The model I chose, an Acer Aspire One, weighs 2.8 pounds and cost about $360. It has no CD or DVD drive and its screen and keyboard are smaller than even the smallest laptop’s. Yet it’s runs Windows XP and is wi-fi enabled. I use it for email, Web surfing, blogging, word processing, light photo editing and a few other applications.
It took some time for me to adjust to using the netbook. The screen is so small that I find myself using the magnification features on various applications.
Having a mouse that allows me to manipulate magnification with the scroll wheel is quite helpful. A USB flash drive is also useful because the lack of a CD drive can make it awkward to transfer data.
The Acer’s keyboard is only 89 percent of the standard size, and it took a few hours of use for me to adjust to it. But it sure beats thumbing email into a Blackberry or cell phone.
Several other companies manufacture netbooks, including Dell and HP. The Consumer Reports Electronics Blog has rated six of them.
I usually like to travel light, and on my current trip to Costa Rica the 2.8-pound netbook is almost 10 percent of the weight I’m carrying. (My universal charger adds some weight, too.) So far, it has worked great.
Eventually, I expect to buy a more powerful laptop so that I can edit video and use other more powerful applications on the fly. But I expect the netbook to have a place in my life for some time to come.