In 2007 the first netbooks were introduced and were marketed as companion devices to supplement users’ other computing capabilities. They are smaller than laptops but larger than handheld computers and are part of the subnotebook family. The average netbook has a smaller screen (usually 8 to 10 inches) and keyboard (89 to 93 percent of the size of full-sized keyboards) than a laptop. It also weighs less and usually does not come equipped with an optical drive. As a rule, it is considerably less expensive than its laptop counterpart.
The processor technology for most netbooks is x-86 with a speed of either 1.6 GHz or 1.66 GHz. Some will integrate MIPS compatible processors. While these usually have a lower price tag attached, they will not have the speed and processing power of the x-86 based models.
As for operating systems, there are several choices. About 32% of the netbooks available now come with some type of Linux operating system. The more popular option is a license for a more mainstream system.
The power and functionality of a netbook is not often up to par with that of a laptop. Usually they will not come with a hard disk installed, although a solid-state drive (SSD) can be used for data storage. SSD’s are more durable and faster than rotating hard drives but their storage is typically limited to 32GB or 64GB. This is substantially lower than a conventional drive with a capacity of up to 160GB. Furthermore, not many net books come with a DVD drive which is becoming an increasingly popular feature for laptop users.
As internet connection is a top feature of netbooks, wireless capabilities are a main concern. All netbooks are Wi-Fi capable and are very flexible with their means of connectivity. Ethernet, broadband, dial-up and even mobile phone networks are options available to users.
One is not limited to just surfing the web with a netbook. Students find it to be a handy easily transportable device to use for classroom note-taking, word processing and running their music library. Business people can use it on the road for creating or managing spreadsheets and staying on top of their e-mails.
Before investing in a netbook, the potential buyer should keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of the product. Portability, easy access to the internet and low price all work in favor of netbooks, while low processing power and minimal configuration options and flexibility work against them. Knowing these attributes up front will help deter buyer’s remorse.
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