Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

Summary: Five very simple reasons why netbooks could well appear to be better, or at least more suited for the younger market, than fully-fledged laptops or desktops.

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Seeing as the Courier device died an untimely, unexpected death, and the self-awareness of non-Windows operating systems such as Chrome OS and the new Ubuntu 10.04 release, netbooks are becoming a more attractive device to own.

Students don't seem to look after their devices, specifically their laptops very well, and in my eyes netbooks though lacking in the full power and potential of a laptop or desktop machine, are seriously underestimated and undervalued for what they are actually worth.

There are five simple, 'off the top of my head' reasons to get a netbook:

  • The batteries last ages, regardless of what operating system you use;
  • They're surprisingly tough, because they're built small and compact, and there are rarely any loose points where you can push in, bend or appear fragile;
  • The devices are cheap and cheaper if you don't run Windows;
  • They don't lack functionality, substituting a much smaller, compact size for benefits like Ethernet ports, USB ports or Bluetooth, for example;
  • They are good enough, and will last you all day to keep you running, ticking over and productive - socially and academically.

So why wouldn't you want one? Besides the fact you could carry it comfortably gripped in your hand, let alone in your satchel or backpack without even noticing it, they're über-portable.

Many who know exactly what they want will opt out of the netbook market but for good reason. These will make up the graphics designers, those who need intensive memory and high GPU hardware, as well as those who want to run PC games.

But it's not often you come across a younger person who plays games on the PC. Either they are within the browser, such as Facebook which has a high range of games and interactive content, or they are on their dedicated games console - more often than not an Xbox 360 or a PS3.

Would you opt for a netbook over a more expensive though more powerful device?

Topics: Mobility, Banking, Hardware

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14 comments
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  • These things have so much potential

    I am a big advocate of powerhouse computers, but a in my opinion, unless your degree requires that you run computationally intensive, high-memory software, (graphical design, programming, etc.) you should get a netbook. The average user needs a netbook for very few reasons: surfing the net, social networking, communication, watching/listening to media, and documentation work like writing papers or reports. You can do all of this very well on a netbook. Hell, you can even use them to network your house! Put one on your TV, one on your stereo system, keep one in your bedroom, all linked to a central media store, and all for less than the price of a high-end laptop!
    KBot
    • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

      @KyleDDM

      " . . . watching/listening to media . . ."

      "You can do all of this very well on a netbook."

      You can do it, but I wouldn't go as far as you can do it "very well." Media tends to be weak with netbooks.

      "Put one on your TV, one on your stereo system, keep one in your bedroom, . . ."

      I'd love to get your income.

      "and all for less than the price of a high-end laptop! "

      If you're buying a high-end laptop, you're probably doing it because you want access to high end video, which a netbook does not have. Netbooks have video, but it's easy for the high def content to choke them. Not to mention the tiny screen isn't high def.
      CobraA1
  • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

    Agreed. This is what I am recommending for my nephew going to college this fall. Save your money, get a netbook. If he decides to become a particle physicist, we can talk about something more powerful, but this will do in the mean time.
    ncted
    • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

      @ncted And even then - surely there are dedicated supercomputers in the lab for that sort of thing? ;) I wish I could "like" your comment; in fact all the comments so far. Some very interesting responses! :)
      zwhittaker
  • Thoughts

    Thoughts from somebody who owns one:

    "The batteries last ages"

    Or they do now. I have an old one that has only 1 to 2 hours of life.

    "They?re surprisingly tough"

    Not about to test that.

    "The devices are cheap"

    As long as you don't buy the models ZDNet tends to recommend, which tend to be $100 more than what they really cost. Got mine for $300, and it works nicely for college.

    "They don?t lack functionality"

    They are surprisingly functional, I'll give you that. They even include web cams, and they're fine for those who don't need much.

    But they do lack higher end features. Gamers and power users won't like them.

    "They are good enough"

    That's code for "we are going to throw at you the never proven idea that 99% of people only ever use the bare minimal features."

    I'm just not that convinced. Most people I've met aren't cookie-cutter people. They have their needs, and their needs are generally different from the needs of other people. Despite the constant tendency to try to make most people out to be "average" - I'm just not convinced, sorry. It's been my experience that most people have at least *some* need for something a bit off of the normal computing experience.

    "So why wouldn?t you want one?"

    I play games, like most people. As soon as I can afford it, I'm getting a gaming laptop.

    I'm not terribly convinced that gaming is "niche" either. Most people I know at LEAST do some casual gaming. Sure, high end gamers may be "niche," but gaming itself is not.

    Even casual games are starting to rely more on the performance of higher end PCs, and on a netbook, you tend to notice that some casual games play better than others.

