written by: Simon Hill•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 5/20/2011
Everyone loves a bargain. Why pay more than you have to in order to get the features you need? Find the best cheap netbook options in this article.
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Laptop Competition Hots Up With Netbooks
The laptop market is fiercely competitive which is a good thing for consumers. Laptops used to be premium priced products but a number of relatively new entrants into the market have proven you can offer quality devices at reasonable prices. In this article we’ll suggest the best cheap laptops available taking into account functionality and price. So here are the top five cheap netbooks. With netbooks you’ll find there generally isn’t a CD/DVD drive so you’ll need an external one if you want to use discs.
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ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-PU1X-BK Netbook
This is one of the most popular offerings from ASUS. They have introduced a number of low cost products which still offer a good range of features and a decent level of quality. This 10.1 inch black netbook would make a perfect business laptop. It has an Intel Atom 1.66 GHz N280 processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. The 10.1 inch LCD has a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. The laptop also supports Wi-Fi 802.11b, g or n standards. It comes pre-installed with Windows XP and you’ll get up to 10.5 hours of use from a single charge.
It is a compact and attractive device and you’ll get a free sleeve case for carrying it around. Additional features include a 1.3 megapixel webcam, support for Bluetooth version 2.1 and an extra 10 GB of Eee Online Storage. In terms of connectivity there are 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 VGA port, 1 Ethernet port and 2 audio jacks for headphones and a microphone. It is lightweight and easy to carry and it is reliable. This laptop won’t suit gamers or movie fans but if you want something to work on, keep in touch with people, and browse the web it will do the trick perfectly. You can get this ASUS Eee Netbook for just $349.95 on Amazon.
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Acer Aspire One AOD150-1920 Netbook
This is another very popular laptop with very similar specifications. This time Acer is the name behind it and it comes in a range of colours including black, white, red and blue. The processor this time is the Intel Atom N270 which is 1.6 GHz and this machine also has 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. The display is a 10.1 inch LCD and the system supports Wi-Fi on the 802.11b or g standard. There is a built in webcam, Windows XP with Service Pack 3 is pre-installed and a fully charged battery will give you around 6 hours of usage.
This is every bit as compact as the ASUS Eee PC and just as portable (here's more on ASUS versus Acer). The specs are almost identical but the ASUS does offer an extra 10 GB of online storage and the processor is a tiny bit faster. Once again this is not suitable for gamers or movie fans. It is an ideal business laptop for working, messaging, and web access. It is also worth pointing out that it lacks Bluetooth. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 VGA port and a multi-format flash memory card reader. There is also a headphones and microphone jack. This one may not be quite as good as the ASUS option but that is reflected in the price. You can order one of these on Amazon for just $296.99.
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Samsung NC10 Netbook
This is the super light and portable Samsung NC10. Just like the Acer it has a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. It also has a 10.2 inch LCD with a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. There is support for Wi-Fi on the 802.11b or g standards and this device has Bluetooth version 2.0 as well. The built in webcam is 1.3 megapixels and the battery offers up to 8 hours of usage from a single charge.
Once again the pre-installed operating system is Windows XP with Service Pack 3. This is a simple machine perfect for work, web browsing, and staying in touch with friends and family. It comes in white, blue, black or pink. There are 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 VGA port, 1 Ethernet port and headphone and microphone ports. There is also a 3-in-1 memory card reader for SD, SDHC and MMC formats. This is the lightest laptop on the list so far which makes it the best candidate for frequent travellers. It will cost you around the $350 mark on Amazon.
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Toshiba Mini NB205-N210 Netbook
The specs in this category of laptops are pretty similar across the board. Like the ASUS Eee laptop we first looked at, this Toshiba effort has an Intel Atom 1.66 GHz N280 processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. It also has Wi-Fi support on the 802.11 b or g standard but there is no Bluetooth. There is a built in webcam and this is an energy efficient netbook which should give you up to 9 hours of usage from a single charge. The 10.1 inch display has a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels.
It has Microsoft Windows XP Home pre-installed and a decent sturdy, full sized keyboard with trackpad. There is a built in webcam although the quality is low. Connectivity options are fairly typical with 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 VGA port, headphone and microphone jacks and a 3-in-1 memory card reader (SD, SDHC, MMC). Once again this is lightweight and portable and best suited to people on the move who need something for work, messaging, and browsing online. It costs $329.99 on Amazon right now.
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MSI Wind U100-641US Netbook
The last device on our list is from MSI and it sticks to the standard spec sheet with a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. There is also a 10 inch screen with a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. There is support for Wi-Fi on the 802.11 b, g or n standards. This is probably the lightest and smallest netbook on the list by a whisker. There is a standard built in 1.3 megapixel webcam and built in speakers. There is also support for Bluetooth version 2.1.
The laptop has 3 USB ports, 1 VGA port, 1 Ethernet port and microphone and headphone jacks. There is also a 4-in-1 memory card reader which covers MMC, SD, MS and MSPro. Windows XP Home edition comes pre-installed. The major drawback with this laptop is the 3 cell battery which will only give you up to 3 hours of usage from a single charge. This is one of the cheapest though and you can order one on Amazon for $289.95 at the moment.
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...and the winner is
I'd choose the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA as my winner. It isn't the cheapest on the list but it has the best battery life and a good range of features. It is also aesthetically attractive and feels nice to use. If price is the most important factor then you won't do better than the MSI Wind U100. It all depends what you want. The specs are so similar that you should choose based on the look and feel. For another opinion check out this article on the best 10" Netbooks.