Monday, May 18, 2009

My second computer is a Netbook

They're compact, they're sleek and they're cute. They are netbooks and they are setting a new trend, especially amongst the Net Generation. The iPhone was the icon of 2008 and the netbook is the icon of 2009. So what are netbooks? Simply put, they are portable computers - smaller than laptops and larger than smart phones, about the size of an old video cassette. Netbooks are essentially laptops without a DVD drive and a small 10 inch wide-format screen. And they pack a lot of computing power. My netbook has a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB memory, a 160GB hard drive, a webcam, WiFi, Ethernet, USB and a memory card reader. Newer netbooks have 16 to 64GB of flash memory instead of a hard disk, which makes for faster startup and low power consumption. Netbooks come pre-loaded with a user-friendly version of Linux, or Windows XP.

The term netbook implies that they're best suited for Internet use. The netbook is the ideal portable machine. Add wireless Internet and a web browser and you've got the ability to email, chat, watch YouTube videos, upload your digital photos to Flickr and more. Netbooks have many advantages. Carry them to coffee shops, work on documents on cramped aircraft, play music at a party, take them on holidays to process photos and videos, and look good while doing all that! Did I mention that netbooks are cute?

Ironically, size is also the netbook's greatest disadvantage. Netbooks will never replace laptops or desktops as your primary computer. The screen is small and gets cluttered. The keyboard is small for human hands. I suffer from repetitive stress injuries and typing for more than an hour on a netbook really hurts.

Should you go out and buy a netbook? Netbooks are almost the same price as a mid-range desktop PC. Think of a netbook as a second vehicle - something you use occasionally. If your portable computing needs aren't very demanding, the netbook can be an ideal companion to your desktop. If you think of using a netbook as your main computer, get ready for degraded vision and wrist surgery.

Netbooks may have their downside, but no one can pass up their good looks. Most PC manufacturers know this, and have a netbook to sell you. Everyone netbook owner I know bought it simply because "it looks cute!". So did I.

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