Enhance Your Netbook – 10 Ways to Get the Most of Your Gadget


Some days ago we stumbled upon a nice article in Brighthub.com – 10 Tips to improve your UMPC / Netbook experience. As Netbooks are becoming more and more popular, and given the fact that their power and performance are slaves of the portability and size, it would be useful to know if there is a way to squeeze them as much as possible. Below the ideas of the author are presented, commented with some own experience and ideas. Hope you’ll find them helpful.

Netbook Tips and Tricks

1. Don’t upgrade the operating system

Unless it’s necessary, upgrading the embedded OS is not advisable. You can, however, downgrade it to gain some increase in performance. Since netbooks are designed for ultra-portable computing, they are not equipped with the fastest processor. So, downgrading from Vista to XP – for example – can give a performance boost.

Comment: Not agreed to a full extend. Lots of people report of eee PC (Atom based) operating much faster on Vista than on XP. Not to say the boost of performance with Windows Seven (betas and RC1). So it would be more adequate to say – check the Net for your own model and than decide to upgrade or not.

2. Invest in a good laptop bag

Yes, I know you already got the matching sleeves when you purchased the machine. However, it can’t accommodate your charger and other accessories that I mention next. Sure, it will still be useful for light traveling, but if you’re really serious in making it your day-to-day companion, a decent laptop bag is the way to go. Since the market is pretty big now, well-known laptop bag manufacturers will already have specific models for netbooks. As an alternative, you can opt for 12-inch laptop bags.

Comment: Absolutely. Just an idea – check the casual bag stores – you might be surprised to find some very good and appropriate picks there. With a little modding they will beat even a branded netbook bag.

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3. Buy a bigger capacity or secondary battery

A higher capacity battery may not be for everyone; however if you do much traveling, it’s a blessing. If you don’t like the fact that you’re shelling out more cash, select the model with a hi-cap battery which can last around 4-6 hours. Do remember that extended batteries sometimes protrude from the body, so netbook sleeves may not be able to be used. See no.2 for the solution.

Comment: Depends on your needs. A standard eee PC 901 battery would last more than five (5) hours which is far too much for a normal user.

4. Set up a bigger monitor for home use

The screen size in netbook ranges from seven to ten inches, and that’s pretty small. If you often use the netbook at home or at the office, setting up an bigger external monitor is a good idea. Your eyes will thank you for that.

Comment: Again – depends on your needs. No doubt though that more than an hour of working on a netbook (sized 8.9″ or less) would make your eyes smart.

5. Don’t run a lot of applications in the background

Netbooks are made for ultimate portability and aimed to be a second computer, so it’s very different than your average desktop PC. Of course it’s good to have all the applications that you usually have in the desktop here. However, it will put a toll in the performance. Be more selective and choose which apps run in the background, or uninstall ones that you rarely use.

Comment: Of course Netbook CPUs are not intended for heavy loads (just think of their nickname – a Netbook is aimed at mainly browsing the Internet). So pay attention to your Antivirus Software (which is most consuming in terms of power, and yet critically important in terms of security), as well as some processes that usually run in the background, but are not always needed.

6. Get a good keyboard and mouse

The ultra portable size comes with a price, and it’s the less spacious keyboard and touchpad. The most practical solution is to buy an external keyboard and mouse. Do remember that netbooks can only use USB keyboards and mouses. If you travel a lot, you can consider fold out keyboards and notebook mice that are smaller and easier to bring.

Comment: Just a hint – most Netbooks nowadays are equipped with Bluetooth integrated. So bluetooth mouse and keyboard are an alternative.

7. It’s a portable media player

With the new models packing large hard drives, it’s time to ditch your portable media players. To transform your netbooks into a true PMP, you’ll need to install several multimedia applications. For music, you can’t go wrong with iTunes, or just use the installed Windows Media Player. For videos, K-Lite Codec Pack with Windows Media Player Classic is a reliable and free application that doesn’t hog your system. Of course, you can always stream any videos or musics if an Internet connection is available.

Comment: Consider the GOMPlayer – no need to install additional codecs, easy to use and light.

8. Buy an external optical or hard drive

Even with multiple gigas, everybody just can’t seem get enough storage nowadays. External optical drives and external hard drives are getting cheaper everyday, so it’s not considered an extravagant upgrade. If you still need to read CDs or DVDs, buying an external optical drive is a viable option. If you often switch between computers and need to carry your data with you, an external hard drive is the best way to go. Both peripherals can be found anywhere for less than US$100.

Comment: Especially if you have one of the Netbooks equipped with SSD instead of a HDD – in that case an external storage space is a must.

9. Give your netbook a distinctive appeal

Since it’s relatively cheap, why not give your netbook a distinctive personality? You can add stickers or notebook tattoos that separate your netbook from tens of millions of others. After all, it is not Clone Wars (yet). Be sure to choose stickers that can be peeled off easily and without leaving a mark.

Comment: Wow – would do that, but hey, we are all different people :).

10. Your netbook is a game center

OK, let’s be very careful with this bragging. You won’t be able to play the latest 3D games with the current models. However, if you’re a bit of retro games’ lover, this baby can satisfy your gaming urges. To play DOS-based games, install the DOSBOX application. For 3D games, you might want to install the 3DAnalyze application, which can run 3D games in machines without separate 3D graphics chips.

Comment: Or just use a Sony PSP.