Last Updated Jun 22, 2009 11:00 PM EDT
- Don't buy in cyberspace without first handling your netbook in the meatspace. A netbook is so small and makes so many ergonomic compromises that it exaggerates all the typical complaints about clunky laptops. You really need to try a specific model out with your own two hands to know if it'll work for you.
- Pay particular attention to the keyboard. The easiest way to make a compact netbook is to shrink the keyboard, so make sure you can type more than a password on it comfortably.
- Make sure it has your preferred pointing device. Some folks like pointing sticks, others like track pads. It's a Beatles/Stones thing; if you like one you'll never be happy with the other. But this is another case where hands-on time is important. Make sure the controller isn't crazy insane sensitive, or at least adjustable.
- Display size is a key discriminator. Netbooks come in a wide range of screen sizes, from 7 inches to 10 inches. Make sure the screen works for you.
- Battery life varies widely. Netbooks are all over the map, from 2 or 3 hours all the way up to a dozen. The way I see it, if you're going to get a netbook, you might as well invest in one that can run for twice as long as your current laptop.