By Joseph Moran
July 08, 2009
All netbooks come with Wi-Fi, but not all Wi-Fi is created equal. We give you the wireless setup on the most popular brands of netbooks.
All netbooks come with Wi-Fi, but before you buy, take a closer look to see which type you are getting.
As the peak PC shopping season approaches, the enormous popularity of netbooks shows no signs of slowing down, as they remain an attractive option for those looking for an inexpensive, compact and lightweight system for Internet connectivity.
This connectivity comes mostly in the form of Wi-Fi, but given the need to keep costs down, wireless chipsets found in many netbooks often only support the older 802.11g technology, not the interim standard. Newer and better performing 802.11n. is it to have a netbook that supports 802.11n? To be sure, at a Wi-Fi hotspot, an 802.11n compatible netbook won’t perform better than one that only supports 802.11g. On the flip side, anyone with an 802.11n network at home (or considering an upgrade in the near future) should seriously consider a netbook that supports 802.11n. Otherwise, the 802.11n network will need to operate in backward compatibility mode to accommodate 802.11g devices, which can adversely affect the performance of all your wireless devices.
Depending on the netbook vendor, 802.11n may be included on specific fixed-configuration models, available as an upgrade option for bespoke configurations, or it may not be offered at all. We’ve done the work for you for nine popular netbook brands, so read on to find out which ones will fill or not fill the bill when you search for 802.11n. (Note: 802.11n netbooks listed here only support the 2.4 GHz version, not the 5 GHz version.)
Acer Aspire One
There are currently five main Acer Aspire One models – the A150, D150, D250, 531h and 731h – and many sub-models for each depending on the configuration and how and where it is sold. Unfortunately, the only thing all Aspire Ones have in common is that they come with 802.11g, and 802.11 is nowhere to be found.
Asus Eee PC
The Asus Eee PC was one of the first modern netbooks, and the product family is arguably the most prolific. selling more (at least not in the US). 802.11n is however well represented in the Eee PC range. You’ll find it on the soon to be released 1101HA and top of the line, most consumer 1000 series models (except the 1000HA and 1000HD), as well as the 901, T91, and S101. . Asus doesn’t always make it clear when a model includes 802.11n, so this comparison chart can be helpful. (Typically, if an Eee PC comes with Bluetooth, it also has 802.11n.)
802.11g is standard on all three Dell mini-netbooks: the Mini 10v at $ 299, Mini 10 at $ 349, and Mini 12 at $ 399. When customizing the Mini 10 or 10v, you can upgrade to n by replacing the standard 1397 Wi-Fi module. for the 1510 model for a reasonable price of $ 25.
Oddly enough, the top-of-the-line Mini 12 currently lacks an upgrade option. It offers optional integrated 3G mobile broadband (using AT&T or Verizon technology) for $ 125. (The 3G add-on is also available on the Mini 10, but only the Verizon version, not the budget 10v.)
All of the mainstream HP mini netbooks: the $ 280 Mini 110 Mi, the $ 330 Mini 110 XP, and the sleek (and extremely expensive $ 699) Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam model come with 802.11g and n ‘ not offer 802.11n as an upgrade. This latest model will let you add a bluetooth side to your g for $ 25, and for $ 125 you can add AT&T / Verizon 3G to the 110 XP or the 1000.
The HP Mini 1101 business netbook also lacks an option n, although an option is available on HP’s upcoming Mini 5101. (Pricing and availability for the 5101 was not available at the time of writing.)
Lenovo IdeaPad S
Lenovo doesn’t offer a lot of customization options – Wi-Fi or otherwise – for its IdeaPad S series netbooks. Whether you go for the original S10 model at $ 399 / $ 409 (depending on color), the Newer and slightly lighter / thinner S10-2 model or the $ 499 S12, g is standard and upgrades are not on the menu.
MSI currently offers thirteen different variations of Wind U Series netbooks that range in price from $ 299 to $ 499. Five models from this dozen bakers give you 802.11n instead of the standard g, and all have Bluetooth built in for good measure. These are the U100-279US, U100-280US, U100-432US and U123-003US at $ 430, as well as the U115-021US at $ 500.
Samsung N / NC
You’ll have to settle for 802.11g with Samsung, as you can’t get 802.11n on any of the company’s four netbook offerings: the $ 419 NC10, the $ 549 NC20, or the $ 439 N110 or N120. If you live in one of the few areas with service, the $ 519 NC10-12PWBK complements its Wi-Fi with built-in WiMAX.
Sony VAIO P series lifestyle computer
Sony doesn’t actually call its Lifestyle P-series PC a netbook, but for all intents and purposes it is a netbook (although it is particularly small, light, and expensive). You’d probably expect 802.11 to be included given the P-Series’ mind-blowing $ 899 (and up) price tag, and you’d be right: it’s a standard feature on all P-Series models, just like Support for Verizon 3G. Sony’s next Vaio W will also ship with 802.11n (and a starting price of $ 499) when it debuts in August.
Toshiba Mini NB205
The only configuration option you get with Toshiba’s $ 399 Mini NB205 is color. 802.11g is standard on all models and no 802.11n upgrade is available.