STUFF.TV CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE – 5 things to consider before buying a netbook

If you'd said the word netbook to even the most hardened gadget geek 12 months ago, they'd have struggled to tell you what one of the little blighters

In fact, so much has changed since we last did a netbook buyer's guide back in August, that we thought we'd do a new one for Christmas. Since then, major players have come on board and Asus has even tarted up the Eee PC to get PC–loving business types on the bandwagon.

Solid State or Hard Disk?

You could argue the whole point of a netbook is that you can sling it about without fear of it ending up in gadget hospital. But while solid state drives can take a battering, they’re expensive and won’t store much. HDDs can’t stand as much of a battering but will look after your docs. Increasingly, HDD is a bigger draw, with the Samsung NC10 and LG X110 both offering standard drives rather than pricey flash versions. If you want SSD with a low price, then the Eee PC 901 is still where it's at.

9in or 10in screen?

This is more about the keyboard than the screen itself. Buy a 10in netbook and you’ll have a full–size pad on which to tap out disparaging blog posts and tiresome tweets. Get a 9in and you’ll have a (far more) portable machine that’s a darn sight harder to type on. Of course, you can always compromise with the Asus Eee PC 904HD.

Eee PC or not Eee PC?

As the folks who started this whole cheap laptops shebang, Asus know a thing or two about netbooks. The Eee PC 901, with its seemingly endless battery life, affordable price tag and SSD is a winner. However, since we last did a round up, Toshiba, Samsung and LG have all weighed in with good looking machines. Asus still clinches it though with the super sleek S101.

Big price or cut price?

The whole point of a netbook is to keep the cost down. However, high price machines, including the superb S101 and the the new 10in HP Mini–Note are well worth investing in if you want durability and style. However, if the recession's left you skint, the £130 Asus Eee PC will definitely do the trick.

Buy now or hang on?

Ok, you probably want to get your Nan a netbook for Christmas, so hanging on is probably not the best shout unless you want to leave her empty–handed come Christmas morning. Still, if you want one for yourself, we reckon you should wait until the sales get going. If there's not a netbook for £99 come New Year's Day, we'll be amazed.

For more Christmas gift ideas, keep an eye on our festive Top Tens.