Netbooks: The Powerful Mini-Laptop

August 20, 2009

Netbook vs LaptopYou can’t look around in an electronic store or even watch TV anymore without seeing or hearing about netbooks. A netbook is essentially a smaller version of a laptop designed for a specific purpose: surfing the web, though that isn’t to say that’s all they can do by any means.

Here are the pros of netbooks. First off, they have excellent battery life. In fact, newer netbooks can get more than 10 hours before they need to be charged again. Standard laptops get 3 hours or so if you’re lucky. Netbooks are very small. They typically have screens from 7”-10”. Laptops are usually 13.3”-17”, though are are some even bigger than that. Because netbooks are so much smaller, and because they often have solid state drives (SSDs), they are much lighter. They most commonly weigh around 2 or 3 pounds. Because they are small and light, they are very, very portable and easy to carry around. They can fit in a backpack or purse relatively easily, which is why they are becoming a more popular choice for college students. They come with a built in wireless adapter as well, so they can connect to any wireless network. Also, there are linux based operating systems that are tailored specifically for netbooks. This is because netbooks often aren’t as powerful as laptops, which we’ll get to more in depth in the next section, and linux is a very quick efficient operating system. Lastly, netbooks are very inexpensive. You can get netbooks for around $200 or $300, but a more powerful one will be $500+.

Netbooks are small, yes, but with smaller size means a sacrifice of power. Netbooks usually ship with 512mb ram or 1gb of ram. This is the memory, not the hard drive size. Newer netbooks can be purchased with 2gb of ram and if you are running Windows Vista on a netbook, 2gb of ram should be purchased. Additionally, they have less powerful processors and smaller hard drives. Many netbooks ship with SSDs of 8gb-32gb. Now, for their purpose this can be a good thing. SSDs are very quick and since netbooks aren’t designed to be giant multimedia computers, they serve their purpose well. Lastly, most netbooks do not have a CD drive, so they rely heavily on USB flash-drives, though external USB based CD drives can be purchased for less than $50 if a user needs to install something from a CD and can’t do it any other way.

Netbooks are perfect for a user who wants to have access to email and internet, as well as be able to run basic programs such as Microsoft Office (word / powerpoint / excel ). They can also run music programs such as iTunes without any problem, though disk space for large music collections may be a problem. Netbooks are NOT designed or able to run higher-end programs such as video editing software (Adobe CS4, Protools, etc…). Netbooks are also not designed for gaming. They can play basic internet games such as chess, hearts, checkers and all, but they can not play modern computer games which require a higher end graphics card. Besides, who would want to play a new computer game on a 7” screen? Netbooks are small. This can be a disadvantage for certain users because it might be difficult to type on such a small keyboard, but that is user dependent.

So, if you need a computer to access email, internet, and run basic programs, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, netbooks would be perfect for you. If you want to be able to play newer computer games and run higher end software, consider purchasing a more powerful laptop or even a desktop computer because a netbook would not be suited for you.

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