So it seems the latest craze is the NetBook. What is a NetBook? The word 'NetBook' is a portmanteau of the words Internet and notebook. A NetBook (sometimes referred to as mini notebooks or subnotebooks) are a rapidly evolving category of small, light and inexpensive laptop computers suited for general computing and accessing web-based applications; they are often marketed as companion devices to augment a user's other computer access. Walt Mossberg called them a "relatively new category of small, light, minimalist and cheap laptops."
(My NetBook an iPhone together so you can see the size ratio.)
In the short period since their appearance, NetBooks have grown in size and features, now converging with new smaller, lighter notebooks. By mid 2009, CNET noted "the specs are so similar that the average shopper would likely be confused as to why one is better than the other," and noting "the only conclusion is that there really is no distinction between the devices."
Of course, this is not 'really' true because while a NetBook is a pretty awesome little device at this writing, it doesn't yet replace a full featured laptop or desk top system.
Because NetBooks are optimized for low weight and low cost — most NetBooks have omitted key features like the optical (cd) drive or ethernet port, and have reduced specification and computing power.
The best part about a NetBook in my opinion, is the portability, low cost and the ability to have Internet access independent of WiFi or a LAN.
It is true that I could just get a USB Internet Modem for $19.99 - $29.99 (plus data plan) but do I really want to take my great big full-featured Toshiba laptop - and it's high replacement cost - out on the beach? Not I.
So - on to the costs - and my NetBook.
In researching NetBooks, the best deals (in my opinion) were with Verizon or ATT.
I thought that Verizon's NetBook offer sounded pretty good.
The NetBook is an HP Mini 1151NR for $199 and a signed 2 year data contract which runs from $39.99 for a 250MB monthly allowance (10¢ per MB after) to $59.99 for a 500 MB monthly allowance (5¢ per MB after)
The AT&T NetBook offer is generally the same as Verizon's but offers you the choice of two NetBooks: the Lenovo S-10 and the Acer Aspire. Both are priced at $199 (after rebate) and offer similar data plans.
HOWEVER - and note this HOWEVER:
If you go to Radio Shack, they have an in-store special on NetBooks so that you can get the Acer Aspire for $149 and the Lenovo S-10 for $89. The ATT data plans are the same cost through Radio Shack.
So after a bit of research, I ran down after work to Radio Shack and picked up the $149 NetBook and a $29.99 wireless travel mouse and voilà! I had joined the league of the NetBook.
I ultimately went with ATT because it was the cheapest and had better network coverage in my area according to reviews by end users.
(Blogging on my NetBook - woo-hoo!!)