But todays full-featured netbooks have struck a chord for folks wanting something more powerful and comfortable than a smartphone, but less bulky than a traditional laptop.
Netbooks are highly portable, shrewdly priced, and can in a pinch, with external peripherals function as a secondary desktop PC. Plus, there's the "oops" factor. I'd never call a $400 purchase expendable that's still a lot of money. But if the worst were to occur, and your netbook was lost, stolen, or sat on, it wouldn't cause nearly the trauma a $2,500 MacBook Pro would in the same situation.
That makes a netbook desirable for everyday use. Throw one in a bag or briefcase and youll never be without access to e-mail, the Web, or important files again.
As with most computer-related purchases, there are plenty of options to consider when buying a netbook. To help, weve put together a 10-minute guide that covers all the basics. While we don't have the space to examine every possible machine and configuration in depth, we'll give you everything you need to know to make an informed decision from the specs you need, to the models, brands, and even some stores you should consider.
Heres what you need to know when buying a netbook today:
That size affords a relatively roomy 1024-by-600-pixel resolution on nearly all models. Its also wide enough to accommodate a decent sized keyboard (see below).
More than that will buy luxury features like a stylish case design or a built-in cellular data modem (though the latter also requires a monthly data plan in order to work).
For the mouse, note the trackpad layout. HP, for example, has a thing for side-mounted buttons that make clicking and dragging a royal pain. Other manufacturers install cheap-feeling plastic buttons that click loudly.
Linux machines cost less, come with lots of free open-source software preloaded, and don't need a security suite. But they work differently than XP machines, require extra setup for some external peripherals (depending on the Linux distribution), and don't run important third party appssuch as QuickBooks or most already-written internal corporate software.