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TR's back-to-school netbook guide

Tech Report writes: "The netbook is a modern curiosity, a new class of notebook barely a year old and still going through its growing pains as manufacturers try to balance their designs properly. A netbook is characterized by low-end, power-efficient hardware, an exceptionally small and light chassis with a screen size topping out at around ten inches, and just enough horsepower for word processing and Internet usage. By paring down features and performance, manufacturers have been able to produce these small computers cheaply, pricing them well below their ultraportable forebears like Sony's T series. In fact, netbooks often cost less than full-sized "budget" notebooks. It's this blend of form, function, and value that has made netbooks so popular.
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The functionality and practicality of modern netbooks like Asus' seminal and ultimately class-defining Eee PC makes them attractive options in this back-to-school season. As a college student at UC San Diego, I've seen students carrying around notebooks of all sizes, including one person struggling to fit a massive Alienware notebook onto a tiny lecture hall desk. Students need computers for school, of course, and a portable machine that can be brought to class is extremely useful. But students also don't tend to have a lot of money, and as a result, they often settle for seven- or eight-pound laptops. With the advent of the netbook, however, a student's load can easily and cheaply be lightened. Using an inexpensive netbook for class and a more powerful desktop at home-even a small-form-factor machine in a dorm room-suddenly becomes both a practical and viable option, especially when you consider that many netbooks manage at least three hours of battery life, which is exactly the length of a single, long lecture."

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