A road warrior's guide to netbooks

Five tips to help pick the right one for your needs

4. Look for six-cell and not three-cell batteries

What's the fun of having a ubiquitous computer if you constantly need to look for a power outlet? Most three-cell batteries will last around three hours, with reasonable screen brightness and wireless use. A six-cell battery extends that to get you through a cross-country flight or most of the day out of the office.

5. Invest in sync software

The power of a second computer is achieved only when you have access to the data and information you need. Keeping files in sync across multiple machines can be hard to do, and done badly it can result in data loss. It's a good idea to invest time and money in setting up a sync service to keep everything in order across devices. SugarSync is probably the best pay service, with support for both Macs and PCs, but there are others, including Live Mesh from Microsoft (which is free and in beta). Keeping more information in the cloud, through the use of services such as Google Docs, can also help keep things in order.

The idea of a second or even third PC makes a lot of sense these days, especially when the prices are low and the features are as deep as they are. The trick is to separate the best products from the toys and gadgets flooding the low end of the market.

Michael Gartenberg is vice president of Mobile Strategy at Jupitermedia. His weblog and RSS feed are at www.mobiledevicestoday.com. Contact him at mgartenberg@optonline.net.

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