When netbooks were first introduced into the market, they invoked a sense of surprise and wonder among consumers. These tiny laptops had traditionally been an expensive device and so it seemed incredible they were now available for half the price of a regular system. However, the increased popularity of tablets has made the netbook take a backseat. Also, full sized laptops are now competing in the same cost bracket as the netbook. All this high competition has ensured that the notebooks being manufactured today have to go out of their way to woo the customer. These new models have bigger screens and keyboards, faster processors and better features, all available at highly affordable prices.
The traditional characteristics of a notebook that set it apart from similar devices are its light weight, low powered components, and low price. There are many options to choose from and the major manufacturers are household names like ASUS, Samsung, Dell, HP, Toshiba, and Lenovo. Netbooks vary a lot in features, screen size, interface and typing experience. Netbooks can be a good alternative to laptops for college students. The number of choices can leave consumers confused and uncertain. Hopefully, this guide should help you with some of the problems you might be facing while buying a netbook.
Screens and Keyboards
It is easy to distinguish netbooks and laptops but to differentiate between the various netbook systems, you need to have a keen eye. Earlier 10-inch screens with a 1,024×600 resolution were the norm for netbooks. But now they come in all sizes. HP Pavilion dm1z and the Lenovo ThinkPad X120e have 11.6 inch wide screens and here are even larger ones such as the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 (12 inch) and the Asus EeePC 1215B (12 inch). The resolutions for these are increased to 1,366×768.
With earlier netbooks, a problem was that full sized keyboards were not always available on these smaller devices. But this has changed now with even smaller netbooks like the Toshiba mini NB305-N600 and Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3 offering full-size keyboards with their ten-inch screens. Nowadays almost all netbooks provide a full-size keyboard.
Some New Features
Webcams, USB ports, card readers. built-in WiFi and Bluetooth are the traditional features that can be found on most netbooks. Some netbooks, like the Dell Inspiron Duo and Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t, are convertible tablets that feature a touchscreen on a rotating hinge. Embedded 3G modems can be found in the HP Mini 5103 and Dell Inspiron Mini 10 (HD). An optical drive is one feature that is not available with most netbooks.
The Intel Atom platform had been the most widely used for netbooks. With an Atom processor, integrated graphics and 1 GB memory it used to perform most functions quite satisfactorily. But now AMD, with their Fusion APUs, has become a major player. Not only are the processors faster, they have better graphics and a more effecient battery also. However, the fourth generation Intel Atom processors, the Atom N455 (1.6 GHz) and N475 (1.83 GHz), have shown vast improvements. These have both single and dual core versions and have a upgraded DDR3 memory support.
Points to Keep in Mind while Purchasing Netbooks
Batteries: The starting range of notebooks have 3 cell battery (less than 30 Wh) units. Many newer versions utilize the 6-cell batteries which get you about twice the battery life on single charge. So if you are someone who has day long classes and frequently needs the netbook outdoors, then the 6-cell option is the one to consider.
Hard Drives: You will have two main options in hard drives: Solid-state drives (SSDs) and spinning hard drives. The latter offers a better better gigabyte per dollar ratio and has a minimum of 250GB storage space. Spinning hard drives are also much cheaper than SSDs. The advantage of an SSD is better transfer speeds, longer life, and better durability.
Functions of Netbooks
Netbooks have a number of functional capabilities that go beyond just spreadsheets, word processing and surfing the Web. Transcoding videos using Windows Media Encoder 11 and editing footage with the Adobe Premiere Elements 9 is possible. You can edit photos after transferring them from your digital camera. Businesses are considering the devices as it can run various e-mail clients, put clients on a network, install VPN client and has secure antivirus suites.
The traditional price range of netbooks, the $300 – $500 bracket, also has a number of products which appeal to the eye. Sleek aluminum frames like the HP 5103 and Toshiba NB305-N600 are finding many buyers. Though the future of netbooks is far from secure, these newer models are bound to give tablets and laptops a run for their money.