With short battery lives and small resolution screens Netbooks, unlike many other computers on the market, could so with some specific software for their use.
Now, not all of those I’ve found are specifically designed for Netbooks, but all are relevant. And they’re designed for Windows XP.
If your Netbook didn’t come with model-specific battery display then you’ll be left with the rather weak XP default. My favourite options is BatteryBar, although there is also Power Meter Plus.
Mz Cpu Accelerator does a simple thing, but it does it well. It increases the priority of the current application that is in use. If, like me, you normally just view one application at a time, such as Firefox, then this work brilliantly.
F.lux is a rather curious utility that makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day – warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Obviously this is neither specific to Netbooks nor Laptops in general, but due to the nature of Netbook being used anywhere and everywhere, often on a lap and up-close.
I run it on my Acer and don’t notice it. But that’s a good thing – tell it to return to normal and you will notice the difference. But otherwise it remains discreet and just does what it says it will.
If your hard drive is made by Maxtor or Seagate, then you can download the free DiscWizard software from their site. This is a re-badged version of the, usually chargeable, Acronis True Image software.
If you have a Maxtor hard drive then they sell the rather more obviously badged Acronis True Image WD Edition.
USB Boot Disks
With a lack of CD drives in Netbooks, the ability to boot from USB keys is essential in the case of any problems. UNetbootin will download one of a number of OS’ and install them onto a USB key ready to be booted from. Not only can you choice from their rather long list, but you can also add your own options.
Ahh, if only XP could have the ReadyBoost technology that they use in Vista and Windows 7, where a USB key can be used to increase performance. But you can! eBoostr is an XP equivalent of ReadyBoost. I’ve not tried it myself, but there is a trial to download and it then costs from £13 depending on your requirements.
Including a battery meter, Notebook Hardware Control allows you to control and modify CPU and battery information on your system. What functionality is available is pretty dependant on your system, but it’s worth giving it a try. But watch out for that huge EULA during installation…
HotKeyz (added 15/07/2009)
A wonderfully discrete and compact piece of software, HotKeyz allows you to create shortcut keys for running applications.
Update: Read more Netbook software recommendations