How we tested
The biggest challenge with Linux notebooks is the lack of benchmarks available to compare their performance and battery life. Instead, I put together a suite of tests that mimics the way most people work and play.
Start-up: I used a stopwatch to time how long it took to get each machine up and running. For systems that required a password, I stopped the watch to enter the information and then resumed the timing. The test was completed when the file activity light stopped blinking.
Open an Acrobat file: Each system was timed for how long it took to open a full-color six-page PDF that contained several photos and charts.
Print a Word document: This was a two-part test. First, a standard .doc file was opened using the system's included word processing program. Then, the 15-page all-text document was printed using an HP DeskJet 995C inkjet printer.
Battery life: With Wi-Fi turned on and the browser tuned to an Internet streaming "radio" station, I timed how long it took to run the battery down until the machine stopped; the results are rounded to the nearest five-minute interval.
Wi-Fi range: With the system playing the streaming radio station, I slowly walked away from the Wi-Fi router, noting where the system lost connection to the server. This was repeated to make sure of its location; results are rounded to 5 feet.
Compatibility: In addition, to make sure that these systems would not let you down on the road, I played several YouTube videos; composed, sent and received e-mail; viewed and edited and image; listened to streaming Internet radio; opened Acrobat, Word and Excel files; transferred files from a flash drive; and played an audio CD on an external Toshiba DVD drive.
PERFORMANCE TEST RESULTS
|Acer Aspire One||Asus Eee PC 1000||HP Mini-Note 2133||Sylvania G Netbook|
|Start system (min:sec)||0:30.3||1:06.2||1:46.5||2:19.1|
|Open Acrobat file (sec)||3.4||6.1||13.9||7.2|
|Time to print Word doc (min:sec)||3:34.6||4:13.0||24:17.1||6:06.2|
|Battery capacity/life (hour:min)||5200mah*/ 5:15||6600mah*/ 3:50||2590mah*/ 1:40||2200mah*/ 3:00|
|Wi-Fi range (feet)||115||90||105||85|