Good energy efficiency, even when you have the screen brightness set to high. Larger-than-average screen at 11.6”. Includes 4GB of RAM for a nice level of speed.
Expensive compared to other netbooks. Sometimes struggles to hold a WiFi connection over a distance. Could use more internal storage.
Handles lighter multitasking well, and interfaces seamlessly with online Google applications. Android Lollipop operating system runs smoothly. Tolerates drops and regular wear and tear. 10.1-inch screen is adequate.
System can lag after being idle for several minutes. Input from keyboard can be frustratingly slow. Heavier than expected for a tablet-keyboard combo. Feels a bit flimsy.
Runs Android-based online app versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. Syncs seamlessly with other Android devices like Samsung smartphones. Keyboard responds quickly, with little to no lag on screen.
Battery can drain alarmingly fast. Speakers are not very good, which isn’t surprising at its price point. Very little memory at 1 GB, which can tax the processor. No USB data cable included.
Android operating system interfaces effortlessly with Google’s suite of apps. Very lightweight, with a thin profile. Handles basic browsing and light office work very well.
Track pad is slow to respond and frustrating to use. Resolution is too low to comfortably see many websites. Streaming video will tax the processor despite its 4 GB of RAM.
Slim, lightweight design makes it easy to carry for the entire day. Screen size of 11.6” is impressive. Screen detaches to serve as a tablet whenever desired. Includes 6GB of RAM.
Above-average cost. Customers have experienced occasional keyboard problems.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
The netbook is an interesting option in the mobile computing market. It has a smaller size and lower weight than a traditional laptop, but it gives you a larger screen than a smartphone or tablet, along with a built-in keyboard and trackpad.
Netbooks initially appeared on the market in the late 2000s, delivering a lower-priced alternative to the traditional laptop. You can think of netbooks as mini laptops, both in size and in performance level. Netbooks may not have all the features you’d expect to find in a full-size laptop, so they won’t work for every profession. As with a traditional laptop, you should weigh specs like screen size, processing power, operating system, and other features when comparing your options.
Netbooks have solidified their place in the computing market as convenient budget computers. We put together a list of the strengths and drawbacks of netbooks to help you determine whether one of these slim computers would fit in your arsenal of consumer tech.
This term, first introduced in 2007, generally describes small, inexpensive laptops with lower processing power than most laptops. There’s no hard-and-fast definition, but you can expect netbooks to be compact and lightweight. These are small machines designed for on-the-go lifestyles, and they come with as many variations and specs as traditional laptops.
With a netbook, there are a few specs to consider to get the most out of your device. These are the same considerations as a traditional laptop, but they are especially important in a netbook as they noticeably lag behind traditional laptops in performance.
The CPU, or central processing unit, is the most important chip inside any computer. Think of it as the brain of the computer — all tasks the computer performs go through the CPU at some point.
A CPU included inside a netbook is quite a bit less powerful than one included in a traditional laptop. This is one of the primary reasons why a netbook is far less pricey than a full-size laptop.
However, just like a full-size laptop or desktop computer, the speed of the CPU in the netbook is measured in GHz of clock speed. Average CPUs for a netbook will have around 1.3 GHz of clock speed, but you may find some CPUs with 2 GHz or more. A larger number delivers more power.
Dual-core or quad-core processors are common in more expensive netbooks. Quad-core CPUs give you better multitasking performance versus dual-core CPUs — a great feature to have for gaming or other intensive tasks.
Originally, netbooks had small screens, measuring 7 or 8 inches diagonally. However, many newer netbooks offer larger screens — while still maintaining a small profile. In addition, many netbooks feature impressive resolutions.
Screen size: Typically, a netbook offers a screen measuring between 10 inches and 11.5 inches. Measurements are taken diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. Remember, the larger the screen size, the larger the netbook’s physical dimensions will be.
Resolution: Very few netbook screens have full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). However, you will often find a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is still considered HD.
Touchscreen: Touch capabilities are popular in a netbook with a 2-in-1 design. This means the netbook can work like a traditional laptop, or the touchscreen can flip around or disconnect and work like a tablet. Having a 2-in-1 design is very popular, as it provides the benefits of a tablet with a built-in physical keyboard.
A large-screen netbook
With an 11.6-inch display, you’ll enjoy the extra screen space of this netbook. Even with such a large screen, it offers a decent 8 hours of battery life. It comes at a higher price, but it delivers more power than other netbooks, making it an option to run some professional software.
