Can we all agree on something? There's no longer a difference between a Netbook and a notebook. Thanks to Netbooks' move to more features and larger-size screens, the distinction between the two can now be considered little more than marketing speak.
We recently wrote about the fall's coming battle between Netbooks--a category now 2 years old--and thin and light notebooks with consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) processors. In theory, the value of a Netbook--with its small keyboard, small screen, and lack of an optical drive--vs. an ultralight laptop with a long battery life and a full-size keyboard for roughly the same price was very low.
But now that we're actually seeing how PC makers are packaging and selling CULV notebooks (take Dell's recent introduction of its Inspiron 11z notebook) it's obvious: Netbooks are nothing more than smaller, cheaper notebooks.
The distinction made some sense early on. The first Netbooks were very small, around 7 or 8 inches, and were used for little more than getting online. They were marketed by smaller brands such as Asus and MSI as super portable, inexpensive notebooks that ran Linux, cutting out much of the cost tacked on with a Windows license. But they didn't really take off until Microsoft began offering Windows XP specifically for Netbooks, long after it was no longer available on new laptops and desktops.
The big PC makers, understandably, wanted a piece of the action too, but not at the expense of cannibalizing their budget-conscious traditional notebook lines. So Netbooks were sold as a "companion device." As in, if you keep some of your data "in the cloud" as with e-mail on Yahoo or Gmail or pictures on Facebook or Picasa, and you stream music on a service like Pandora or Last.fm, you can use your regular notebook at home and use something smaller on the road that still affords access to a lot of your stuff.… Read more