I can answer some of your questions, but not all of them. I have a Samsung NC10 netbook that I love. It's a secondary machine in my home, as my main Dell Dimension desktop is in another room upstairs.
Loading software because of no optical drive can be a challenge. So far, I have been able to work around it. The copy (legal) of Office 2003 Pro that I got was released by my school district to me and I was able to transfer the files from the provided CD onto a USB flash drive and I installed Office that way. I did the same thing with Macromedia Fireworks.
However, before I knew that I could transfer the files, my son had come home for a visit. He is very adept at networking machines (which I am not in the least) and attempted to explain to me how I could set up the CD drive on my desktop as a "shared drive" and then have it available to the netbook. I was half listening to him, but I did get the concept, as after all this is how networked printers work.
Many programs can be downloaded. I would check with McAfee about the license you own on the software. My netbook came with a free 90 day trial for McAfee (which I have activated and I'm testing out to see if I like it). After the 90 days, I would call their customer support to see if I could simply use the license I own to continue using the product. I don't own a license for this yet, so I'll either pay for it or go with a different (free) AV software which I can download.
I am almost certain that AOL software can be downloaded. I would, again, call AOL and inquire about that. More and more people are using netbooks so this has got to be an issue that they will need to address.
You may want to post a question in the networking section of BC to see how you might be able to share the drives on your desktop with the netbook. That might solve the problems that you think you might encounter.
Do your research before you buy the netbook. I looked around and tried to get my hands on as many of them as I could before I bought (easier said than done). Not all of the keyboards feel the same, and not all of the keyboards are the same (some have downright omitted one of the Shift keys). Some screens are larger than others. Some have 2 USB ports, some have 3. Some are Bluetooth capable, some are not. The battery, though, is the biggie: you want a 6-cell battery. Those suckers will last for 7-8 hours, where the 3-cell batteries will only last about 3 hours. Most all of them have a built-in webcam and SD card reader. Most of them do come with 1 GB of RAM, but this one that I bought is easily upgraded to 2 GB (for about $30). Feel the keyboard, though, and the touchpad. Some of the keyboards are literally completely flat like glass and you are not able to tell one key from another and the touchpad measures all of about 1" x 1".
If anyone else has any other words of wisdom, please jump in.
Edited by txtchr, 19 April 2009 - 08:37 PM.