O ptio n s
in Budget Computing
From Netbooks to Notebooks, Cheap Choices Abound
BY JOHN JOSEPH SVAGR
Now is an excellent time to be in the market for a computer. Thanks to technological advances and, yes, the pressures of the current econ- omy, manufacturers are developing a number of affordable computers
that meet a range of practical
needs. With a little bit of knowledge, you can spend around $500
and get a quality machine appropriate for either the home or the
First, though, you have to do your
homework and know what your needs
are. Is portability paramount? If field
work is part of your job, is it practical to
lug around a seven-pound laptop? If
mobility isn’t a concern, what do you
want your desktop to do?
Once you know the answers to these
questions, you’re ready to shop around.
This article will introduce you to some
of the affordable options available today
for both home and office use—with emphasis on a new kind of laptop that is
selling like mad even in the midst of a
Quick: what kind of computer is cheaper
than a treadmill, lighter than a half-gallon of milk, and smaller than an IH textbook, but sports enough high-tech
features to charm most computer geeks?
Give up? The answer: a netbook.
If you’ve never heard of a netbook,
allow me to introduce you to what may
be the next wave in mobile computing.
Netbooks are mini-laptop computers.
At first glance, they don’t command
much respect. Most netbooks are less
than 75 square inches and weigh less
than three pounds. Compared to a desktop computer, a netbook looks like a toy.
Dozens of models exist, but most net-
books have a wide-screen LCD display,
an integral web cam with microphone, a
network cable port, an adult-sized Qw-
erty keyboard, a wireless “G” modem, a
VGA-out port ( 15 pin High Density D-
shell) and between 80 to 160 gigabytes
of internal data storage. The translation,
for those who aren’t fluent in the lan-
guage of computer specs: despite their
unimpressive appearance, netbooks are
surprisingly useful and relatively power-