Netbook vs Notebook
2012 Student Laptop Comparison

This 'battle' of Netbook vs Notebook is written from a college student's perspective. My goal is to educate visitors on picking the best student laptop for 2012. While netbooks were never SUPER popular in the main marketplace, they definitely have their place with college students.

I used to see students bring in netbooks to class and think: "What's the big deal about Netbooks? They're smaller, but they can't do anything except take notes. Why not just buy a notebook?" So it was actually kind of fun to research them a bit further and put a page up on the subject.

2012 Netbooks for Students

HP Mini Netbook

As of 2011, netbooks are not as different compared to notebooks as they have been in the past few years. I've seen netbooks with 12-inch screens, which is equivalent to a smaller notebook. Their hardware has also been boosted quite a bit as well, that is to say, they can run many applications and processes just as fast as a standard notebook.

The 2012 netbook models will be a lot like an iPad. Great wireless capabilities, internet surfing, lightweight (around 3.5 lbs), cheaper than notebooks, and photo, video and multimedia playback - some even have touchscreen capabilities.

Netbook vs Notebook:
Netbooks - Pros and Cons for College Students


  • Portability - Extremely lightweight (oddly in fact). Average netbooks weight about 3.5 lbs

  • Affordability - On average, new netbooks cost around $250 to $500

  • Operating Systems - Some netbooks are equipped with innovative OS's (Chrome, Android, etc.)


  • Hardware Deprived - No DVD drive, smaller hard drive, and less memory to name a few

  • Smaller...Everything - Screen is smaller, keyboard is smaller, everything is smaller

  • Limited Operating Systems - Most come with Windows 7 Starter. What some might see as a positive thing, you must keep in mind that netbooks are not meant to be an all-purpose computer.

2012 Notebooks for Students

While netbooks are getting bigger, so are notebooks; you can buy laptops with an 18.4" display. Standard notebok laptops are typically pre-built with more memory, bigger hard drive, a DVD drive, and a full version of Windows 7, as opposed to the standard pre-built netbook.

Aside from the obvious size difference, mid-range to upper-end notebooks can handle just about any application; this includes PC games, high-end graphics software, and obviously running DVD/CD, which is where the netbooks come up short.

Netbook vs Notebook
Notebooks - Pros and Cons for College Students


  • Software Capabilities - Besides the cheaper laptops, notebooks can run just about any application

  • Full Size Display/Keyboard - Keyboard is easier to type on. No squinting 4" from display trying to figure out small images

  • All the Extras - Equipped with a DVD drive, HDMI output, more USB slots, larger speakers, ethernet line, and some models have even more outputs.


  • Big and Heavy - The bigger they are, the heavier. Carrying 17" display notebooks around can be exhausting for some.

  • Cost - More expensive than netbooks. Notebooks under $350 typically don't carry a lot of hardware. An well-equipped notebook will run at least $450

  • Operating Systems - Windows 7 is great. But some netbooks offer the newer, easy-to-use and innovative OS's

Netbook vs Notebook:
College Student Usefulness

Strictly from a college student's standpoint, the netbook might look like the more attractive choice. Students can use netbooks to research on the Internet, use word processors for writing papers and taking notes, and run web based apps; all the while carrying a smaller, cheaper, and more portable laptop.

However, netbooks can have some serious setbacks in college. Some books now come with mandatory software in DVD format, and netbooks do not have a DVD drive...I suppose you could always buy an external DVD drive, but that obviously costs money.

Computer science majors should probably stay away from netbooks as well. Any programs that need the extra hardware, such as games, IT applications, or graphics programs won't run optimally without the power of a notebook.

Research other Laptops for Students
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