What Is A NetBook?

With so many different types of laptops, you may be wondering what a netbook is? How do they differ from the ultrabooks, Chromebooks, and other laptops available today? Netbooks have three defining characteristics that you should be aware of:

Small size – The most common screen size is 10.1 inches, while some newer models may have 11.6-inch displays. Portability makes netbooks great for carrying everywhere without putting a strain on your back or shoulders.

Reduced power – Netbooks typically come with low-powered processors, integrated graphics, and 1GB or 2GB of RAM. The CPUs inside don’t offer as much power compared to a full-sized laptop, but performance is good enough for basic tasks–working with documents, surfing the web, and watching videos. The reduced power consumption in netbooks also usually means longer battery life.

Low cost – Most netbooks cost between $200 and $500, with decent models available at the inexpensive end of the spectrum. Budget pricing sometimes means poor quality with laptops–this usually isn’t the case with netbooks.

Design Features of a Netbook

What is a netbook’s design like compared to full-sized laptops? You’ll find some compromises due to the small form factor. Keyboards on 10-inch netbook models tend to be a little smaller than standard laptops. If you need more room, 11.6-inch netbook models often have full-sized keyboards. Netbooks typically have minimal ports due to limited space. Expect two USB ports, a memory card slot, VGA or HDMI ports to connect a monitor, and an Ethernet jack on many models. Netbooks usually don’t come with optical drives.

How to Get Connected On A Netbook

Wi-Fi is standard on netbooks, and many also offer a wired Ethernet connection. Some models include Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

You may wonder what is different about a netbook you find in a wireless carrier store: mainly, the addition of mobile connectivity via a 3G or 4G network. These can connect your machine to the Internet even when there are no Wi-Fi hotspots are available.

What is a netbook’s cost when purchased through a carrier? These netbooks definitely cost more than non-carrier netbooks, either up front or (more likely) over the course of a two-year contract—because you’re paying a service fee to make use of the carrier’s wireless network.

Netbook Operating Systems

Netbooks usually run the same operating systems as standard laptops. Some netbooks still come with Windows 7 Starter Edition, while newer models run Windows 8 or Windows RT. Laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS, called Chromebooks, do technically fit in the netbook category, although they don’t run a traditional operating system.

What Is a Netbook Good For?

With relatively fewer ports, lower power, and smaller screens, who is a netbook good for? Netbooks make great first computers for kids. Their portability makes them a good choice for teens and college students as well—especially those on a tight budget. People who want a light device that does more than a tablet and includes a physical keyboard may also appreciate netbooks.


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