05:40 PM

7 Netbooks That Will Surprise You

More memory, more powerful processors, and larger displays aren't the half of it. Some features manufacturers are adding to netbooks may really surprise you.

The ASUS Eee PC 1004DN features a biometric fingerprint reader.
(click for image gallery)

We've unearthed seven netbooks that, while not quite on steroids, are trying to stick to the spirit of the downsized devices while dialing down the austerity with which they are so closely associated. It's not exactly clear how close the next breed will come to laptopville but one thing is certain: Apple may soon need to stop suggesting that the iPhone and the iPod are adequate substitutes for netbooks.

1. ASUS Eee PC 1004DN

Arguably, ASUS invented the netbook -- at worst, it's done its very best to propagate the species through its ever-expanding line-up of Eee PCs. It's latest is the 1004DN. While this model clearly shows its heritage from earlier Eee PCs, the newest sibling features a biometric fingerprint reader that's part of ASUS Data Security System. Not only can you log on via a fingerprint scan, but you can also set up additional users to have access to your netbook (that is, other than the guy who stole it when you left the little tyke in the cafeteria last week).

But that may not be the big news for you. How about having an internal DVD burner? That's quite a novelty for today's netbook. Yet the 1004DN still weighs in at a tossable 3.2lbs and outlines its space with a 10.9 x 7.6 x 1.1 inch footprint.

A 120GB 1.8-inch hard drive can actually be called "storage." It has enough space to really hold data, not just to provide a transport point for it until you can get home and download it into your "computer." And although the 1004DN still has but a single SODIMM memory socket, at least you can fit it with 2GB of DDR2. That may not do much for Vista but it certainly makes Windows XP a bit more responsive.

The Eee PC 1004DN is slated for release in the very near future (if not already) at a rumored sub-$600 price point. All right, sticker shock for a netbook, yes? That price drops somewhat depending on what options you prefer or where you buy it, but just keep in mind that "extra" always costs more.

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