Subnotebooks / Netbooks

Hi All,

I was previously laptop hunting and I started a thread here which was quite helpful and reasonably unbiased. Kudos to you all.

What happened was I had to pay for a couple of things I didn’t really see coming and didn’t end up getting a laptop at the time. The idea was that the laptop was going to be a portable ‘halfway’ upgrade and I would buy a beast PC a little later.

Since then I’ve updated my PC and I have more regular income than I used to. Whee! So the idea of a laptop as a portable upgrade is a little pointless now. What has caught my eye is the increasing competition in netbooks/subnotebooks like the now famous EeePC.

Truth be told, those two sites/articles have made up the base of my initial research, but I’m currently looking at the Acer Aspire One (XP version - better stats and I can switch to Linux at any time anyway) and the MSI Wind range. Both are a little pricey (depending on the retailer I could almost get a PS3 instead) compared to the humble EeePC, but still less than half the price of most “full” laptops that I would consider.

Opinions and better yet experiences with either of these netbooks or your netbook in general would be greatly appreciated. With using Blender or without. Like I said, I have an upgraded PC now so obviously will continue to use as my main machine for 3D and whatnot. This is more for typing ideas on the go, maybe a bit of basic website maintenance and things like that. Can’t see myself doing much modelling on a screen that big or rendering with a processor that weak.

Decent battery and nice keyboard (considering the size, I know it’s a tradeoff) are two of my looking points, 1gb of ram and 100-150gb hdd would be nice - seems to come with many of the xp versions anyway.


all I can say is that I tried a laptop for 3d before, and it’s just a little impractical

I think the only point where laptops are good for 3d is if you just want something to carry from desk to desk as a desktop REPLACEMENT. Therefore if you have only ONE desk that u sit at regularly and/or you don’t plan on replacing your desktop with it, don’t bother with a laptop for 3d stuff or 2d stuff really.

that’s just my 2 cents, my EXPERIENCE =) but you are welcome to ignore what I said because I’m not offering advice it’s just my experinece with laptops.

I gave the laptop to my sister, it was really neat surfing the web while lounging on my trampoline though =)

I’ve heard various reports about 3d on laptops in general, but to clarify, I’ll be using the netbook (basically a mini laptop for those new to the term) if I get one mainly to surf the net, type documents / html code / etc and maybe a bit of basic Blender use - opening files, testing small ideas on the go at best.

I would suggest the Dell Mini 9…
It doesn’t have any moving parts (The Aspire has a fan).
Plus it’s quite easily modifiable.

You can choose up to a 32gb ssd, or Ubuntu operating system.
(also a choice for windows…)

I think the Mini9 is designed better, but choose what you want.
If you wanted one, the best place to buy is the Dell outlet, it ships from the factory faster
(refurbished), and the price is a good deal lower.
Dell Outlet

Info and forum:

those are nice little things to have…
sorry, i haven’t experienced any, but i’d say try your best to stay away from intel GMA graphics cards as those are known to be buggy and slack in performance… i don’t know if any manufacturer was able to stick an nvidia card some models but that would be cool…

good luck

@Photoguy - The Dell mini9 does look good other than the 16gb SDD (live in Australia, seems only US can get the 32gb) and from what I’ve read the keyboard seems a bit fiddly. I’ll probably do a reasonable amount of typing (not over the top) but thanks for the suggestion. No moving parts would be a plus. Not overly fussed, but it would be nice.

@dyf - I’m not expecting much from graphics in a machine like this. If it can play videos well I’ll be happy.

Also, starting to reconsider the windows option… a random review reminded me that once you put antivirus and all the other gear needed to make windows ‘net-proof’ of sorts, you aren’t left with much processing power/ram/etc on a rather limited set of system specs. So it would be cheaper to buy the linux versions of most netbooks to start with. On the other hand, I can just load linux, have a spare copy of XP (if it comes with a disk… probably not as they lack optical drives) and the specs on the XP ones are higher…


Edit - Ha! Read about one user who upgraded the Dell mini9 to 2gb ram and runs Vista Ultimate on it with Aero - apparently runs fine. I wouldn’t consider doing that at all, but it’s interesting to note that it’s possible on the hardware. Starting to consider the Dell Mini 9 as third option.

