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1. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0
Since you're probably going to use your netbooks mostly for mobile browsing, it is all the more susceptible to virus attacks. The Internet is hazardous to your netbook's health. And, to avoid getting attacked by viruses, malwares, and other online threats, your best bet is to install an anti-virus program. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 is your best bet for putting an anti-virus software on your netbook without spending a dime.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 protects your Windows system against adware, identity theft, spyware, and most viruses. The best thing about this software is the fact that it does its job without affecting your system's performance and won't cause your netbook to hang-up while you're working.
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2. VLC Media Player
If you're running Linux OS on your netbook, your best bet for having a Media Player on your netbook is none other than VLC Media Player. I would personally recommend downloading this freeware and installing it on your netbook. It's a powerful Media Player that can perform various tasks. VLC Media Player plays videos on your netbooks flawlessly.
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Most Asus netbooks come preloaded with Skype, but if you're not an Eee PC fan and got the other netbook brands, you should get Skype running on your netbook as soon as possible. I can't imagine any netbook without Skype. This VOIP facility takes full use of your netbook's webcam and mic and lets you communicate via text, audio, and video.
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4. Offline Gmail
Undoubtedly, Gmail is the best email client for your netbooks. It's lightweight, fast, simple, and most importantly free. But wouldn't it be more useful if you can access your Gmail Inbox even if your netbook is not connected to the Internet? This would be more useful if you're travelling in areas where WiFi is weak and your mobile phone's 3G signal is sporadic as well. You're best bet, of course, is to activate your Gmail offline settings. It lets you read email messages and send messages as soon as your netbook is online again.
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Having no Photoshop is one reason why I could not make my Eee PC 1000HE my major blogging machine. I don't have an external DVD drive to install the software, plus Photoshop is a storage and power hog that might cripple my netbook's performance. Thankfully, there is an alternative to having Photoshop on your netbook: GIMP. It's an open source image editing tool with functions almost similar to Adobe Photoshop. It's certainly a must have for every netbooks especially if you're doing simple image editing task.
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6. Chrome or Firefox
If your netbook is running Windows XP, it comes preloaded with Internet Explorer 7 (or IE 8). The problem is IE is proven to be a power hog. Given the not so powerful processor of netbooks, running IE as a web browser is not a good choice. Good news is, there are two alternatives: Firefox or Chrome. Both browsers are lightweight and don't eat up too much of your netbook's system memory. I tried using both Firefox and Chrome on my Eee PC 1000HE, and both work great.
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7. Drop Box
While some netbook brands available in the market today offer extra storage in the cloud aside from the standard 160GB on-board their netbooks, you can still extend this storage further with Drop Box. Drop Box allows up to 2GB file uploads. That's already a good deal considering that it won't cost you any amount to use it, right?
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8. FoxIt Reader
If you're planning to use your netbooks for reading PDF files, Adobe Reader comes as a natural choice. But, then it could also eat up too much space of your netbook's HDD. So, an alternative would be FoxIT Reader---a lightweight, smaller, and faster PDF reader.
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Forget about running Microsoft Office on your netbooks; it would render your netbook useless due to the memory and storage requirements. Your best alternative is, of course, OpenOffice.org's suite of office applications including a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.
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10. Picasa 3
For your photo management needs, Picasa 3 offers a good solution. Not only does it let you manage your photos on your hard drive, but it also syncs well with its online counterpart, Picasa Web Album. So, by using this software, you actually have both desktop and online photo management software for your netbook.