What is a netbook PC? A netbook is a relatively new type of computer that has significantly altered the computer market. The netbook has created new opportunities for children, students, and travelers by making compact, lightweight, portable computing available at low cost. Because the netbook computer looks so much like a notebook PC, many people are left with the question, “What is are netbooks?” A netbook is a portable computer that is distinctive based on its size, computing power, and operating systems and peripherals.
A netbooks are smaller and lighter than a laptop, although – over time – larger versions of the netbook are becoming available. Screen sizes of the original 7″ netbooks have given way to models with 10″, 11.6″, and now 12.1″ displays. Even with the largest displays however, the netbook is still smaller than most notebook PCs.
Size and weight reductions are made possible for the netbook primarily because it does not have a built-in optical CDROM or DVD drive. A netbook will typically weigh three pounds or less.
Intel’s Atom processor is designed specifically for the netbook market to run compatible software while making efficient use of battery power. Because of this, a netbook computer is less functional, leaving tasks that require more computer power to notebook and desktop PCs. The introduction of Intel Celeron CPU to the netbook platform has enhanced its performance and expanded its capability.
The netbook computer is traditionally starved for memory, further limiting its computational power. Initially coming with 512 MB and then with 1 GB, the netbook does not have the capacity to match the performance of more robust notebook PCs. Still, the platform is developing with models now available that are equipped with 2 GB of memory out of box and can be upgraded 4 GB.
Netbook hard drive sizes are expanding. The small 80 GB or 100 GB drives that once were standard for netbook equipment have given way to hard drive sizes that make storing more files and installing more applications possible. Faster solid state drives that are lighter and have no moving parts are also available in the netbook platform.
Netbooks first came equipped with a “lite” version of a Linux OS. From the earliest version of Midinix to Intel’s own Moblin 2.0 distribution, Linux continues to power almost one-third of all netbook computers. The future of Linux on netbook computers is untenable at best. A remixed version of Ubuntu Linux, one of the most popular consumer oriented Linux versions, is now available, and the market is anticipating the availability of a netbook-specific operating system from Google. Even with new options available, the advent of netbooks equipped with the more familiar Windows XP interface followed by the availability of Windows 7 Starter Edition, promises to propel Windows to permanent dominance on the platform.
Newer netbook models are available that run full versions of Windows 7, eliminating the operating system as a limiting factor.
Although it is not equipped with an optical drive, a netbook has a lot of functionality that enables it to be considerably functional. In most cases, the netbook has a built-in web cam and microphone, built-in Wi-Fi, speakers, USB ports, HDMI, media card readers and mini expansion slots. As the competition in the netbook market intensifies, expect even more options to become available.
The answer to the question, “What is a netbook computer?” will continue to evolve as the netbook platform increases its operational power and functionality. The small, ultra portable computer is likely to become available in larger sizes, more options, and higher prices than currently available. Still, the size and weight of this class of computer will continue to make it popular for children, students, commuters, and travelers for a long time to come.