As many other gadgets out there, netbooks and mini laptops are produced by manufacturers with specific audiences in mind. Mainstream and business- these are the two main categories that come in mind when we think about netbooks.
You could argue that “gaming” and “luxury” are also categories, but I see them more as subcategories of these two large sectors.
Business netbooks are usually more expensive than regular mini laptops, but that happens for good reason. Enterprise machines look better, are more resistant, come with a bunch of security features, have ports and options that regular netbooks don’t have and usually pack more complete software than the ever present Windows 7 Starter.
You usually get top notch designs and materials (usually metal alloys or really good plastic), great screens, USB 3.0 ports, hardware encryption, fingerprint reader for authentication, longer battery life and pre installed software that help in your daily corporate routines.
Next, we’re going to take at look at top floor niche and maybe realize that behind all the hype there’s just exceptional care for both data protection and user experience. Stay tuned.
Best business netbooks
Who says that a 10 inch machine can’t deliver a great Enterprise experience? With solid hardware platforms like Atom of Fusion being little as a dime, performance is now available even in devices that fit in your pocket. Or, at least, in one of those fancy cases suits carry around to inspire confidence to their recession stricken business partners.
The HP Mini 5103 is a good entry level business netbook, meaning it’s good enough to use it for most professional tasks and won’t cost you a fortune. It comes with a N550 dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, a fast 7200 rpm HDD or even faster SSD and a 10 inch matte display that supports capacitive touch input. The netbook runs on Windows 7 Professional and packs a 2 MP camera for video calls, as well as having a battery that can go on a single charge for about 10 hours.
Gobi broadband communications is on board, as well as some solid security features, like face recognition and Setup Password. The netbook comes with a classy brushed aluminum finish and a great, silent keyboard. If there’s chemistry already between the two of you, make sure you have at least $419 to spend for this one. For more details, see our review of this line also here on the site.
The Asus EEE PC 1018P has a similar metal finish and an even stronger hardware lineup, boosting a newer Atom N570 dual core chip and 2 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, the OS is Windows 7 Starter, which is really not suitable for business, so you’ll have to invest a little more in upgrading to a better version of Windows. Consequently, there’s no specialized business or security software on board.
On a brighter side, the 1018P comes with two USB 3.0 ports and a 8 hours battery life, with the setup being currently priced at around 450 bucks. We reviewed this EEE PC as well.
The Samsung NF210 is one of those one per season little gems when it comes to design. It has a great, curvy design on the bottom and even the lid has its ups and downs, in a stunning shark inspired design that puts to shame all those netbooks looking the same. Under the hood you get a N550 dual core chip and 1 GB of RAM, which is not a great hardware setup, but it’s good enough to strut around at office meetings.
The $299 labeled netbook would definitely fit the cute little intern aiming at a full time job, as it might hint that the owner is something out of the ordinary as well.
Best business 11.6 inch mini laptops
You can’t really think about a business laptop and not take Lenovo into consideration. The ThinkPad X120e is a smaller entry in the the ever popular, classic ThinkPad line, having a fantastic keyboard and iconic track pad. Under the hood you get a Zacate E-350 chip, 4 GB of RAM (you can literally run a business from this thing) and Windows 7 Professional Edition. You also get a copy of Microsoft Office you can activate by purchasing a key and a trial version of Norton Antivirus. Like virtually all Lenovo business laptops, this is also quite pricey, ticking in at $479.
HP is also in the mix with their Mini 3105M, which is basically the dm1z dressed up as a corporate employee. It packs the exact same Fusion hardware, but comes with a more somber design, completed with a matte display and chromed strips around the keyboard, vaguely resembling a MacBook Pro.
If you thought the dm1z was decently priced, the 3105M will be right up your alley, as it has an affordable price tag of around $400.
You’re probably up to speed with Samsung’s Series 3, the more affordable and smaller version of the Series 9. The exquisite looks of the 9 Series continues on the 12.5 inch Series 3, although you don’t get the same great duralium finish, but a more generic metal finish.
Even so, the Core i5, 4 GB of RAM equipped machine will whirlpool like a champ all those business apps you throw at it, keeping an ultra thin 1.2 inches profile and generally looking awesome. No wonder this little gem costs considerably more than the competition, namely $699.
Top business mini notebooks 12-13 inch
It gets serious now, as we have to face the ThinkPad X220, which is the X120e on steroids, with an attitude or whatever you want to call a second generation Core i5-2520M CPU, winged by 4 GB of RAM and a fast 7200 rpm HDD (but more powerful hardware options re available as well, with better CPUs, extra memory and SSD storage).
The X220s also has a battery that can go on a single charge for more than 8 hours if needed, while queuing the extra battery slice will add another 5. According to your budget, you can also configure the X220 with a Core i3 CPU, with that model starting at around 800 bucks.
There are many Vaio lovers out there and the Z series will be right up their alley when looking for a business notebook. Besides the latest generation Intel Core i5/i7 CPUs, powerful graphics for such a small device and fast SSD storage, you get that fantastic design and class, all in a package that weighs under 3 pounds.
Sony was able to fit in there also a DVD drive, which is something you rarely see on a 13 inch machine. Completing the experience is a HD web cam with face recognition functions and a fingerprint reader for easily gating your valuable data from others. The Vaio Z is currently selling for a little under $1500, being one of the most expensive fancy business notebooks out there.
Besides the X220, Lenovo is in our books also with the ThinkPad Edge e220s (we reviewed it on NetbookLive), which packs a low-voltage Core i5 processor, namely 2537M, but keeps the 4 GB of RAM and 7200 rpm HDD. Nothing else to say about this, except it has a slightly different design, as it looks a little more shiny and glossy than traditional ThinkPads.
Fujitsu’s LifeBook S751 offers a second generation Core i5 experience at a price generally lower than that of the competition. The laptop comes with a plastic finish and more ports and drives than we can count, including disk drive, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, card readers, VGA slot, SmartCard, Ethernet and more. Built with the traveling professional in mind, the S751 has a spill resistant keyboard and anti microbial coating, which should allow you to work in multiple types of environments.
On the software front, the S751 is also pretty complex. MyInternet functionality allows you to share your connection with other computers, while security features include BIOS password protection, Trusted Platform Module, pre boot authorization and BIOS Persistence Module.
Although not mainly offered as a business notebook, the Samsung 9 Series can easily serve this purpose. It has a fantastic design, with the body being made from an ultra tough, but ultra light alloy called duralium, usually employed on aircrafts.
The 13.3 inch computer is only 2.7 inches thick and 2.88 pounds heavy, being very easy to carry around. Under the hood, you’ll find Sandy Bridge hardware paired with as much as 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage, all adding up to a very fast and capable ultra portable business laptop. One that, be aware, costs around $1500 if you aim for the Core i5 version.
Business netbook and mini laptops are up there, amongst the best portable computers you could buy. These machines impress in terms of design, functionality and security, as the environment they’re meant to activate in is ultra demanding in any aspect. And last but not least, they are portable and offer enough battery life for many hours of unplugged use.
All these combined make compact business notebooks more expensive than casual machines. But if you or your employer are willing to go the extra mile with one of these laptops, you’ll get a great companion for those 9+ hour work days or business trips.