If you're fortunate enough to own a Netbook computer, you'll appreciate the advantages and versatility that mobile computing can offer. This includes "wire free" web browsing as well as number crunching with spreadsheets, document processing, listening to music and watching youtube videos. Not forgetting the advantages of a Netbook's tiny size which makes the freedom to work whenever and wherever you please a true reality - no more arm ache carrying around a traditionally much bigger laptop! However, with portability there's always a compromise which usually means sacrificing certain functionality or features to reduce weight or power consumption.
So ... what extras are available for your Netbook to let you get the best from it?
The most obvious feature missing from a typical Netbook is a CD or DVD Drive - also known as an OPTICAL DRIVE. The main reason for this is because optical drives do consume a significant amount of power because they spin. Netbooks tend to boast long battery life, so the two don't always go together. However without an optical drive in your Netbook, you can't backup your machine easily, nor can you load in software you've purchased. The good news is there are a number of external DVD Writers available at a reasonable price which can quickly be connected to the USB port of the Netbook so you can start backing up your precious music, family snaps and documents straight away. Of course with the DVD writer connected you can use the Netbook to watch DVD films and rip your music CDs too!
External Hard Drive
The majority of Netbooks come with a built in hard drive, but some only come with flash memory. The advantage of only having flash memory in a Netbook is there are no moving parts - saving valuable power, but the size of flash memory is somewhat smaller than a hard drive you typically get in a desktop PC or regular laptop. Even if you're happy with the flash drive in the machine - or you have a hard drive built in - the chances are you'll want to back up the Netbook at some point in case the worst should happen and your drive fails. There are a range of external hard drives available which can be connected to your Netbook's USB port so you can back it up regularly and keep your precious data safe.
Additional USB Ports
Netbooks are by their nature small devices designed for portability. Sometimes this can mean that external connectivity is kept to a minimum to save space, and you may only get one USB port. This might be fine for connecting your digital camera for example, but what if you should want to connect an external keyboard too or a printer at the same time? Maybe you'd like to charge your iPod or copy data to a USB flash drive? A range of additional USB ports are available which will provide a number of additional ports at a reasonable price.
Using your existing Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse
The Netbook is designed as a portable machine, to give you the power of a regular PC but in your lap so you can work or play un-tethered to a desk. However, there are occasions when you might actually want to make use of the existing peripherals connected to your "desk PC", such as your printer, large display, or even your full sized keyboard.
A KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) will allow you to switch your KEYBORAD, MOUSE and DISPLAY between your desktop PC and your Netbook and back again with the flick of a switch. So you get to use a full sized keyboard and large display.
Whist a KVM switch will be relatively cheap, you'll need to "unhook" the cables for the mouse, display and keyboard from the back of your Netbook each time you want to use your existing peripherals. An alternative solution using the USB port of the Netbook is available from Toshiba.
The USB Dynadock from Toshiba includes a VGA connector and 7.1 channel audio as well as 6 additional USB ports - more than you probably need! You simply plug the unit into the USB port of the Netbook, and you can be up and running in seconds and using your current equipment.
Surely the ultimate add on to your Netbook is a dedicated printer allowing you to see the results of your work in hard copy? Although many printers are "desktop only", HP have recently launched the HP OfficeJet H470WBT Mobile Printer - the ideal partner to the Netbook. You can connect the printer to your Netbook a number of ways including USB, Bluetooth and wirelessly using the built in WiFi. In fact, the unit is totally wire free thanks to the rechargeable battery which powers it too, so you don't even need to hunt for a power socket to use it.
Click here to learn more about the HP OfficeJet mobile printer
Alternatively, why not check out the Canon iP100 portable inkjet printer. This compact unit prints at a speed of up to 20 pages per minute, and features "borderless printing" too.
Other options: Memory
There's nothing like an extra few Gigabytes of RAM to speed up your Netbook - it'll decrease the startup time and make applications zip along! If you're not sure what kind of memory you need, check out our memory configurator which will take the pain out of choosing memory for your Netbook.
Finally ... if you've not actually taken the plunge and invested in a Netbook yet, why not check out dedicated Netbook store, or click here to learn more about Netbooks, with our Netbook buyers guide.