How to Trick Out Your Netbook

Last Updated Dec 7, 2008 12:00 PM EST

netbook.jpgIf my recent experiences with an Acer Aspire One netbook convinced you to take the plunge, you're probably looking for ways to tweak performance, battery life, and the overall experience of using your "laptot" (heh -- love that). Gigaom lists 10 ways to trick out your netbook, all of them free. Here's a sampling:
Google Chrome I usually favor Firefox when using a high-end computer or laptop, but on a netbook, Google's open source Chrome browser is an extremely lightweight browser that is winning lots of speed competitions. It's only available for Windows for the moment, but will be out in a Linux version early next year.

LXDE The "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment" is a fast, energy-saving Linux desktop environment maintained by an international community of developers. It has a slick interface and lots of useful features, including tabbed file browsing. Plus, it takes fewer resources than the popular KDE and GNOME Linux desktop environments.

The latter is one of three Linux operating systems the author recommends (each earning its own "trick," which is kind of a cop out, you ask me), though I found Windows XP sufficiently speedy on the Aspire. (Your mileage may vary, of course.) I definitely agree with the suggestion of running the lightweight VLC Media Player, as most notebooks tend to choke on video when played in Windows Media Player.

Meanwhile, don't miss Kevin Tofel's "11th" trick over at jkOnTheRun. And here's my "12th": To maximize battery life, keep the screen brightness as low as you can tolerate it. Any netbook tips of your own to add? Hit the Comments!

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.