Netbooks: How to buy the best netbook Buying a netbook
The type of netbook you choose will depend entirely on what you plan to use it for.
If lightweight portability is more important than screen size, you may prefer one of the smaller netbooks with an 8-inch screen.
Alternatively, you might prefer a basic, additional home machine for surfing the net and doing the odd bit of word processing. In this case a larger, 10-inch netbook (with the benefit of a bigger keyboard) may be more suitable.
However, fewer people are buying netbooks now, opting instead for cheap, small laptops that are more powerful than a netbook for home office tasks, or turning to tablets for lightweight portability for surfing the net, emailing and entertainment.
Buying a netbook on the high street
If you really want a netbook there are a few new and refurbished models still available.
The main advantage of heading to a shop when searching for the best netbook is that you can try out the model you're interested in and make sure you like the feel of the machine.
Features such as the keyboard and the touchpad can differ quite considerably between netbooks so, even if you end up buying your chosen model online, it’s worth going along to a shop to try it out first.
Netbook reviews - Do your research before you buy. Our netbooks reviews include brands such as Acer, Asus, HP, Samsung and Toshiba.
Buying a netbook by phone
Buying a netbook by phone – by calling a mail order retailer – means you can ask for advice and often get a more competitive price than from a shop.
Clearly, you don’t get to try out the netbook in advance, though.
Buying a netbook online
Online is where you'll find the real savings on netbooks, but the downside is you'll have to navigate the computer jargon yourself. Plus, you don't get to see your chosen netbook first hand.
If you’re going to buy your netbook online, we would always recommend popping along to your local PC retailer first to see if they have the model you’re looking for in stock.
This means that you can try out the keyboard and make sure you’re happy with the screen size before you buy. Even if the retailer doesn’t stock a netbook with identical specifications to the one you’re planning to buy, the chassis, keyboard and screen are all likely to be the same.
Netbook buying tips
If you want to use your netbook on the move, you’ll need a model with good battery life. Some netbooks come with alternative, longer-life batteries, so you may wish to opt for this if battery life is important to you.
Weight and size
If portability is key, check the weight of each netbook. You’ll need to compromise on screen and keyboard size, though, if you opt for the lightest netbooks on the market.
Try out the netbook’s keyboard before you buy. Make sure you’re comfortable with the size and spacing of the keys, as some netbooks have very cramped keyboards.
Keys such as the right shift key and the cursor keys are often made smaller in order to fit everything in, so make sure you’re happy with the size of these keys if you use them frequently.
As netbooks are smaller than laptops, their touchpads are smaller, too. In some cases, manufacturers have really reduced its size – its height can get compromised, for example.
If you imagine how you would use the touchpad, it’s important that there’s enough space for you to make a nice, smooth motion with your finger rather than having to make a series of short strokes because of the lack of space.