Do you need a netbook?

Last reviewed: December 2011
Asus Eee PC 1015PX-MU17-WT
Asus Eee PC 1015PX-MU17-WT
 
Gateway LT2802U
Gateway LT2802U
 

A tablet is lighter, faster, and better for movies or games than the 10-inch, budget laptop known as a netbook. Here are a few reasons a netbook might make sense:

It's cheaper

Tablets with screens about the same size as a netbook's usually cost $500 or more, compared with $300 or less for netbooks. Seven-inch tablets cost less but offer only about half the viewing area.

You need a keyboard

For serious work, a netbook's keyboard beats a tablet's onscreen keys. Many tablets accept external keyboards, available at additional cost.

You create lots of content

A netbook runs standard office applications. Apps for tablets can perform many of the same functions, but they may not be as full-featured. Netbooks usually have 250GB of storage, compared with 8 to 64GB for most tablets.

A netbook makes wired connections

A network port for a wired connection to printers or other devices is standard equipment on a netbook, but not on most of the tablets we've tested.

Bottom line

If a netbook is right for you, here are some models we recommend: The Asus Eee PC 1015PX-MU17-WT, $280, which has a very good display; the Gateway LT2802U, $200, which has more than 9 hours of battery life; and the Acer Aspire One AOD255E-13877, $270, which has 10 hours of battery life.