Well, at this point, looks like the MSI Wind is winning, probably the U100 model.

Reasons - decent price (AU$550-$600ish depending on method/place of purchase), easily upgradeale to 2gb ram if really needed, keyboard sounds nice from various reviews, 10" screen, up to 6 cell battery and up to wireless N.

Anyone with this particular machine - happy with it?

Another thread for me…
I recently bought a Notebook and had the exact same troubles you have, so i share my wisdom because getting a notebook is like deceiding to build a house or buy a new car or deceiding to replace the slippers you had the last 10 years… maybe 15 lol

IMO the whole Netbook stuff is going the wrong way.
Seriously the Intel atom is a nice toy, but thats all it is. It lacks performance you cant really work with it. So basically a netbook for me is:

Atom platform, SSD/Flash, energy saver.

Now the companies all start to put as much stuff into them as possible… real HDD, better graphics, biggest screen possible and so on… so the power consumption goes up and the machine is too slow and too small to seriously work with it.
A netbook is a toy you use in the park, or on the couch to write some emails, check your forums, do some webshopping or write a small text and do some IM. But thats it.

So i was starting to look out for subnotebooks. Sony, Samsung, HP. Not real bargains.
So finally i came back where i started, Dell.

I got a Dell Vostro 1310 for several reasons (notebook reasons):

  • Processor T8100 with 2* 2.1 GHz and 3GiB cache… fast as hell on rendering and compiling stuff

  • dedicated GeForce 8400 GS (256MiB) very good OpenGL card and just fits the screenresolution to be even able to play actual games and not part of the latest incidents with dying nvidia notebookchips (only the 8600 series was affected)

  • 320 GiB Sata HDD - yeah, enogh space for video compositing, vast SVN repositories and lots of ebooks

  • 4 GiB DDR2 - well you can replace RAM only with one thing… more RAM :slight_smile:

  • intel Pro wireless - i chose that one to make the machine 100% linux compatible.

+13.3" 1280x900 - i consider that size still handy to carry it around everywhere and the screen is decent enough for graphic work.

  • 56 VA batteries - under real working circumstances (graphic usage, wlan on …) it lasts around 3-4h, when i go to powersave and do just some surfing, or turn off wireless i last up to 5-6h

  • 100% linux compatible. I am running debian64 on it and it works like a charm… almost instantly out of the box. i had some work implementing the right firmware for the wireless and compile a nvidia kernel module but thats all.

  • option to get it with windowsXP (32 professional though) along with vista upgrade media.

  • dell 24h repair service

but no notebook only has pros, i also encountered some things i did not like that much:

  • buisiness notebook with a glossy cover? Sure it looks awesome in its black&glossy outfit, but you get scratches sooo easy in the cover… not the best choice by dell.

  • u need some time to get used to the changed keyboard layout, the “<|>” is where the “-_” is normally on a keyboard and the made the right shift shorter… strange but well.

  • THE speaker (yes only one) is real crap. but its no MM notebook its made for work… the soundcart is some realtek, has a decent sound though.

  • only a slot-in optical drive, but u only need it when installing something from CD

  • the cooling fan is a bit loud but i am cool with that. the vostro is known to be one of the best cooled notebooks. the underside is covered with heatpipes. the fan turns on for 10 secs and then its silent again for the next 30mins or so. depends on the duty of the processor… cool notebook = long life :slight_smile:

  • no pixel guarantee upgrade at dell. if you got faulty pixels thats the way it is.

  • IMO the notebook could be smaller for 13.3" but i rather like a good keyboard and a nice touchpad,

For work i bought myself a USB numpad for a few bucks, if you are used to use it with blender its not replaceable by anything else :smiley:

The best thing about the notebook is the price. I assume that you (Ben) can also buy it taxfree over your company. Taxfree and with some usual Dell bargains i paid 600Euro/ 800USD/ 1215AUS which is really cheap for the power you get.

