Netbooks: 7 Reasons To Avoid These Ultraportable Laptops

By Patrick Rielly
By , Last updated on: 12/3/2014

Whether they are called netbooks, ultramobiles, or ultraportable PCs, these small, sleek computers are all the rave in the world of personal computing. Here's why you shouldn't succumb to the hype surrounding this emerging market:

1. Don't Expect to Do More Than Surf The Web

When you're buying a netbook, do your research. If it's portable internet browsing that you're after, netbooks might be your best bet. But beware: many are designed to be internet browsers and e-mail checkers—and nothing more. Some cannot perform even basic computing tasks (e.g. word processing). Some companies have souped up these mini-internet browsers so that they are essentially laptops, but that just means more money out of your pocket.

2. Miniscule Memory

When you buy a netbook, don't necessarily expect to be getting a small computer on the cheap. Many netbooks are capable of nothing more than internet browsing. In order to minimize size, netbook manufacturers have scrimped on basic computing commodities—including memory. Many netbooks have a pitiful internal memory while others rely on external flash drives that have to be purchased separately.

3. Terrible Typing on Tiny Keyboards

Let's be honest; laptop keyboards are a difficult bunch. Sometimes the keys are too sensitive; sometimes they have bizarre layouts; and sometimes the keys are just too small. The small size of netbooks intensifies this problem. For those with large hands, typing might already be an issue, and, on a netbook, it may be a nightmare.

4. Screens for Squinters

With screens ranging from 5" to 8.9," netbooks are not for the far-sighted. Have you ever squinted to read diminutive text on your 15" laptop screen? If you have, then prepare to spend a good deal of time hunching over your netbook. Size is a selling point for netbooks, but size can also have limitations. Since web surfing and e-mail checking are primary functions of netbooks, you may want to get your eyes checked before purchasing one.

5. Power Problems

If the draw is portability, then battery life better be stellar. When you're on a plane, you can't afford to have your computer bite the dust halfway into the flight. Netbook manufacturers, however, have sliced down battery size—and power—to achieve such compactness. Not only that, some netbooks come equipped with heavy external batteries that you'll have to lug around with you and your "ultraportable" computer.

6. Price

The advertised prices for netbooks are just as small as the actual computers, but do they really go for under $400? After all the add-ons and accessories, the price you'll pay for a netbook might not be as advertised. Netbooks perform only the most basic tasks, and if you're spending upwards of $500 for internet browsing, why not spring for a little more and get a basic laptop—or take home a few more bills and get a fancy cell phone?

7. Netbooks Do What Cell Phones Do But Bigger

With technology getting increasingly smaller and sleeker, cell phones have acquired a variety of advanced functions including internet browsing and e-mail capabilities. Apple pushed the envelope with the new iPhone 3G by improving memory, internet accessibility, and usability on their already successful smartphone model. With a chic design and plenty of room for music, photographs, and videos, the iPhone 3G combines performance and style. Oh yeah, and you can call people with it.

Other manufacturers are taking Apple's cue. In addition the variety of its organizational tools, BlackBerry is jumping on the touch-screen bandwagon in an effort to challenge iPhone supremacy. With internet access in demand, many basic phones come equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Everyone from Samsung to Sony to Nokia is competing to provide the best features for users on the go. Cell phone technology is advancing so rapidly and smartphones are becoming so capable that you have to ask yourself: why bother with a netbook?


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