with an 8.9 inch screen too). The 1000H seems fairly large (10.5 x 7.5 x1 to 1.5 inches) and borders on the size of a traditional ultraportable system. The Asus 1000H gets full marks for the trackpad, which is of the right size and offers multi-touch so you can do the two finger scrolling that makes navigating web pages and other windows just so much easier.

On the contrary, the touchpad and buttons on Acer's Aspire One seem inadequate. The left and right click buttons are placed on either side of the touchpad, which is good from a space-saving point of view, but in everyday use we much prefer the more traditional placement below the pad -- the place where you fingers' muscle memory expects them to be.

The buttons seemed small too. Acer has added three basic configurations for Aspire One- an 8GB SSD with Linux OS, a 120GB HDD with Linux OS and 120GB HDD with Windows XP. Not to forget, it also offers trendy colour options like blue, pink, brown, black and white to users.

While many netbooks are built around Linux operating systems in order to reduce their costs, Asus has loaded the Eee PC 1000H with the Windows XP operating system at Rs 29,900 while the Linux loaded is priced at Rs 18,000. Invariably, Windows OS makes it more flexible for users as they can load just about any application onto it (provided they have an external optical drive).

The downside is that it doesn't have any preloaded applications that the Linux models come packed with. The netbook also has a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and 1GB of RAM. But with every size and price amplification, Asus seems to be moving away from its roots as an ultra-cheap netbook.

The feature set on Acer Aspire One is quite delightful. It includes three USB ports and a 5-in-1 card reader (SD, xD, MMC, MS, MS Pro). It even has a second SD slot for storage expansion which features Smart File Manager.

This allows any storage space from the SD card to merge with the primary SSD drive, appearing as a single drive rather than two separate ones. Acer has packed 1GB RAM, a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, an 802.11g/b wireless card, plus a webcam too. Well, it's nothing cutting edge, but that's not the point. The point is that it's small, portable, functional and cheap. The Acer Aspire One retails at Rs 19,999 (with Linux OS) and Rs 21,999 (for Windows).

Since Windows XP requires more storage space, the Eee PC 1000H forgoes the use of solid state drive (SSD) and uses an 80GB hard drive. This reduces the durability of the netbook as it is more prone to shock damage with the spinning platters but that should not be an issue for most people.



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