Pioneered by Asus with the EeePC 701, the netbook shifted the way we think about computing.
Of late though, people have realised that netbooks have limitations and the market is fragmenting, with some going to tablets like the iPad or Galaxy Tab, some to smartphones like the Desire HD or LG Optimus 7, others to thin-and-lights like MacBook Air, and yet others opting to go for a budget laptop under AU$1000.
But if the price is right and you're willing to live with the compromises it brings, a netbook can still be a good accessory thanks to its light weight and great battery life. Inevitably they contain Atom processors, the most recent ones with dual-core. Sadly, netbooks running Windows 7 Starter often only come with 1GB RAM, a highly limiting factor — we'd suggest if the option exists to get one with Home Premium at least and 2GB RAM. Screen sizes have mostly settled between 10 and 12 inches these days, falling into one of two resolutions: 1024x600 or 1366x768. The latter is a massive improvement, as the 600-pixel vertical resolution often doesn't fit everything on screen that it needs to.
Most come with 100Mb Ethernet and 802.11g wireless, although the occasional model comes along with gigabit and 802.11n, if you're willing to pay a premium. If you've got a chance, try before you buy, as keyboard comfort is the thing that ultimately defines a good netbook.