Should I buy a netbook or notebook?

September 28, 2010

in Samsung Notebooks

I was inspired to write this piece after a colleague asked me the questions “which low cost laptop should I buy?“.

When first asked my initial temptation was to say “you have to get a Sammy Netbook” but it quickly dawned on me that this might not be the most appropriate choice.

And in fact, after some discussion, she went away and purchased a Samsung X125 Notebook. I thought it would be useful to share some of the discussion as it might help other people decide whether they need to spend a little more to get something that will offer that little bit extra.

Should I buy a Netbook or Notebook?

As usual, the question we really want to ask is what do you need this PC for, what is the minimum amount of functionality you require? This will vary between person to person and will depend on two thing:

  • What you normally do on a PC
  • What other PCs you already own.

You won’t need to purchase features you’ll never use, and if you already have a powerful desktop PC then you may already have some of them available to you already.

What are the considerations?

  • Portability: Netbooks are generally a lot lighter than notebooks. And although a notebook may seem initially fairly light, I have heard several stories of people trading theirs in for a netbook half way through a travelling expedition. A 3kg (6.2 lbs) notebook will start to weigh you down compared to a 1kg (2.2 lbs) netbook!
  • Screen Size: Some netbooks, like the NC20 or N510 go up to the 12″ screen size, but if you want more space you’ll need to buy a notebook. Small screens are OK for getting things done, but they aren’t so comfortable for routine long periods of work.
  • DVD drive: This is often a key point in the decision. Netbooks don’t have DVD or CD optical drives as a rule so if you need access to one of these then a notebook could be a better choice. However, in the Internet age most content is now delivered via the web and you might be surprised by how infrequently these drives are used. And of course, a netbook can always be connected to an external drive, or networked to a desktop PC.
  • Storage: Netbooks normally come with 160gb or 250gb of storage space, whereas a notebook might come with around 500gb. As a netbook owner with 160gb of HD space I have not even filled up half of that space. But if that was my only PC I can imagine requiring some more room to store my ever growing photo, music and video collection. With modern cameras taking photos several meg in size and some now doing high definition video then some external storage might be required which ever laptop you buy!
  • Connectivity: Both netbooks and notebooks can come with everything you need to engage with the web, so things like WiFi, 3G modems, webcams, speakers and microphones can be found in most models.
  • Performance: Notebooks will typically have a more powerful processor, in some cases a dual core chip coupled with a half decent graphics processor. If you plan to do more than day to day computing on your laptop then a notebook might be the device for you. But remember netbooks can run many common apps and will do for many home computer users.
  • Battery Life: The Samsung netbook range has a good reputation for long battery life, if you plan to use your portable PC on the move then the new models can run for over 10 hours at a time.
  • Price: Netbooks win this one. If low cost is your defining attribute then a netbook can be bought more cheaply. That said, some of the more expensive netbooks do overlap slightly with the cheapest notebooks.

So if you think a netbook is for you, you might want to check out our buying guide. We have some more information on Samsung notebooks here.

And finally, here are some thoughts from other forum readers who have gone for a notebook:

Feel free to contribute your own thoughts!

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