A new idea for techie gift giving

What do you get the kid that has everything? Many kids today already have a cell phone, computer and a digital media player so what else is there? Here's one idea - a netbook.

A netbook is a mini-laptop designed for mobility and Internet connectivity more than anything else. They do not have the full capabilities of a typical laptop and often lack an optical drive. There are a number of these unique devices to choose from so I picked two that share some similarities yet differ in the approach to storage space and standard battery size. The first one is the Asus Eee PC901; the other is the Acer Aspire One.

Both netbooks come in multiple colors, run on an Intel 1.6GHz N279 processor, include 1GB of RAM and feature an 8.9-inch LCD. They both have three USB ports, audio I/O ports, built-in 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth capability, and run Windows XP but that's where the similarities end.

Asus, a leader in netbook development, decided to equip the Eee PC with solid state drives and a six-cell battery. The SSDs make the device sturdier because of no moving parts but the down-side is increased price and much smaller storage space. The six-cell battery gives the Eee PC nearly double the run time of most competitor netbooks.

The Acer Aspire One comes with a 120GB traditional hard drive, a three-cell battery and a multicard media reader. The 120GB hard drive is ample sized and the media reader adds increased functionality but the three-cell battery, while comparable to many other netbooks, limits run time to almost half of comparable models with six-cell batteries.

These two models and others too are available on-line and locally in brick and mortar stores. They make neat gifts for kids of any age.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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