Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.)

Posted on 10 August 2010, Last updated on 10 June 2018 by

Long-gone are the days where netbooks were available at the 1KG mark. The Asus 901, Acer A150. Classic 1KG, 8.9 inch netbooks that worked well as mobile-focused PCs for getting things done almost anywhere. The EeePC 901GO was arguably one of the best mobile bargains around at the time, at least in Europe. No hard drive, sub 1KG, 3G and a great price. Oh how things have changed. All we seem to see now are 10-12 inch devices at 1.2KG or more with moving hard drives. The 800gm-1KG mark is now a specialist segment.

If you take a long hard look though and are prepared to relax your requirements a little there are a few gems hidden in there that would work well for ultra-mobile fans so I’ve taken a long look at the netbook segment, spoken to a few people (thanks Avram and Sascha) and come up with a shortlist for you. I’ve also taken a look above and below the netbook segment to give you a few alternative options.

Requirements.

Ultra Mobile devices need to be feature-rich, rugged and connected. They are the Swiss army knives of PCs that need to be ready for anything. Getting the best productivity out of any situation is important. 12 inch devices give great comfortable real-estate. 10 inch devices can be good value. 7 inch devices get right under the 1KG mark. Here are some other important features.

  • No Hard Drive. Ideally you don’t want any moving parts at all in a mobile PC. Hard drives and fans can fail or get damaged and even rotating screen hinges need to be thought about very carefully. If an SSD doesn’t come as standard, I’ve looked at the upgrade possibilities.
  • Bright screen. Matt finish. 10 – 12 inch for comfortable productivity. 7-10 inch for lighter weight.
  • 3G, Wi-Fi-N and BT 2.x (but not self-upgrade unless the antenna is pre-installed)
  • Long battery life (6+hrs)
  • Lightweight PSU, Car Kit
  • Other useful options – GPS, memory upgrades. Case
  • Latest CPU technology.
  • Weight – 1KG or less. (I’ve looked at devices up to about 1.2KG here.)

The Netbook Shortlist

Based around the 10 inch form factor, these are the gems that I’ve managed to dig out. Of the 400+ devices that I’ve searched through, these match the requirements the best. Quite amazing that there are really only this many that I would class as truly mobile devices. Note, these devices may not appear in your local market (and there may be others in your local market that I haven’t seen – please lets us know if you find one.)

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35 Comments For This Post

  1. Gretchen Glasscock says:

    Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.): Long-gone are the days where netbooks were availab… http://bit.ly/b7Fs5f

  2. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    RT @umpcportal: Report: Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.) http://bit.ly/bev9Qz

  3. Lee O says:

    RT @chippy: RT @umpcportal: Report: Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.) http://bit.ly/bev9Qz

  4. jimbo_wa says:

    Great write-up Chippy! Typing this from my work Dell E4200 on the train – Win7 Pro/3GB/64GB SSD/3G and hardware LatitudeON. All is fantastic, apart from the LatitudeON – very flakey in my experience asif you leave it as an instant on option, a 4 cell battery will go flat over night. Best laptop I have ever used – the 45w travel adapter is small & light and IMO better that a 6 cell battery as long as a power outlet is near!

    We also run 3G Viliv S7’s as on-call devices (5 deployed and another 5 to be purchased)

  5. AM Electronics says:

    Yes these are good, but it if one could wait a year or so it would probably be best with ssd being so expensive. [but then if you only need aprox 30 gb of storage you’re probably fine]

  6. morganj says:

    Great timing with this article Chippy,

    You published this on the very day I finalised the setup on my new 5102 3G. Got the HD screen, upgraded to 2GB and will install SSD on the weekend, even with the HDD its pretty responsive and the bettery life with the newer platform over the 5101 is impressive.

    Writing this comment sitting out on my terrace after sunset using the same battery i started the day with, that was over 15 hrs ago and I stll have over 3 hrs battery remaining (on and off use through the day)

    Many of your regular readers will remember the number of devices I have gone through to get here (too many to list) but, I think I have finally found my “perfect” (for now) device.

