Small computers are all the rage. Everyone thinks that they want one but before you go out and make the purchase you really need to stop and think whether this mini-computer is going to do what you need.
What NetBooks are and are good at:
- They are a small laptop computer, usually with a 10” screen and miniaturized keyboard
- They usually run Windows but some are also running Linux
- They usually have very long battery life. 3-8 hours
- They are best used as a companion computer
- They are great for reading email and working for short periods of time.
- They are inexpensive ($300-$600)
What NetBoks are not good at:
- They are not easy to use for a long time. The screen is small and the keyboard is small
- They are not very powerful. Your applications won’t perform the same. It will be slower.
- They do not have DVD drives (usually)
So why might you want to get one?
- It’s a lot easier to open one on a plane
- They weigh, like, a pound
- You need something very occasionally
- They are great for taking to meetings or to use while waiting at the doctor office
- They are fully functional computers.
What do they cost?
As with all computers the price ranges widely. I bought a refurbished Dell Mini 10V for $236. It is truly bottom of the line. I’ve also seen NetBooks for as much as $1200. I would not recommend spending more than half of what you would spend for a laptop computer because you are going to get about 1/2 of the functionality no matter how much you spend. A small screen and a small keyboard have inherent limitations.
Having said that. I love the Dell Mini. It’s cute. It’s lightweight. It’s small enough to take anywhere. It’s a great email and light work gadget that is easy to use for about an hour or two at a stretch. As long as you don’t expect it to be a laptop you’ll love it.