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Netbook Vs. Notebook Computer

Omkar Phatak Oct 27, 2018
How are netbooks and notebooks different? Read the comparison to decide which one is best suited for you.
A new breed of portable computers were introduced in the form of netbooks, expanding the notebook form factor with one more size alternative. Life was simpler when there were only desktop or laptop computers to choose from. Now you have to choose between desktops, notebooks, netbooks, tablet computers and smartphones.
Very soon, wearable computing will be on its way, further proliferating the range of mobile computing devices. We have come a long way from the mainframe computers housed in four-story buildings. Computers have undergone progressive miniaturization and today we have netbooks, which are one of the smallest computers ever developed, in the laptop form factor.
There seems to be considerable amount of confusion among first-time buyers about how netbooks are different from notebooks. In what follows, this semantic confusion will be addressed and explained away.

Difference Between Netbook and Notebook

Netbooks are lightweight mini-computers, that are fast cutting through the laptop computer market share. Notebooks or laptops are your quintessential portable computers that provide all the features of a desktop computer, with the added luxury of portability. Let us compare netbooks and notebooks, according to design considerations and utility factors.


  • Lightweight
    (1 to 3 Pounds)
  • High Battery Life
  • Low Power
  • Low Cost
  • No Optical Drive
  • Limited
  • Small
  • Weak


  • High-End Computing
  • Powerful
  • Large
  • Bulky for
    Travel Use
  • Low
    Battery Life

Size, Weight & Battery Life

Netbooks are a lighter (about one or two pounds) and smaller (< 11" screens) than notebooks, which is a big advantage for users who are tired of carrying heavy laptop bags. With a screen size up to or less than 11" and a weight lesser than half the weight of a 17" laptop, netbooks are easier to carry around.
Netbooks have an edge over a laptop, when it comes to battery life, which is substantially longer for them, as compared to a notebook. Absence of an optical drive, power-efficient chip and a smaller screen contribute to an increased battery life. To sum up, when it comes to size, weight and battery life comparison, netbook is a clear winner in this debate.

Speed & Functionality

Netbook is basically designed for Internet-based applications and therefore it has a processor with a comparatively low clocking speed, compared to ones used in a notebook. It is not designed for multitasking, but for Internet browsing and basic data processing.
Hard drive space offered by netbooks is substantial (close to 320 GB or more) which makes them excellent data storage devices too.
If one plans to use multimedia, to watch movies and play games, netbook is not the portable computer you are looking for. It is ill-equipped for such applications. It is designed for net-based applications like browsing, email and spreadsheet calculations.
They are excellent computers for learning purposes in schools and colleges, but they are not your complete computing solution. When it comes to speed and multitasking, a notebook computer is a hands-down winner.


If you look at netbook prices, you will find that they cost less than half of high-end notebooks. The cost factor is a major USP for netbooks and that has made it popular among users, who need basic computing power. People who need a no-frills basic computing machine, will opt for a netbook over a notebook.


Netbooks cannot be used as a substitute for notebooks, but as an added accessory. A netbook with a high battery life comes in handy, when you are on the move and just need Internet connectivity for work, without any high multitasking demands. It is an ultra-portable device compared to a notebook.
A netbook is computing power, stripped down to its bare essentials, offered at a very economical price. It is ideal for students in school and high schools as study aids. The absence of an optical drive and a comparatively inferior processor in terms of speed, limits the applicability of this device.
Nevertheless, it is a handy little PC for users whose usage is limited to the Internet and very basic computing jobs. For high multitasking demands, gaming and high-end computing power, notebooks remain the ultimate choice.
If you let your functionality needs dictate the choice, your job of choosing among a netbook or a notebook is simpler. With lighter, faster, SSD-equipped ultrabooks that boot within seconds, on the horizon, netbooks as a form factor is on the decline .There is further competition from tablet computers which are slowly eating into the market.
To sum up, buy a netbook if you need a low cost, easy-to-carry computer, with scarce need for multitasking or heavy duty computing and pure Internet browsing, with the occasional music and video watching. Otherwise, notebooks are the way to go. If you have the money to go the extra mile, go for an ultrabook.