October, 30th, 2007. That, in case you were wondering, was the day we reviewed the first netbook, the Asus Eee PC 701. Of course, at the time we were still calling them sub-notebooks, a term that remains largely accurate if not widely used, and things have moved on apace, too. Asus has since released what seems like dozens of variations on its original theme, trading the Celeron processor of the original for an Intel Atom CPU in the Eee PC 901, while the likes of Acer, MSI, Dell, HP, Samsung, Toshiba and plenty besides have all waded in to try and nab some lucrative market share.
Vendors have cottoned onto the idea of free laptop deals and "mobile broadband", teaming up with mobile phone network operators to flog their wares to customers on money spinning contracts. All of which seems very attractive, though whether it represents good value is another matter entirely.
We've also seen how the concept of a netbook has evolved. What started out as a tiny seven inch machine costing little more than £200, has sprouted all sorts of offspring; including Asus' unique take on the "premium netbook", the Eee PC S101. Indeed, whereas the original Eee PC weighed less than 1kg, the 10in Eee PC 1000H weighs a whopping 1.45kg - an indication, perhaps, of the bloat that has entered the once simple domain of the netbook.
With all this activity and diversity to be found it has become incredibly difficult to follow all the developments. Hell, even we've become a little overwhelmed by the whole thing, so is it any wonder consumers have had a hard time distinguishing the wood from the trees? Especially when many wouldn't know an Atom from a Core 2 Duo or any other variety of processors - it's just a small cheap laptop, right? What could go wrong?
Thus, we come to this article and its humble aim, to breakdown every important facet into one inexhaustible resource on netbooks. We'll be revisiting all the models we've reviewed since the very first, taking a look at a few we haven't seen, while ultimately guiding you to the netbook that suits your needs. Frankly, if you're thinking of buying a netbook, you need to read this article.
First though, we need to answer one simple question...