Windows 7 brings more confusion to notebook tagging

By Justin Mann on October 20, 2009, 5:15 PM
If someone asked you to explain what a netbook is, what would you say? The answer would vary greatly based on whom you asked, as well as whether you were asking a person or a corporation. With so many categories of portable computer available, from notebook to netbook to ultraportable to ultrathin and more, the lines are going to be blurred, especially without an industry-standard of what is what.

People are expecting this problem to become more convoluted when a plethora of new laptops pre-loaded with Windows 7 go up for sale this week. Many of the laptops will be small in scale, with form factors under 12 inches and many physical characteristics that might say "netbook". The marketers behind them don't always like that label -- saying they are ultrathin or ultraportable devices intended for a different market segment then netbooks.

But where does one category end and another begin? The severe overlap is complicated further by the fact that no manufacturers can agree on a standard in any category, from size to performance to storage capacity to price. And given that all of those factors are subject to change as technology improves, last year's ultraportable might be next year's netbook. As the article brings out, it also doesn't help that many manufacturers see netbooks as more of a fad than a real market segment, expected to phase out as the other categories become more well-defined.

Will they, however? That's the big question, and one that is hopefully solved soon. If you have tried shopping for a laptop recently, I wouldn't blame you for being confused by the sheer number of categories out there. So, if you had to come up with a solution that fit all portable computers, how would you define and categorize netbooks, notebooks, ultraportables and ultrathins?

User Comments: 4

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Guest said:

many manufacturers HOPE that netbooks are more of a fad....... not much money in it for them.

I really dig my netbook. I bought a brand new Acer AAO150 for £150.00 in the UK. It handles all of my day to day computing (general browsing, email, impromptu googling to settle arguements, etc.). Cheap, light, quiet and extremely useful PC.

I save my 17" monster C2D laptop for the heavy duty music & video work when I'm feeling creative. I need that big screen for the serious stuff.


Guest said:

I would suggest that all laptops and the variations that follow them have the windows performance score highlighted to the user. This would give the user some idea of the capability of the machine.

Captain828 Captain828 said:

I would categorise them like so:


- under 13.3"

- cheap (under $1000)

- high battery life

- typically Atom-based


- varying dimensions, from 13.3" to 20.1"

- better performance than a Netbook

- can become a desktop replacement

- can become a workstation replacement (only few models apply)

- usually not very great battery life

- typically heavier than the rest of the categories


- from 10" to 14"

- higher quality build

- better performance than a Netbook (optional)

- similar performance to a Notebook (optional)

- usually overpriced (clearly optional :p )

- high battery life


- from 13.3" to 15.6"

- better performance than a Netbook

- similar performance to a Notebook (optional)

- low profile: under an inch thick and low weight

- cheaper than Ultraportables, but lacking aluminium body frames (optional)

- high battery life

- typically CULV-based

As it can be seen, some categories slightly overlap others.

Personally, I have an Acer Timeline 15.6" 5810TG that comes with a dual-core ULV, 4GB RAM, a hybrid dual-GPU system and has some 5h+ of battery.

I like to use my powerful desktop with the big screen for serious work (and gaming :p ).

Erik Erik said:

The way I would set the categories


- under 12"

- under $500


- over 12" under 17"

- thicker than 1"

Desktop Replacements:

- over 17"


- under 12"

- over $500


- thinner than 1"

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