Once you’ve found the primary elements you need in your netbook, you can focus on the extra features. These allow you to personalize the look and feel of the netbook to fully meet your needs.
Operating system: A netbook often will use the latest Windows operating system (or OS). However, if you prefer something different, some models offer Android OS or Chrome OS. Although some units use Linux OS, this is less common. You should choose an OS that you are comfortable with and that is compatible with your preferred programs.
Storage: One area where netbooks lag significantly behind full-size laptops is storage size. While a laptop can have 512 GB or even 1 TB of hard drive storage, a netbook will have much less storage — typically around 64 GB or 128 GB. With a limited storage size, you may need to store some files on a flash drive or SD card. Some more expensive netbooks feature a high-speed solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a hard-disk drive (HDD).
RAM: Random access memory, or RAM, is a temporary storage area for the netbook. Data and software currently in use are kept in RAM, allowing for fast access. With a netbook, expect between 4 GB and 8 GB of RAM, but if you can find a unit with more, you’ll receive a major performance boost.
One of the biggest advantages of a netbook over a traditional laptop is the price. In addition to their compact designs, most netbooks are fairly affordable. However, their prices can still vary and increase with additional features.
You can find low-end netbooks for $100 to $175. These are not powerful or fast machines, but they perform basic tasks well.
Midrange to high-end netbook laptops are generally faster and offer more storage space plus additional features. If you want a 2-in-1 design with a touchscreen, you can expect to pay $175 to $350 for your netbook. Beyond the better screen technology, a higher priced netbook will have a faster processor, more RAM, and larger storage.
If you want to use a larger keyboard or a mouse with your netbook, look for a model that includes Bluetooth technology so you can add wireless devices.
Some people use the terms netbook and Chromebook interchangeably. However, only netbooks with Chrome OS are Chromebooks.
Netbook cases are sometimes available in multiple color choices, which can be fun for students who want something with an eye-catching look.
Here are some considerations to help you determine whether you want to purchase a full-size laptop or a netbook.
Tough and inexpensive netbook
For those who want a simple 2-in-1 netbook at a low price, this model fits the bill. It’s certainly not the fastest performing netbook on the market, but it has a durable design that may survive a drop. It uses Android OS, so those who don’t like Windows will appreciate this model.
We expect that the majority of users will be able to find a high-quality netbook laptop in our top recommendations. However, we did consider a few other products worth noting if you’re searching for something a little different.
The Lenovo Flex 11 netbook delivers a large screen and better performance than you may expect, all for a reasonable price. Its 4GB of RAM and 64GB SSD make it a high-speed netbook.
If you need superior battery life in your netbook, and you have the budget for it, the Acer R11 2-in-1 Chromebook can deliver up to 10 hours of usage between charges.
If you prefer Android OS, the Simbans TangoTab 2-in-1 Laptop is a good choice at a low price. Its ability to function as a tablet or laptop makes it great for on-the-go use.
For those who don’t want a 2-in-1 design with a touchscreen, the Samsung XE500C13 Chromebook gives you a big 11.6-inch screen at a low price.
Q. Should I get a netbook instead of a tablet?
A. The biggest advantage of a netbook over a tablet is the built-in keyboard. Netbooks also tend to have a little bit more processing power and speed than a tablet. And if you pick a 2-in-1 netbook, you’ll receive a tablet-like touchscreen, which you may find more useful than a standalone tablet.
Q. What are common things people do with a netbook?
A. If you spend a lot of time on social media, doing online shopping, or communicating by email, a netbook will perform well. Netbooks can run web-based software and apps adequately. People who need to carry the machine for the entire day will like the lightweight design of a netbook. For example, photographers may choose to carry a netbook with them during an off-site photography session. They’ll use the netbook as a backup storage medium for photos or to view photos on the 10-inch-plus screen.
Q. Are netbooks difficult to use?
A. The majority of people would consider a netbook easy to use, especially if it’s a 2-in-1 design. Netbooks can’t usually run complex software, making them well suited to college students and people who simply need a machine for internet browsing and word processing.
Q. Is it difficult to type on a netbook?
A. Typically, netbooks have a smaller keyboard compared to a laptop or a desktop computer keyboard. The keys often are a little smaller, and the space between keys is narrower. Even though the differences in size are minimal, it’s a noticeable difference for the experienced typist, but some people are comfortable with the smaller keyboards.
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