Posted by: Craig Mathias
MacBook, netbook, notebook PC
I recently wrote about my personal fondness for netbooks, but it suddenly occurs to me – is there really such a thing as a netbook anymore? Originally, netbooks were very small notebooks (like my original Asus 701/Surf 4G) that ran a Linux derivative operating system and cost much, much less than notebooks. Gradually, however, netbooks have gotten bigger (with screens ranging from 9 to 11 inches) and now almost always ship with Windows, usually the marginal Windows 7 Starter version. But, yes, you can even run Windows 7 Ultimate on most netbooks today, and with only 1 GB of memory, begging the question – does the netbook category even still exist?
Consider also the rapidly-falling price of traditional notebooks, with 14 and 15-inch displays, often selling in the $500-$600 price range, and down in netbook territory ($300-$400) refurbished. So, if a notebook is available for what a netbook costs, and netbooks run notebook operating systems, and thus providing the same user experience and applications as their larger cousins, should we even have a category of mobile computer called netbooks?
I suspect the netbook name will stick for any notebook with less than a 12-inch display and running (or capable of running) Windows. But what this means to you is that you’re free to pick a mobile computer with a size appropriate to your mission and requirements without having to worry about compatibility and other such issues. Me, again, I’m still going with Linux on netbooks (again optimizing for size, weight, and cost for my mobile arsenal), although I do think a refurbished MacBook Air might be a nice addition to my personal arsenal.