10 Most Anticipated Ultraportables and Netbooks of 2009

Thinking of buying an ultraportable laptop or a netbook soon? Check out this Top 10 list of upcoming portables before you open your wallet.

10 Most Anticipated Ultraportables and Netbooks

Ultraportable laptops and netbooks are already hot tickets this year. You may even be thinking about picking one up for yourself soon. But before you open your wallet, look at this Top 10 list of ultraportable laptops and netbooks that are set to go on sale sometime in 2009--you may want to wait just a bit longer before taking the plunge.

For this list I considered dozens of portables and then winnowed them down to the hottest yet-to-be-released gear. I like the looks of many upcoming models, including systems loaded with goodies such as awesome graphics, massive hard drives, TV tuners, GPS, 3G, and WiMax. Any of these portables will have your fellow digital nomads at the local Starbucks hotspot salivating.

MSI Wind U115

Price: Less than $700

Release date: Unknown

OS: Windows XP or Vista Basic

Screen size: 10 inches

Weight: Under 3 pounds

Why you'll love it: The MSI Wind U115 is touted as the world's first hybrid-storage notebook. It comes with a 160GB hard disk but also includes a solid-state drive (8GB or possibly 16GB) to run the operating system and programs. An SSD is more durable and faster than a standard hard drive; it also uses less laptop battery power, keeping your system running longer between recharges. When you're on the go, just switch off the power-sucking disk-based drive, and you'll still have access to your computer’s normal functions. MSI says the machine will last from 12 to 20 hours with a six- or nine-cell battery, respectively. Intel's Atom Z530 1.6GHz processor powers the U115; the system also supports up to 2GB of RAM and has three USB ports, a Webcam, two-channel stereo speakers, a microphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a four-in-one card reader (SD Card, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro).

Asus Eee Keyboard PC

Price: Rumored to be $400 to $600

Release date: Summer 2009

OS: Windows XP Home Edition

Screen size: 5 inches

Weight: 2 pounds

Why you'll love it: Asus takes the all-in-one concept literally with an entire computer packed into a wireless keyboard. This ain't your old Commodore 64 though: The Eee Keyboard PC comes with a 5.5-inch touchscreen with 800 by 480 resolution on the right side. The Keyboard PC packs in an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of solid-state storage, three USB ports, VGA output, wideband wireless HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, and an internal battery. The machine is optimized for Web surfing or for controlling your wireless home network right from your sofa with wireless HDMI. (Sorry, Commodore lovers, but it doesn't support Datasette drives.)

Gigabyte M1022 Booktop

Price: Unknown

Release date: April 30

OS: Windows XP Home

Screen size: 10.1 inches

Weight: 2.87 pounds

Why you'll love it: The M1022 Booktop looks to the future with a base station that converts the netbook into a desktop machine. Just slap it into the base and fire up your monitor, and you’re surfing the Web like a desk jockey. It comes with your choice of an Intel N280 Atom 1.6GHz or 1.66GHz processor, a maximum of 2GB RAM, a 160GB hard drive, three USB ports, a four-in-one card reader (SD Card, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro), the docking port, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam, Wi-Fi, optional Wi-Max, and a 92 percent full-size keyboard.

Asus Eee PC T91

Price: Rumored to be around $500

Release date: Summer 2009

OS: Windows XP Home

Screen size: 8.9 inches

Weight: Under 2 pounds

Why you'll love it: The Asus Eee PC T91 has a swiveling touchscreen that can also work with a stylus if you’re a tablet PC lover. The T91 packs an Intel Atom Z520 1.33GHz processor, a TV tuner, 1024 by 600 resolution, GPS, two USB slots, an SD Card slot, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. For storage, you can use a 16GB solid-state drive, a 16GB SD Card, and a 20GB Web drive.

Asus Eee PC T91

Look again: Here's a second view of the Asus Eee PC T91, this time in its tablet mode.

