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Scrooge (£200 – £250)

Scrooge (£200 – £250)

Since netbooks under £150 are almost always a compromise too far, even Ebenezer would consider that as the bare minimum. In fact, unless you're lucky enough to get a great deal on a netbook using a previous-generation Atom, you're looking at a starting point of £200. This will get you standard specifications and connectivity, and battery life averaging at around five hours.

Most likely you'll get a single-core Atom CPU, so Flash video in a web browser will be out of the question. Graphics will be Intel's integrated variety, meaning HD video playback may also be a struggle, and you'll get an analogue VGA output rather than the digital HDMI port found on some high-end netbooks. Screen resolution is guaranteed to be sub-HD, at 1,024 x 600. Bluetooth is also off the menu at this price point, so syncing wirelessly with your phone might not be an option unless you're on a Wi-Fi network.

On the other hand, browsing the web, sending emails, writing documents and viewing snaps or standard definition (SD) movies won't be a problem.


Acer Aspire One D255

£199.00 (Dixons)

Acer's D255 differentiates itself by offering a dual boot setup, where you can choose between Google's Android (the same operating system running on many high-end smartphones like the HTC Desire Z) and Microsoft's Windows.

When we reviewed the D255 it came in at a whopping £300, which was simply too expensive considering the specifications, even with an N550 dual core CPU. However, if you're willing to downgrade Windows from 7 Starter to XP, don't need more time away from a socket than the three-cell battery can provide, are happy with 160GB of storage instead of 250GB {deep breath} and can live with a single instead of dual-core Atom, the D255 can be had for a bargain-tastic £199.

We are talking about a seriously limited machine here, but it will do the basics and should last you at least three hours away from a socket. Plus you get the novelty of being able to play with Android, and can even download apps (though not through Anroid's Marketplace).

Read the full review

Scrooge's Choice: Acer Aspire One D260

£235.94 (Amazon)

If you are a little less humbug about your finances, it's well worth spending the extra £36 required to get Acer's Aspire One D260. Nothing has changed from the award-winning machine we reviewed back in august (except for the price, which is now a fiver more. Bah, humbug).

You're still stuck with a 160GB hard drive and a single core N450 Atom, but the Windows 7 Starter OS is certainly an improvement over XP, despite its inability to change the wallpaper. More importantly, battery life from the six-cell unit supplied is significantly better, lasting most of the day.

There's a reason the D260 won first place in our 2010 Awards, and overall it's still our budget choice this Christmas.

Read the full review

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