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Netbook vs. Laptop - Which Should I Purchase

Updated on September 12, 2010

Netbook vs. Laptop - First Some Information

In our constant quest to miniaturize everything these days, the latest victim is the laptop computer. In creating this new type of computing platform the question has been raised: Netbook vs Laptop, which one is for me?

As you are reading this you may be using a laptop computer to access the site. You probably decided to buy a laptop because of its portability, and if it is your only computer, the portability coupled with the increased processing power available in a smaller package more than likely influenced your decision to go with the laptop instead of a desktop. Recent statistics show that an estimated thirty-nine percent of Americans now own a laptop computer while sales of new desktops declined slightly to just under two-thirds of total computers owned in the U.S.

If you take this data and extrapolate, given our fascination with making everything smaller, then the netbook seems to make a lot of sense, and sales are going to take off. Netbooks typically weigh roughly half or even less than the typical laptop. They also have smaller screens with the most popular ones out right now right at ten inches of screen real estate. That is two-thirds the size of the typical laptop screen, but is considered the minimum size for enjoyable internet browsing.

Netbook vs. Laptop

In the netbook vs. laptop saga, which one will you choose?
In the netbook vs. laptop saga, which one will you choose?

Internet browsing and email seem to be the primary functions that these little computers are going to be used for, but some word processing and other simple tasks are possible and are not unenjoyable. The larger hard drives, copious amounts of memory, fast graphics cards and processors have been exchanged for the minimums that are needed to get the job done. There will always be a market for the biggest, baddest, and fastest gamer computer with all the bells and whistles, but the new trend in technology is for products that are good enough and slightly less expensive. While it may be nice to have the latest 20 megapixel camera with a 15-times zoom feature and built-in solid state drive, you are much more likely to have the 8-10 megapixel one with just the features you are going to use.

I like netbooks and I do use one from time to time for the uses described. I even wrote this hub on a netbook using OpenOffice just so I could say I did! The keyboards on many are around ninety percent of a full size, so there is really no issue typing on them.

Most of the netbooks currently available on the market have the following features:

  • 1 gigabyte of RAM memory
  • 60-160 gigabyte hard drive (although higher-end models have the newer solid state drives = $$$)
  • 10.1” screen (measured diagonally)
  • Intel Atom processors in the 1.6Ghz range (there is a new version on the way that should be a little faster)
  • Options can include built-in cameras, bluetooth for connectivity, and larger or more efficient batteries

Most netbooks do not include an optical drive, neither a CD or DVD. Usually, if you want to install software on a netbook that is going to take place via an external drive (sold separately) or a USB flash drive. This is good to keep in mind when making up your mind what your budget should be.

Many of the newer netbooks have a fantastic battery life which is a definite plus. Some, like the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE that I have, are rated for greater than 9 hours of life! That is while in use, not standby, and the battery does not protrude or look ugly.

In the saga of netbook vs. laptop these will be the primary factors to help in your decision-making process. Most purchasers of netbooks either just want a portable computer for browsing the internet and checking email, or they already have another computer of some sort. If you are needing a computer to do everything, then the netbook is not for you. But, if you have wanted to be one of the estimated fifty-seven percent of Americans who like to sit in front of the TV and browse the web simultaneously, or lead an active, on-the-go lifestyle and need a computer to accompany you then the netbook vs laptop question may be a simple one to answer. Student can also benefit greatly since these little machines work just fine with most note-taking software.

Netbook vs. Laptop

Which computer are you going to buy?

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You will not be using a netbook to play graphics-intensive games. You won't be able to use something that requires a lot of memory such a graphics editors and the limited processing powers means that 3-D modeling project you have will need to be done on a full-fledged computer. That said, the netbook can't be beat for portability; just throw it in a backpack or a decent sized purse and go, and don't bother bringing the charger since you're bound to be fine for that trip to the coffee shop or a few classes.

So the answer to the question netbook vs. laptop? Well, that one's up to you, but I hope I have been able to help you make an informed choice.

