What is a Netbook?

by Jay Bika on November 18, 2008 · 10 comments

in First Things First

Before we start with the shopping and buying guide to netbooks, it seems obvious to define what it is for those who may not too familiar with netbooks or subnotebooks. This section will not only shed some light to the shopper who’s always puzzled with all the tech jargon but it will also ensure that you and I are on the same page as far as definitions are concerned.

If you have any questions, feedback or other type of comments, please do not hesitate to post to the comment section below or send me an email at [email protected].

What is a netbook?

The generally accepted definition (Wikipedia) is that a netbook is a small to medium sized, lightweight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptop, generally optimized for internet based services such as web browsing and e-mailing.

Intel, the company credited with coining the name defines netbooks as “as clamshell notebooks with 7in to 10.2in screens, “purpose built for internet use“” (See:So, What Exactly is a Netbook? )

The Asus Eee PC Netbook is one of the popular netbooks out there at the time of this writing.

The Asus Eee PC Netbook is one of the popular netbooks out there at the time of this writing.


What’s the difference between a netbook and a laptop?

The netbook could be called a mini-notebook computer because it’s basically a miniature version of a laptop. The screen is smaller, it’s lighter, it’s cheaper and what really makes it standout from a laptop is that it has a longer battery life and it’s much cheaper (at least on the surface. More on this later).

The most visible difference between netbooks and laptops is the size but also the weight

The software that come with both types of computers are also different. Netbooks tend to come with Lunix or Windows XP Home Edition installed whereas laptops come with Vista (again, the software differences will be discussed later).

What’s the difference between a netbook and a subnotebook (aka the ultraportable or minilaptop)?

A subnotebook is still a lightweight and small notebook. The major difference between this type of computers and netbooks is that subnotebooks run full desktop operating systems whereas netbooks are generally based around using the Internet and checking emails.

In other words, they are much alike physically (size, form, weight) but it’s what they’re able to do that makes them different.

Here at Netbook Era, we also include subnotebooks in the netbook category because you may find yourself wanting a small, light and cheap laptop with a long-life battery that you’d want to use for more than just web browsing or checking email. You may for instance want to work on your essays using Microsoft Word or produce a tune using Live.

What is the difference between netbooks and Tablet PCs?

Wikipedia has the simplest definition once again: a Tablet PC is a notebook or slate-shaped mobile computer, equipped with a touchscreen or graphics tablet/screen hybrid technology which allows the user to operate the computer with a stylus or digital pen, or a fingertip, instead of a keyboard or mouse. I should also add that these buggers are pretty expensive!

In this case, a picture is worth a thousand definitions. Below, you will see a picture of a Tablet PC (also called pen computers). By the looks of it, you will see a clear difference between this type of ultra mobile computer and a netbook and subnotebook.

Notice the lack of a keyboard or mouse? Photo courtesy: diluvi

What is the difference between a netbook and an Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC)?

UMPC is the name used to describe the shape and size of Tablet PCs, netbooks and subnotebooks. It would be like to Starbucks and you’re asked whether you want your coffee in a large, medium or small cup.

I have no idea who came up with such a jargon filled term that only seems to confuse consumers when that same person could have just said minilaptop or mininotebook (tongue in cheek).

What came first? The netbook or the subnotebook?

The subnotebook came first. They were first spotted in the early 90s as really small laptops. Only in 2007, did the first mainstream netbook branch out from subnotebooks courtesy of computer maker Asus who released ASUS Eee PC for sale to the general public creating the revolution that seem poised to make laptops as passé as what the laptop computers did to desktops.

If you really wanted to get technical, computer maker Psion coined the term in 1999 but it’s really Asus that put it on the map.

{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alex November 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Great article guys. I’m in the market for a Netbook and also own a bigger, more beefy laptop for intense stuff like editing music. I think the netbook trend is great seeing as cash is tight and they’re also just cute.

2 Barbara February 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm

On a netbook can you send you use microsoft word ?

3 Jay Bika February 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Do you mean use MS Word? The answer is yes.

4 Kara Kamps February 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Are you able to download games etc on a netbook in regards to the graphics.

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