Thursday, September 30, 2010

The difference between a Notebook Laptop and a Netbook Laptop

In July this year I travelled to Ghanzi and visited a friend of mine.  I found him with a very wonderful sleek laptop very shiny. I praised the product and commended my friend for having bought such a nice laptop.  After a while he complained that his new laptop does not have CD ROM or a DVD/RW. He explained how he had taken it to a computer technician who promised to install one on his new laptop.  I quickly pointed out to my friend that what he bought was in fact a Netbook and not a Notebook laptop. Well to him a laptop is a laptop.

It’s interesting to note how many people find themselves in such situations. So I had to do a bit of some explanation to my friend.  Therefore in this article we will try and explain three salient differences between a Notebook and a Netbook.  The same ones I gave my friend.  Obviously this may not be exhaustive but it will be good enough to let you know and differentiate a Notebook from a Netbook.  Wait a minute this article is not about which one is better, it’s about the differences. Obviously the intention is to give you knowledge so that the next time you want to purchase a laptop you make a well informed decision. Good luck.


The first evidence is the size; Netbooks are usually smaller than notebook laptops. And normally are quite thin and come in screen sizes starting from maximum size of 10.1” (10.1 inch) going down to 8.1” or even 6.1”. Sharks! bear with me in this part of the world we use metric system. So I should be talking about cm (centimetres). Well I am going to convert for you but remember the retailers quote in Inches. Well there are not bothered or maybe they don’t just understand their customers or they have so much confidence in their customers to know the inches conversion too well.  Here is the conversion 1inch = 2.54 centimetre (i.e. 1” = 2.54cm). That means the biggest Netbook is about 25.7cm and the smallest about 15.5cm. Now that is really small. Just take out your 30cm school ruler and measure that out.  Notebooks or laptops come in various sizes and they range from 12” to 17” (i.e. 30.5cm to 43.2cm).  So what’s the significant difference between a 12.1” (30.5cm) Notebook or laptop and a 10.1” (25.7cm) Netbook? That leads us to the next physical feature you should examine to differentiate.

Optical Drive

This is probably the most important y aspect of the differences between Netbooks and Notebooks/Laptops.  Netbooks do not have optical drives where as Notebook laptops do have optical drives. As the name suggest this drive is visual you can see it where as other drives on the computer you cannot see them, for example the internal hard drive, you cannot see it especially on laptops unless you dismantle or open it up.  The Optical drive comes in three different formats the CD ROM (Compact Disk- Read Only Memory), the DVD/RW (Digital Video Disk/Read Write) and the last one is a combination of the two.  Please don’t stop reading it’s just for my technical friends but also good to be informed of just the names so you can interpret them when you are making a purchase.
Please note that you can use an external optical drive on a Netbook using a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable.  So the next time you want to buy a Netbook you decide whether you don’t mind an external optical drive otherwise go for a Notebook.


For the weight I just want to give an indication since most of us won’t carry a scale to the shop to weigh the laptops so that we can know whether it’s a Notebook or a Netbook.  That’s not just practical. A Netbook with a size of 10.1” (25.7cm) will usually weigh about 2.8lb or pounds (i.e. approximately 1.27kg at a conversion rate of 1lb=0.4536kg).  A Notebook of size 15.6” (39.6cm) would have weight of approximately 5.9lb (i.e. approximately 2.68kg). As I have said this is just an indication but may be it will add value to our dear ladies who would otherwise find carrying a Notebook laptop a bit heavier. But it’s something to look out for if weight is one of the issues you are considering when you make a purchase.

The above three features are in my view the most important distinguishing factors. There’s a whole lot of talk about other issues like battery life, the screen technology is it full TFT/LCD or TFT combined with LED. But really these are not very important to warrant consideration for a purchase decision.   My intention is to let you know a Notebook from Netbook from afar.  In terms of performance the two gadgets are basically the same and largely depend on the specifications.
Please do me a favour go out to shops like HIFI corporations, incredible connections etc and check out some laptops and see if you can be able to pick out these differences. If you would probably want to spell out some more distinguish features please comment. I will appreciate any comment as well.

If you are about to make a purchase and you are not sure which one you want, please feel free to contact me for advice. Because you are not buying that laptop for the sake of it you want it for some benefit and that’s what you want your laptop to meet.

To your maximum benefits!  Cheers!
George M Mutale, OCP, ITIL, CoBIT.

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