Unknown Quantities You Can Buy
Amazingly enough there are netbooks out there that we haven't been able to get our hands on, since there are simply so many of them and so little time. Not to fear, though, since that doesn't mean we can't tell you a little bit about them.
This came a bit out of left-field given LG has never released a notebook in the UK. Yet it does have a netbook and you can get it in the UK. A select few retailers list it but few seem to have any stock, but it is available to buy on a mobile broadband contract at Phones4U. A 10in machine it features all the usual bits and pieces, including an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. Despite earlier reports suggesting it ran Vista Home Basic, those sold through Phones4U come with Windows XP. It also comes in three colours: white, black and pink. Given we, or anyone else of note, has yet to see one we'll file this one under "to be proven".
MSI Wind U90
This MSI Wind variant has largely slipped under the radar. Basically the the same machine with a smaller 8.9in screen the U90 also houses an 80GB hard drive, though this is the only other substantial difference between it and its bigger and better brother. Unfortunately this also means the same low capacity battery, so you shouldn't expect more than two and a half hours of battery life from this machine. Ultimately at around £260 it does seems a little pricey, though it at least makes the Eee PC 904HD seem like a better deal.
Apricot Picobook Pro
There's nothing quite like an old brand being resurrected, but we're not sure the Apricot Picobook Pro is the product to do that. Alarm bells immediately ring when you discover it uses VIA's notoriously sluggish C7-M processor, but even the press shots make it look drab and boring and the touchpad is positively minute. Claims of four hours battery life seem a bit optimistic, but even an hour less isn't too bad so it potentially has something to recommend it. Nonetheless, various reports suggest the keyboard is rubbish and performance is as bad as we'd expect, so you should probably leave this bit of nostalgia where it belongs, in the past.
Another late comer to the netbook market, we managed to get an initial hands-on with the machine last month and went away cautiously optimistic. Another 8.9in machine, something we'd like to see more of really, Toshiba currently sells Linux and Windows XP versions of the machine in the UK. What's interesting, though, is that the Linux versions use the excellent Ubuntu Netbook Remix rather than a custom OS like those sold by Acer and Asus. Given the choice Ubuntu is definitely preferable, since it is better optimised to suit the 1,024 x 600 resolution of the screen than anything we've seen. Thus Toshiba should be applauded and pricing looks fairly competitive, too, with the Linux version currently selling for around £250 online. We should be getting review units in soon, so look out for an update on this before Christmas.