What Is A Netbook – How It Differs From a Laptop – 2023 Definitions

Updated on January 8, 2023
what is a netbook

Before tablets became a thing, netbooks were so popular for doing basic computing experience conveniently. These ultraportable minicomputers were cost- and power-efficient back in the days, with price tags of under $300.

The development of netbooks has made a huge impact on how we lived our lives.

They were so popular since the initial release that different types of netbooks were then made available as prices continued to skyrocket. At the same time, classic laptop prices fell drastically.

Nonetheless, netbooks started to fade out when tablets were released and made available to consumers.

To learn more about the history and the rise and fall of netbooks, read on.

What Is A Netbook?


Netbooks, unlike today’s tablets, aren’t that fast.

They utilize a specific type of processor that’s different from the classic laptops. Also, these aren’t fast since they are designed to be power efficient.

The main focus and use of these netbooks include:

Gamers and professional content creators will have to resort to a more powerful computer to carry on and meet their demands.


The first netbooks only have a 7-inch screen size compared to today’s laptops that fall under the same category. Not to mention that these low-resolution screens are not touchscreens, which, is yet another reason why they are inexpensive.

You can find laptops that fall under the same category as netbooks but they come in 10- to around 12-inch in size.


Netbooks back in the days are surprisingly light, with just over two pounds in weight compared to their traditional laptop brethren, which weight around 5 or so pounds.

Over the years, things have changed.

Portability is very important for people nowadays and as such, manufacturers designed today’s laptops to be smaller and lighter. In fact, today’s laptops only weight 3 to 4 pounds compared to 5 or so pounds back in the days.


You’d be surprised to think that netbooks were among the first personal computers that use SSD (Solid State Drive). However, they offer a lower performance compared to the standard SATA based drives.

They use SSDs with 32GB to 64GB of storage space. It’s the fact that they are small in size, durable, and low in power consumption that makes them ideal and perfect for these mobile computers.

Laptops today are designed with SSDs that are significantly faster than the types of SSDs netbooks used back in the days.

The First Netbook in 2007

Netbooks started when Asus released the first netbook, Asus Eee PC, back in 2007.

It utilizes a Linux-based OS, no optical drive, and an SSD. To top that off, this has a long battery life on a 7-inch display screen. The keyboard isn’t something that’s worth mentioning though.

This ultraportable laptop became so popular that in just four months, it sold over 300,000 units.

Dell and Acer then started producing their own versions of inexpensive netbooks soon after.

The Fall of Netbook

Everything was fine and all until netbooks moved to Windows OS and heavier hardware components.

Windows Vista was the latest version of Windows when netbooks switched to Windows OS.

This is where things started to go south.

Windows Vista was just too heavy for these slow and basic netbooks, which led Microsoft to revive Windows XP to run on these ultraportable computers.

Even after the revision, there’s still lack of power. In hopes to remedy the problem, manufacturers started to alter the netbooks and made configurations with the hardware.

They started using traditional Windows laptop hardware, which then led to the production of heavier netbooks. More and more change and alteration were made, but it all led to more problems than answers.

In 2009, CNET finally wrote:

Netbooks are nothing more than smaller, cheaper notebooks.

The problem got worse by the minute and manufacturers decided to optimize Windows 7 to work well on these slow netbooks. The production of netbooks shipped with a “Windows 7 Starter Edition” then started.

Even after the introduction of Windows 8 and so-called “improvements”, netbooks didn’t perform all that well.

Prices started dropping rapidly and people started buying enough netbooks only to realize they don’t want to use them anymore.

Final Words – The Future of Netbooks

In general, netbooks were great and limited only for basic use such as browsing and email.

Just recently, manufacturers and companies looked back and took the concept of netbooks to come up with really affordable compact laptops. They share similar specs of traditional netbooks but used a different name for obvious reasons.

Article by:
Kenny Trinh
While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur. His writing has been featured in national publications such as Forbes, RD, Yahoo Finance, HackerNoon among others.

Leave a Comment