(Wireless Ethernet – 54 Mbps
IEEE802.11g) can pick up the New York
Public Library wireless access located in
the adjacent building. And during a recent vacation in Aruba, my netbook kept
me connected to the world whenever I
could find a free Wi-Fi or pay-to-play
location. Because of its compact size, I
could easily store my netbook within the
in-room safe in my timeshare so I could
sightsee or go to the beach worry-free.
If you’re in the market for a mobile computer that is powerful enough yet lightweight and compact, the netbook is
worth a look. But what if you don’t need
something as lightweight or space-saving
as a netbook? Some similarly priced options include Hewlett-Packard’s resurrected Compaq brand. The CQ 61
Notebook is a full-sized laptop intended
to compete with netbooks. The CQ 61 has
an Advanced Micro Device (AMD) dual-core processor, an improvement over the
single-core Intel processor in the netbook. The CQ 61 display screen is 15. 6
inches; netbook displays range from 8. 9
to 10. 3 inches. Both platforms have three
USB ports, but the Compaq comes standard with 2 gigabytes of memory that
can be upgraded to 4 gigabytes. The
Compaq also has an on-board DVD
burner drive. The fixed disk (hard-drive)
storage capacity is the same as the netbook—160 gigabytes.
If you have less than $500 to spend
but neither a budget notebook nor a netbook meets your needs, HP also offers
the Pavillion Slimline s4123 W package
that has a small Tower computer box, a
full keyboard, an optical mouse and a
19-inch LCD monitor. Buying the brand
name gets you an AMD single-core
processor and 3 gigabytes of memory.
If you need speed and storage at a
cheap price, look for an online retailer
that sells an in-house brand (Systemax)
desktop. The Venture V7C ($399) comes
with an Intel dual channel processor, 4
gigabytes of memory and a bus speed of
800 megahertz. It also has Windows
Vista 64, which means it can use 64-bit
applications that will take advantage of
the full capacity of that dual processor.
You’ll need to buy a monitor, but should
be able to score a decent 19-inch flat-panel and still keep the price below
Before You Shop…
For more information on netbooks or the other computers discussed in this article,
visit these resources:
• Howstuffworks.com features a helpful “Laptop Computer Buying Guide” that
provides background information, shopping tips and a glossary. Visit
• The “Laptop Buying Guide” on the CNET Reviews website recommends notebooks based on the needs of several kinds of users. Visit
• Netbooktracker.com has tools for comparing netbook models. Visit www.net
• A detailed review on Techspot.com compares the specs for four popular netbooks. Visit www.techspot.com/review/135-netbook-comparison-roundup/#.
• Top TenReviews.com offers side-by-side comparisons of 10 netbook models.
Know What You Need
Whatever your computing needs, you’re
likely to find something affordable in
today’s market. The abundance of cheap,
quality computers is good for consumers,
but comparing models can be a difficult,
headache-inducing endeavor. For help in
finding the right computer for you, see
the resources listed in the sidebar.
Happy budget computing!