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Monday, February 21, 2011

Do Netbooks Work For Business? - The Answer May Surprise You

Article By Tom Nelson and Mary O’Connor - PC Today - January 2011
tips and trick it update nebook
Netbooks were originally conceived as inexpensive mobile computing platforms, a continuation of the “thin client” into the mobile workspace. With the drop in component prices and with storage costs being so low, netbooks now compete directly with larger notebooks as well as smaller tablets and smartphones. But there’s still a place for netbooks among mobile pros who want a small form factor with a standard keyboard and touchpad input. Separating business-class netbooks from their consumergrade counterparts really comes down to fit and finish, construction details, technology, and the OS that’s installed or available.

Netbooks used on a daily basis by mobile professionals will take a lot of abuse, from being tossed into taxis, to clumsily flipped open and inspected at airport security checkpoints. Ideally, a business-class netbook will be made primarily from milled aluminum, magnesium, or other lightweight but very sturdy material. Ordinary plastic frames or shells are sure signs that longevity wasn’t a design priority.

The hinge system and the lid housing the display should be extremely sturdy because this is where the majority of wear and tear is going to occur. Likewise, check that battery compartments and other access points are well constructed.

Netbook keyboards are typically small, cramped affairs that sacrifice size and special keys to help reduce the overall size of the netbook. Many models use non-standard keyboard layouts, which means you may have to relearn some key locations. But that’s not always the case. Some netbooks have full-size keyboards, or as close to full size as possible. Well-made keyboards, which have a good tactile feel, with adequate key travel, are a good sign of a manufacturer’s attention to detail, and can stand up to more abuse than usual.

This is a place where models targeted at consumers cut costs, with lower-resolution displays or slower response times. Ten-inch and larger displays usually have resolutions up to 1,366 x 768; most consumer- grade netbooks have a 1,024 x 600 resolution. Higher resolution is important, especially if you’re going to be delivering presentations. At 1,366 x 768, you should be able to drive an HD projector at 720p.

Web-based business applications are the other reason a higher-resolution display is important. In many cases, these applications are written for devices that have at least a 1,024 x 768 display. If you run them on a small, lower-resolution display, you can end up with dialog boxes or pop-up windows that are unusable, because the control buttons (OK, Cancel) could display off the screen.

ASUS Eee PC 1015PED-PU17-BK 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black)Processor
The processors used in netbooks are designed primarily for low power consumption, not blazingly fast performance. For business use, no netbook has the performance required for content creation, such as creating videos or designing presentations from scratch. But they can work for lastminute edits, and most Web and email needs.

One place where many netbooks suffer is multitasking. Limited memory and less-than-ideal processor performance render most netbooks awkwardly slow when using multiple applications simultaneously, especially if the applications are resource hogs. This is especially true of netbooks that use earlier generations of processors. Processor technol-ogy does change rapidly; don’t be swayed by lower-cost models that use last year’s processors.

Most netbooks come with 1GB of memory. That may be enough memory to run the OS and basic applications such as a word processor, email client, and browser, but if you’re going to use your netbook for running more robust applications or multitasking with more than three or four windows open at a time, you’ll need more RAM. Nearly all netbooks let you increase memory to 2GB; some can support 3GB or 4GB.

While you can usually upgrade the RAM yourself, it’s important to note that most netbooks have a socket for a single memory module, which means you must remove any existing memory before installing a larger memory module. It may be less expensive in the long run to configure the netbook with more memory when you purchase it, rather than upgrade it later.

Once again, you won’t have much choice. Netbooks tend to use the Intel Atom family of processors, which have an embedded Intel graphics chip that is no match for heavy-duty graphics needs. Netbooks that use AMD processors and graphics components tend to have better graphics performance, but they also tend to have lower battery life.

Netbooks typically include built-in Wi-Fi; it’s usually 802.11b/g, but some newer models offer 802.11n. This is usually the bare minimum wireless feature in lower-priced netbooks. As you move up in price, Bluetooth appears as a built-in (rather than added-cost) option. If you need to connect to a wireless WAN or cellular data network, 3G or 4G modems are options on some netbooks. Many cellular carriers offer netbooks preconfigured for use with their wireless networks.

One distinguishing factor in netbooks is battery life, which is a big factor for mobile use. One way that netbook manufacturers keep prices down on their consumer products is by offering netbooks with fewer battery cells. For example, a netbook that has three battery cells may be sold at a consumer retail store, while a “different” model that has six battery cells is sold through different channels to business users. They’re likely to be the same netbook, with just a different number of battery cells installed. Netbook manufacturers may also use high-density batteries, which offer longer battery life, in models targeted at business users.

ASUS Eee PC 1001PX-EU27-WT 10.1-Inch Netbook (White)Storage
Netbooks designed for consumers tend to use standard mobile hard drives, either the same 2.5- inch drives often found in notebooks or smaller 1.8-inch drives. These types of drives are actually fine for business use, but one option that is targeted directly at business users is the SSD (solid-state drive). SSDs offer longer battery life, access data more quickly, and are a great deal more rugged than spinning hard drives. The tradeoffs are higher cost and smaller storage size. Many SSD options peak at 64GB in netbooks, which is less than half the capacity of the typical hard drive. And for that diminished storage space, you’ll pay a premium.

Operating System
This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish between consumer and business netbooks. Odds are the consumer model you might be eyeing is running Windows 7 Starter. Businessoriented netbooks usually have Windows 7 Home as the base OS option, with the ability to choose other OSes (usually a Linux variant or even Windows XP Pro). WinXP is sometimes available as a downgrade option, although Microsoft has prohibited manufacturers from preloading it on netbooks. The ability to choose the OS at the time of sale is one of the benefits of netbooks targeted at business users.

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