    I still carry my N900 or Milestone for always on connection to the world, but for a pull it out and turn it on productivity device I’m currently a very happy 5102 user.

    The rugged design of the HP 51 series has been one of its selling points for me, what use is a mobile device if you have to be careful when moving it around?

  7. chippy says:

    I just saw your tweet about the 5102 too!
    If you ever get bored, i’m sure the readers would love a few paras from an owners perscpective! How much will the complete setup cost you?

  8. morganj says:

    The basic 5102 was 470€ ram from my big pile of RAM and the SSD is Kingston SSDNow V-series SNV425-S2BN/128GB was 277€ total cost just under 800€ best part of all is that the cost was covered by my employer :) only thing left to do is some benchmarking and battery testing with HDD and SSD

  9. chippy says:

    470€ for 3G and non-glare screenm win7 starter and 6-cell right? More than the other 3G netbooks but you get the rugged build which is worth having.
    I’ve got a SATA SSD and 2GB RAM in my Touchnote – I’m tempted but for me, it’s not going to bring any performance improvements. Will bring batt life and 300gm weigh improvement tho!

  10. Sam says:

    HP 2540p, 12″, 1.53 kg w/6-cell battery, 8+ hours with low voltage CPU (7+ hours with standard voltage CPUs), available 9-cell battery for 12+ hours, Qualcomm Gobi for IS-2000 & UMTS, optical drive available with some 1.8″ hard drives.

    According to ThinkPad X201/X201s Detailed Specifications, the X201s weights 1.31 kg with the 4-cell battery, 1.44 kg with 6-cell, and 1.60 kg with 9-cell. 1.1kg might be the weight with no battery.

  11. medah4rick says:

    too bad the ultralight notebooks cost a million dollars. makes the ipad 3g look like a deal

  12. gmich says:

    Great article, Chippy. I’d been searching around myself on this very topic but you’ve done a great job of gathering the info all in one location. I still don’t see a solution that’s calling my name, so for now I’ll hold tight with my Asus UL20A. I’d rather have an 11″ screen and under 2.5 pounds, but doesn’t seem like that’s happening right now.

  13. the_holodoc says:

    Nice to see the EeePC 901 mentioned again, but a short look in your own database would have shown you, that it already had a weight of 1140gm. When i bought mine in early 2009 its weight was still a plus for me in comparison to most other available devices especially with its 6 cell 49 Wh battery.

  14. anon says:

    I am still using the EeePC 901 Go, with a battery that has better cells, making its capacity 62 Wh (still 6 cells). The current sad state of 9″ netbooks means I will be staying with it indefinitely, even though this unit happens to have a pretty low-quality panel compared to others I have seen.

  15. Pogi says:

    Via Nano E series, when a netbook/laptop with this processor gets produced, there will start a BIG change all over the UMPC sector, mark my word!

  16. Matz says:

    Great overview, thanks Chippy! A little bit to late for me:-) I did more or less the same comparison three weeks ago. The result, I bought the Sony Vaio P11 and 37Wh battery. Why the Sony P11, very easy to answer. All parts of my personal wish list ( weight and size, internal 3G, SSD, 2 GB RAM, at least WIN7 Home Premium, good keyboard and WLAN-n) are already integrated. Design, build quality and functionality are perfect and justify the price. I’m very happy with the replacement of my Eee-Pc 1003HAG, I used the last 15 months. it is unbelievable how small and light the Sony P11 is in comparison to a 10” Netbook.

  17. Chippy says:

    How’s the weight with the 37WH batt?
    And what CPU speed did you go for?

  18. Matz says:

    CPU: Z540 1,86 GHz
    I have to check the weight, it seems double of the standard battery

  19. Matz says:

    sorry for the delay, now I’m back home.
    original Battery is 150g, the 37Wh is 245g

  20. kirkdis says:

    yeah the P is my favourite device. sony knows how to kick out the rest. the deives are very good build quality without the sound. But i´m sure the most users aren´t in need of multimedia. the p is best for business and everywhere use. viliv builds good devices too but the tft res is a shame… much programs don´t work with the 600px res… so viliv is out for me til they get better screens. the p screen is so beautiful with it´s 1600x768px and works like a charm for the eyes…

  21. frank says:

    I’m waiting for the Toshiba Libretto W105… ‘nuf said.

