Netbooks are small, lightweight and inexpensive notebook computers that are made for use as portable Internet capable devices.

Netbook or ultraportable notebook?

The line between netbooks and ultraportable notebooks is blurring as netbooks become larger with more computing power while ultraportable notebooks become smaller or more lightweight with less computing power. Yet there are still some fundamental differences, namely:

  • Netbooks are generally still significantly cheaper than ultraportable notebooks
  • Netbooks will often come with operating systems tailored for a device with less power (e.g. Windows Starter or netbook-oriented Linux distributions) while ultraportable notebooks will come with a standard desktop operating system (e.g. Windows 7 or Mac OS X)
  • Netbooks are optimised for use as a portable Internet capable device meaning less power, less storage space and no optical devices (e.g. DVD reader/writer)
  • Netbooks  have a much longer battery life than ultraportable notebooks due to their reduced computing power

The device that you chose – netbooks or ultraportable notebook – will ultimately depend on your needs.

Advantages of netbooks

  • Portability. Netbooks are small enough to easily store in a backpack or handbag, light enough to be easily carried, and durable.
  • Speed. Netbooks are powerful enough to run just about any assistive technology, including JAWS. This plus the portability of a netbook means that you can take your netbook with custom settings and assistive technology anywhere easily.
  • Added devices. Netbooks come with the ability to plug in a full-sized monitor, as well as other devices such as a mouse or keyboard. If all you need is a netbook for your everyday needs, you can effectively convert your netbook into a desktop with monitor, mouse, keyboard and other devices when you are at home.
  • Affordability. Netbook are affordable, costing on average around $600.

Disadvantages of netbooks

  • Size. While the small size of a netbook increases its portability, it also means that the screen and keyboard will be small when compared to the larger notebooks or desktop computers. The smaller keyboard may lead to discomfort when typing.
  • Speed. While netbooks are powerful enough to run just about any assistive technology, they aren't powerful enough to run resource-intensive software such as advanced graphics editing programs like Adobe Photoshop or most modern computer games.
  • Operating system. Some netbooks come with Microsoft Windows 7 Starter which, unlike the fully featured screen magnifier found in Windows 7 Home and above, only includes a basic screen magnifier.
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