It’s easy to see why the netbook market has grown enormously over the last 12 months, with all the benefits the form factor provides. Usually, the first thing people notice is the price, as many netbooks fall in the $249 to $499 range.
The other striking feature is their portability, with most netbooks come with screens between 8 and 11 inches, making them easier to stuff in a backpack or purse.
While they make great little portable computers, there are some downsides that must be considered. Due to the price and size, most netbooks run on Intel Atom processors, which are designed to conserve power versus performance. The primary use for netbooks is web surfing, email or productivity apps like Microsoft Word, not editing video, watching HD movies or general multitasking.
The other issue for some is the size of the screen and keyboard. Many netbook screens have a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600. To match the screen size, the built-in keyboard is generally smaller with keys that are usually less than 80% the size of a full size keyboard.
If you’re looking at a netbook, remember that it’s generally recommend as a 2nd computer to be used along side a desktop or laptop at home. However, in those situations, you really can’t beat the portability of having that 2nd computer to bring with you wherever you go. You’ll also want to try out the keyboard on a netbook you’re looking at purchasing to ensure that it’s going to be comfortable for typing out those homework assignments on.
While laptops generally cost more than a cheap netbook, they do come in a much broader spectrum of price points, ranging between $300 for very basic entry-level notebooks up to $2500 for advanced systems.
Fortunately, for most back to school uses that don’t involve lots of HD video editing or other heavy performance tasks, you can often find a good fit in the $400 to $800 range.
One line of laptops you may also want to take a look at is the Next Class Line (No longer available, please see our new Blue Label Selection) line. Best Buy took all the feedback they received from high school and college students on what they wanted in a laptop and went straight to Toshiba, HP, Dell and Sony to create laptops designed for students with features like 12-15 months of pre-installed anti-virus, full version of Office 2007 Home and Student and 3-6 hours of battery life.
If you still have questions on what laptop or netbook you should choose, remember that we have Geek Squad Precincts in every Best Buy with Agents standing by to help and support you with your back to school technology needs.