With the recent explosion of netbook sales in the US, I feel the need to make some recommendations for college students looking to purchase a netbook for school. First, let’s be clear: netbooks are not laptop replacements. While they can serve as a supplemental computer to a desktop or full-size laptop, they are not powerful enough to stand alone as a everyday-use device. Although the price tag may be tempting for the non-techy occasional user, the power is not enough to complete most tasks.
In general, netbooks contain a very weak processor, only 1GB RAM, and usually a 100GB or less hard drive. While this may be sufficient for simple web browsing and word processing, multitasking is a difficult task for most netbooks. If you’re the type to write a paper while listening to music, while also searching the web, you’re going to want to steer clear of the netbook. However, if you are only planning to use the netbook for quick tasks such as independently browsing the web and word processing, a netbook might be a nice choice for a lightweight on-the-go device.
Netbooks in Computer Science
One common use for netbooks is in the field of Computer Science. I’ve seen most CS students with netbooks running Linux (usually Ubuntu), and using them for quick coding and searching on-the-go. Netbooks tend to run Linux well; the operating system is very light and thus lends itself well to the weak components usually found in a netbook.
Since they’ve been popular for a couple years now, netbooks come in several different varieties and price-points. Any buyer should be aware of what their money should be getting them; spending over $500 on a netbook is generally not a good idea. Seeing as you could get a midrange full-size laptop for around $600, it wouldn’t really make much sense to pay for the extra portability. This is unless of course the netbook has special features, such as a large amount of flash/solid-state storage or processing power.
Where to Purchase
Since netbooks are generally low in price, it becomes more advantageous to purchase them through sites such as Amazon or Newegg. These sites offer netbooks at the lowest prices without any required bundle or warranty. While you probably won’t be covered by the manufacturer in case of the product being defective in the long-term, most of these vendors will cover immediate problems with the product.