System Usage from Most to Least Important: Taking notes in class, writing papers, browsing internet, recording vocals
Additional Comments: I'll be lugging this thing around all day. Weight is important. I plan on trying out the Puppy distribution of Linux. I prefer not to pay for some Windows 7 oem unless it's the starter version.
Also in your price range and worth a close look is a sub-notebook: HP Pavilion dm1 $370
3.5lbs, 0.8" thick, 11.6-inch 1.6GHz Dual-core AMD E-350 Fusion Laptop w/3GB RAM & LoJack Upgrade. Full 1366x768 LCD resolution w/ Radeon HD 6310 graphics. It's just a well rounded package with a bit more power than a Atom 'Netbook and still has 6+ hrs of battery life.
It does come with Win7 Home Premium but you probably know how hard it is to find a good 'Netbook without Windows. But this HP dm1 will handle Ubuntu Netbook Remix or Puppy just fine. A dual boot Linux/Win7 option might be a handy thing to have in some circumstances.
Thanks for the advice. I've actually been looking at just that model. If they gave the option to downgrade to starter version, or get linux, or get a retail copy of windows 7 I would have bought it already. It's a great balance of power and portability. I don't mind paying Microsoft, but this feels more like donating money to them. These companies must have some sort of contract in order to get Windows for cheap, they're so inflexible.
Anyway, I've never had a netbook. I wonder if I really need anything better than one. I was looking at the Acer Aspire One.
I know what you're saying.
But look at it this way. When it's time to re-sell the HP dm1 you won't need to buy a copy of Windows to convince the next person to buy it.
The Acer Aspire One AOD257 is 'mainstream 'netbook' - just about like everyone else. It does have the slightly more powerful dual core Atom N570. And you can take the 1GB of RAM out and stick in a 2GB stick for about $15.
But that 1024x600 LCD resolution is a major drawback in my opinion. If you have a more powerful computer (desktop or laptop) to get your 'real work' done then a 'Netbook is OK for your ultra portable tote-along to get through a day of taking notes in class, checking email, etc.
Yes I did look at one of the 10" netboooks.
It's not so much eye-strain at that 1024x600 resolution - the text size is quite good, IMO. It's the 'where you want to go next is always out of the screen' syndrome. When you consider the menu bars, etc also taking up part of the screen real estate the space left over for your work space is very small, and you're always - always - having to move around with the touchpad a lot more frequently which I think hinders productivity.
The 1366x768 10" text is much smaller, but still not 'too small' and I think is a great option. The ease of multi-tasking MS Office programs (like using Word and Powerpoint) together is what would drive me from the Atom 'Netbooks (painful) to the AMD E-350 (slow, but tolerable).
Actually I've looked at a bunch of 'Netbooks by now. Another little niggle I have with the 10" is the small keyboard. As a fairly fast touch typist that plays hell with my accuracy. I think the 11.6-12" with the 95% full size keyboard is a much better choice there. You've probably seen the 11-12" 'Netbooks going for $400-$450 which is a major reason I've been recommending the dm1.
CDW is pretty well known and has been around quite a while. Their main clients are usually business, government and education organizations. That should give you a lot of confidence working with them.
I see that the Samsung has a thick border around the monitor, allowing them to make the keyboard bigger. It makes the monitor "seem" smaller but gives you a fairly comfortable keyboard size.
It sounds like the low resolution isn't necessarily a problem for me, but the screen size itself might be.
I don't intend to use microsoft products, so the slower processor may not be as much of a problem. But you have a good point about multi-tasking. I'm thinking of going back and forth between researching on the internet and writing a paper. Then there's the small weight differences. Hard choice.
Oh yeah, then there's also the horrible delay on the hp before shipping if you configure a system instead of choosing a quick ship. I wasn't able to notice a difference between the $400 low-end quick ship model and the base configuration. Backup media for windows maybe?
The resolution IS the reason for the low amount of working space.
If you're mixing music and editing recorded tracks - you'd appreciate the better CPU IMO. And the dm1 does have a better speaker system.
Not audiophile quality by any means, but not a squeaky, tinny sounding thing either.
Mixing music would be pretty painful on a netbook. The only mixing I would do would be recording music while the background track plays, thanks to the lower sound of my netbook compared to my desktop. I wondered if I should put recording on my list at all. It's more of an afterthought. Nice to have, otherwise I'll just get that mobile recorder I've been wanting.
Having speakers could be nice, if I want to share some of the music I've written without having to plug in external speakers. But I'll spend most of the time with the sound disabled or with headphones on. When I'm not on campus I'll use a desktop.
For demoing my music to non professional people who don't really care much anyway, the Samsung is supposed to have good speakers for a netbook.
It's too bad I can't just try both models out for a few days. That would be the only way to tell for sure. The HP is starting to sound like the safer option. I would regret not having enough working space more than I would regret spending a little more money and having a little heavier computer.
A comparison of the Atom N570 and AMD E-350 CPUs.
On the Big List of mobile CPU benchmarks the N570 ranks #385 and E-350 is ranked #315. Neither could be called a power house even with the dual cores. Something along the lines of a 2005 Pentium 660 single core desktop CPU.