Now that the weather is getting warm and summer is approaching, a number of schools and districts are looking into what netbook model they might want to purchase for the coming school year. With Intel having (finally) ramped up production of the Atom N2x00 (Cedar Trail) processor family and hard disk manufacturing back on track in Thailand, the market is flush with options. In an effort to help ubermixers make decisions around hardware, below are video reviews of models from the major players in the space. All have been tested with ubermix, and are known to work well.
Asus EeePC 1025C vs EeePC 1011cx
Asus created quite a buzz around its new 1025C netbook model at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, but the 1011cx came out of nowhere and wowed ubermixers from coast-to-coast. The 1025C edges out the 1011cx on style and battery life, but the 1011cx is available with double the RAM and no Windows clogging things up - all for $20 less than the $299 1025C. Both models are excellent for use with ubermix.
Acer Aspire One D270 and Gateway LT40
Both of these models from the Acer corporation are excellent choices for ubermix. Acer has been aggressively pursuing the education market, and also appears to be listening to their customers, as these models demonstrate. Gone are the build quality issues from the Acer of old, replaced with much-improved durability and a surprisingly thin and light chassis. And Acer somehow manages to keep the price under that of most of its competitors.
All of that said, there are some issues to take note of with the Acer-built models. The touchpad rocker-button on these models is a bit stiff and has a very short throw, making it occasionally feel unresponsive. The 6-cell battery size on both of these models is on the small end of the spectrum at 4400mAh, which means you can expect roughly 6 hours of realistic battery life. The D270, however, has some upscale specs, like a quicker-than-the-competition GMA3650 GPU and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. And at $249 for the LT40 and $289 for the D270, these are some of the most aggressively priced units on the market.
HP Mini 1104
For HP fans out there, the Mini 1104 is the successor to last year's Mini 1103. The new model features a more refined design, with the trackpad buttons pushed all the way to the edge of the case, and rounded corners near the screen hinges which will hopefully fend off the broken plastic hinge cover problems on the 1103. It also features a student-friendly spill-proof keyboard, accelerometer protection for the hard drive, and a TPM module. That's all great, however for these additional features you get to pay $50 more than the competition, per unit (pricing starts at $349). If you're a die-hard HP shop, these are certainly worth looking into, but the extra $50 really adds up when purchasing in quantity. For every 5 HP units, you could have 6 (or more) of the competitor's models.
HP dm1z/3115M Mini Laptop
If you're looking for a little more horsepower from your devices, AMD Fusion-based mini laptops make quite an impression. These devices feature advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) capable of decoding 1080P HD video, as well as providing some impressive 3D performance. Screen sizes are bigger (11.6"-12") with higher resolution (1366x768) on these models, and keyboards are full-sized. That said, battery life isn't typically as good as Intel Atom-based netbooks, so don't expect to get more than 5 hours or so out of them between charges. And these are more expensive, typically starting at around $400.
I hope you find these reviews helpful as you look to make decisions about which hardware you might use for future ubermix installs. It's always great to have lots of options when selecting hardware, and the ubermix makes this easy as it runs well on just about anything, including full-sized laptops and desktops. Be sure to add your favorite devices to the comments and let us all know what you think.