What is a NetBook?
Bob: Suppose you want to purchase a new computer and decided it should be mobile. You go shopping and discover there is now a division between laptop computers and something new called a netbook.Lee: It doesn’t look like a book and it doesn’t look like a net either. You couldn’t catch fish with it.
Bob: It looks much like the reasonably named laptop computer. But it’s made for people with smaller laps.
Lee: That might be insulting. Shrug it off because you’ll notice netbooks cost less than laptops.
Bob: There are two questions here. 1) What is the technical difference between the laptop and the netbook? 2) What is the functional difference in day-to-day use?
Lee: The technical difference that distinguishes a netbook is the use of low power components. The key item is the Intel Atom processor. It uses a scant 2 watts versus the 30 watts that a mainstream Intel or AMD processor uses.
Bob: Low power usage means a longer battery life and a lighter machine. The machine will travel more because it’s lighter and will run longer when away from an outlet. And it will create less heat when it sits on your lap.
Lee: Doesn’t low power mean low performance too?
Bob: Nope. By analogy, a car with high MPG can still travel at highway speed. Fast enough is fast enough.
Lee: Those two guys that talk about cars never say, “fast enough is fast enough.”
Bob: That’s because the police remind their readers.
Lee: Netbooks are advertised for email and web browsing only.
Bob: I used an Asus EEE Netbook as my primary machine for a while. It ran Linux web server; two database systems, three programming toolkits, and image processing. One has to suspect the manufacturers are trying to justify higher prices for the laptops.
Lee: The average Windows user won’t get that much out of them because they need to run virus protection software, which can consume half of a machine’s power.
Bob: Half of a small machine is too much. Is there such a thing as “lightweight” anti-virus software?
Lee: You might consider Panda Cloud. It receives favorable reviews for protection. Its different from other products as it does the matching for viruses on machines in distant data centers via the Internet.
Bob: That’s a clever way to make your battery last longer. Have someone else’s computer work on its behalf.
Lee: Sometimes people worry about using the smaller keyboard and mice on laptops and netbooks. This shouldn’t be a problem except for the most dedicated road warrior. This is because both laptops and netbooks can be connected to external monitors and USB keyboards and mice.
Bob: If you use a laptop or netbook attached to an external monitor, prop the screen open with a rectangular pencil eraser. Heat will escape more easily giving a longer machine life.
Lee: One more plus for the netbook is computer bag costs. Netbooks are the same size as portable DVD players. So skip the $80 computer bag and use a $25 DVD bag instead.
Bob: Are your ready to run out and buy a netbook?
Lee: If running Windows applications is a must, it can be a great way to go.
Bob: If not, then iPad and Android tablets may be better. The search for the perfect mobile device continues next time.