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Making the Right Choice - Netbook vs Notebook

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 1/22/2010

It's a tough call - you want a notebook but all you're likely to do is browse the Internet and play games on Facebook. So would you be better off with a netbook?

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    Defining Netbooks and Notebooks

    Mobile computing comes in several flavors – Smartphone, Tablet, Netbook and Notebook. If you’ve established that you need a device that you can easily type on and can position on your lap or a small table then you’ve probably found yourself deliberating over a choice between a Netbook and a Notebook.

    In many cases there isn’t a lot of difference between the two types of device – however if you intend on getting the most out of your chosen device, you need to know its limitations. Put simply, a Notebook is for work, and a Netbook is for surfing the web – recognizing this difference is the first step in making the right choice.

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    Advantages of Netbooks

    The ACER 531 netbook is available for around $529 Traditionally a Netbook is a low-end Laptop with reduced processor, RAM and graphics capabilities that is more than capable of being used as an Internet device. It is common to find Netbooks equipped with solid state, Flash-based hard drives rather than the traditional type in order to reduce battery consumption.

    Perfect for reading emails, light word processing, using the Internet and playing browser based games, Netbooks have more recently seen their capabilities extended to allow for better handling of technologies such as Ajax (the code that runs sites like Facebook) and over the next few months a new generation of Netbooks will be released that are designed to run the web based versions of the popular Microsoft Office applications.

    Netbooks are suitable for anyone who enjoys spending time surfing, shopping and chatting online, using email, Facebook, Twitter and other social apps and some online video streaming sites.

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    Advantages of Notebooks

    Typically a Sony Vaio notebook will set you back around $800, but its a great deveice for intensive office, video, image and sound editing tasks The power a Notebook offers meanwhile is another matter entirely. Fully equipped with powerful mobile processors, plenty of hard disk capacity, faster RAM and superior graphics chip courtesy of either ATI or nVidia, Notebooks can handle multiple tasks, easily manage the various “classic” versions of Microsoft Office and also more intensive applications such as the sound, video, graphics or web design software that comes as part of Adobe Creative Suite.

    More often than not, Notebooks are under used by their owners – usually they only end up being used for email and browsing, perhaps some online shopping. Using a Notebook as a proxy Netbook isn’t a problem however; the problem occurs when you try to run multiple applications and intensive tasks on a Netbook.

    If you intend on running office software and image editing tools on top of the usual email and Internet tasks and perhaps even the odd retro video game, you should be looking to buy a Notebook.

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    Always Try Before You Buy

    The most important thing when making any expensive electronics purchase is to try before you buy. Whether you're planning to buy online, by traditional mail order or from a traditional retailer, make sure you get the chance to try out the device or type of device you want before your spend money on it.

    Reading through endless technical specifications (something you should do as a matter of course when buying electronicS goods) is all well and good, but there is no substitute for experience. As such you should seek out opportunities for demonstrations, show room displays or even friends with similar devices for you to try out.