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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Netbook Verses Laptop - Which to Buy?

By Beth Eshel

A Netbook is Not Just a Smaller Laptop

There are several key questions you need to ask yourself about what you need from a portable computer before making the final decision between a netbook and a laptop computer.

  • Do you need a lot of computing power on the go?
  • Do you need a long battery life?
  • Is size and weight a comfort factor or you?
  • Can you manage on small keyboards?

Computing Power

Let's start with the first question, do you need a lot of computing power for your portable computer? For instance, do you need large specialty programs like Photoshop or Dreamweaver for your work on the move? If so, forget the netbook, get a laptop. Laptop computers come with far more powerful processors and memory that you will need to run such programs.

If all you really need is internet access for checking your email, calling on Skype, and accessing your Google account to work in the cloud, then continue to the next questions to see if the netbook is indeed for you.

Battery Life

Okay, you don't need heavy duty computing power, but you are away from power outlets for a long time. A laptop battery usually averages 2-3 hours, with claims up to 5 hours. The netbook 3-cell batteries claim about the same range, but the 6-cell batteries on some of the newer models can give you up to 8 to 10 hours of battery life.

In today's world of electronics, you may be surprised how close the nearest electric outlet is. Modern trains have one outlet per table, modern airplanes have one per seat, and in the airport there are almost always outlets in the departure lounge for passengers to use for free. But if you need that extra battery time, consider a 6-cell battery notebook. The trade off will be the added weight of the larger celled battery.

Weight and Size

Have you every actually hauled a laptop around for days? Dealt with getting it in and out of its case at the security checkpoint in the airport? If you have, and you've found that your back aches after carrying your laptop, even in an ergonomic backpack, the netbook may be a great solution to your pain.

Laptops usually start at about 5 lbs and get heavier with larger batteries or larger screens. Netbooks start at under 2 lbs (less than a kilo), also getting heavier with larger batteries or larger screens. That's a significant difference in weight, though.

What you're trading off, however, is the screen size and keyboard size. We'll talk about keyboards in a minute, but netbook screen size runs from tiny 4.8 inches to about 12 inches. By the time you get to 12 inches, the weight difference may not be much, and you might want to look at the laptops. But if you really want the light portability of the netbook, even some 9 inch display sizes weigh in at less than 2.5 lbs (less than 1.125 kilo). That's not a bad size for internet activity on the go.

The Keyboard Factor

Here's another thing that most folks trying to sell you a notebook won't tell you: some of them have keyboards that will make it painful for you to even check your email. A keyboard less than 92% of a standard keyboard is going to be really tough for touch typists, those with large fingers, or anyone who is already familiar with standard keyboard size.

The good news is that there are netbook computers with keyboards up to 95% and even 97% of a standard keyboard. Do your homework, and pay attention to this factor, though, especially if you touch type.

So have you decided netbook vs laptop now?

In conclusion, you need to weigh especially hard computing power, weight and size, battery life, and keyboard size in your decision. Netbooks are ideal for those who only need internet access and simple computing tasks. Laptops are ideal for those who need more powerful computing on the go. Answer these questions, and you'll have the answer to which computer to purchase

About the author: Beth is currently researching a netbook purchase after finding that a laptop was too heavy for carrying on a regular basis and that while on the road all she needed was internet access. You can follow her journey to a netbook purchase at She's going to be adding more information as she zooms in on the exact model that's perfect for her needs.


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1 comment:

Habib said...

Informative read regards Netbook versus laptop. As my experience the laptop is better in performance in comparison to Netbook. Thanks for sharing such information with us.

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