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Ultrabooks vs netbooks compared- is it over for the cheap 10-12 laptops?

By Mark , updated on November 8, 2013

Enthusiasts and mighty Intel claimed that ultrabooks will be a major game changer and that by 2013, this new ultra thin laptops will dominate the market of personal computers.

Of course, we have to keep things into perspective and realize that the ultrabook is a natural successor of a couple of devices, including the netbook.

The netbook enjoyed mainstream praise around 2007 and beyond, when Asus released the first line of mini laptops, packing a mere 4 GB of storage and a slow Celeron processor. Things evolved fast and, as we speak, 10 inch netbooks pack dual core processors, HD screens and even dedicated video cards.

While it’s clear that an ultrabook can kick a netbook’s behind any day of the week in terms of specs and mere functionality, let’s see how each of these types of devices can serve specific purposes for different types of users.

The little engine that could

Netbooks grew from being the odd thing on the store shelf to proper computers, able to deal with the needs of almost pretentious users. Contemporary netbooks pack dual core low voltage processors from Intel or AMD. The latest released AMD Fusion, a platform that combines a processor with an integrated video card able to deal with HD decoding and some gaming.

Combined with as much as 4 GB of RAM, Windows 7 and, sometimes, a 10 hour battery, these 1-1.5 kg mini laptops can act as a great secondary computer. It’s easy to carry around, it’s sturdy, keeps you connected at all times (some even have 3G modems) and cost as low as 250 bucks. A netbook can deal with browsing, word processing, video and audio playback, some gaming and other entry to mid level apps.

Netbooks are small and light, but have significant performance limitations

Netbooks are small and light, but have significant performance limitations

In comparison to an ultrabook, the range of even the best of netbooks is kind of limited, but you have to keep in mind that an ultrabook costs 4 or 5 times the price. So if you’re after a form factor computer for basic tasks, but which can deliver a little HD fun on the side, check out a netbook first.

It will cost way less than an ultrabook and you won’t feel like all the horsepower of the later is wasted because you don’t require that kind of computing performance.

For in depth info about netbooks, check out our dedicated article about the best netbooks of 2011.

The season of the anorexic

MacBook Air did it first- a slim and powerful computer, that’s basically always on, has a great battery and it’s also a style statement. Intel took the concept further, naming it ultrabook, and offered manufacturers the occasion to deliver their own take on the under 0.8 inches thin machine.

Toshiba, Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo jumped aboard and released (or at least introduced) their ultrabooks before 2012 kicks in.

All these machines run on second generation Sandy Bridge processors, have at least 64 GB of SSD storage, HD screens, usually 13.3 inches in diagonal, and batteries able to go on a single charge for as much as 7 to 10 hours.

Now, if you’re a more power user, dealing with resource intensive apps, like video editing, for example, and you also enjoy playing games, the ultrabook is a much more suitable choice than the netbook.

Ultrabooks are, at least on paper, way better than netbooks

Ultrabooks are, at least on paper, way better than netbooks

It’s also a style statement, as this is the gadget to own in the next couple of months, as it’s going to gain more status and hype than any tablet or smart phone, I think. Also, you have to consider prices, as an ultrabook might cost 4 to 6 times the price of a decently equipped netbook.

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Mark is an Editor here at . He's studying Screenwriting and Production in "sunny" London and in his spare time, he works as an IT editor for a couple of mobile publications, like this one.

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