Should I Buy a Netbook or a Notebook?

Thinking about Netbook or Notebook

If you currently face this choice read on for suggestions to facilitate taking a decision. First, make sure you understand what distinguishes netbooks from notebooks.

In short: a netbook is a small notebook with less processing power focused on net-centric tasks.

Typical Netbook Use Cases

Netbooks are typically used for net related tasks, such as browsing the Web, writing and reading email, chatting, participating in forums and social communities, blogging, watching online video, listening to Internet radio, podcasts, viewing photos, etc.

Netbooks are good companions for students who want to take notes during lectures, do online research, access e-mail, or work on their seminar papers.

Netbooks are also geared towards people who are often on the move and need to accomplish office related tasks, corresponding with colleagues and clients, or simply need to stay up to date of what is going on in the world.

As outlined so far you can do quite a lot of things with netbooks, but there are limits imposed by their processing capabilities, small screens and keyboards.

Netbook Pros and Cons

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of netbooks compared to notebooks. Consider that the disadvantages listed below may also apply to notebooks as compared to desktop computers.

Netbook Pros Netbook Cons
Netbooks are smaller and weigh less than notebooks. Usually netbooks sport 7 to 10 inch screens weighing 3 lbs or less. They are easier to carry around and take up less space. Netbooks have smaller screens and keyboards, which makes them harder and more strenuous to use. They are not suited for tasks that require high screen resolutions or lots of typing.
Netbooks are more energy-efficient, consume less power and thus usually have a longer battery life than notebooks. Netbooks offer less processing power, less storage capacity and are not equipped with optical disc drives, so you cannot read from or write to CDs or DVDs.
Netbooks are well suited for net centric task. They are designed for the Internet, for communication and viewing information. Netbooks are not suited for tasks, that require a lot of processing power such as editing video. Notebooks in contrast can handle heavy multi-tasking system loads with many applications running concurrently.
Netbooks are in a lower price range than notebooks. If you relate the system components to the price you pay, netbooks are not necessarily cheaper than notebooks.

The bottom line

If you are looking for a computer that you need to work with many hours a day or you need to accomplish tasks that require lots of processing power a netbook certainly is not a viable option.

If you want a computer you can easily carry around to access email, chat, look up information on the Web, write your travel blog and the like a netbook is likely to be a very good choice.

If you feel like buying a netbook after considering your use cases and the benefits and drawbacks of netbooks as compared to notebooks, browse through our netbooks section for technical information on specific models or compare netbooks that ship with a Linux based operating system.

(updated: ) • Netbook Buying Guide Netbook vs Notebook

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