I bought my netbook in early 2011. I know that the field of the netbook is changing rapidly, so this testimonial may be out of date by the time you read it, but it does give my views of the moment, so take from it what you will.
We take a couple of weeks of vacation each late winter and I end up with not much to do while "work" is slowly piling up at home. I used to take a laptop with me, but the size and hassles associated with the larger computer made me quit doing that a couple of years ago. Last year, I started seeing people with tiny laptops sitting around the pool and on the beach "computing away" and even interneting with those small things, via wifi. I am currently not into the tiny little keypads and small screens of the "smart phones" so I decided to look into a netbook for this occasional use.
At first I decided to get a "full blown" netbook, but my son convinced me to focus on the features that I really would need in my application.
My away-from-home task list:
-some website updating
-writing a few articles
-offloading pix from the cameras and processing them
-browsing some forums
So, here's what I bought (February, 2011):
HP Mini 210-2000. It weighs a mere 3 pounds. It is 10 1/2" wide, 7 1/2" high and only 1 1/4" thick.
Other important features:
Intel Atom, 1.66 Ghz processor
250 Gbyte Disk Drive
1.0 Gbyte RAM
32 bit operating system
Synaptics Touch Pad, so you don't need a mouse
3 USB ports
Camera Card Slot
"Up to 8 hours of battery life".
It cost $348 plus tax at Walmart in February of 2011.
At that time, Walmart had also had a netbook for sale at $248. It had a 1.00 Ghz pprocessor, 160 Gbyte drive and "up to 3 hours of battery life". As I moved along the shelf at Walmart, the prices started to climb as did the size of the machine. Pretty quickly one is into Laptops, starting at about $498. But I didn't like the size and weight of those bigger machines. I really like the small size and light weight of the one I chose. By the way, it comes with a nice, zippered soft cover.
After my first couple of practice weeks and a two week vacation to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, I am very happy with the performance on batteries and I haven't even opened the battery optimizing or screen saving software yet!
My observations, so far:
-Small screen, but "gestures" help to stretch or shrink screen as needed
-Keyboard: No numeric keypad, so it took a while to find some functions. It's a little cramped but okay for my occasional use
-Touchpad: I had a touchpad on an older laptop for years, but it was pretty simple to use in comparison to this new netbook. It has a "tap" mode. If you "tap" anywhere on the touchpad, the system takes it as an enter key. On this netbook, that function was so sensitive that if someone set a water glass down on the table where I was "computing", the thing would think it was a "tap" and do whatever was under the cursor at the moment. That seemed like a mystery to me whenever the cursor was in motion at the tap moment.
The front edge of the touchpad on this machine is very close to the very front edge of the netbook itself, so it is easy to actuate the touchpad while resting one's right palm on the front edge of the computer. This action, too, can cause some surprises. Well, all of these features have adjustments, such as for sensitivity. So I made adjustments as needed to tame the beast. Finding how to make those adjustments was not an easy task. As usual, the built-in "help" didn't. Who writes those things, anyway? I had to Google around to find out how to do it. I have a rather lengthy document that explains it all, including how to turn the darn tuch pad off if you want to use a mouse instead.
Touchpad Hints: The adjustments, at least for this computer, are found within "Device Settings" and are under "mouse" even though we are adjusting the Synaptics Touchpad.
Some of the items to be adjusted (that are mostly new to me) are:
-Operating System: Windows 7 Starter came with my netbook. It works okay, I guess, but I sure wish it came with XP.
I hate the lack of file extensions and drive letters. The version of IE that came with it has stuff moved around, too. Things like "delete browsing history" are now hidden in different places.
-The machine came with IE8. Why do they have to change everything around? No wonder most folks I know won't allow it to install.
-Software: Make sure that your machine has some MS stuff that you can use without paying extra for.
MS office came fully loaded on mine, but not usable unless I paid somewhere between $119 and $169 for it. However, it did have a MS Office "Starter" package that includes lite versions of both Word and Excel. That's enough for me.
-Loading the Software: Many netbooks on sale as of this writing don't have a DVD/CD reader or burner, so you can't load software that comes that way. A nice external DVD reader/burner is available for another $69 or so and that would put you in business, but adds bulk to your system, and, of course, adds to the system cost.
Another common way, I suppose, is to download the software from the internet, which I do now and then, but I like having the media in hand most of the time.
In my case, I was able to copy most of my older applications from the original disks onto flash drives and then install the programs onto the netbook from either the flash drive itself or by loading the contents of the flash drive onto the netbook and then installing.
-It's slower than I'm used to but that's not much of a problem in my now-and-then application.
-Using webmail is sometimes a problem. I still can't figure out how to be able to attach "attachments".
Absolutely nothing happens when I hit the attachment button. Downloading a pdf proved to be problematic, too, but I finally got it to work. Are these netbook issues, or are they IE8 issues. I don't yet know. Also, for some reason, I may see as many as 3 scroll bars at the right side of the screen when in email mode. It takes a while to get figure out which one does what.
The above comments are all initial observations. I know the little kinks will smooth out as time goes on.
I'm glad I got my netbook. It is light and effective for my travelling use.
April, 2020 update:
I still use this netbook on a regular basis. In August of 2015, it seemed to be slowing down for some things, so I took it in and had the techs max out the memory at 2 mbytes. It's a lot better now. I am still glad that I bought it. My fingers don't do well with touch screen keyboards and I don't like using a stylus, so the small but "normal" keyboard is great for me. Battery life is still very good. I am still very comfortable with the Windows 7 starter software. When I use excel or word, I do have to put up with some advertising along the right side of the screen.
I have loaded quite a bit of pretty modern software on it and it does run, albeit sometimes slower than with my desktop. Pinnacle Studio 17 is one example of this.