    In addition - it doesn't even always play well with the Internet, its primary claim to fame. Gmail takes noticeably longer to load, and you can't watch the highest resolution online videos. Even if it's "enough" for most people, it can be a drag on the overall experience.

    Living on the cheap end gives you a pretty mediocre experience. Sure, it's enough for my college work, and I'm sure there's quite a few people out there that barely use computers for much beyond email and internet - but it's far from an ideal machine, and if you can spare the money for something a bit more powerful, it's worth it to pass on the netbook and get something else.
    CobraA1
  • Netbook is Good

    Netbooks are Great, especially Ububtu Linux Netbooks :)
    ubu_f@...
    • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

      @ubu_f@... I do think open-source OS's should be encouraged in use - not to get ahead of Windows, but to promote operating system "equality".
      zwhittaker
  • Not for everyone

    Netbooks have their place, and I have purchased some for a few of my users. They are most definitely not for everyone. The tiny screen and substandard keyboard are the two biggest reasons not to get one. I have typed on 10" models, and find them very limited for my big hands. The tiny, low res screens are also a drawback as you end up doing a lot of scrolling. The processing power is certainly very limited, and even a very low end laptop will easily run circles around a netbook.

    Assuming a price point of between $300 and $400 dollars for a good netbook, you could shop around and find a pretty decent small notebook for about the same price. Yes, the notebook will be heavier, but having a 13" or 14" screen makes a huge difference, not to mention a full sized keyboard, optical drive, and a real processor. Battery life is better on the netbook, but a properly set up notebook should still last for a typical day of use.

    I went through this process for myself a while back. I really wanted a netbook, but after weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I ended up buying a 14" notebook instead, and have not regretted the decision.
    itpro_z
  • Bloated software

    Why should most people need more than a gigabyte of memory?

    Microsoft is admitting that it can't make a good operating system that runs in 100 megabytes of memory or less. The hardware has become so powerful and so cheap that manufacturers need bloated software to make people upgrade.

    Why were corporations willing to spend millions on computers with less than 100 meg of RAM before 1990?
    .
    psikeyhackr
    • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

      @psikeyhackr <br><br>Most of that is compatibility, drivers, and temp files.<br><br>Compatibility is really the biggest issue - Microsoft can't slim Windows down much without telling people they're gonna drop support for older software. So they have to keep a lot of old tech hanging around.<br><br>Drivers are also an issue: Windows supports a <b>LOT</b> of hardware. An unfathomable amount. Standardization helps, but most manufacturers still want to have extra useless features, as well as driver UIs that look like they were drawn by kids but take up an incredible amount of disk space.<br><br>I'm seeing DRIVERS from manufacturers that take 30+ MB <i>all by themselves!</i><br><br>Here's a glance at my computer's C:\windows folder:<br><br>6.6 GB = winsxs, which is a place where Windows puts files for applications that try to overwrite Windows files. It makes them think they've succeeded when reality is they're only modifying their own personal copy. A lot of legacy software, written before Microsoft locked down Windows, tries to do this.<br><br>4.6 GB = System32/DriverStore. This is where Windows puts drivers. On my machine, the vast majority of it is nVidia drivers. Probably comes from that I'm a gamer and update them often.<br><br>3.5 GB = Installer. All of those apps that can be uninstalled, I assume.<br><br>2.7 GB = "Panther"? Haven't a clue. Preliminary research indicates possibly a leftover of installing Windows.<br><br>That's not all, but that's the biggest. Software compatibility, drivers, and installers. Not really Windows itself, but the cost of having an OS that is compatible with more software and more hardware than any other OS.<br><br>If Windows only ran on small number of devices, and nixed compatibility with XP and older versions of Windows - I think they could easily get it down to that size. The specific files that are part of the "kernel" all appear to be quite small - by themselves, they could fit on old floppies. 100 MB looks feasible if they threw away all of their compatibility stuff. But that's not gonna happen.
      CobraA1
  • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

    Yes I would choose the portability of a netbook over a huge heavy laptop anyday. And I have.
    dmb851290@...
  • RE: Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

    I have been working with the idea of using my Smartphone for taking notes in meetings and classes. Once Citrix wises up and releases receiver for my phone, the I would have emergency access to servers at work. Fortunately these servers are Windows servers and are very stable, therefore I do not need that level access. My phone has Office on it, so I would be able to start a rough draft of papers if I am working on a lab or researching in a library. If I were a Macintosh person, then I might recommend a iPad as a replacement for a Netbook. You can have a more powerful desktop computer and a smartphone or iPad to handle most of your portable computing needs.
    jfreedle2@...
  • Get a netbook: Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

    They are surprisingly functional, I'll give you that. They even include web cams, and they're fine for those who don't need much.
    orangejuice89
  • Cheaper, tougher, and lasts longer

    * It is meaningful information. Thank for your posting. I hope to see more than that.
    orangejuice89