ASK NBB #6: Choosing A New Netbook


Today’s edition of ASK NBB pertains to a challenge most of our readers can identify with – finding the perfect netbook.

QUESTION:

I am comparing netbooks and am having a hard time making up my mind. The important issues for me are screen size/clarity, battery life, noise ( i  hear some of the fans are quite load), and of course not breaking/problems. I also don’t want to strain my bank account unduly. My main intended use is to read ebooks (I have quite a few formats which is why i didn’t just get an ebook reading device) and surf the net.  I Believe i have narrowed it down to at least 10 in and 6cell battery.

1. I heard Matte screens are better in glare or outside, is that true and if so which models have matte screens?

2. I was thinking about the Samsung NC10 but read some reviews and reports on safety issues with the nano antibacterial coating, in your opinion is this a serious concern, would it stop you from buying it ?

3. Any recommendations taking into account what qualities are most important to me?

-Tara

ANSWER:

I see you’ve already given this a lot of thought, and I must say I already agree with many of your conclusions. I have long argued that anything getting less than five hours of battery just isn’t worth it, and most of the market agrees with you about your choice of a 10-inch-plus netbook!

On to your questions:

1. Matte screens are designed to be nonreflective and thus optimal for use in natural light.

The vast majority of people will tell you that matte screens are the best for confronting glare issues. However, one school of thought says that glossy screens are the way to go. Why? Glossy screens are generally brighter, which may compensate for the outdoor sun without needing a special screen coating. It’s mostly a matter of opinion once you get down to it, but definitely worth thinking about if you’re intending a lot of outdoor use for your new netbook.

Screen Glare

A few netbooks with matte screens (aside from the Samsung NC10) include the Pegatron Vivid netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, and several MSI netbooks like the Wind U100, Wind U120H, and Wind Hybrid U115. Acer, to contrast, generally releases its netbooks with glossy screens.

My recommendation? Try both kinds! Most retailers will let you give their netbooks a test run if they think you’re interested. You’ll probably get the best deal if you buy through Amazon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try your netbook out in a store first.

2. The Samsung NC10 is a fantastic netbook, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful.

We reviewed it and found that it compares favorably to most other netbooks with its excellent keyboard, long battery life, and pleasant screen. While I hadn’t heard of the safety issues with the antibacterial coating, upon further research I found that you’re right – several countries are considering regulating antibacterial nanotechnology until they know what the deal is. As mentioned by ProductWiki:

“Anti-bacterial nano-silver coating on keyboard and palm rest may or may not be harmful. Not enough studies exist to find an answer, but authorities in various countries are considering regulating nano-particles until their effects are understood.”

That said, netbooks like the Dell Latitude 2100 and the Samsung NC310 both use the coating and I haven’t heard anything about a product recall just yet. Would these rumors deter me from buying an NC10? Probably not, but I’m a maniac. My feeling is that the rumors are exaggerated, but don’t come running to me if you grow a third arm.

3. Since you’re concerned about your netbook breaking, stick to mainstream brands rather than offshoots by smaller companies.

Although netbooks like the Archos 10s might meet your criteria, bigger names like the Aspire One and Eee PC have huge user bases ready to help you out if you get into trouble.

So what do I recommend? To be honest, the Samsung NC10 sounds like the best choice for your needs. If you’re ruling it out because of the coating, there are still plenty of options for you – recent Acer Aspire One netbooks have large, usable screens and 6-cell batteries. The ASUS Eee PC 1000HE matches up as well.

Though the new Pixel Qi e-reader screens will likely take a while to go to market, they might be worth it if you can wait. They’d be perfect if you’re intending to do a lot of reading on your netbook, though matte screens shouldn’t kill your eyes either.

As I said, if the whole online cross-sectional comparison thing isn’t working for you, head to Best Buy and try some netbooks out for yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Good luck to you in finding a netbook, Tara, and let us know what you choose!

Picture via Gizmodo
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Interested in getting your own question answered on ASK NBB? Here’s how! Be sure to check out ASK NBB #3 for my projections for the future of the netbook industry, or ASK NBB #4 for some discussion of the evolving Eee PC.

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