This is the Netbook I have, and yes, the battery lasts a LONG time


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    • profile image

      colton 6 years ago

      i just baught a netbook for games

      Would it work for stuff like minecraft? ? ? ?

    • profile image

      JuX 6 years ago

      If you know what your doing, and happen to be very good at working with what's at your disposal and making a dollar into 1,000......then you can make anything work. I produce music. I have an hp mini 210-3000 w/2gb of ram & beats audio. I use acid, mixcraft, fruity loops, etc....and especially with a powerful pc at home and the knowledge of rdp...(which is only necessary when projects become too complex for an atom processor to handle alone, which it does handle way more then expected), it actually becomes a portable life saver that allows me to do almost anything i do on a laptop, only alot more portable and convient. It syncs iphone 4 to itunes 1-2-3, and i even dual boot mac osx leopard on it with no problem. If your unsure or have questions, feel free to hit me up at

      (a netbook may not do EVERYTHING but it def does come close, especially with what these things come with in them these days.

    • ace11 profile image

      ace11 6 years ago from Boston

      I got what I think is the best of both. While technically my 11" Acer AspireOne 722 is called a netbook, it feels more like a small laptop than a bigger netbook. It's only 1" thin and 3 lbs, has a full sized keyboard and the screen is more readable than the 10" model. It also has all the features I wanted, a full version of Win7 Home Premium -not just the starter/trial version, dual-core processor, 2gb RAM easily upgradable to 4GB, 250 GB HDD, HDMI, 3 USB 2.0 ports, multi digital media card reader, multi gesture touchpad... Really can't be beat for the price, around $300. I know many who have even upgraded with an SSD and made this a real beast of a machine.

      Of course if you just want something to use as 'performance art' while sitting in the window of a coffeeshop then the most paper thin laptop you can find would be mandatory, or perhaps even a tablet would be more avant-garde. ;)

    • profile image

      Nicki 6 years ago

      Great, great article. Just what I needed. Believe it or not getting a netbook, after reading this article. We have all nature of puter in our home. Running two family businesses and one grade school student. On quick estimate: two Macs (one desktop, one laptop); three PC laptops; and numerous laps and desks in the "puter graveyard" a/k/a garage. Query: my problem is that Yahoo games seem to fry my puters over time. If I get a netbook, and they get screwed up, can I just easily wipe the hard drive and start over. I WON'T NEED TO STORE ANYTHING ON THIS LEISURE PUTER. JUUUUST WANT IT FOR YAHOO SPADES. LOL!

    • profile image

      Jen 6 years ago

      I own several laptops, but just ordered a net book for my 12 year old. It sounded as though it would meet her needs.

    • profile image

      rob 6 years ago

      i vote netbook it might not have the quality of a laptop but it sure is smaller and more easier to carry around.

    • profile image

      Barbara 6 years ago

      I purchased a netbook from one of my friends is is a gateway LT 1004u and I don't really know much about computers but shouldn't I be able to use this in most places that have the wifi and can I purchase a wireless card for when I'm places they don't have wifi

    • profile image

      Anna 6 years ago

      Thank you all or the info! Great help

    • profile image

      RAAVAN 7 years ago

      Never forget one thing!!!!!

      Netbook is a secondary computer for those who are having a desktop or laptop in home. Its best for using while traveling or on way to college, for making presentations, documents etc and internet surfing. Never expect to do heavy task with a netbook. Its best for watching films on traveling along with a headset.

    • profile image

      Caleb  7 years ago

      does minecraft run good on a dell mini 10 (1012)? if any clue write back!

    • lordkadda profile image

      lordkadda 7 years ago

      between notebook and laptop, i think my choices will always be laptop. I not preferred notebook because the small screen.

    • profile image

      Skgautam 7 years ago

      Excel point I understood.

      Previously I ws thnking of a netbook but now I think it wil not run big program like sas, spss.

      Now I wil think of i5 laptos in asus.

    • profile image

      Mary Ann 7 years ago

      Sorry for my ignorance -- can I use a Netbook to download and watch a TV show ? And can I use it to watch a movie from my Netflix account?