Yeah and i know you only want to spend 500-600AUS, but i rather get something you can actually work on and have some fun with for more than a year or so :slight_smile: At least that was one of the final reasons i deceided against a netbook.

I will run the BBB benchmark and the renderbenchmark later on the machine and post up some results if you are intrested.

HTH :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for the in depth reply.

Had a look at that specific Dell - upping it to that processor and a 6 cell battery puts it up to AU$1452 alone, after a $100 cashback offer.

To put that in perspective, my brother recently purchased a really nice BenQ with a processor getting close to as fast as my pc, larger resolution/screen size than the dell and switchable graphics (with a great nvidia laptop card) for around $1550-$1650. I forget the exact stats but it can run Crysis very nicely to give an example. If I’m full laptop hunting I would be looking in the $1500-$1800 bracket. Currently thinking of something portable to surf the net, type etc - hence the netbook idea at roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the price range.

Still not 100% sure I want one at all, but doing the legwork so I don’t just hand over $400-$650 for something without completely understanding what it can and can’t do.

I’ve emailed a local store with the Wind U100 to see if I can have a look/play this week. Probably all sealed up and can’t, but worth a shot to get a feel for it.

My suggestion is to have a look at the Samsung NC10, though I don’t know if it is available in Australia. I bought one some weeks ago to use it for exactly the tasks you described and I’m really happy with it. The battery is great, I haven’t tested it with a stopwatch, but depending on the workload it can run up to 6 hours. And the keyboard is almost as big as a normal laptop keyboard. I’ve done some basic modelling in blender for Blending Life which didn’t turn out any worse than on my Desktop. :smiley: I take it with me to university everyday, whereas I took my acer Laptop only when I had to spend the whole day there as it’s triple the weight. Because of the NC10’s size and weight I find it much more ‘portable’.

Absolutely. Its just a matter of what you prefere :slight_smile:

The notebook law applies here:

big + cheap = mostly crap
big + power = cheaper
small + power + cheap = less quality
small + power = expensive
small + power + quality = more expensive
big + power + expensive = awesome quality

There is no such thing as a real bargain notebook, its just a matter of priorities :slight_smile:

If you replace size with noise, you got the same for workstations :slight_smile:

arexma - true. Priority here is small and on the cheaper end of the cheap-powerful scale. (Without it being completely useless of course.)

CorMega - Thanks a bunch! Looking into this particular model and people seem to be going nuts for it. Also noted amongst other features is that it has an f11 and f12, which some of the others dont. Keyboard in general looks great. Reading an extensive review now.

Only catch is it isn’t available in Australia, but a more local forum has had success in importing it for prices comparible with the MSI U100. Main diff between these seem to be NC10 has better build quality and battery life and no wireless N (U100 does) but between the two it seems the NC10 is now the go - if I go. Exchange rate isn’t amazing here currency wise, so my waiting a month for example could cost or save me $50 or so even if the price doesn’t change. But this nifty gadget looks worth looking into importing at the very least.

I don’t have any experience with most netbooks but I love my little EeePC 900. It’s cheap, fairly powerful for the price, and small :slight_smile: It’ll also run blender well enough for some doodling. My only complaint is the battery life, about 2-2.5 hours on a full charge.

Actually I was already wondering when a Thread like this pops up here…

So, I am in exactly the same situation but I have already made a decision (I will buy my new toy later on, in a few minutes >XD ) so I can share some of the main points which I have considered during the rather extensive search for a “perfect” notebook / netbook (perfect…you know what I mean).

Arexma posted the one real alternative I found on my way to this decision, the Vostro 1310. Subnotebooks with such a price are really hard to find and the quality seems to be fine enough. I was close to buying but in the end I reconsidered my main priorities:

  1. weight - >2 kg is over 2 kg. It’s heavy enough if you want to use it at the university, daily, and you have to carry a lot of other stuff as well. A Netbook around 1.3 kg is a better option for me (don’t forget you might have to take the power plug with you, if you buy a real notebook - it just adds to the weight and space).
  2. Size - although a 13 inch display is not that huge, it takes up some space. I want to carry it in my backpack without a special suitcase, so smaller is better.
  3. Battery life. A Netbook clearly wins here as well. Judging from most reviews, I can use a Netbook for a whole day at the university without having to worry about energy.
    A Notebook can’t do that without a good (and heavier) battery (about 5 hours are a bit too much I think).

