I agree with previous comments - installing SSDs into netbooks makes the biggest noticeable improvement in startup/logging in/logging off and shutdown speeds. Loading up applications like Word or IE also makes a noticeable difference.
SSDs also weigh less, use less power and make no noise at all.
^^True, however it's best to look at SSDs as being a longer term investment - I've stuck them in several older PCs here, but they're good spec so will happily slot into their replacements in the future.
Would an SSD really make that much difference to speed? Or would it be better to get rid of the netbooks and invest in something else?
SSD would make a large difference. In some cases it almost is like buying new equipment.
We have put some 60gb SSD drives in and the students ask what we have done as they quick compared to before
Another option could be to look at VDI with them then the only thing the laptop needs is good wireless connection
I still think that our netbooks cant take full advantage of the wireless and this doesnt help. Need to borrow an SSD to see if it makes a difference - can't justify the cost otherwise!
You can get reconditioned one a lot cheaper. I would say VDI it has transformed some schools IT delivery but it is a server cost.
If you've got loads of them and no time or experience in Linux to do this, it gets to the stage of "the school has to spend some money". Either paying someone to set them up with Linux for you, upgrading them (I'd be loathed to do this personally, as its kinda like throwing good money after bad), or replacing them with something usable.
However, I fully understand that the availability of money is a different matter entirely.
This is something I am going through at the minute. we have a trolley full off fizzbooks and I am in the process of building a new cut down image for them. It's Windows 7 32bit sp1, about 4 pieces of machine based installed software and the rest points to either a server based install or a couple of education websites. I haven't put the blue dolphin software on as that slows them down tons. It's just a matter now of capturing the image and sending it out to the other fizzbooks and make sure all the drivers get picked up OK as I originally had problem with the acceleormeter driver not rotating the screen.