Mobile computing has always been a challenge. For one thing, getting a laptop hasn't always been cheap and affordable. It's gotten a lot cheaper in recent years, with sub $1000 notebooks being relatively easy to find. A while back, subnotebooks were extremely expensive. They were thought of as high-end gadgets for affluent people or businessmen.
Some of the smallest laptops fetch unseemly high prices. The Sony TZ series is just an example. It's extremely small, though it has all of the features of a full sized laptop, including an SSD drive and a 320 GB hard drive. Some configurations of the TZ skyrocket the price to over $3500.
This all changed when Asus released the Eee PC. Small, cheap, affordable and portable. Who would buy such a device? No matter what you think of it, it sold like hotcakes. Other computer manufacturing companies laughed at the small gizmo. They laughed at the specs. Asus laughed all the way to the bank.
Asus, sensing the opportunity, decided to come up with a complete line of products to fill this niche.
They did so before other manufacturers and were able to continually outdo their competition. It's only now that some alternatives are coming out, like the HP Mini-Note and the MSI Wind.
Asus Eee PC 1000
Asus stumped other manufacturers once again with the Asus Eee PC 1000. The main complaints about the Eee Pc was it's small keyboard size and it's small screen size. The 1000 comes with a 10' and a keyboard that 95% the size of regular sized laptop.
It also comes with an 80GB HD. The price? $549. It's available with up to 40GB of SSD memory and is slightly larger than the 8.9" Eee PC 901.
Most see the Eee PC as a second laptop or computer, ideal for writing/browsing on the go, thanks to it's long battery life. Asus claims that the Eee PC 1000 gets up to 8 hours of use. Thanks to its more expanded features, a small form factor and an affordable price, the Eee PC will win over even more users. It's currently available.
HP 2133 Mini-Note
The Mini-Note's small form factor may be its biggest selling point. The Mini-Note is slightly heavier than the Eee PC, but comes with a variety of HDs. The HDs can be from 80GB to 160GB. At 2.63lbs, it's also slightly heavier than the Eee PC.
Users will enjoy the keyboard and the crisp monitor, both of which have been a problem with the earlier Eee PC models. A big complaint of this particular model can be the short battery life. With the Asus Eee PC sporting almost 8 hours, the Mini-Note falls extremely short of that, clocking in with 2 hours 15 minutes.
The Mini-Note is an impressive subnotebook, but the slow processor and with price that hovering close to $1000, it comes dangerously close to the far more powerful and superior 12" models out there.
It's currently available from $450-750 depending on the configuration. HP's Mini-Note is a bit heavy for what it does, and is more expensive. Though it's gorgeous screen and keyboard make up for some faults, the lackluster CPU is the real problem.
After being available for a few months in the rest of the world, the MSI Wind was finally released in the US. It sports a 8.9" screen and a larger keyboard than the Eee PC 701. It also comes with an 80GB HD.
The device suffers from extremely poor battery life, around 1 hour 47 minutes, which is appalling for a subnotebook.
It's currently available for $499.
Dell is coming out with its own line of affordable sub-notebook called the E. It's slated to be released in late August, early September. Dell has split the E into two product lines. An 8.9" model to take on the Asus Eee PC and a 12.1" E Slim to take on the MacBook Air, strangely enough.
It's expected to share traits with the MSI Wind and the HP Mini-Note, since all three are manufactured OEM by Compal.
Prices start at $299.
Sony VAIO TZ
Compared to the other sub-notebooks included in this roundup, the Sony TZ is extremely expensive. With the same money, you could buy 7 Eee PCs. This is what happens when you have no budget. Also, with an 11.1" screen, it's slightly larger than the other models.
The TZ can cost $3500 with a 64 GB SSD and a 320 GB hard drives. The best of both worlds. It's a high end model and comes with all of the frills. A variety of different materials are available, ranging from a carbon fiber casing to a champagne or rosé (pinkish) finish.
If money is no object, this is the sub-notebook for you. Prices start at $2000 and go up to over $4000, depending on how it's configured.