Windows 7 has been devised to run on low powered computers like netbooks. Unlike its immediate predecessor, Vista, Windows 7 has been successfully running on machines that have the same computing power as 10-year old workstations.
(ed: you might want to read 5 Business Ultra Portable Notebooks For Windows 7 Professional that covers a slightly similar market segment. Also since many of those netbooks do not have any optical drive, we've compiled a "Windows 7 And Solid State Storage : Installation & Configuration" article that looks at how to install Windows 7 from DVD onto a USB flash drive).
The five netbooks (or sub laptops depending on your definition of smartbook) that we have selected should run Windows 7 very easily. Only two of them come with Windows 7, something that prospective customers will have to bear in mind.
The cheapest of the lot is the Hannspree Hannsnote SN10E1. At £199 (after £40 cashback from Misco and expires on the 31st of December), it rates amongst the best netbooks available in this price range.
With a 1.17Kg weight and a 10-inch 1024x600 widescreen display, it is not different from the dozens of existing netbooks currently on the market.
You get the same N270 processor running at 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard disk drive, Intel's GMA950 integrated graphics, a webcam, Windows XP Home, a few I/O ports and a three-cell battery which should last up to five hours. A decent, honestly built netbook whose main attribute is its rock bottom price.
Windows 7 will run correctly on it assuming you've switched off all power hogging services - like Aero. Alternatively, we'd suggest the MSI Wind U100, which is available either in black or white, from Ebuyer for £199.99 including delivery. The SN10E1 and the U100 are factory siblings it seems.
The HP Pavilion DV2-1115ea is the only one with a non-Intel processor and the only one that calls itself an ultra portable notebook, not a netbook.
Available from Laptopsdirect for £470, it packs significantly more power than most netbooks on the market although it weighs around 33 percent extra, is bulkier and thicker as well. It comes with an AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335 which is a dual core processor with 1MB L2 cache and running at 1.66GHz.
This should make it more powerful than an equivalent Intel Atom, especially when combined with a significantly more powerful graphics subsystem like the ATI Mobility Radeon HD3410 with 512MB memory.
The rest of the configuration is pretty solid as well; 2GB RAM, a 320GB hard disk drive, a webcam, a 6-cell battery, a near full size keyboard, a HDMI port and a 12.1-inch screen that offers a 1280x800 pixels, the same than on entry level full size laptops.
Note that this model comes with Vista Home Premium but HP does offer a free upgrade route to Windows 7. Furthermore, this one doesn't unfortunately come with integrated WWAN connectivity as does the US version.
The 1008HA Seashell impressed us so much when we reviewed it back in June 2009 that we nicknamed it the Macbook's Air Lost Half Brother.
Since then the price of that great little netbook has been shaved by a staggering, jaw dropping £110 to a rather attractive £258.73 at Ebuyer.
The 1008HA comes with an Atom N280 processor running at 1.66GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard disk drive, a 10-inch LCD screen, Windows XP Home and other features like WiFi, a webcam, a mini VGA port and above all, a super slim frame that has attracted a lot of oohs and aahs when it first launched.
There are also a few kinks though like the non-removable battery - a 3-cell model with a capacity of 2900mAh as well as the propensity of the netbook's chassis to attract fingerprint and dust. But overall though, it is a fine example of what can be had for not much money.
The Dell Vostro v13 epitomises the quasi perfect Windows 7 Netbook. This newly released laptop only costs £359 + VAT and delivery but packs a pretty powerful punch in a rather sexy enclosure that could compete with the Macbook Air and sure looks more expensive that it really is.
You can find more about the Vostro V13, which was launched earlier this month, here. It is bigger than most machines here yet, at 1.6Kg, it is surprisingly light.
It comes with an Intel Celeron 743 clocked at 1.2GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB RAM, 250GB hard disk drive, a 6-cell battery, 15 months of Norton Internet Security, a 13.3-inch display capable of showing 1366x768, and all of it coated with a number of well thought ideas (like the magnesium hinges and the eSATA port) that make of the V13 one of the best tech products of 2009.
The Asus EEE PC1005HA shares the same characteristics as the 1008HA but comes with a slightly bulkier frame due mainly to the removable 6-cell 5600mAh Li-Ion battery that gives it an estimated 10.5 hours worth of battery life.
The rest of the configuration is a carbon copy of the 1008HA and at £252.51 at Ebuyer, you might prefer it if you don't mind a few hundred grams extra.
Note that in the case of both Asus laptops, you won't get any Windows 7 operating system which means that you will have to add the price of one OS to that of the machines.