Laptops, Notebooks and Netbooks; What’s the Difference?

Netbooks, notebooks, ultrabooks and laptops are three words that may seem synonymous or interchangeable, but in actuality the devices all have separate, distinct features, which can confuse consumers shopping for a new computer. For the average computer whiz, the differences between laptops, notebooks, ultrabooks and netbooks seems obvious, but for the technologically-challenged, or even the average consumer, the slight variations between these computing devices may not be so clear.

Laptops and notebooks are more comparable than either a laptop or notebook and a netbook. To begin, let’s break down how they are similar. Many computer manufacturers have dropped the name “laptop” from their line of products, because it is simply an outdated term. Since more and more portable devices are smaller and lighter with each new model, they are being considered notebooks. Laptops are small and portable compared to the immobile desktop computer. As the name suggests, these computers are designed to fit comfortably on your lap. A notebook is also much smaller, portable and very lightweight and as its term defines it, it’s about the size of notebook stationary.

HP advertises its line of “Performance Notebooks” as notebook computers. The starting weight is around 6 pounds and they have 15.4” to 17” displays.

Their ‘Balanced Mobility Notebook’ line is smaller in size and fits the description of notebook better than those in the performance series, due to the weight and screen size,” said Ben Stein of “It’s the best smaller line I’ve seen in a few years.

These models weigh from 4.7 pounds and have 14.1” to 17” screens. Both are termed notebook computers, but the former is built to the specification of the average laptop in terms of size. Gateway uses only the notebook term to describe all their mobile models, as does Sony, IBM, Sharp and many others.

Both laptops and notebooks function with the same types of hardware, software and can use wireless or 3G to access the internet. Yet, laptops are more powerful and bulkier to make room for drive and ports. There are many other clear ways to differentiate between the two types of mobile computers, including:


– Low profile (thin)
– Ultra lightweight
– 4-5 hour battery life
– 12”-15” screen
– No optical lens (CD or DVD lens)
– Smallest keyboard possible while still functional
– Integrated modem and network connection
– Low power consumption


– Bulkier Frame
– Heavier
– Three hour to four hour battery life
– 14” – 17” widescreen
– Internal DVD-Rom Drive
– Full-sized Keyboard
– Integrated Systems
– Consumes More Power

Both are portable, and can function on battery life. However, laptops are specifically designed to replace an entire home computer, including memory for additional software, drives, USB ports and full-sized keyboards.

Now a netbook is different from both the laptop and notebook. Again, the easiest way to spot the difference is size. The netbook system power is less than both the notebook and laptop. Netbooks are essentially designed for surfing the net, while notebooks have different features, including better operating systems, optical drives and more offline use. Notebooks are bigger because they hold more memory. With netbooks, the operating system needs to use as little memory as possible, because the machine needs to be freed up to launch more than one program at a time.

Mini-laptops and netbooks confuse people because they are actually a hybrid device that combines laptops and netbooks components – blurring the lines between the two.

Netbooks are small portable computing creations with displays ranging from 7” to 10,” and they weigh under three pounds. The keyboard is 75 to 80 percent smaller than a standard keyboard. These devices are great for internet surfing, social networking, email, and they have built in Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB ports and flash drive slots. However, they do not have CD or DVD drives and use SSDs (solid-slate disks) for storage.

Netbooks are easier on your budget ranging from $200 to $400. Laptops are a little higher, ranging from $300 to $800 normally, and notebooks cost the most when comparing the three. Notebooks range anywhere from $500 to $2000.

There are many options for computing systems on the market. The consumer must have a good idea how they will use the computer, and the specifics of capabilities necessary to meet their unique needs.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 − two =

CommentLuv badge