Are 'netbooks' worth the cheap price tag?

LOS ANGELES Despite the drop in sales for larger laptops and desktop computers, "/*netbooks*/" are incredibly popular. Eyewitness News teamed up with /*Consumer Reports*/ to test out some pretty good choices.

Super-portable netbooks, also known as those little laptops with an equally shrunken price tag, are getting rave reviews from people who have one.

The typical netbook weighs about 3 pounds, has a 9-10 inch screen and costs between $300 and $400.

"All of them performed well enough at Web surfing and e-mail, but we did find some major differences in areas like ergonomics and battery life," said Paul Reynolds, Consumer Reports.

Testers top-rated a 10-inch /*Samsung*/ netbook, which has a 160-gigabyte hard drive, an impressive 7-hour battery life and offers the fewest compromises. But at $450, it was the most expensive netbook tested.

If you are looking to spend less, Consumer Reports recommends two that go for about $350. The 10-inch /*Acer Aspire ONE*/ has a long battery life, but the keyboard is a little cramped. On the flip side, the 10-inch /*Asus ePC*/ has a roomier keyboard but a shorter battery life.

"Regardless of the model you choose, none of them have a built-in DVD or CD drive. And forget about demanding tasks like 3-D gaming or video-editing. For those you'll need a full-powered machine," said Reynolds.

As some netbook users learn, the key to finding happiness with a netbook is deciding which compromises you can live with in order to get the benefits of a truly tiny laptop.

When you're shopping for a netbook, Consumer Reports says be aware that they tend to work best as a second computer, in addition to a home or business-based system.

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