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Hardware Thread, Netbooks vs Laptops for class suite in Technical; Due to fairly severe lack of space, we are planning on replacing our aging ICT suite with (hopefully) two suites ...
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    Question Netbooks vs Laptops for class suite

    Due to fairly severe lack of space, we are planning on replacing our aging ICT suite with (hopefully) two suites of netbooks or laptops. Anyone have any thoughts on the relative merits of netbooks vs laptops?

    In particular, how does the longevity compare? I am a little concerned that the low specifications of netbooks will go obsolete quicker, but perhaps that is not important if the hardware of either is only going to last three years anyway.

    I was interested by a couple of comments in this thread suggesting that netbooks got damaged less. Anyone else found that? Or the opposite?

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    We have several laptop trolleys here with laptops and a couple with netbooks. Although the laptops gets damaged more with keys getting pulled off, even our 3 year old Dell D510s are nicer to use than our new netbooks. The netbooks have Atom processors and 5200rpm hard drives. I'm sure if we upgraded the netbooks to SSDs then they'd be faster, but personally i don't like the smaller screens.

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    Jollity (11th February 2012)

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    witch's Avatar
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    I do find netbooks seem to get damaged less. However, there is another issue - the size of a netbook screen makes it unsuitable for some things - our tech teacher gets upset as he has been used to using the computers for designing things and the small screen size of the netbooks renders this impossible

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    Jollity (11th February 2012)

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    Personally I would much rather use a laptop for anything that lasts more than 10-15 minutes worth of work. I find that the keyboards are too cramped for typing, and the screen is too small for working with.

    I can see the use for them with short term usage and for just internet browsing but other than that I'm not their biggest fan, this is not to mention the below average spec for what you would get for the same price of a laptop.

    Just my thoughts :-)

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    Jollity (11th February 2012)

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    I would go with Laptops personally - and manage expectations that they may not last as long as the machines that are being replaced. 3-4 years seems to me the age at which laptops (or netbooks) need replacing.

    Ben

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    Jollity (11th February 2012)

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    I'd only ever recommend netbooks as an additional resource, they don't have the grunt for a lot of things (speed is a constant complaint) But, the battery life is good, they tend to be pretty robust and for a general research tool they're great. Price as ever always an issue, having a netbook per child isn't unachievable (careful of your wireless though) But if this going to be your primary ICT resource and if you can afford it, I'd go laptops every time, just remember to budget to replace batteries after 18 months to 2 years (seems to be less of an issue with netbooks in my experience)

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    Jollity (11th February 2012)

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    Thank you to everyone who responded. I will definitely rule out netbooks for both suites, though I still quite like the idea of having one as netbooks. I can see I would need to make sure that the expectation for netbooks was that they were for web browsing and basic word processing only, though those do seem to be the main uses of the current suite. I have a theory that the extra portability and battery life would make them less hassle to integrate into a lesson: less weight to carry around, less desk space, less chance they need plugging in. Does that hold any water?

    Quote Originally Posted by difinity View Post
    We have several laptop trolleys here with laptops and a couple with netbooks. Although the laptops gets damaged more with keys getting pulled off, even our 3 year old Dell D510s are nicer to use than our new netbooks. The netbooks have Atom processors and 5200rpm hard drives. I'm sure if we upgraded the netbooks to SSDs then they'd be faster, but personally i don't like the smaller screens.
    I saw suggestions elsewhere about upgrading the RAM to 2GB, have you done that on yours?


    I overheard a conversation at BETT about the keyboards on some brands being harder than others to pull keys off. Anyone else had that experience?

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    I've compromised on this, with Lenovo X103e laptops. 11.6" screens so the units are small, but they're 1366x768 resolution. Good battery life, but they're not Atom powered (AMD E-450). 64GB SSDs and 4GB RAM. Will be coming soon so I can try them out, but I already have an X100e with similar spec and SSD and it's no netbook in use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3s-gtech View Post
    I've compromised on this, with Lenovo X103e laptops. 11.6" screens so the units are small, but they're 1366x768 resolution. Good battery life, but they're not Atom powered (AMD E-450). 64GB SSDs and 4GB RAM. Will be coming soon so I can try them out, but I already have an X100e with similar spec and SSD and it's no netbook in use.
    They do sound interesting. Have the actually come out yet? I cannot find them on the Lenovo site.

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    We've just ordered over 30 of them, been advised approx 2 week lead time.

    3s-gtech
    Are you getting the SSD supplied ex-Lenovo or purchasing/installing afterwards?

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    Doing it myself. Our client PCs don't need much local storage (40GB disks still do us fine here), so I bought some 64GB Kingston V200s, they're not the best but apparently are pretty good for cheapies. SATA2 onboard limits the outright speed anyway. The Lenovo supplied 128GB SSDs made my eyes water.

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    MYK-IT (13th February 2012)

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    Netbooks are too small and slow to be joined to a domain and to do anything other than research and typing up in word.

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    I'd either go for the x103 as mentioned above or if you can find the extra the Edge series... 13" so in that nice middle ground between netbook size and laptop power...

    Professional-grade Laptops | ThinkPad Edge Series | Small Business Style | Lenovo (GB)

    Lenovo keyboards are the ultimate

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    *Where I typed X103e, I obviously mean X130e.*

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    The issue of finding a compromise between netbooks and laptops continues to trouble me, and I would appreciate any more views on my current thinking. Main question is whether the performance of current Atom based netbooks is good enough for the main computer for year 1-4 children.


    We are going for a proper 14" laptop for one of our laptop suites (mainly for year 5 and 6), but for the year 1-4s I have been looking at 11". When we tried laptops out with children, we realised the size and weight of laptops were going to be a significant problem for children that age to handle. The small screens would be problematic for some things the year 3s and 4s do, like graphs, but the teachers should be able to arrange to use the older student's laptops for some lessons.

    My main concern now is computing speed. I have been looking at the Lenovo X130e recommended by 3s-gtech, and they definitely seem like they would be up to the job, but Lenovo have been completely hopeless and have no demo units for us to try (something they took weeks to tell us). As I felt we must have a try of an 11" laptop before purchase, I got a trial of an RM minibook.

    Almost all of the teachers concerned really liked the Minibook. We tried it out with children. The case and screen seem very robust indeed, though the keys seem a little flimsy and prone to picking out. Best of all it has a handle, something which seems to be pretty much unique at the moment. It has an atom processor, though it is an N2600 dual core one. The demo machine had 1GB of RAM, though we would get 2GB. 5400rpm hard drives. I found it quite usable, but noticeably less responsive than a new laptop, it seemed about as responsive as our current aging computer suite. Several of the teachers concerned said they would accept lower performance for portability - especially the handle.

    So my dilemma is whether to go for a Minibook or similar atom-based netbook or insist we get something better. I might be able to get an SSD and more RAM fitted - is that worth doing with an atom-based device?

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