Apricorn's Aegis NetDock adds a 500GB hard drive, a DVD drive and four USB ports to your feature-limited netbook.
Even those of us who happily use netbooks must admit that they don't make good primary computers. They are lightweight, compact and handy to carry around - but they are slow (most use the less-than-speedy Intel Atom processors and have just 1GB RAM), limited in capacity (hard drives tend to max out at 250GB) and not terribly comfortable to type on. Apricorn's Aegis NetDock hopes to change all this.
With its Aegis NetDock, Apricorn has realised that, despite their limitations, many people are using netbooks as their primary computer - or, at least, are using them for a lot more than simply travel-related stuff.
Apricorn's Aegis NetDock is a sleek, nicely designed device (in shiny red and black) that adds four USB 2.0 ports (two are 'always on' so you can use them to power other devices) and a dual-layer DVD read/write drive. The version we found at Expansys for £140 also offers a 500GB hard drive, but Apricorn offers models with a 250GB hard drive or none at all.
The Apricorn Aegis NetDock really does offer a good deal of utility for a netbook. First, a DVD player can be very handy. Although netbook manufacturers and Apple MacBook Air enthusiasts alike have tried to convince us that optical drives are a thing of the past, you may still need one if you own some non-downloadable software you want to install, or if you're a movie buff who wants to check out a film's bonus features. We tried the NetDock out with a couple of movies and the DVD drive worked very nicely, with only a bit of jerkiness during the more action-packed scenes.
In addition, it never hurts to have additional hard drive space, especially if you want to do a quick backup. And the Apricorn Aegis NetDock's extra USB ports are also handy; for example, you can plug in a full-sized keyboard for use when you're home or in the office.
The Apricorn Aegis NetDock comes with a stand, a power cable (there is no on/off button; it powers down automatically when not in use) and the USB cable that connects to your netbook. The package also includes a CD with three applications: BurnAware CD/DVD burning software, Microsoft'sSyncToy and VideoLAN's VLC media player. These are all free applications but good ones.
We really liked Apricorn's Aegis NetDock, but did find ourselves longing for a better sound card while watching DVD movies. Perhaps Apricorn could consider adding one in should a Premium version be designed.
See also: Group test: what's the best netbook?
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