My husband bought this "netbook," a small, inexpensive laptop, for his own personal use. But from the moment I first laid eyes on it, I was completely captivated by it, and I've been using it a lot, too. I never imagined a 2.2 pound laptop could be so functional. Here is a list of its main features:
--10.1 inch 1024 x 600 pixel display (some might be bothered by this relatively low resolution, but we do not feel it is a problem)
--1 GB of RAM
--Storage: 320 GB HDD, 3 GB Web Storage
--3 cell, 23 Whr battery
--1.6 GHz Intel Atom N2600 dual core processor
--802.11b/g/n WiFi connection
--0.3 MP webcam
--3 GB of free web storage space
--Multiple Ports: VGA, HDMI (for sending HD video to an external display), 2 USB 2.0 microphone/headphone jacks
--SDHC card slot
--A single mono speaker located on the bottom of the machine whose sound is surprisingly good
Our favorite features:
--Extremely light weight of 2.2 lbs, making it easy on the back when carrying it around
--"Instant On" capability, a real boon to the impatient
--Outer casing of beveled matte plastic, preventing glare, resisting smudging and fingerprints, and creating a very attractive look
--Currently one of the lowest-priced netbooks on the market
--One of the first netbook models with a Cedar Trail processor (developed by Intel Corp. to provide improved battery life)
--Easily handles 1080 p HD video
--Slightly quieter than a regular laptop due to lack of a fan (though its hard driver is louder than a regular laptop, somewhat negating that benefit)
--Can run Windows 7 Home Premium, available through "Windows Anytime Upgrade"
--Can run multiple operating systems, including Linux
Some minor complaints:
--The operating system is Windows 7 Starter edition. Microsoft has fixed a former constraint it contained of being able to only run three programs at a time. However, Microsoft gives this consumer warning, which we have found to be very true: "There's no set limit to how many programs Windows 7 Starter can open at once. But keep in mind that Starter only supports up to 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, which can affect your [netbook's] performance if you're running lots of programs at once. A more advanced edition of Windows 7 that can use more RAM will help your [netbook] run multiple programs more smoothly." We purchased Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade. (See more on this subject below in my addendum to this review.)
--It has a relatively small screen for its size compared to bigger laptops.
--It inevitably has a very small keyboard, which means some keys have to serve multiple functions.
--A speed of 1.6 GHz for the processor is rather slow.
--The 1 GB of RAM isn't much for today's needs, and there are no slots to upgrade to 2 GB.
--Even with a Cedar Trail processor, its battery life is only a little over 3 hours, and there is no option to purchase a higher-capacity battery as is the case for larger laptops.
--Without a fan, it can get a bit warm, but not enough to burn you.
--It bogs down running large desktop programs such as Microsoft Office due to insufficient horsepower.
The main reason I rate this netbook at 4 stars rather than 5 stars is that the ability to increase the RAM that it lacks would have significantly increased this netbook's performance at a relatively small upgrade cost. However, I would not rate it lower than 4 stars because this is a terrific piece of equipment if you accept it for what it is--a netbook rather than a full-sized laptop. It is stripped down to the bare minimum in order to keep the weight down and the price low. If you expect too much from it, you'll be needlessly--and unfairly--disappointed.
6/24/12 Addendum: After we purchased Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade, we noticed no appreciable improvement in how many programs we could run effectively. Based on a comment to my review received this date, it occurred to my husband and me that we had only noticed in a general way the RAM issues we'd been having with multiple programs open. We became curious about the specifics and ran several tests of how the functionality of the netbook is affected based on how many programs are open.
Test 1. Using a stopwatch, we timed the netbook's response while opening one program at a time, using that program, and then opening another, until we had 6 total programs open:
1 program open: Took 12 seconds to open Google Chrome (GC). Took 2-3 seconds to respond to commands.
2 programs open: With GC open, took 12 seconds to open Windows Media Player (WMP). Took 10 seconds to respond to commands.
3 programs open: With previous two programs open, took 30 seconds to open Thunderbird mail program (TMP). Took 15 seconds to respond to commands.
4 programs open: With previous three programs open, took 53 seconds to open Internet Explorer (IE). Took 6 seconds to do a search on Google, 22 seconds to bring up a web page when clicking on a link.
5 programs open: With previous four programs open, took 53 seconds to open OpenOffice Write (OOW). Noticeable lag in letters appearing in document when typing words.
6 programs open: With previous five programs open, took 23 seconds to open OpenOffice Calc (OOC). There was a lag of 10 seconds in response to commands. GC now had a response time to commands of 30 seconds and WMP 8 seconds. TMP was slow in typing and took 23 seconds to send mail. IE took 15 seconds to open a tab and 25 seconds to bring up a web page when clicking on a link.
Test 2. We closed all the programs and double-checked in Task Manager to make sure they were actually closed. Several programs had to be killed in Task Manager as regular exiting from them had not fully shut them down. In this second trial, we did not use a stopwatch to record the response time. We simply opened 6 programs one after the other, IE, GC, Firefox, Kindle for PC (KPC), WMP and OOC. Then we tested response time within those programs and experienced the following: Gmail would not open in GC. OOC would not respond at all. Firefox had a very sluggish response. KPC was nonresponsive. WMP worked as well as in the first test. IE was very slow in response.
Test 3. Once again we closed all the programs and double-checked in Task Manager to make sure they were actually closed. Several programs had to be killed in Task Manager. We then opened 15 programs, one after the other, without trying to do anything within any of them, attempting to see if the netbook would crash from the sheer weight of so many programs. It did not freeze up or crash. However, the programs were completely unresponsive. We did ALT-TAB back and forth between the programs to see if that would crash the netbook. It froze up for 25 seconds, but came back.
Speaking of ALT-TAB, my husband and I tend to be very impatient when a program is running slow. We have learned the hard way that using ALT-TAB to jump windows from a slow-running program to another program, hoping to keep working while the netbook gets around to responding, is a recipe for more problems with this netbook. It spreads the dysfunctionally slow response we are getting in one program to the next program, as if lag-time were a catching disease. In fact, if we ALT-TAB enough, this in itself can cause the netbook to freeze up entirely. Most times if we wait 20-30 seconds after a freeze, functionality will return. Other times it does not, and we are forced to reboot.
Another functional problem is this: When playing either audio or video the netbook sometimes will suddenly develop a loud hum that sounds like a distant lawnmower. When this happens, the audio or video we are playing stops, and the netbook freezes up.