DealWatch: Price trends on Netbooks

Since their introduction, netbooks have been the most highly coveted gadgets in the tech industry. These small, highly portable laptops are designed primarily for Internet use. Thanks to their sub $400 price point, they have single-handedly kept the PC market from tanking.

Although there are various netbook configurations, the most popular netbooks fall into one of three categories: the 9" solid state drive-based (SSD-based) Linux netbook; 9" hard disk drive-based (HDD-based) Windows XP netbook; and 10" hard disk drive-based Windows XP netbook. We examined the past year's worth of deals on these three categories of netbooks to see what trends are emerging.

Overview: 9" SSD-based Linux netbooks hit their lowest point in February. Dell had the most aggressive pricing with its Dell Mini 9. Although they're supposed to be the least expensive type of netbook (since they run Linux and not Windows), we saw better deals on XP-based netbooks of the same size. In addition, we saw no significant savings between the price of a new Linux netbook versus the price of a refurbished Linux netbook. Click here to see the latest deals on 9" SSD Linux netbooks (and all other netbooks).

Overview: With steadily decreasing prices, 9" HDD-based Windows XP netbooks currently offer the best value in all three netbook categories we analyzed. Recently, they cost $10 less than a Linux model and roughly $68 less than a larger 10" XP model. With regards to weight, they're generally 0.5-lbs lighter than 10" netbooks. If you're in the market for a netbook, we'd recommend going for a 9" model. Acer's Aspire One in particular has dropped from $300 in January to $232 just last month. Click here to see the latest deals on 9" HDD Windows XP netbooks (and all others).

Overview: Deals on 10" HDD-based Windows XP netbooks have been at a stalemate since Black Friday. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 has seen the most discounts closely followed by the MSI Wind. On average, 10" netbooks offer larger keyboards than their 9" counterparts. However, their bigger screens usually share the same 1024x600 resolution you'll find in 9" netbooks. Click here to see the latest deals on 10" HDD Windows XP netbooks.

Final Verdict
Although most consumers might assume Linux netbooks offer the best prices, their Windows XP-based counterparts are often cheaper. Nvidia's Ion platform — which marries Intel's Atom CPU with Nvidia's GeForce 9400M — is expected to give netbooks added horsepower when it debuts in netbooks later this quarter. However, early tests of the Acer Aspire Revo (the first desktop to use the Ion platform) show that the Ion platform offers a lackluster media experience. As a result, we could see prices on 9" HDD XP-based netbooks fall further as more expensive Ion netbooks enter the market. Stay tuned to our netbook deals page for the latest on all netbook news.

Shipping prices (where applicable) were factored into the pricing in our data.

Louis Ramirez is dealnews' Features editor.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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