7 Good Reasons to Buy a Netbook over a Laptop Computer

by Jay Bika on November 18, 2008 · 9 comments

in Netbook Buying Guide

There are a few reasons for considering netbooks over laptops. Here are the most common (in no particular order of importance) according to owners I have spoken with or from other consumer feedback in various surveys.

Just in case, you need to justify it to yourself or your better half, here are more than a few reasons why you’re better off choosing a netbook notebook over a laptop computer.

1) Lightweight

If you’re on the move a lot like a college or university student and you have to haul around a normal laptop, you know how that feels. Even if you carry around a 13” laptop computer, eventually your poor shoulder gets to the point where it begs for mercy. It’s amazing how much difference a few pounds or kilos can make.

For instance a Dell Inspiron 13 laptop computer that’s a so-called slim and light notebook weighs around 4.9lbs (2.2Kg) and that’s before you’ve even started adding some customized features. A Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook measures 2.28lbs (1.03Kg) however. I don’t know about you but 2 pounds (or one kilo) less to carry around is a key benefit especially if you get to still have a fully functioning computer that does what you usually do.

2) Size

Again, if you’re a student and your laptop usually has to fight for space with your books, lunch box and other content that you have to carry around all day, the netbook computer is godsend because no more do you need to look as if you were going hiking with your huge backpack and now you can fit more stuff in your bag or even better, get a decent looking backpack or messenger bag that can be small and thus chic and stylish because the size of your computer has now become a non-issue.

If you’re style conscious like me, you know that most computer bags are just plain ugly and they scream “geek!”. But now, you can have a simple bag or purse that does not have to be huge and you can simply throw in your new netbook. Hey you could even keep in your huge Canada Goose winter jacket pockets like I saw one guy do one day!

3) Price

For 300 US dollars, you can land yourself a superb netbook. And the prices keep dropping as more manufacturers jump in as they realize that the netbooks are no fad and that they’re actually doing to laptops what laptops did to desktops: replace them.

While you will also find that some netbooks are going up in price due to some manufacturers adding more features that are not really that necessary for basic computing tasks such as web browsing, email messaging or document editing (actually the more features they add, the heavier and battery hungry these netbooks become), a netbook is way cheaper than a laptop.

Why are netbooks cheaper? According to a Business Week article, “The devices tend to feature cheaper processors, graphics chips, and displays, and they use less memory and older software” (the operating system is also cheaper when not free). As a result, the savings are passed on to us the consumers.

Again, if you’re a student and you’ve had your expensive shiny Sony laptop stolen, you know how it felt knowing that you had lost $1500 in cash. But if your netbook had to be jacked, the grief would be less deep as you could simply go to the bank machine and makes a withdrawal to replace your stolen baby. As a parent with clumsy children or partner, you can now be more at ease knowing that if they break the netbook, replacement costs will be less of a shocker!

Did I mention the current economic climate? With less money to flash around, what better way to save money on computers and yet be fully productive than buying a good netbook?

4) Battery Life

What’s the most annoying pain with laptops? I’d say battery life. Even if now they can go up to two hours (which is a lie because to accomplish that, the laptop computer has to be on but pretty inactive which defeats the purpose but anyway…), it’s still is not enough. What flight takes two hours? In such flights you don’t even need a laptop as by the time you take off, you have to land right away.

Netbooks last longer because they are small (the display requires less energy), the processing power is low and they have limited accessories and components that usually suck all the juice (no drives). Some even have flash hard drives, which chow less power than traditional hard drives. If you really know why your iPod lasts longer the flash drive feature is one main reason.

Admittedly, we’re still far away from an all day notebook but if a computer is to get there soon, it will be a netbook because so far, it has improved in helping us stay productive (depending on your definition!) for longer.

5) Popularity

“Users are expected to purchase 11 million netbooks this year (2008), from 182,000 in 2007, according to market researcher IDC” writes Business Week.

What do you care?

In late 2007 when the first netbook came to life, as a consumer you would have been gambling on a category that may have not lasted for long and you would have been stuck with a computer that you’d struggle to get repaired if anything went south.

But now, netbooks are catching on like wildfire. Walk around any campus or any public area that has WiFi and the number of Asus, Acer, HP Mini, Dell Mini, MSI Wind netbooks that you will see will mesmerize you. You see people from all walks of life typing away without a single concern for the small keyboards or small batteries.

Why is popularity of netbooks a plus? Because as the netbook era marches in with great force, cool accessories such as bags, cases will be marketed but also website designers will start creating versions that are optimized for netbook notebooks just like they are doing the same with the iPods and iPhones. Also, more support will be widely available from users (who will have several issues and will have found solutions) and vendors.

Need I carry on with the many reasons why you should buy a netbook computer over a laptop? Here’s a last one:

6) Design

I don’t know about you but I care greatly for design. For those who are stuck in the PC world, we usually have to contend with dull looking beige, grey, or black laptops. I don’t what happened with manufacturers but they really decided to go all out with netbooks and unleash their creativity.

While it seems that some lost the plot (I shall not drop names out of politeness), some are really doing a great job of unleashing mini-notebook cuties. Let’s mention the Dell Inspiron 9 that’s rather cute. The MSI Wind and the Asus Eee PC 90 (weird names, I bet a geek came up with such names) all white which can be cool with those who are usually turned off by gray electronic products. The Macbook Air of course is the king but with the price tag, it’s out of the reach unless the recession is the least of your financial concerns.

If you have spare cash and are a Mac user, this your ultimate choice

 What? You sill are not sold onto purchasing netbooks? How about this:

7) Great Gifts

Netbooks make the most inexpensive but perfect gifts. No one will ever say that you bought him or her a netbook because you were to cheap to buy them a full size laptop. Even if the ungrateful person pulled that one out, you could counter with saying that the real reason you bought them the netbook is that it’s lighter, lasts longer, smaller, cuter and above all in as opposed to laptops that are on their way out. Like the good politician that you are, you’d yup up “we’re in the netbook era baby!”. Now, what comeback would the recipient of the gift pull out to that? Nothing but sheer gratefulness, my friend.

So there you are your 7 reasons to buy a netbook notebook today (right now actually) over a laptop. Whether it’s your only computer or if you already have a notebook that you will now use as a desktop, netbooks are the perfect companions for those who are always on the move who require a light and small solution that does not suck a lot of battery juice and above all, that’s easy on the bank account.

Before you start reaching for your credit card though, we’d be doing wrong if we did not present the other side of the coin. See The Case Against Buying Netbooks for details.

{ 6 trackbacks }

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cyrus Eslami December 23, 2008 at 8:10 pm

These are all great points. In addition to the list you have here, graphics quality has long been an issue on small computers. With the new Nvidia chipset, graphics power will no longer be reliant on cheap, integrated chips. Read more on the benefits of a netbook at NetbookStation.com

2 Mike July 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Good article, though I’m not sure what kind of crappy laptops you’re using that only hold a charge for 2 hours. I get about 4.5 on my Dell Latitude D630.

Other than that, great stuff.

3 Rick October 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I have never had a laptop get 4.5hours!, and i have owned lots of them. Basically both styles have their place,the Netbook AND the Laptop. I can see the arguments for both, you just have to ask yourself, “What will I be using it for?”

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