Best Netbook

Laptop Computers

A more affordable alternative to traditional laptops, netbooks are portable and convenient for everyday tasks or online programs. Check the specs, storage and display before choosing a netbook to make sure it meets your expectations.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which Netbooks are best?

Netbooks first appeared on the market in the late 2000s as a kind of miniature laptop. They are usually less expensive than traditional laptops or desktop computers. Although they look similar to laptops with a built-in keyboard and trackpad, netbooks are more similar to a tablet or smartphone than they are to more advanced machines.

When purchasing a netbook, consider what types of specs it has in relation to what you need it to do. If, for example, you need a straightforward machine that’s good for business or general web surfing, then this compact Lenovo 300e 2-in-1 netbook may be perfect for you.

What to know before you buy a netbook

Screen display

For laptops and desktops, most people prefer a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This allows for a crisp image and reduces any blurred effects from showing up on the screen.

On most netbooks, however, the maximum resolution is usually a little smaller. The Lenovo 300e has a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768, for instance. Other netbooks have a resolution around 1024 x 600. Although the screen display of most netbooks may not be the Full HD, it’s still clear enough for most things like images or videos.

Another thing to consider is the color accuracy. Some netbooks offer better color accuracy than others, which matters when it comes to digital art and photographs.

Convertibility

Some netbooks have a touchscreen, which is ideal for those who are used to a smartphone or tablet and want something with a similar function. Certain netbooks have a 2-in-1 design, meaning they have a keyboard as well.

Size and weight

Netbooks are usually much smaller, lighter and more portable than traditional laptops. For newer models, the screen size is around 10 to 11.5 inches when measured diagonally. Older machines have a smaller screen around 7 inches. On average, a netbook weighs around 2.2 pounds or less. The size combined with the weight makes netbooks ideal for those on the go.

General use

Since netbooks are smaller than laptops or desktops, most of these machines have simpler components. Netbooks aren’t built with the same powerful processors of other systems, which limits them to basic, everyday tasks.

Many netbooks can run programs like Microsoft Office or basic computer games, but not all. Be sure to check the system requirements of any programs or games you want to use before getting a netbook.

Processor

A good processor is key when it comes to running any software or programs on a netbook, laptop or desktop. Like traditional laptops, most netbooks use either an Intel or AMD processor.

However, this processor is usually smaller and less powerful than the processor in larger machines. This helps keep them affordable, but does limit their capacity to run CPU-heavy tasks. This makes netbooks ideal for day-to-day work or school tasks like research or typing.

Before getting a netbook, compare its CPU with others to see where it stacks up. This is a great way to see if the machine can handle what you need it to.

What to look for in a quality netbook

Storage

Most netbooks offer between 64GB and 128GB storage space. Laptops and desktops, in comparison, usually have at least 512GB storage with the option for future upgrades. For the average user who just wants to perform basic tasks or store a few videos or some music, 128GB is generally enough.

It is also possible to improve the storage of a netbook with an external flash drive or SD card. Not only that, but some of the more expensive netbooks feature a faster solid-state drive storage option. This allows the machine to save and run programs more quickly.

RAM

RAM, or random-access memory, is a temporary storage area in computer devices that basically allows programs to run at any given moment. It works hand in hand with CPU to ensure the quick startup of applications and simultaneous use of multiple programs or tasks.

Most modern laptops have at least 8GB RAM with the possibility of upgrades. Netbooks only come with 4GB RAM on average. While 4GB RAM is enough for casual users, it may not be enough for someone who intends to run more intensive programs or perform multiple heavy tasks at once.

Operating system

Most netbooks run on the Windows OS, but there are some models that use either a Chrome, Linux or Android operating system. Avoid any headache when using the machine by choosing an operating system you like or are used to. Make sure it is compatible with the programs you plan to run.

Battery life

One of the best things about netbooks is their portability, which is made possible by their long battery life. Things like powerful programs, constant use and games can eat up a battery life, which is why most traditional laptops have between three and 10 hours of battery life. But netbooks usually last longer at full charge, since they have simpler specs and are designed to only run basic software.

Hinges

One of the most common issues for both netbooks and laptops is the hinges. Some hinges are constructed close together while others are far apart. The design of the hinges contributes to the ease of opening and closing the machine. In most cases, the hinges should last around three years or so.

However, some hinges are not as durable. A common issue with netbooks and laptops is that they become loose and stop functioning properly. Left untreated, this may cause damage to the internal wires and the screen itself. Check for reviews that mention hinge problems when choosing a netbook or any other machine.

How much you can expect to spend on a netbook

Low-end netbooks cost around $150, while 2-in-1 designs or those with additional storage space and faster processors may cost between $150-$350.

Netbook FAQ

What are netbooks good for?

A. Netbooks are ideal for basic, everyday tasks like surfing the internet, streaming YouTube videos, online research, checking email, typing or similar tasks. Most netbooks can run web-based software and apps with ease.

What are the differences between a tablet and a netbook?

A. The biggest difference between a tablet and a netbook is the built-in keyboard. While some tablets may have the option for a keyboard, netbooks look and function more like laptops. Netbooks also may offer more storage space, a better processor and more RAM than tablets.

What’s the best netbook to buy?

Top netbook

Lenovo 300e 2-in-1 Netbook

Lenovo 300e 2-in-1 Netbook

What you need to know: This machine has a powerful CPU that can handle medium to moderately intense programs, but is still portable and less expensive than most laptops.

What you’ll love: With an 11.6-inch screen size and decent resolution, this netbook offers a clear image. It also has around eight hours of battery life and great power efficiency for those on the go.

What you should consider: This netbook does not have an ethernet port, so you’ll need reliable Wi-Fi to connect to the internet.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top netbook for the money

HP Chromebook 11a

HP Chromebook 11a

What you need to know: This budget-friendly netbook runs on the Chrome operating system and can perform simple tasks, such as word processing or video streaming.

What you’ll love: As an entry-level machine, this netbook is great for students who need something that’s simple and sturdy. This netbook offers 4GB RAM and 32GB storage, so it’s ideal for online use.

What you should consider: There’s no touchscreen display. Newer models at a slightly higher price point offer better performance for those who need something that can handle more tasks.

Where to buy: Sold by HP

Worth checking out

ASUS Ultra Thin L210 Laptop

ASUS Ultra Thin L210 Laptop  

What you need to know: More in line with a traditional laptop, this machine is powerful, lightweight, portable and capable of running more programs than most netbooks.

What you’ll love: Made with sturdy components for added durability, this machine has an 11.6-inch HD display and runs on an Intel processor. It has a full-sized, backlit keyboard and 64GB storage.

What you should consider: With only 4GB RAM, it may be difficult to run multiple tasks or more demanding programs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.