Netbooks 101:: Let’s Get Technical—What is a Netbook? (Part 1)

Since I just got a netbook, I thought, “Hey, what if other people are looking for netbooks and are just as confused as I was?”  Fear not, friends, I am here to share all I learned with you.  Let’s get started on Part 1—what are netbooks?

Image borrowed from

No doubt you have heard of the trendy little netbook, a portable computer that runs from $250-$400.  Let me begin by dispelling the myth—a netbook is not a “mini-laptop.”  I am not schooled in the world of technical jargon, so bear with me as I try to explain the differences.  A netbook’s primary purpose is to allow its user to access the internet almost anywhere via a Wi-Fi connection (whether through a carrier such as Verizon or AT&T or at a free Wi-Fi hotspot).

To keep with its slim design and light weight, netbooks also don’t contain optical drives (a.k.a.  CD/DVD drives).  To install programs such as Microsoft Office, you’re going to need to purchase an external drive (about $40).  Some netbooks come pre-installed with MS Office and other programs, but you definitely want to be able to reinstall the programs via CD should trouble arise, such a virus that corrupts your computer’s programs.  This is the sinister age of the Internet, after all.

Containing only 1 GB of memory (which can usually be upgraded to 2 GB), the netbook is not suited for heavy or multiple program use.  For example, you wouldn’t want to get a netbook to edit videos or use it to store a ton of photographs.  Used in combination with a flash drive or an external hard drive, the netbook can be a savvy little purchase that makes working on-the-go that much more fun.

Next week,  read “Part 2:: Shopping for a Netbook—What Kind Should I Buy?”

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