How do I Choose the Best Netbook?

Mary Elizabeth

A netbook is a very small laptop, a very portable subcompact computer. The name netbook was coined in 2008 by Intel® to refer to a particular line, but it is now used generically. Although they are all small computers, what might otherwise seem like minor differences become important when trying to choose the best netbook. Besides choosing a brand that has a good reputation and offers a good warranty, the two things that are key to choosing the best netbook for you are knowing your own priorities and knowing the features that are available.

An external hard drive may be necessary to store data.
An external hard drive may be necessary to store data.

The operating system is usually a key factor in choosing any computer, and netbooks are no exception. Part of the choice will depend on the applications you need to run and what you’re comfortable with. Netbooks are available with Microsoft® Windows XP® and Windows 7®, as well as Linux® operating systems.

A netbook.
A netbook.

In choosing the best netbook, battery time is likely to be a key consideration. Read the manufacturer’s claims carefully, and compare the activity described to what your usage is likely to be. Some netbooks haven’t lasted two hours in tests, while newer ones claim to last as long as 11 hours. Also consider whether choosing a 1.8GHz processor rather than the more often found 1.6 or 1.66 GHz would be important, given the applications you tend to run.

The size of the screen and the keyboard will make a lot of difference in how comfortable you are working with your netbook, and considering how to choose the best netbook with regard to these factors is best decided by trying various models out in person. Screens range from 7–12.1 inches (17.8–30.7 cm). Keyboards range from 80 percent of full-size to full-size keyboards on certain models.

When it comes to connectivity, the best netbook is the one that will fit in where you want to use it and with the communications plan and carrier you favor. WiFi netbooks have a choice of 802.11b/g and 802.11b/g/n. There are 3G netbooks and 4G netbooks with both WiMAX and LTE configurations.

When compared to laptops, saying that a netbook weighs 1.5–3.3 pounds (.68– 1.5 kg) sounds like a minimal difference. When considering that a lot of netbook functionality may come from peripherals that you’ll be carting along with you as well, however, weight could actually be a factor in choosing the best notebook for you. Because of the peripherals issue, you may want to think about weight and peripherals at the same time. Decide whether you need an external keyboard, or perhaps a notebook stand with a built-in keyboard. Consider whether a USB or wireless mouse, a Bluetooth® adapter, an external hard drive, and a mobile printer are necessary, and when you have your whole package in mind, then calculate weight.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to EasyTechJunkie about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone buy netbooks anymore? Perhaps they should -- great little computers.

If you're in the market for one, keep in mind that the Compaq/HP line of them tend to be easy to disassemble and repair and have very good keyboards.

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