Wi-Fi and Netbooks

If you own a netbook, you’ll without doubt want to use its wireless features – after all, that’s what the netbooks are designed for. If you have plenty of experience connecting laptops to the Internet, you may know most of the instruction – although; you might find something new. IEEE 802.11 or better known as WLAN or WiFi is a set of wireless data communication standards for connecting to networks, especially the Internet. Your netbook has an internal antenna and wireless card that can be used wherever there is a nearby wireless router or AP (access point) – such a place is called as a hotspot. Access points and wireless routers access the Net through a wired connection (usually DSL) and share the connection with computers through radio waves.

Wi-Fi and Netbooks

If the Wi-Fi hotspot uses public access (doesn’t need a password), Windows quickly connects to it, and voilà; you are on the Internet.  Wi-Fi routers cost between $30 and $120 (depending on the features and brands).  Because they’re easy to install and cheap, many people broadcast their DSL connection and set up a wireless home network. Just be sure to activate WPA security on your router. If you don’t, it is possible for someone to “steal” your wireless Internet access – and rack up a huge bandwidth bill if your internet connection is metered.
Windows is already configured to quickly connect to nearby, public access points. If your netbook doesn’t immediately connect, here’s what you should do:

  1. Double-click the Wireless Network Connection icon in the Windows taskbar. Available Wireless Networks will be shown on the pop-up menu. You can left-click a connection icon to see more information on it.
  2. To connect to a wireless network, just click the Connect button.  If you see a lock icon under the network name, it means the network is secured and uses encryption. You must enter a password to access it.

A signal strength indicator shows the connection quality. Often, more bars mean faster and more reliable connection.  Windows gives status information when it tries to connect a wireless network and it informs you when the connection is established. In a nutshell, connecting to a wireless network is relatively straightforward – you may need to check the netbook’s user manual for more information. You can switch off the wireless card to improve battery life. Also, you may need to turn off the wireless card during a flight where wireless signals might interfere with the aircraft’s avionics – or so they say.  If you have an 802.11b/g wireless card, it transmits and receives 2.4 GHz radio waves. Unfortunately, baby monitors, certain cordless telephones, microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices emit similar frequency. If means when you pop a pouch of corn kernels in the microwave, there is a possibility your Internet connection will go snap temporarily while the oven is turned on, depending on where your access point, microwave, and netbook are located.

Choosing the best screen size for your netbook

Netbooks use a few sizes of small screens. Generally, the bigger the screen and the larger the resolution, the higher the netbook cost.  Here is what you should expect in the way of displays size found in netbooks.

The best screen size for netbook
  • 7-inch: Early netbooks featured dinky 7″ displays. It’s a pain to browse the Web with these tiny screens because the entire page can’t be displayed horizontally – it may force you to scroll the pages quite a bit. Additionally, the common resolution of the 7″ screens is limited to only 800 x 480. Netbooks with these displays have simply gone the way of the mammoth and are only found in the discounted and used markets.
  • 9-inch: Netbook manufacturers quickly wised up that 7″ screens simply didn’t cut the mustard. Generally, from an engineering standpoint, it is possible to shoehorn a 9″ screen into a 7″ netbook chassis or use a slightly larger chassis. As a matter of fact, many 7″ screen netbooks use a plastic bezel around the display, which when you calculate the bezel, the screen size is roughly equal to 9″. Many 9″ screens use 1024 x 600 resolution. If you are looking for high portability, choose a 9-inch-screen model. The drawback is; you may have to endure the small keyboard. You should be aware that many netbook manufacturers tend to abandon 9″ models in favor of larger and more usable 10″ screen.
  • 10-inch and above: When you put a 10″ screen in your favorite netbook, its chassis needs to be enlarged. Larger chassis means that you can have a bigger keyboard and more powerful battery. Netbooks with 10″ screens are pretty much common these days, although each model may use different maximum resolution – generally, the larger the resolution, the better. In spite of what a netbook manufacturer may advertise, many people consider a netbook with screen larger than 10″ is not a real netbook. Models touting 11″ and 12″ screens are closer to small laptops than netbooks because they’re giving up the light weight, compact size, and affordable price tag.

Actually, most netbook screens marketed as 9″ are actually 8.9″, while, a 10″ screen can actually be 10” to 10.5″, based on manufacturer specifications. Many netbooks use glossy screens (reflective surface). Some models use matte screens, which don’t reflect light. A research suggests that high-gloss displays may cause ergonomic problems because users are forced to adopt awkward postures to avoid reflections and glare typically not present when using matte screens.