    • montie bird profile image

      montie bird 7 years ago from Detroit-Atlanta-New York

      wow im new to hub and this is my first read

    • profile image

      iPhone sucks 7 years ago

      Netbook can't update iPhone because they SUCK. Get an Android phone you drooler, not some kiddie over-marketed proprietary technology crippled piece of junk!

    • profile image

      Colleen 7 years ago

      Can netbook update your iPhone

    • profile image

      Music Man 7 years ago

      Could a netbook handle a music recording software such as Sony Acid 5.0?

    • profile image

      GAMER 7 years ago

      I just want to go on line and play games so would a netbook work for that reason.

    • profile image 7 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      Thanks for your information it is very useful and i prefer for laptop because it's features are quite simple and it satisfies all the users.

    • Shane Belceto profile image

      Shane Belceto 7 years ago from WA USA

      Thank YOU for this we are thinking Netbook for our soon to be teen and looking at the diffs.

      Wodnering so transfering files then should be easy witha flash drive? Since then they can do thos more agressive things on the PC or laptop and transfer it later to their own Netbook to take to school or what ever? Or how about an external DVD to watch movies? Although I am sure not needed will just use Netflix like they do on the laptop lol.

      ~Expect Miracles

    • profile image

      Gary 7 years ago

      I'm thinking about getting a portable to run sampling software for virtual musical instruments. I like the idea of a small, cheaper device. I guess it's just a matter of memory, processing power and connectivity. I'll probably see if I can get a recommendation from the sampling software people.


    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 7 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Many thnaks for this useful, interesting and easy to read Hub. It has helped me to sort out what I need and why.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 7 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Many thanks for your clear article. I've book-marked it so that I can print and take with me when I go out to choose a netbook or notebook.

    • profile image 7 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      Fine. thanks a lot. I have plan to buy laptop.

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 7 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      I like reading this post. It offer's several advantage of using notebook. I personally prefer notebook for the graphic adaptively it gives to me. I am not much intense user of notebook, so it is fine to have note book anytime.

    • profile image

      tweems66 7 years ago

      This is very good information.

      I really enjoyed reading your posts.

    • profile image

      Netbooks 8 years ago

      Hi there,

      Great info about differences between netbooks and laptops.


    • profile image

      Bill 8 years ago

      I'll be buying the new oPad.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      writer120383, thank you for your comment. You are right that netbooks are better for shorter term, less intensive usage while the laptops are more versatile. Thanks for reading!

    • writer120383 profile image

      writer120383 8 years ago from India

      I beleive, those who need to basic stuff should opt for netbook while those who spend more time in front of the monitor, should opt for a laptop.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Yes, travelers who don't need extra processing power from a larger notebook are well served with a netbook computer since you don't have to give up too much in usability for the extra compact form factor.

    • Suki C profile image

      Barbara C 8 years ago from Andalucia, Spain

      apologies - duplicate post.

    • Suki C profile image

      Barbara C 8 years ago from Andalucia, Spain

      I wish I'd bought one a year ago instead of my lap-top.

      It's not that I don't love my lap-top - I do, very much - it's just that I've been flying a lot between Spain and the UK and the new baggage restrictions mean that everything - including handbag, camera and laptop all have to fit into the one carry on bag - not an easy task!

      (I even have to pack my lap-top case into my hold baggage!)

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Yes, the netbook is specialized and the laptop is more "spacious" :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I choose laptop than netbook. I have several reason why I choose laptop. My laptop working good right now, and I feel satisfied. But it back to us as a user.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Well between my wife and I we have both a laptop and a netbook, but I like the netbook very well. It's usually just a question of prying it away from her :-)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      this is very informative!thank you...dont have laptop, i owned one before,,,,and my desktopis always acting up, it needs a new one,.,,,

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Yes, you can. I do not notice any kind of lag or lack of resources that would cause a problem. I am working on a review of the ASUS netbook I have, and I will create it completely on the netbook just to say I did. :-)

    • Ms Chievous profile image

      Tina 8 years ago from Wv

      But can I use a netbook to write a hubpage? Thanks for Hub I have wondered about the differences!


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