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Should You Buy a Netbook?

Updated on June 1, 2011

Is a Netbook right for you

In the past year or so Netbooks - the new back to the future, feature deficient. low powered and light weight laptops, appear to have really sparked the consumer's interest. Current model netbooks include the Acer Inspire One, Asus Eee range and the MSI wind all use an Intel Atom processor which is small and low powered and is good for what a netbook is - a cheap and most importantly, small laptop.

A netbook typically has an 8-10" screen on the diagonal, a slightly under-sized keyboard, wireless networking, a network connection and several USB ports.

A netbook is designed to be small light and cheap - all are under US$500, the entry level Asus eeepc 4g currently retails for around $250. At this price, and with a size which is smaller than your average guide book they have obvious appeal to anyone who is on the road. For a fraction of the cost of a an iPhone or a Blackberry and no requirement to sign up to an on the road data plan these netbooks are really starting to take off as a usable alternative to someone who really wants to type on an almost standard sized keyboard.

Size Comparison - Netbook -Notebook
Size Comparison - Netbook -Notebook

What to look for in Netbook

Run Linux Operating Systems Not Windows!

Less is more. Manufacturers are trying to persuade consumers to buy the upgrades to run a "familiar operatng system" i.e. Windows. Don't. One of the most annoying features of laptops is the time they take to boot up and down or even got into sleep mode. Windows may have one the marketing war but it doesn't mean that it is a good operatings system especailly if you want speed a light foot print.

Basic netbooks run Linux - an alternative operatng system which will take a Windows user about 30sec to get used to using and is a lot easier to teach a total beginner or a child to use.

Connections You Will Need

Most netbooks are bought as an alternative to a larger desktop computer or laptop not as a replacement as such keep them as cheap as possible to do the job that they can do well.

Make sure you have 3 or more USB ports to connect external hard drives, USB drives, external mouse or keyboard.

Netbooks for Web Surfing

Netbooks are great for connecting to the Internet on the go they come compete with wireless and a LAN connection, though not usually a phone line connection.

Netbooks for WordProcessing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations

Netbooks come with OpenOffice already installed. This is a free alternative to Micosoft Word etc which still allows everyone but the power user to do all the spreadsheeting, wordprocessing and presentations that they need. Openoffice runs on both Windows and Linux and most users wouldn't be able to tell the difference!

Updating a business presentation at the last minute on the plane would be much easier with a netbook than with either a phone without a decent keyboard or a large laptop which won't fit on an economy class seat tray on the plane.

Making Calls and SMS

Netbooks come complete with Skype installed. You have to have access to broadband, but then you can make calls for no extra cost to other Skype computer users or for a few cents to landlines.

Managing Photos and Videos

Backup your holiday snaps on the go before you loose the camera or accidentally reformat the camera's data card

Netbooks Have a Great Future

While companies such as Apple would have us believe that, according to Steve Jobs, they couldn't build a quality laptop for less than $500, companies such as Asus and Acer seem to have proven them wrong. In many cases the cheapest netbooks also have flash memory rather than a traditional hard drive, making them more robust and better suited to anyone who want to travel extensively with them. The internal memory is usually small : 4GB in the entry level Asus eee, but this can be supplemented by using either a SD card which are nowS available in up to 16GB but also any external harddrive with a USB connection can also be plugged in as well as the common USB stick.

Would You Consider Buying a Netbook

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      The Netbooks are the next generation of portable devices for all types of individuals. Many Individuals have mistaken these Netbooks with the high end laptops and or notebooks. The laptops have a better performance but also keep in mind that the cost is much higher than these Netbooks. These are great choices for the business man, traveling person, Students and the ordinary person. The light weight and portability and not to forget the cost makes these Netbooks worthwhile.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      Ironically I am replying to your comment using a 10" netbook that I have been travelling with for 2 months! Its a very nice little netbook - and yes I would say a netbook will do what you want

    • Boomer60 profile image


      8 years ago

      I was just at Best Buy pricing these. All I basically need is word processing with internet capabilities so I can do some work away from home.

      Since this hub is almost two years old, would you still recommend a netbook?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This hub really helped. Great information and lots of helpful hints.

    • 9to5 profile image


      9 years ago

      I love NetBooks, personally. I just did a hub on a new MSI one, it's pretty nice!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I bought the em250 from Wal-mart at christmas and have been on it ever sence . It's a great note book for brosing and for videos . It's worth its weight in gold .

    • Tesa Adams profile image

      Tesa Adams 

      9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      You pretty much sold me on it. I was on the fence about buying one but my other laptop is just so heavy and I was tired of carrying it around when I traveled. Thank you.

    • tommygillespie profile image


      9 years ago from export, pa

      This is a great resource that persuaded my indecisiveness. I am looking for the right one for me now. Thanks for the awesome post

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      With the new 12 inch versions coming out, with 6+ hours of battery life, I think they have hit the sweet spot in netbook design. Check out Samsung and Lenovo versions.

    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 

      10 years ago from Oxford

      Cool - I hope everybody buys one - I registered the site !

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Absolutely - obviously you have to scroll a bit with the small screen but I had no problem accessing and updating blogs, cpanels (yuck!), google analytics, adsense all the usual suspects! If you are already familiar with openoffice and firefox you know all that is required!

