Should You Buy a Netbook or a Full-Sized Laptop? Portable or powerful–that is the essential choice you need to make between netbooks and laptops. But many other considerations enter into the total equation: price, productivity, operating system, risk of repetitive strain injury, and expandability, among others.
5 Reasons to Choose a Netbook Over a Laptop
- Portability Netbooks are much easier to carry around at work, at school, in the field, even at home. Most are the size and shape of a small hardcover book, making them ideal for anyone who likes to travel light or who has to carry a lot of other stuff.
- Price The most expensive single part of mobile computers are their LCD screens. Netbooks will always be cheaper than similar laptops because netbook screens are smaller. But netbooks also tend to include smaller disk drives, less memory, and less-powerful processors, making them pretty cheap.
- Cool Talking about temperature here, not popularity, modern laptops can become quite uncomfortably hot. (I’ve heard it joked that they’re hot enough to render a man sterile.) The less-powerful processors and solid-state storage in many netbooks keeps them at a comfortable temperature for sitting right on your lap.
- Durable Netbooks with solid-state disk drives (usually netbooks with 64 GB or less disk space) are much better at withstanding accidental falls than their laptop counterparts. Indeed, it seems many netbooks are engineered to withstand falls. The durability and low-price of netbooks makes them ideal for young children and teenagers.
- Attractive Mobile computer manufactures have learned from cell phone manufactures that people want to customize the appearance of their devices. Custom cases look good on netbooks, on large laptops, custom cases can look like you’re trying too hard.
5 Reasons to Choose a Laptop Over a Netbook
- Productivity You can do almost anything on a full-screen laptop you can do on a typical desktop computer. Except for a few specialized applications, laptops have the processing power and screen size necessary to support the work you do.
- Lowered Risk of RSI One of the most devastating and common ailments which can befall the modern knowledge worker is Repetitive Strain Injury, a consequence of typing too much in bad conditions. Left untreated, RSI can cripple you for life, taking away your ability to type fast and possibly ending your career.Typing on an undersized netbook keyboard is a major contributor to RSI. Your author, a professional writer, had to stop using his netbook for non-trivial work after beginning to suffer RSI.
- Accessories Laptops include hardware that won’t fit into tiny netbooks. For example, laptops include built-in DVD players, which can make it easier to install software or to watch videos during long trips.
- Higher-Quality Parts Although bargain-basement laptops abound, the typical laptop is made out of higher-quality parts than the typical netbook. Laptop screens, touchpads, and keyboards usually last much longer than their netbook counterparts.
- Expandability Most laptops can accept additional computer memory (RAM) and larger disk drives, and some even let you upgrade the processor or wireless card. These modifications aren’t usually available to netbook owners. This is why most people think there is no comparison between a Netbook or a Full-Sized Laptop.
Choosing Between Them? Should You Buy a Netbook or a Full-Sized Laptop?
Ask yourself which benefits you need from either list above. If all of the benefits you need come from just one list, then you’re a perfect match for that type of mobile computer. But, if you’re like most people, you want some combination of benefits available in both laptops and netbooks. So how do you choose which device to buy?
We suggest that you imagine your life with both devices. Walk through your typical day holding a netbook; then walk through that typical day again holding a laptop. Focus mainly on the pitfalls of the device, but also pay attention to any important benefits.
Here are some important questions to ask when deciding if you should buy a Netbook or a full-sized laptop:
- Will I be typing a lot? You probably want a laptop, but if you have small hands, a netbook might suit you well.
- Will I be using my mobile computer in a tough situation that will probably destroy it? You probably want a cheap netbook.
- Will I need a fast processor or the screen-space of a full desktop? Consider buying a full desktop computer, but if that isn’t an option, you almost certainly want a fast, large-screen laptop.
- Do I have space in my backpack, briefcase, or bag for a large laptop? If not, look at small netbooks.
- Will I be playing 3D action games? Gamers will much prefer the larger screens and faster computer processors of laptops. Remember to buy an external mouse touchpads make for horrible gaming.
Should You Buy a Netbook or a Full-Sized Laptop And How Much To Spend?
A lot depends on the features you select, but the following prices apply to most netbooks and laptops available on the market in early 2011:
Netbooks most often feature screens between 7 and 11 inches with 10 inches being most common today. The smallest, cheapest netbooks often run Linux; all others (except the MacBook Air) run Windows XP or Windows 7 Starter. Expect to pay $200 or slightly less for a cheap Linux netbook to $300 for a mid-range 10-inch Windows netbook to $400 or even $500 for a high-end 10 or 11-inch netbook.
Used Laptops are easier to buy than ever before, especially through manufacturer-certified refurbishment programs. Supplies and prices vary too much to include any detail in this article, but consider buying refurbished if you need laptop features on a tight budget.
New Laptops running Windows 7 most often feature screens between 13 and 17 inches (with a few 12 and 18-inch screens). Most common today appears to be the 15-inch widescreen. Laptop prices increase significantly when they have faster processors, increased memory (RAM), or large disk drives. A common configuration today provides the laptop with a 15-inch screen, a 4-core 2GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB computer memory, and 500GB disk space for about $600.
Another option is to look at a smaller sized laptop such as the Apple MacBook Pro MC374LL, that comes with a 13.1 inch screen. Although this is classed as are fully fledged laptop, it is close to a netbook size.
About the author:
David A. Harding is a Linux Professional Institute certified system administrator and freelance writer with over 10 years experience working with Linux. He’s been published in over a dozen magazines and has given over 50 presentations about Linux–including two Software Freedom Day keynotes. Dave always loves to hear from readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now you have some options to weigh up and help you decide if you should Buy a Netbook or a Full-Sized Laptop?