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Photos: 10 of the best mini laptops

From Acer to Toshiba, we've got the top netbooks nailed...
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By Natasha Lomas on
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1 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

From Acer to Toshiba, we've got the top netbooks nailed...

While the idea of a mini laptop may have been around for donkey's years, it was Asus' Eee PC that really reinvigorated the concept. The Eee was tiny, it ran Linux, it was cheap as chips and it was wildly popular - spurring the creation of the netbook phenomenon that we know today.

Netbooks have mushroomed since the Eee's launch in 2007, with electronics, PC and mobile makers everywhere getting in on the action.

With so many hardware options out there, choosing a mini laptop is a bit of a headache. But never fear, over the next 10 pages we've rounded up 10 of the best mini laptops on offer to make your decision a little easier...

Photo credit: Asus

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2 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Asus Eee PC 1008HA (Seashell)

Asus has still got plenty to offer on the netbook front - starting with the Seashell.

It's a slick-looking netbook that doesn't scrimp on the style front, offering sleek lines and six colours to choose from. The only 'lite' area is, well, its weight - 1.1kg.

The Seashell has a 10.1-inch display, packs an Intel Atom N280 processor, 802.11n wi-fi and up to six hours of battery life on a single charge, according to Asus. There's also a choice of OS: Linux or Windows XP Home.

Dimensions: 262mm (wide) x 178mm (deep) x 18mm-25.7mm (high).

Photo credit: Asus

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3 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

It's been around for a fair while now but the 1000HE is still worth considering for your netbook cash - not least because it boasts up to nine and a half hours of battery life.

Like the Seashell it has a 10.1-inch screen, an Intel Atom N280 processor and 802.11n wi-fi but is slightly heavier, at 1.45kg. It also comes with the same choice of Linux or XP.

Dimensions: 266mm (wide) x 191.2mm (deep) x 28.5mm-38mm (high).

Photo credit: Asus

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4 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Samsung NC10

Another solid option is the Samsung NC10 - no especial bells and whistles, unless you count the antibacterial keyboard, but it has decent enough specs to carry out a netbook's duties with ease.

There's a 10.2-inch screen, Intel Atom N270 processor and up to seven hours battery life. Weight is 1.33kg and the OS is Windows XP.

Dimensions: 261mm (wide) x 185.5mm (deep) x 30.3mm (high).

Photo credit: Samsung

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5 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Samsung NC20

One rung higher up the Samsung netbook foodchain is the NC20 - which has a Via Nano processor and a larger, 12.1-inch screen. There's slightly more weight to lug around too - 1.5kg.

While the pair of Samsung offerings have built in wi-fi they are slightly let down by the lack of the superfast 802.11n standard.

Dimensions: 292.4mm (wide) x 217mm (deep) x 30.7mm (high).

Photo credit: Samsung

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6 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Toshiba NB200

Toshiba's 10.1-inch screen NB200 series has much to recommend it - there's some 10 configurations to choose from, sporting a variety of price tags and colours, from "snow white" (pictured above) to "satin brown".

All the netbooks in the series have Intel Atom processors - N270 on the cheaper models; N280 on the rest - and all run Windows XP. Integrated 3G connectivity appears at the top of the range, on the Toshiba NB200-123. Weight is 1.33kg-plus for most models.

All models, except the bottom of the range model (NB200-10G), have up to nine hours of battery life. There's also wi-fi but sadly not 802.11n.

Dimensions: 263mm (wide) x 211.5mm (deep) x 25.4mm-32.25mm (high).

Photo credit: Toshiba

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7 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Compaq Mini 311

OK, so it's not quite out yet in the UK, but the Compaq Mini 311 (known as the HP Mini 311 in the US) will arrive in early October, according to HP.

If screen real estate is your thing it could be the netbook for you as the Mini 311 has a slightly larger than average 11.6-inch display.

Specs are still being finalised but the 311 is likely to have an Intel Atom processor and set to run Windows XP. Its weight is 1.46kg.

Dimensions: 204mm (wide) x 289mm (deep) x 19.8mm (high).

Photo credit: HP

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8 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

MSI Wind U115 Hybrid

MSI have been punching above their weight in the netbook market for a while now with their Wind series. The MSI Wind U115 Hybrid is another interesting offering - albeit at the pricier end of the market.

The Hybrid in its name refers to two types of hard drives: an SSD and a standard HDD. By storing the OS (Windows XP) on the less-battery-draining SSD, and only using the HDD to access documents, the netbook offers as much as 12 hours of battery life.

The 10-inch netbook runs Windows XP and has an Intel Atom processor. There's 802.11n wi-fi too, though no 3G.

Dimensions are: 260mm (wide) x 180mm (deep) x 19mm-30mm (high).

Photo credit: MSI

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9 of 11 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

Acer Aspire One Pro 531

Laptop maker Acer is distinguishing itself by marketing a range of business netbooks - in suitably sober black. There are four models in the range and a choice of Windows OS including XP Professional and Vista Business. There's wi-fi but no 802.11n, and 3G is an option.

There's a 10.1-inch screen, Intel Atom processor and up to seven and a half hours of battery life.

Dimensions: 259.41mm (wide) x 186.8mm/206.37mm (deep) x 26.1mm/33.09mm (high).

Photo credit: Acer

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Sony Vaio Mini W Series

Sony fans take note: it took the company a while to jump atop the netbook bandwagon proper but it finally took the plunge with the Sony Vaio Mini W Series.

Was it worth the wait? Well there's a high def 10.1-inch screen (max resolution is 1,366 x 768 pixels) but that's this mini laptop's best asset. The OS is Windows XP Home, weight is 1.2kg and there's up to three hours battery life - not a lot of juice by any stretch.

Dimensions: 267mm (wide) x 180mm (deep) x 33mm (high).

Photo credit: Sony

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Nokia Booklet 3G

Mobile maker Nokia may be new to the netbook fray but its debut offering is certainly not to be sniffed at and may be worth waiting for - it's not due out until later this year.

As you would imagine from a comms company, connectivity is front and centre of the Booklet with both 3G and 802.11n wi-fi boxes ticked. There's even integrated GPS. The netbook has a 10.1-inch screen, weighs in at 1.25kg and has an Intel Atom Z530 processor. It will run Windows 7, according to Nokia, and have a battery life of up to 12 hours.

Dimensions: 264mm (wide) x 185mm (deep) x 19.9mm (high).

Photo credit: Nokia

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