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Notebook, Netbook, or Tablet: Which is Best for You?

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If you're in the market for a new portable PC, you have lots of options available. You can choose from traditional notebooks, desktop replacement models, netbooks, and ultrabooks — and you may even want to throw a tablet PC into the mix. What type of notebook is best for you? In this article, author Michael Miller discusses the pros and cons of each type of notebook, and helps you make the best choice for your personal needs.
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Are you in the market for a new portable computer? If so, you’ve no doubt seen the myriad choices available today. There are the traditional notebooks, and lots of them, as well as larger desktop replacement models and (much) smaller netbooks. The newest thing is something called an ultrabook, and then there are tablet PCs to consider, as well.

How in the world do you decide what type of notebook to buy?

The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with the different types of notebooks available. Then you can pick the type that best fits your personal needs.

The Traditional Notebook

We’ll start with the most popular type of notebook computer today, the so-called traditional notebook. What makes it traditional is how many people own one; it’s the dominant form factor, both in terms of models offered and units sold. In fact, when you walk into the computer section of a Best Buy or similar consumer electronics store, you’ll find more traditional notebooks than you will any other type of PC.

When we’re talking about a traditional notebook, here’s what you’re likely to find:

  • Screens in the 14” to 16” range (15.4” seems to be the most popular screen size)
  • Hard drives ranging in size from 320GB to 750GB
  • Anywhere from 4GB to 8GB of memory
  • Combo CD/DVD drive
  • Built-in webcam
  • Decent selection of USB ports
  • Battery life in the 2-4 hour range

Figure 1 A traditional notebook from HP.

Many traditional notebooks include media card readers, which you can use with your digital camera’s flash memory card. Some also include HDMI ports for connecting your PC to your living room TV.

When it comes to price, you can find traditional notebooks as low as $300 (on sale) or as high as $700. You pay more for a larger hard disk, more powerful processor, and more memory.

Especially when you’re looking at models on sale, these are typically the best bargains in computers today. That’s due to a few factors – there’s a lot of competition, which brings down the prices, and they sell a lot of them, which brings savings in volume. In any case, traditional notebooks do the job for most users, hence this categories popularity.

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