The Difference Between Laptop and Netbook.

portable mini laptops

So what is the difference between laptop and netbook and just what are mini laptops and mini notebooks?

What is a Laptop?

A laptop (also called a notebook) is computer which has been designed to be made portable, featuring a screen hinged to a keyboard. A laptop includes a battery for portable power and a touchpad instead of a mouse for input.

What is a Mini Notebook or Mini Laptop?

'Mini Notebooks' or 'mini laptops' are just other terms for Netbooks. They can also be known as subnotebooks or ultraportables. Netbooks take the ideas from laptop design further still, creating a new market below laptops and notebooks but above handheld computers, smartphones and personal digital assistants. The primary characteristics of these are smaller size and weight, which are pretty similar to the average diary, as well as costing less than a standard laptop with prices starting at around $200 or £150, an excellent solution during the credit crunch!

Although Mini laptops aren’t as powerful as their bigger brother laptop computers, and lack the power for graphically intensive games and programs, they are perfectly OK for email, browsing and office computing duties with the bonus that you can use them just about anywhere.

The difference between laptop and netbook from the hardware perspective is that netbooks don't have built in optical disc drives and due to the smaller physical size screens and keyboards are naturally smaller as well. In practice 9 and 10 inch screens are still perfectly usable for normal computing needs. Just because a screen is reduced in size physically does not mean that the viewing resolution is compromised with most netbooks managing 1024x600 as a minimum.

In any case, portability and connectivity are the central focus for netbooks. Wifi is almost always in reach when travelling, 3G extends this to even more remote locations, external screens, keyboards and drives are available to increase usability when back at your base. So the differences that could be considered compromises are more and more being seen as features that no one should be without.

To sum up, the difference between laptop and netbook is that a netbook is smaller, lighter, cheaper and simpler with greatly enhanced portability.

Mini Laptops and Mini Netbooks - The Future?

New mini laptops are expected to sell in the region of 5.2 million units by the end of 2008, 8 million during 2009 and up to 50 million by 2012 – a ten fold growth. Industry analysts are torn whether or not subnotebooks will cannibalize the laptop market, some suggesting that a mere 10% market share will be taken. However, in this economic downturn, people will always look for cheaper products and with mini laptops available from £150-£200 or $200-$300, perhaps there is a big market after all.

So is it game over for the standard laptop and pc? Unlikely; whilst mini laptops can perform dozens of tasks to identical or similar standard of larger computers, they will (for the time being) be limited by battery size, processing power and storage space, the difference between laptop and netbook is pronounced enough not to make the former obsolete.

Furthermore, when using a computer over a prolonged period of time, it would make sense to use a bigger screen and a faster processor of a desktop replacement laptop or a PC, particularly for demanding programs’ such as games.

Finally, similarly priced but laptops, of varying quality, are available for around £200-300 leading some industry analysts to believe that the consumer focus will be on functionality and not merely size and weight.


The difference between 'laptop' and 'netbook' may seem very vague, but there is certainly space for both to function. If you've got a laptop, even reading this on one, lift it up. Feel the weight of it. Ask yourself, do I need all this extra space? Would I be better off with something smaller and lighter - if the answers yes then please browse the site and hopefully we will be able to help you find something suitable.

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