    • belief713 profile image


      10 years ago from NJ

      Hi Lissie,

      I've been looking at these for a couple of months now and was trying to decide between this or a pda/smartphone because I want all in one. I figured a smart phone with a qwerty keyboard will be good - I want it to write articles, etc while out and about as ideas come to me. But I really think this may be a great fit for me as well with a portable external hard drive. I really don't need a fancy laptop, have been using OpenOffice for a year or two... one of these just makes sense.

      Have you been able to do any type of editing to your blogs? You use Wordpress, correct? Are you able to acces your cpanel and run other small apps?


    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      its very,very pink jmichael LOL - you're paying more for the windows operating system - it should be about $50 less for the linux version

    • jmichaels59 profile image


      10 years ago from Hinesville/Savannah, Ga

      Great hub! I have looked at the ASUS in walmart @ $298.00 thats not bad. I traveled a couple months ago, wish I'd had one then. Took my Acer laptop and it was great having it, but kind of a pain in the az...

      here is what i am getting

      Good hub anyway

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      I think so. The new macs have what they call "dual core processors" that can run OS10 and Windows. Sometimes you have to add some software, but they're supposed to be able to handle just about any files.

      So far, I've only had trouble opening wmv sent to me by one guy. I can open them online, and from other folks, but just can't open this guys. Probably a good thing, because he's into conspiracy theories, and the stuff he sends is often scary and depresssing. ;-)

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Bruce - can a Mac read a USB or other card which has written by a PC - if yes it would probably OK as far as transferring files go

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Thanks, Lissie. i'm just finishing a 3 yr lease on a Mac Powerbook, and thinking about going up to a 17" Macbook. I also have an iMac. Maybe I should just get one of these little guys. But I probably couldn't interface them with my Mac. Hmm… Great hub!

    • Mary K Weinhagen profile image

      Mary K Weinhagen 

      10 years ago from Minnesota, usa, Planet Earth

      Great Hub... THANKS! I've been dreaming of buying a netbook... now I KNOW I'm going to get one ;-)

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Well agvulpes I had to find my wireless modem's password that was tricky LOL The rest of it was easy - the Asus eeepc (linux) versin you just click connect to the interent - make sure you have the wireless on (I turn it off to save battery power when not using it - it eats batteries) - in fact it was a lot less painful than trying to get my windows machine conencted if my partner's vista machine has got there first. If you buy a windows machine you will have the regular windows propblems - works the same - but I was really impressed with the linux deal.

      I have used it on the road a bit too for hotel hotspots etc and its quick and easy - remember to take a cable with u if travelling because sometimes you have to physically connect to LAN

    • agvulpes profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      G'day Lissie, how I hate to admit this but I think you have answered my problem with the heat. One thing though I'm running wireless at home will I have any trouble in hooking into my own system?

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 

      10 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Yeh my dell with windoze XP is a brick.

    • Hovalis profile image


      10 years ago from Australia

      I already have a small laptop, but not as small as a netbook! What I'm waiting for is for the netbooks to have more memory. I'm sure that technology is just around the corner, and until then I'm willing to wait. Small computers are good IMO. I was hooked once I got my tiny, folding keyboard for my iPAQ a few years back. :-)

      Thanks for the clear explanation of how the netbooks work.

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      @anitak - I wouldn't be sure about video processing - or in fact anything like photoship either. I acutally find it a little small for my lap - my 14" HP is OK. They all run a bit hot in Australia - but its manageable! Mine certainly will be a business expense :-) and it is perfectly fine for connecting to the internet, wordprocessing sending invoices out from a spreadsheet etc. I actually wrote the text for this hub on it while on a train LOL

      @Eddy - I thought it was a marketing gimmic at first but its not - been around for about 14 months

      @Christine - if I had to buy something for someone who knew nothing about computers it would be an Asus!

      @MrM - they are well worth checking out a few in store to see what you like - though buying online is usually (not always) cheaper

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney


      I get the impresasion you do not sleep.

      We are buying that lap top in the next couple of weeks.


      Your question re dell do not buy.

      Good price horror service and far too slow.

      Great Hub and thanks for your information

    • christine almaraz profile image

      christine almaraz 

      10 years ago from colorado springs

      I got the Asus and love it. It's easy to use on the run and simple. Good hub.

    • profile image

      Eddie Perkins 

      10 years ago


      Very interesting.  I’ve never heard of them.  Guess that lets you know how far I am in the dark ages.  Sounds great though.

      Thanks ~ eddie

    • anitak profile image


      10 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      I almost bought one at Chrstmas for my business but I wasn't sure it would be powerful enough. This hub really helped. Great information and lots of helpful hints. I never thought of just using a flash drive - that is a great idea. I hate the weight of the dell laptops - you can't put them on your laps (the top is too heavy and they get too hot - so why call them laptops?) Anyone here use them for business? Do they do well with videos?

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      I am seriously in love with mine - especially if you travel - the weight think can't be beaten - my other laptop is only a 14" but it weights a ton compared to the little netbook!

    • Clara Ghomes profile image

      Clara Ghomes 

      10 years ago

      I'm tempted to get one for sure.. and probably will have one soon. It is so handy.. Thanks for this detailed hub :)

    • Lissie profile imageAUTHOR

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      That is so very true Julie-Ann - in fact I wrote most of this on a train with a very small table - notebooks rule!

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      10 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      and the best thing is they fit in a handbag!


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