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Netbooks For Road Warriors On A Budget

These laptop replacements from Asus, Acer, Dell, MSI, and Sony are budget-friendly and road-ready. Bonus: We've rounded up some gear to enhance their basic mobile functions.

The Asus eee 1000HE features a "Super Hybrid Battery" engine that supposedly will run for up to 9.5 hours. Price: about $400.
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Let's agree that the One Laptop Per Child's XO and the $20 netbook that the Vellore Institute of Technology in India is said to be introducing are honest endeavors meant for basic educational functions in underserved schools scattered across the globe. While the devices work within the context in which they were envisioned, outside of that arena they're practically little more than curiosities.

If we can agree to that, we're off to a running start. Although there seems to be a new netbook popping up almost weekly, we've selected samples from Asus, Acer, Dell, MSI, and Sony because they span the genre.

Asus Eee 1000HE

Asus is the netbook Prometheus. At least it's the company everyone points to as the culprit for starting the craze. The latest Asus Eee is the 1000HE. It features a "Super Hybrid Battery" engine that, according to Asus, will let you surf the 'Net for up to 9.5 hours -- while only weighing a miniscule 3.2 pounds.

The 10-inch screen offers 1024 x 600 resolution. It uses Intel's latest Atom N280 CPU and that's the star of this PC. The processor speed is bumped up a hair to 1.66 GHz from the older N270's 1.6 GHz, but the system's frontside bus has been raised a tad also, to 667 MHz.

The Eee 1000HE is pretty much a mundane netbook beyond that: It has 1 GB of RAM, a 160-GB hard drive, offers Bluetooth and 802.11n connectivity, and, most importantly, the keyboard has been redesigned to actually be usable -- it's about 92% of full size, or so the claim goes. That's not going to keep you from feeling a few finger cramps, but it should significantly cut down on them.

So what's the father of all netbooks going to set you back? Asus would like you to pay $400 (well, $399.99) but it's been seen for 5% to 8% below that amount if you look around a bit online. By all accounts, if the 1000HE isn't the notebook you buy, it should at least be the one you look at first so you have a basis for comparison.

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