(Other things were:
Noise - I will use it a lot in the library so a noisy ventilation will be annoying. The Vostro seems to be a bit louder than the Netbooks but this was not a real reason to decide against it.
Quality - Good Netbooks seem to have a very good and stable frame which is important as well…but again, not a reason to decide against the bigger Vostro.)

What do I want to do with the small gadget: having internet around you while doing math exercises is always a good thing. I want to take notes during lectures and probably write some small articles in LaTex. I want to do a little coding - nothing big, though.
Blender or Photoshop are not important, just some tiny things maybe, to sketch out an idea or something.
An Atom CPU seems good enough for that. A little upgrade to 2GB Ram can be done for around 20 € (sorry, not sure about other currencies here) and takes no time. I can’t see a better option at the moment than a netbook (at such a low price, of course… :wink: ).

One last thing: I’ll buy the NC10. I personally think that the current leaders on the market are Asus (1000 H ) and Samsung with the NC10 so it might be a good idea to compare these two. They are almost equal on many accounts, it’s about the details and personal preferences which one suits you better. I have compared them in real life and I can only agree with many of the online tests which you’ll surely have read by now.
So, I guess it’s a nice little gadget to have for the kind of stuff you want to do and I will be going for it. Now.

how about this one?

i dint test it, but the specs make it interesting.

Myke might know it, the others wount because its a german magazine… i think 3 or 5 issues ago in the Ct’ there was an article on notebooks.
The new Dell Latitude (which i would have bought if i could have justified the need for it) with the biggest Battery and the additional “Backbagbattery” which is mounted under the Notebook as a batteryduration of ~12h :slight_smile:

matos - Asus N10J local price is worth more than my brothers Crysis-Capable-Laptop that I mentioned earlier, so out of my consideration. Thanks though, always fun to look at gadgets anyway. :slight_smile:

mr_bomb - cheers for the personal user report, but keen to get decent battery life out of whatever I get. Sort of the ‘principle of the thing’ for a small lower powered device… :slight_smile:

Myke - cheers for the info. The price of the Asus 1000H seems to fluctuate a lot here, so comparing it is going to be interesting. Especially if I have to risk eBay for a decent price.

Edit - Thinking the MSI Wind U100 might be the go. The Samsung NC10 does look top class, but the ‘cheapest’ way for me to get one seems to be importing from the UK, which means UK keyboard (nitpicky, but for the added price worth considering) and I think a different power adaptor for the charger, plus shipping… The two seem pretty comparible and both have good battery life and keyboard. Build quality seems close from various reviews, probably in the Samsung’s favour though. At this point, probably wait until after Christmas, see what the Aussie Dollar does for a bit. If anyone else has further thoughts, please post!

i see… diferent markets…
here (portugal) the Asus N10JC is around 570 euros, and the MSI WIND Black (Atom 1.6 /1GB/ 80GB) around 420 euros, acording to this prices, i think asus is a better choice here.

Hey Ben, you might be intrested in this one:

Still a netbook but with tabletPC function. Touchscreen for sketches and mockups…
I dunnow the AUS price but here in AUT its about 500-600 Euro…

550 euro = 1116 aussie dollars. Which is basically twice the local price of the MSI wind U100. Also a smaller battery / screen / less powerful wireless. Touchscreen would be kinda cool, but a bit out of my self set budget for said gadget. :slight_smile:

Had a play with a Acer Aspire One last night. Pretty cool, but the battery is a bit of a letdown. Pretty sold on the MSI Wind. Also pretty sure the Aussie dollar is as likely to decrease in value as increase at this point, so might even order one this week.