While they are at their core small computers, netbooks were made to have a slightly different function than their laptop predecessors. Laptops are frequently being built as substitutes for desktops for many common functions, and some are even advertised as such – remember that category called “desktop replacements”? Netbooks, however, seem to have taken up the niche that laptops used to fill – portable computing.
Like the laptops of old, netbooks tend to be underclocked, and their size generally allow for very limited storage and expansion space. There are programs available, however, that allow you to get just a little bit more utility out of your tiny netbook.
While I will always have fond memories of the Windows OS, I must admit that the Apple side is seductive, and their Dock does a great job of keeping programs I use all the time in such easy reach while keeping my desktop uncluttered. Rocketdock is a free program that adds a dock to any side of a netbook’s screen and adds utility to everyday use.
When I go online, I find that Google’s Chrome browser is a great performer on netbooks. It doesn’t use as much of the netbook’s limited resources, is quite fast, and is constantly being updated. If you have a touchscreen, you might want to look into getting ChromeTouch as well, which is an extension of the Chrome browse and adds touch control to the Chrome browser.
While you’re online, if you find an interesting site and bookmark it, Xmarks will keep your browser bookmark and site passwords in synch among multiple PCs. While there already exist other programs that do this, Xmarks stands out among the rest in that it works across browsers, keeping Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer all synced among a network. And while many people are firm believers in AVG Free for protection, Microsoft Security Essentials takes away less from your netbook performance while still doing a good job of protecting your computer.
Depending on what you do with your netbook, some of these programs might not be right for you. There are a bunch of other programs out there of course, so with a little effort, I’m sure you can find a solution to whatever problem you have.
As netbooks continue to boom in the technology industry, accessories designed to optimize their use. Some are futuristic and others just plain useful, but at the end of the day it’s always good to have a variety of ways to trick out your netbook.
Coming from portable power solutions firm iGo comes the all-new netbook charger designed to charge netbooks “from any wall, car or airplane outlet”. This should increase the portability of your netbook immensely, especially for those that just can’t stay still.
Michael D. Heil, president and CEO of iGo, explained just what the iGo netbook charger means to accomplish:
“Netbooks are the smallest and most inexpensive devices tech lovers can take on the road and still work productively… The ultra-portable iGo Netbook Charger conveniently powers nearly every device from one charger. As the iGo Netbook Charger joins our portfolio of universal chargers on our updated Web site, consumers will also find an improved online store that provides an effortless shopping experience.”
iGo is also releasing the iGo Green Technology product line later this year, designed for more energy-efficient computing. This green laptop charger has an eight-outlet surge protected and will use 85% less standby power than ordinary products.
Energy Star, a joint company started by the EPA and the US Department of Energy, was developed to help consumers make good energy choices. Right now, their computer database only has three options: workstations, notebook/tablets, and desktops. However, a file has been released which seems to outline an effort to bring netbooks into the mix. Netbooks’ excellent use of battery power make them a prime candidate for Energy Star, so this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
GottaBeMobile took some interesting notes about the Energy Star proposal. We quote:
- Energy Star predicts that the netbook market will grow during the next couple years.
- Included in the proposal is the Wikipedia definition of netbook. It states, “The term netbook was re-introduced by Intel in February, 2008 to describe a category of small?sized, low?cost, light weight, lean function subnotebooks optimized for Internet access and core computing functions (e.g., word processing) — either directly from applications installed on the netbook itself or indirectly, via cloud computing.” The proposal seems to promote the netbook term as a generic category rather than a specific product. This goes against Psion’s quest to keep their netbook name exclusive. It should be noted that the Energy Star proposal was published before Psion’s dispute.
- The proposal seeks to introduce three categories for netbooks. Two categories will separate netbooks based upon integrated v. discrete graphics.
- Energy Star’s proposal defines netbooks as having a screen size of less than/equal to eleven inches.
- The proposal quotes Paul Bergevin and his article Thoughts on Netbooks from March, 2008. It is interesting to revisit Paul’s thoughts to see how the netbook market has developed from the introduction of the original Asus Eee PC 701.
This sounds like an interesting future for netbooks, and we’ll be sure to follow the story as it develops. If the Department of Energy wants in on netbooks, who wouldn’t?
If you’re interested, you can go here to see if your computer is efficient enough to meet Energy Star’s guidelines.