5) Lenovo IdeaPad S10
Base Price: $399
Only shipping since late September, the approximately one-inch-thin IdeaPad S10 is a strong contender in the growing netbook category. Though its design is compact and muscular, its a tad more elegant (read: thinner) than, for example, competitor Eee PC 1000.
Major plus: its equipped with an ExpressCard/34 slot, which lets you jazz it up with externals like a TV tuner card, security devices, and the mobile broadband modem of your choice a particularly helpful tool when youre stuck in the airport. Additionally, the S10s big screen, with a 1,024 by 600 resolution, is pretty deluxe.
Downside: it comes with a 3-cell battery, which naturally won't give you the juice of a 6-cell unit.
Processor: 1.6 Ghz Intel ATOM
Screen size: 10.2 inches
Hard Drive: 80GB
4) HP 2133 Mini-Note
Base Price: $299 (or $399 with Intel processor)
HP knows how to lay out the tempting options. You can get this unit in the price range above, or you can spend $699 for a turbo-charged HP Mini-Note. The hot-rod version even has Vista Business pre-installed. But does Vista Business even run on a netbook? That doesnt seem like a good idea. (Users tend to switch it out for XP to speed it up, rather a hassle.)
HP is making a smart bet with this unit. We humans like a full-size keyboard: the Mini-Notes is 92 percent of full size. However, some users complain about the trackpad, with the buttons split to the left and right; a tedious design choice depending on how flexible you are.
The Mini-Notes two USB ports and its ExpressCard slot let you hook in the rest of your mobile office. It also features an aluminum case, a sturdy step up from the usual plastic. It comes with either a 3- or 6-cell battery.
Mini-Note specs can range greatly based on price:
Processor: C7M 1.0 GHz / 1.6 Ghz Intel ATOM
Screen size: 8.9 inches
Hard Drive: 4 GB flash drive / 120 GB
Memory: 512 MB / 2GB
Weight: 2.25 pounds / 2.8 pounds