It seems like everyone is talking about netbooks these days, especially with Google’s recent announcement that they will be coming out with the Chrome operating system targeted specifically at netbooks. Netbooks have been gaining in popularity lately, because of their portability and low cost compared to traditional notebooks, but there are important differences between netbooks and notebooks, even though they may seem very similar. Here are five key differences between netbooks and notebooks that you should be aware of before making your next laptop purchase:
One of the primary differences between netbooks and notebooks is their size. Netbooks are generally 12 inches or smaller, while notebooks are typically much larger. There are benefits and drawbacks to this.
On the plus side, netbooks are a lot more portable than notebooks. They’re lighter to carry around, and they’re easier to pack away. You can easily carry around a netbook with one hand, without getting tired, something that’s a little more difficult to manage with a traditional notebook.
On the down side, netbooks often have smaller keyboards than the regular notebooks. Getting used to the smaller keys on a netbook can be difficult, especially for users with larger hands. Netbooks also have smaller screens, which may make them more difficult to read than larger sized laptops, especially for people who suffer from vision problems. Most netbooks also lack disc drives, so you won’t be able to use them to play back CDs or DVDs.
The smaller size of netbooks comes at a price. Netbooks are underpowered compared to full featured notebooks, when it comes to things such as processor speeds and graphics cards. This makes netbooks less than ideal for processor intensive tasks such as image editing or playing the latest 3D games, and even simple tasks may seem slower on a netbook.
Netbooks were primarily designed for surfing the Internet (hence the name), so they are more than capable of running a web browser, and doing less processor intensive tasks such as word processing or putting together presentations, but netbooks perform poorly compared to notebooks on more complicated tasks.
Another area in which netbooks don’t quite stack up to compared to larger notebooks is storage capacity. Many netbooks use solid state drives, which are ultra energy efficient and resistant to impact (which makes them ideal for portables), but do not have as much capacity as regular hard drives. Many netbooks have less disk space than the typical iPod, which makes them less than ideal if you have a lot of content that you want to carry around.
There are a few netbooks that use actual hard drives, which top out at around 160GB of capacity, which is much less than most modern notebooks, but is much better than a solid state drive. The downside of these hard drives is that they are also a lot slower than solid state drives. If you decide to go for a netbook, you will have to make do with less storage space, or carry around a separate external hard drive for your storage needs.
The one area where netbooks excel in is price. Most netbooks sell for less than $600 US dollars, and some can be found for as low as $300. Again, the capabilities of netbooks are somewhat limited compared to more full featured notebooks, but all you need is a simple portable computer to get you on the internet, a netbook can be quite a bargain.
The final thing to be aware of when shopping for a netbook is what kind of operating system it uses. Most computer users are familiar with Microsoft’s popular Windows OS or Apple’s Mac OS. Many netbooks, however, use an open source operating system called Linux. This helps to keep the cost of netbooks down, but can be confusing to those who might not be familiar with that operating system.
If you are looking to get a netbook, make sure you know what operating system is installed on the computer. If it is Linux, it may take you a while to figure out how the operating system works. There are also netbooks that come installed with the more familiar Windows, but the cost of these netbooks is often higher, so keep that in mind as well.
If you’re looking for an ultra-portable, ultra-affordable laptop that you plan to use to surf the web and check your e-mail with, the netbook might be the right computer for you. If you want to do more than that, you’ll probably want to go with a more fully featured notebook.
Keep in mind that the differences outlined above are slowly disapearing, as computer technology continues to evolve. Eventually, you’ll be able to purchase ultra-small and cheap laptops, without having to sacrifice on power or performance. For now, though, there are still some major difference between netbooks and notebooks that you should keep in mind when deciding on which computer to purchase.
Contributed by: Our Special Correspondent
City: San Francisco
Date: March 15, 2010