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Netbook or Laptop?

Trying to decide between a netbook or a laptop?

What are the key differences between a netbook and a laptop? If you are in the market for a new portable computer, this may be a question you have been pondering.

Key Differences between Netbooks and Laptops:

psion-netbook1. Screen size and weight – Portability is a key determining factor when purchasing a new machine. If you travel frequently and need to have a lightweight, portable computer, a netbook may be much more convenient compared to a laptop. Generally, the screen size for a netbook is between 7 and 10 inches. Laptop screens are approximately 12 to 17 inches. There are some exceptions where manufacturers have made netbooks at 11 inches and laptops can be found as small as 11 inches but this is not the general rule of thumb. Netbooks are not only smaller but weigh less, a direct correlation to the screen size. The average weight is 2.5-3 pounds versus laptops in the 5-7 pound range. Overall, a larger screen requires a larger, heavier battery to power the screen.

2. Battery Life – The difference between laptop and netbook computers in regards to battery life varies dramatically. Most netbooks have a battery life of 5-10 hours. Some older models have a 3+ battery life and the newer models can have up to 14 hours. Most laptops promise a battery life of 3-5 hours. Some newer models have delivered up to 7-12 hours per charge.

3. CPU and Processing Power – The difference is clear when comparing the processing power of a netbook versus a laptop computer. From all perspectives, laptops have more processing power than netbooks. Laptops are more powerful, using the Intel Core Duo, Core 2 Duo or more recently, Intel i3, i5 or i7 CPUs. Even the ultra light laptops include some of these CPUs, only ultra low versions. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also produces CPUs that are commonly used in laptops including their Turion and Athlon CPU product lines. Unlike the laptops, most netbooks use the Intel Atom NP450 CPU or an earlier version of the Atom, with much less processing power.

4. Optical Drives (CD/DVD) – Optical drives are another major difference between netbooks and laptops. Netbooks do not include an internal CD or DVD drive. You must purchase an external drive or download all software from the Internet. The additional cost of an external drive would be approximately $50 on top of the cost of the netbook. On the other hand, generally all laptops come with a built-in CD/DVD drive, an added convenience.

5. Price – Price is often an important factor when purchasing a new piece of equipment. Netbooks are priced from $275 to $400 whereas laptops range from $400 to over $2000 for some ultra light laptops or gaming laptops. If you are looking for flexibility in configuring your machine, laptops are generally more customizable. It is important to consider any add-on features you may tack on to a netbook, giving it similar features as a laptop. For example, if you add an external CD/DVD drive and an upgraded battery to a netbook, you could end up closer to the $375-$450 range.

6. Operating System – Generally, laptops are now shipping with Windows 7 Home Premium or if purchased through the business division, Windows 7 Professional. Most netbook computers now ship with Windows 7 Starter Edition which is similar but does not fully utilize the advanced graphical interface. This is due to the lower processing power and reduced graphics processing capabilities of netbooks. This less demanding version of Windows 7 is a better fit for netbooks.

7. Graphics Capabilities – As mentioned above, netbooks have less power to process complex graphics. Laptops provide a more powerful processor giving them higher screen resolutions, enhanced video processing capabilities and power to play computer games. A netbook is not the ideal solution for playing games and watching DVDs or videos.

So is it game over for the standard laptop and PC? Unlikely; although netbooks can perform dozens of tasks identical to or similar standard of larger computers, they will (for the time being) be limited by battery size, processing power and storage space. The difference between laptops and netbooks is pronounced enough not to make the former obsolete. Although there are many gray areas when comparing the two, there are a number of factors that clearly display differences between the two such as processing power, built-in CD/DVD drives and cost. While netbook computers are ideal for travel, checking your email and browsing the Internet, they lack the resources needed for business use. Make sure to fully evaluate your needs before purchasing and do your homework before making any final decisions.

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