What is the best netbook for under $300?

Joshua Clarke May 3, 2011

I’m looking for a reasonably priced netbook (under $300).

I don’t need it to have an OS installed, since I’m going to install Ubuntu on it as soon as a get it. I’m a student and all I really need it for is word processing and the surfing the web (email, IM) and mabye some movies (played from my hard drive).

It should have a decent sized screen (10-12 in.), good battery life, WiFi (very important), and about a 100GB HDD. Is there anything out there like this, or should I wait until Black Friday?

  1. Kay Fritz
    June 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Samsung NC10 - the battery is great, even the keyboard is nice, and you should be able to get it pretty cheap, since it´s already three years old now. Still, I love it.

  2. Smayonak
    May 6, 2011 at 4:54 am
  3. Smayonak
    May 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm
  4. Smayonak
    May 4, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Two more things: There appears to be two models of Fusion-equipped Acer Aspire One out. One features a much lower power CPU, the C-50, and the other has the before mentioned E-350. If you get a netbook, go for the E-350.

    Another thing, is that I'm actually most looking forward to the MSI Wind U270 netbook. I've played with MSI, Acer and Asus netbooks. They're all very good - but I slightly preferred MSI's approach to aesthetic design, as well as keyboard layout.

  5. Smayonak
    May 4, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Netbooks are very useful, but have a lot of issues that buyers need to be aware of.

    When looking for a new netbook, buyers have to choose between a computer that's overpriced for its performance or just has terrible performance. Of the two options in this market segment, there's Nvidia powered Ion units and ones with integrated Intel GPUs, which have bad performance. You'll find that units using intel GPUs won't play high definition videos and Ion equipped netbook will be out of your price range ($300+).

    On top of that, netbooks have been getting really low reliability reviews [http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_reliability_1109.pdf] - they have a 20% greater failure rate than full sized notebooks. On the other hand, full sized notebooks can go for as low as $280. Getting a deal is just a matter of waiting until your local electronics retailer has a sale. The only real advantages that netbooks offer would be in portability and battery endurance. Otherwise, you're better off with a notebook.

    But if you're determined to get a netbook, I would advise waiting until the newest generation of Fusion/Zacate (current CPU known as E-350) equipped AMD netbooks drop in value, which should be this summer when more competitors begin entering the market. There's several reasons for going with a Fusion CPU, the most tangible of which would be that Fusion units are more or less equal to the latest Core i5 laptops in graphics performance. This is significant, since the Core i5 units cost hundreds of dollars more, despite the Fusion beating it in battery endurance and heat production.

    Right now, I'm really liking Acer's early entry - the Acer Aspire One 522. It's going for $330, on sale, from some retailers. Again, though, expect those prices to drop once other Fusion-equipped units begin hitting shelves in the Summer.

    • Joshua Clarke
      May 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Cool! Portability isn't a HUGE issue for me (or battery life, since I'm not out that much), so I might look into some notebooks. Any you suggest?

      • Smayonak
        May 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

        My personal preference is anything but HP or Compaq. Their reliability indexes are bad, although driver support is reasonably good. I've worked on many an HP/Compaq and have come to view them in a dim light.

        For the money, Acer tends to come out on top in terms of getting value. Their reliability isn't the worst either.

        If you're okay with a single core celeron, try this:


        It's a good price, and Toshiba is one of the industry leaders in reliability, with OK driver support and pretty poor customer service.

        However, prices are going to dip again come September on newer hardware, in case you feel like waiting. Also, if you go to a brick and mortar, there's no shipping.

      • Smayonak
        May 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm

        Oops, that was pick up only.

        This one is $15 on shipping. It's Compaq though, but has a slightly better CPU and larger HD.


  6. Trev
    May 4, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Id be going for an ACER aspire one, briliant machines even could pick one up under 200 on ebay. Other options would be Asus or Dell mini's but i have found acer to be the best so far.

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