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.
Last week there were some reports that Dell was hoodwinking everyone – its Inspiron Mini 9 netbook had a battery that performed like a three-cell rather than the four-cell they advertised. Everyone was angry, but Dell has stood by its claim.
Jay Pinkert of Dell blames third-party software used to test the batteries, and suggests that Dell is in agreement with him.
He summed it up as follows:
“The Inspiron Mini 9 is configured with, and has never shipped with anything but, 32WH batteries. A third-party test software program being used in the field doesn’t properly program every vendor’s battery to report power (versus current) capabilities, and so the utility is not properly reporting the actual battery capacity. We have confirmed this and all packs are 4-cell 32Whr, and will deliver more than 4 hours of battery life in typical usage.”
So, is it possible that the test software is to blame? As far as we know nobody’s opened up their battery and counted the cells in there, so there’s really no way just yet to test the claim.
We’ll be closely following Dell for now until we get some more info. And if you have a Mini 9 yourself, let us know – how has it been performing? What specs are you using? Hopefully this matter will be resolved soon.