Ditching the bulky laptop for a sleek netbook

I’ve travelled extensively with a trusty 13” MacBook laptop. While 13” is at the smaller end of the laptop market in terms of physical size, it’s still quite tiresome to travel with. This becomes evident at airport security check-ins when I’m required to remove the laptop from my bag and have it scanned separately. I swear at each check-in it feels 5kg heavier than it actually is.

With that in mind, I’ve started to search for an alternative which is both powerful enough to handle my work and small enough to be a suitable travel companion. With the popularity of netbooks increasing, I thought it would be a suitable time to discover them for myself.

What exactly is a Netbook?

A netbook is a cheaper, smaller and generally slower alternative to the standard laptop. While it was originally built as a device to browse the internet, newer models have significantly more power which allows you to do more substantial computer tasks.


A major factor behind the rapid growth of the netbook is its size. Portability is paramount when you’re trying to fit your life into a backpack. Generally a netbook will have a screen size in the 8 to 12 inch range and shouldn’t weigh more than 2 to 3 pounds. One method used to reduce weight has been the omission of an optical drive, so if you’re heavily reliant on the use of CD and DVDs, a netbook may not be a suitable option for you.


The standout difference between netbooks and their laptop counterparts is power. They simple aren’t built to perform high-end computer tasks. Luckily, from a travel standpoint, it’s unlikely that you will need to do high-end computer tasks while on the road. From experience, the majority of travelers I encounter use their laptop to check emails, book flights, upload photos and communicate with loved ones. They use their device to consume, rather than produce. And that’s exactly what the netbook is built to do, consume.


The majority of netbooks are in the $250 to $500 price range. Depending on how much you decide to spend will determine the quality and performance of your machine. If browsing the internet is your only need, a netbook at the lower end of the price scale will most likely be adequate enough. If you plan to use the machine for work, I’d suggest finding a netbook with enough power to multitask and handle resource hungry software.

Who are they made for?

They’re perfect for light computer users who need a device to check emails, browse the ‘net, create word documents, consume media and organise photos. If that sounds like your computing behaviour, you’d make an ideal netbook owner.

If you’re a high-end computer user, you would be well aware what computer specifications you need to complete your tasks. Chances are a netbook won’t cut it. However if you’re still looking for a lightweight laptop which has considerable power, a MacBook Air may be a viable alternative.

Will it make a good travel companion?

Granted that you have realistic expectations of your netbooks ability, it will make a terrific travel companion. The more I travel, the more I realise how little I need to pack. This is especially true for electronics. Reducing the size and weight of my laptop allows me to move more freely through airports and between destinations. When I need to use it, I’m not burdened by excessive heat and size like I would be if I was using a regular laptop. It’s nimble and light enough to be placed anywhere you need to use it.

What netbook would you recommend?

As mentioned earlier, I’d advise to spend between $250 and $500 on a quality netbook. If you spend more, you might want to start thinking about purchasing a low-end laptop instead. If you spend less, the quality and performance of the netbook would most likely be quite poor. With that in mind, here are a couple of popular models to consider.

ASUS Eee PC 1001PX-EU17-BK 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black)

Toshiba Mini NB255-N245 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black Oynx)

HP Mini 110-3130NR 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black)

ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1215N-PU17-BK 12.1-Inch Netbook

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Would you consider using a netbook for your next adventure? Or perhaps you’d leave the laptop range altogether for a tablet device such as an iPad? Leave your comments below.

Submitted on: December 29 2010 DMCA.com Protection Status
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