Netbooks: Why “Cheap” Isn’t Everything

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Netbooks: Why “Cheap” Isn’t Everything

Everyone knows someone by now that has a netbook or has recently considered getting one. After all, who doesn’t want a smaller, lighter computing experience that is cheap as well? In fact, companies are falling over themselves giving them away for everything from signing up for a new cell phone plan to changing internet service providers. If kept in perspective, having a netbook can be a great experience. Still, it is important to remember that, as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for,” not “you get what you expect.”

With an average starting price of $300, a netbook can seem like an obvious win-win situation when looking for a mobile computing device. It is also easy to talk yourself into accepting the obvious limitations of not having a cd-rom drive and having a smaller screen and keyboard. Unfortunately those that merely consider price above all else will realize much too late that they can’t stand their netbook!

Who Are Netbooks For?

Netbooks are excellent computers for younger students getting used to having their first mobile computer, as well as consumers that want a convenient way to check stock prices, e-mail, and news articles on the go. Mobile sales professionals that have a need to check into the office for small amounts of time between flights will love the ability to slip a netbook into carry-on luggage, while still having the benefits of a familiar Windows or Windows-style interface. Finally, technicians who need to run basic diagnostic programs, anyone needing to carry manuals or regulations along with them for work, or those merely wanting to check the news over breakfast at the local coffee shop will find the size and basic features sufficient.

What Are the Drawbacks?

Whenever size is a factor in electronics, batteries must be smaller. Even brand new, a netbooks battery can be found to last 2.5 hours on a good day. These batteries also tend to stop holding a full charge within the first six to eight months of ownership, assuming normal use. Both of these issues will have consumers running for an outlet far more than they would expect from a mobile computing device.

While a netbook’s size is a definite benefit for mobile computer users, it is also a drawback. Those wanting to spend more than an hour in front of the eight inch screens and mini keyboards will often find themselves physically fatigued. Even if a user has perfect eyesight and tiny hands, they may still find themselves frustrated with the limitations of screen size when trying to do anything more involved than simple computer browsing.

So everyone wants an ultra-light mobile computer with maximum battery life and top of the line computing speed, right? Until we advance toward Star Trek technology, something always has to give. Unfortunately the size of the processors necessary to fit within the size and battery use limits of most netbooks do not offer anywhere near the computing power of any other laptop, notebook or tablet.

USB Ports
A mobile USB mouse is almost required when using a netbook due to the strange placement of most touchpads and the overall dislike of touchpads by most mobile computer users. It would not be unexpected for a user to want to plug in an external storage device for data storage purposes. It is too bad that these two items would use the available USB ports of most netbooks, requiring users to repeatedly plug and unplug USB devices.

CD-ROM Drive Woes
Now that the shiny new netbook is out of the box, it’s time to install a program or two from CDs, right? Sorry. Updating Facebook and suddenly a need to hear your favorite CD comes out of nowhere? Uh oh. Unfortunately there is no cd-rom drive on most netbooks. Of course, we understand that most companies are forcing users to download software directly, and that the CD as a popular media format is all but dead. Still there are a significant number of applications that users must install from CD, and almost all users have an older application that they only have on a CD. Finally, if a user is unlucky enough to have to use the restore CDs to get their netbook running again, an external CD-ROM drive ends up being another unforeseen expense.

System Restore
Trying to find out whether a netbook has a restore partition and actually getting it to work when needed can be a definite mess. There are those manufacturers that are less than helpful with actually identifying which of their models support instant restore vs. those that require a set of CDs, which only adds to the mystery. The last thing a user needs to deal with while their mobile computer is crashing is the uncertainty that they may have to jump through several hoops to get it working again.

Perspective Is Everything

A netbook can be a great addition to other mobile and desktop computing devices that a user currently uses, as long as they know what they are getting into upfront. However, any user that plans to spend several hours at a time with their mobile computing device, or anyone looking to play advanced computer games need to understand that they will not be happy with any attempt to do these things on a netbook. We at Xcentech are happy to answer questions related to mobile computer device selection because we want to make sure our customers enjoy their computing experiences. CONTACT US TODAY!

Happy mobile computing!

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