The netbook craze began back in 2007 with the Asus Eee PC. What started as a fad has grown into its own PC category. What distinguishes a netbook from a notebook? Theres no official definition, but the basic rule of thumb describes a netbook as an ultraportable notebook that weighs around 3 pounds, comes with a small screen and costs between $300 and $500 depending on specs and features.
Although they generally fall short of entry-level notebooks in terms of raw computing power, netbooks are nevertheless extremely popular because 1) theyre smaller, lighter and (typically) cheaper than full-size notebooks; and 2) theyre more capable and comfortable to work with than smartphones.
Just about every manufacturer that makes notebooks (Asus, Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and the list goes on) also has at least one netbook. Although the majority of vendors dont offer business-centric models, a wide array of consumer-targeted netbooks can serve as useful business tools.
At first blush the many netbook choices may seem similar, but the differences go beyond mere aesthetics. Here's what you need to know about buying a netbook -- before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Processors and Computer Memory
The overwhelming majority of netbooks use one of Intels entry-level Atom processors. The Atom is a low-power CPU in every sense of the term -- performance takes a back seat in favor of minimizing battery drain. But netbooks are still powerful enough to handle most basic computing chores like Web browsing, e-mail and business productivity.
Intels most current Atom processor is the N450. It improves performance and battery life over its predecessors in part by combining the CPU, memory controller and graphics accelerator into a single chip.
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