Step 2 is the hard part.

Matt Ginzton writes here.

When Is a $300 Netbook Not a $300 Netbook?

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Since we were going to be spending so much time on the road this year, Vanessa and I bought a $300 netbook to bring with us. (Rationale: I didn’t want to bring something heavier or more expensive all over Asia and South America; I also don’t want to type any of my account passwords into any computer I don’t control.)

Well, I found netbooks starting at $300, but at the time I was looking (March 2010) there were newer models available with double the battery life, which seemed useful for traveling, costing $350… and that’s with Windows 7 Home Basic edition, and 1GB of memory.

First things first, running Windows 7 in 1GB is an exercise in pain. (Well, running it on a slow netbook will be anyway, especially once we try to do photo processing in Lightroom, but so it goes; again we didn’t want something heavier or much more expensive. But the memory we can do something about.) So we upgraded it to 2GB of memory for $40 — this part at least we figured out before we left home.

What I hadn’t predicted was how limiting the Home Basic edition of Windows would be. Two Windows features that are really valuable for travelers sharing a computer are

and it turns out these features are only available in the Home Premium edition of Windows 7. Microsoft lets you upgrade between editions at any time, but charges $70 for the privilege.

So, the $300 netbook turned into a $450 netbook. It works a lot better now, though.