I doubt that your netbook has a TPM chip. My HP dv9000 has a fingerprint reader without a TPM chip as well. I also use BitLocker with a USB key. A sure-fire way to see if you have a TPM chip is to run the TPM Management Console (tpm.msc) as an administrator. If you have one it'll show you options relating to managing the TPM and if you don't, well, it'll let you know that too.
To set up BitLocker to use a USB key instead:
- Open the Local Group Policy editor (gpedit.msc) as administrator.
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > BitLocker Drive Encryption
- Double-click Require additional authentication at startup.
- Check the Enabled radio button.
- Check the Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM checkbox.
If you use this option you'll use a USB key to boot (meaning you'll need to keep it with you) and if you loose your USB key there is a recovery key (print it or save it on another computer) that'll let you in. Whenever I travel with my laptop I have my laptop in my bag and have the USB key in my pocket, in case I'm ever separated from it. Believe it or not, it isn't that much trouble to make sure you bring the key, you'll forget it once and that experience will make sure you never forget it again! (Anyone who's had this happen will agree with me I think)
From the help section in the group policy editor:
If you want to use BitLocker on a computer without a TPM, select the "Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM" check box. In this mode a USB drive is required for start-up and the key information used to encrypt the drive is stored on the USB drive, creating USB key. When the USB key is inserted the access to the drive is authenticated and the drive is accessible. If the USB key is lost or unavailable you will need to use one of the BitLocker recovery options to access the drive.
Well, I guess that bringing a USB with you whenever you use a computer is inconvenient,and TPM is the best choice, but if your computer doesn't have a TPM, use a Pre-boot PIN to use BitLocker, so that you need the password to unlock your hard drive, and you should also add a password to each User Accounts in Windows, and enable the "Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to logon" option to reduce the chance of some trojan attacks. Because there're a lot of hackers out there somewhere that wanted to steal your information.
If your netbook has a finger print scanner, it's probably has a TPM. :)
TPM's require drivers in Windows, so I'd say go check your Device Manager (orb->right-click "Computer"->Manage->Device Manager)
If that's not conclusive, then figure out how to get into your netbook's BIOS and you can probably check there, as the TPM can usually be enabled or disabled there (if there is one).
If it's not there in your BIOS, then you probably don't have one.
Lastly, there are encryption systems available that don't require a TPM.