MSI X340

Price: Under $1000

Release date: Expected in May 2009

OS: Vista Home Premium

Screen size: 13.4 inches

Weight: 2.8 pounds

Why you'll love it: As slim as the MacBook Air, the MSI X340 is a strong up-and-comer among ultraportables. The X340 promises speed with Intel's 1.3GHz Core 2 Solo CULV processor, the screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the computer comes packed with a 320GB HDD, up to 4GB RAM, a four-cell battery, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 3G/WiMax option. You can also pick up an external Blu-ray Disc player for the X340 to take advantage of that 16:9-ratio screen.

Samsung Mondi

Price: Unknown

Release date: Spring 2009

OS: Windows Mobile 6.1

Screen size: 4.3 inches

Weight: Light

Why you'll love it: Designed to run on Sprint's Clearwire Wi-Max network, the Mondi is one of two Internet devices to make our Top 10. The Mondi features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, GPS, the Opera 9.5 browser, 4GB internal memory, a 3.0-megapixel camera with video support, Bluetooth 2.0, HDMI-out, Wi-Fi, WiMax, push e-mail, and instant messaging support for Messenger, Fring, and Gypsii. Samsung will ship the Mondi with a car mount for on-the-go action, too.

Samsung NC20

Price: Around $550

Release date: Unknown

OS: Windows XP

Screen size: 12.1 inches (1280 by 800 pixels)

Weight: 3.3 pounds

Why you'll love it: The Samsung NC20 isn't available in the United States yet, but PC World's laptop expert, Darren Gladstone, got his hands on an Asian model that came with a 120GB hard drive, a 1.3GHz VIA Nano processor, three USB ports, a Webcam, ethernet, VGA-out, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.0. According to Samsung’s U.S. site you can expect a six-cell battery for longer battery life (the Asian model does about 5 hours already), a 97 percent full-size keyboard, the same VIA Nano processor as the Asian model, and a 160GB hard drive.


Price: Around $300

Release date: Unknown

OS: Custom Linux build

Screen size: 12 inches

Weight: Unknown

Why you'll love it: When TechCrunch recently got scooped on its own device, I knew it had to make this list. Powered by an Intel Atom chipset, the CrunchPad comes with a touchscreen and virtual keyboard, a camera for photos and video, speakers, a microphone, and one USB port. Outsiders have not laid their hands on the CrunchPad yet, but this little tablet device could be a hot property for simplified Web surfing, e-mail, media streaming, and video chat.

Acer Aspire Timeline

Price: $699 to 899

Release date: Unknown

OS: Windows Vista Home Premium

Screen size: 15.6, 14.0, or 13.3 inches

Weight: 5.3, 4.2, or 3.5 pounds

Why you'll love it: The Acer Aspire Timeline is all about improved battery life and awesome graphics. It comes with either an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.40GHz CPU or the Intel Core 2 Solo 1.30GHz processor, and is expandable to 8GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM. The screen has a 1366 by 768 resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Storage is not a problem, with hard-drive options for 160GB, 250GB, 320GB, or 500GB; a solid-state drive is also available. The Timeline includes three USB ports, a five-in-one card reader (SD Card, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and XD Picture Card), an Acer Crystal Eye Webcam, and built-in Wi-Fi and WiMax support. Acer says the Timeline is eco-friendly, too, as it consumes 66 percent less power than Energy Star standards require.

The Rumor Mill

Some of the most anticipated devices may or may not even exist--for now, they're relegated to the realm of rumors. Included in this group is Dell's leaked netbook roadmap, which features devices with high-definition screens, TV tuners, bigger hard drives, and various OS flavors.

Then, of course, there's the Apple tablet that's too big to be an iPhone but too small to be a netbook. No one knows what kind of specs Apple's rumored device might have--assuming it ever makes an appearance--but I'm sure it will sport so many juicy features that Apple fans will line up months in advance to get one.

Google's Android OS may go beyond smartphones and morph into a netbook OS in the coming months. No products have been announced yet, but rumored manufacturers include Asustek and HP.

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