    Well, maybe one or two words more:
    Hope it’s performing well (64 bit processor and especially the screens viewing angle) and not too expensive.

  22. AM Electronics says:

    but are you really going to be able to see the benefits of a 64 bit processor on a netbook? [I mean apart from being cool and such ;)]

  23. Netbook Summit says:

    Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.) – http://bit.ly/dgaDuF (Db)

  24. gammer says:

    Acer 1810T with SU7300, 11.6″ HD, 4GB, 500GB disk, 6 cell battery, UMTS built in, for 619,- Euro (at cyberport.de). Fix glossy (but bright) screen with good matte screen protector (25,- Euro) and replace disk by 64GB SSD for (say) 150,- Euro. Then you have a 1.2 kg device which runs for about 9h (Windows 7). This is MUCH more capable and productive than any netbook. Total cost 785,-.

    Well, the Sony has half the weight…

  25. chippy says:

    Hey Gammer
    Thanks for that. I knew there would be a few other gems out there. 1.2KG sounds good. I’m interested!

  26. Matz says:

    …. and half of size :-)
    Besides that a perfect lightweight Sub-Notebook.

  27. Joe says:

    You should look into the Acer 1830T, too. Looks a little nicer and has a Core i3 or Core i5 CPU.

  28. Scoobie says:

    How about this new one?
    Samsung X125, AMD Athlon K125 1.7GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium, 11.6″ WSVGA Gloss LED (1366 x 768), ATI Radeon HD4200, 3GB RAM, 320GB HDD, No Optical Drive, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth, Webcam, 4 in 1 Media Card Reader, 6 Cell Battery, White ,£440

  29. chippy says:

    Mmm. 1.5KG is 10-20% heavier than most netbooks….although about the same weight as my Gigabyte Touchnote netbook with its 6-cell battery.
    1.5KG is really above the plimsoll line for me.

  30. Joe says:

    I’d love to see a notebook with a 10 inch screen or smaller that has a CULV Core i or Core 2 Duo CPU. If the Hanvon tablet can have a Core 2 Duo then a notebook with a 10 inch screen can have one too.

    I know netbooks are supposed to be small and cheap but I’ll settle for just the small part if it’s significantly more powerful. Well, less than $1500 US since there are the Panasonic Let’s Note Light R8 and Toughbook devices but are very expensive.

  31. chippy says:

    You and me both. A 10″ productivity focused Core i ‘netbook’ at 10″ although the X201s and E4200 are very close. Its a $2K story!

  32. Dustin says:

    The difference between 12″ and 10″ is so large, though, especially with the slim bezel on the R series. The E4200 and X201 are both over 25% wider than the R series. My R3 is getting long in the tooth (it’s much older than the original Eee, after all!), but I’m going to have a hard time replacing it with anything other than an R9. I just like the dimensions too much.

    And hey, the R9 fits all your criteria. Dynamism even has ssd models! But they’re $3800. The $2k base model is still very expensive compared to other UMPCs, but it’s an i7 and 4gb ram in a 9″x7″ footprint, so what can you do? Here’s what I do: Hope that some day, Lenovo will hack two inches off the X100e, make the bezel smaller, and put an i5 in it. All the R series is missing is a trackpoint!

  33. Chippy says:

    Thx for all the great, detailed comments. I’ve updated the article to reflect some of the feedback. (At the end of page 4 – http://www.umpcportal.com/2010/08/lightweight-and-mobile-focused-3g-netbooks-and-alternatives/4/)

  34. UMPCPortal says:

    New article: Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.) http://bit.ly/bev9Qz

  35. scoobie says:

    Fujitsu 10.1 inches convertible is an option with icore processors, hi res screen

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/03/fujitsu-announces-lifebook-t580-with-four-finger-multitouch/

    1.4 kg though

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