When figuring out the whole netbook vs laptop debate, one has to follow the 3P rule – Price, portability and performance. The terms are self-explanatory and it’s not rocket science. But buyers will more often than not screw up and end up with the wrong device. Why?
That’s because it’s relative and has to be applied less or more as the user grows up. The first P for Price has to be applied hard when the computer is supposed to be used by children. They have no use for a sizzling quad core CPU or a huge screen that they cannot carry around. Besides, they’ll be dropping the laptop from bunks and spilling ketchup on it, so it’s a bad idea to spend big bucks on netbooks for kids.
So this is what you are looking for – the cheapest and smallest netbook available which your kid can use to learn and play games. A common mistake at this stage is to buy something like an iPad or a 7″ inch Android tablet. That’s too expensive and what kids need more than touch screens in their early formative years is a keyboard and touchpad so they can learn to input better.
To be specific, what you need at this stage is a 7 inch Android netbook. A new model (WolVol or iView) will cost at most $130 and other imported brands can easily be bought for as little as $50 to $85. The Android OS only allows apps instead of software, so it is easier to control what your kids are doing with it. Some educational netbooks come with a balance of learning apps and games and even offer a parental control interface.
Once you grow past this stage where your parents are the deciders, your main buying guide should be the second P or Portability. What you are looking at is something that provides you with connectivity and full-day battery life and is compact and lightweight enough to be tucked into your backpack.
If the first P or Price is not much of an issue, then a tablet may be acceptable. Apple is trying to corner a bigger slice of the market with the Apple iPad mini, said to be an 8″ tablet. But realistically speaking, students get tired of iPads and Android tablets pretty fast and want something a bit more powerful, sleek and stylish.
This is the crowd that is driving the interest in 10″ netbooks. They are cheaper than iPads and the latest models come with nVidia Ion graphics and dual core processors that add a lot more functionality, including 3D Games and real research work and collaboration for school work. The perfect example of this cheap, portable and stylish netbook functionality on a budget is the Asus Eee PC 1015PN.
The next stage, aka the third P for Performance, is where users start feeling the need for a sizzling fast laptop with a powerful processor, optical drives and plenty of redundant storage and extra RAM. So the focus on price and portability takes the backseat, and the price goes up to above $500 and the screen size starts creeping up to 12 to 13 inches and beyond.
But instead of buying huge laptops which need their own case and have to be lugged around like luggage, technological advances have made it possible to combine portability and performance in a mini laptop. Cloud storage and 24/7 connectivity anywhere, everywhere via 3G data cards has eliminated the need for CD/DVD drives built into the device. Eleven to 13 inch compact and lightweight laptops with tremendous computing power offer the best of the second two Ps.
Think about it – you buy a netbook because it is small and lightweight and offers a longer battery life so you can use it all day while you are on the road. The laptops mentioned above do all this better than the thinnest netbooks, and additionally offer a lot of the third P aka Performance.
Now all that stands between you and the perfect device is the first P. Save enough dough to get this irritating first P out of the way and you won’t even have to bother with the whole netbook vs laptop debate.