SLIDE SHOW: Holiday 2008 Notebook Gift Guide

From the latest ultra-light netbook to feature-laden high-performance laptops, our writers have compiled some of the season’s top stocking stuffers.

Asus Unveils New Eee PC Netbook

The ASUS Eee PC 904HA with a 160GB SATA hard disk drive and an Intel Atom N270 processor. The netbook has 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, a 1.2 megapixel camera and weighs less than 1.5 Kgs. The device also boasts of 6-cell lithium-ion battery for a battery life of up to 7 hours.

The netbook features an 8.9-inch screen size that supports a resolution of 1024 x 600 and is bundled along with Windows XP operating system.

The Eee PC 904HA also features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and Asus’ proprietary Eee Connect for connecting two or more users through a remote desktop feature for easy troubleshooting.

Based on the feedback that we’ve received from users, we’re confident that the Eee PC 904HA which cut a niche for itself amongst the current plethora of netbooks available in the Indian market.”

About $348.15 to 496

Available at: and

(PC World India staff)

Lenovo Ideapad S10 Netbook

The Lenovo Ideapad S10 Netbook is a cool little machine. It features a 10.2-inch (1024×600) LED screen, and Intel’s 1.6 GHz processor. It comes with 1 GB of RAM, and utilizes an Intel integrated graphics chipset. It ran Windows XP Home Edition, and did so with ease.

Worth noting: the S10 has a larger screen than most other netbooks, which come in at 8.9 inches or even 10 inches. The Intel 1.6 Atom N270 is a standard processor amongst today’s netbooks.

The S10 also includes wireless b, g, and Bluetooth, for a variety of ways to communicate. The S10 does lack an optical drive, reminding me again how little I care about that anymore. However, if this is a concern to you, there are a variety of inexpensive USB optical drives on the market today.

My test model came configured with 1 GB RAM (upgradeable to 2 GB) and a 160 GB hard disk, which means you’re assured adequate space for all those MP3s, videos, and whatever else you throw on there. It comes with a 1.3 megapixel Webcam, too, so it’s a great tool for communication. The keyboard requires little time to adjust to, and works well. It only had a touchpad for navigation, unusual for a Lenovo laptop. I personally prefer the Trackpoint “nub”, but I guess Lenovo felt it would have taken up too much room. The touchpad worked fine.

The test model spent a lot of time with different people. It was embraced by one half the population as cute, and the other half as too small. Everyone thought it was neat, but nobody could identify who exactly this thing is made for. Netbooks are a segment I have never understood, and indeed, it’s hard to determine who exactly this thing is aimed at. For example, it would be great to have on a train or a plane, but you would definitely want to connect it to a larger monitor when using it at home.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a capable machine. While not a gaming rig, for tasks like using Microsoft Office and browsing the Internet, it’s more than capable. For students who want to take notes in class, or even record entire lectures, you would be hard pressed to find a better machine. Because the Ideapad is so small, it’s easy to lug it around with you wherever you roam. It comes with a three-cell battery, which is on the smaller side. But when coupling the computer’s small form factor with its innovative technology, the result is acceptable battery life. If you turn off the wireless and dim the screen, you’ll have more than enough power to fly from Boston to Orlando.

Before knowing its price, I asked several people how much they’d be willing to pay for a computer like this. I got prices as high as $500 and as low as $300, but the average was $400 – which turns out to be the starting price of this computer. Somebody pointed out how you can have a full-on “desktop replacement” laptop for $500 or $600, making it kind of hard to justify $400 for an underpowered machine (by today’s standards). To each his own.

Honestly, I like this computer. Screen size aside, it’s a capable little machine, and it was fun to use. If you can deal with a small screen, and aren’t interested in playing too many extreme games, this is definitely worth a look. If you’re in the market for a netbook, drop me a line – I want to know what that market is.

About $449.00 to $482.51

Available at: or Lenovo

(Daniel Hunt , Network World)

Acer Aspire One netbook

The Aspire One netbook is a very tiny notebook computer designed for basic computer tasks (Web surfing, e-mail, basic Office-like tasks). The 2.2-lb. Aspire One includes built-in wireless networking and a Webcam, runs on an Intel Atom processor (1.6 GHz), and has 512MB of RAM (upgradeable to 1GB). It runs on the Linus Linux Lite operating system, but for some reason the version we had was running Windows XP (we could have had an older version, the newer ones might have the Linux OS).

The system has a 120GB hard drive, an SD card and a multi-card reader (supporting SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro and xD Picture Cards), built-in stereo speakers and microphone, and a 10/100 Ethernet port.

The device is really meant for basic computing and Web functions – for heavy duty usage and applications I’d probably want a better, faster and slightly larger notebook.

But this could be a very useful notebook to keep powered up and running in living areas in the house, for those times when you need to check a quick e-mail, sports score or other such Internet-enabled activity. I found the smaller keyboard more difficult to type on than a normal notebook-sized keyboard, the touchpad was also not much fun to use (I prefer just connecting a mobile or regular mouse to any notebook).

About $399.99

Available at CDW and Acer Canada

Alienware Area-51 m15x notebook

Product Web site Description: Alienware continues to impress me with its powerful notebooks, and this year’s Area-51 m15x notebook is no exception. The 15.4-inch notebook includes the very powerful NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GT graphics card (unheard of for 15.4-inch notebooks), and Intel Core 2 Extreme processors to give you a great gaming experience, but also for high-powered multimedia applications such as audio and video editing.

The 7-lb. notebook includes a choice of Windows Vista (Ultimate or Home Premium) or XP Professional, choice of hard drives (up to 500GB SATA at 5400 RPM, up to 320GB SATA at 7200RPM or 128GB Solid State Drive), a removable second hard drive available with Alienware’s Smart Bay (lets you hot-swap a drive out), and choice of optical drives (ours came with a Blu-Ray HD drive).

The system includes integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet wired port. High-end audio includes two speakers with 7.1/5.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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