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For Gurpreet Sethi, 19, who joined Delhi University this month, buying a laptop is a necessity.
"From assignments to research, it is all done on laptops nowadays. So, I have been looking for a notebook that can be carried around easily and has great battery back-up."
However, Sethi says he's confused if he should invest on an affordable netbook or a power-packed notebook.
Netbooks are stripped-down notebooks, priced more economically. They are created keeping mobility in mind. Notebooks are ideal desktop PC replacements, with no compromise on performance speeds or screen size. Some notebooks are designed to compete with netbooks.
Deciding between a netbook and a notebook
Your usage should be the criterion for choosing one over the other. For instance, an arts major might prefer a higher-end laptop that can handle computer graphics on its higher resolution screen.
For general reading and writing, you may get away with affordable netbooks which can capably handle word processing and web browsing.
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Investing in the right netbook
A netbook is lightweight, has a small screen (7-inch to 12-inch diagonal) and a relatively small keyboard. These include Asus Eee PC, MSI Wind PC, Acer, and Dell Inspiron Mini. We recommend getting a minimum of 1GB RAM in your netbook and a 16GB solid state drive or a 160GB hard drive.
The Dell Inspiron Mini, costing Rs 16,900, is one of the top-rated netbooks in the market today. It comes with an Intel Atom processor and a 10-inch display. The 12-inch Asus Eee PC is another popular model among netbooks that sports the AMD MV40 processor, a two GB RAM and a 320 GB hard disk.
Netbooks have smaller keyboards than regular sized laptops. Netbooks usually have ultra-low voltage processors (in most cases, it is an Intel Atom series processor) that aren't known for great performance, but still are powerful enough to run the Windows 7 operating system smoothly. These processors are great for browsing the Internet, working with Office applications and watching movies.
Some affordable netbooks (available in attractive colours to interest the young buyers) include Wipro's Ego 10-inch netbook (Rs 20,000), Acer Aspire One with Windows7 starter edition (Rs 19,000), Lenovo's S10-3s Moon and an S10-3s Wind netbook (Rs 19,625).
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Investing in the right notebook
Once you have decided you need a full-size, full-featured laptop, there are plenty of choices.
The Dell Studio 15, with a Core 2 Duo processor, is a good laptop for college students. We found the notebook has a good sound system, excellent battery life and is priced at Rs 44,900.
For those wanting to couple computing power with a stylish look, it can't get better than the Apple MacBook. It has a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive. This laptop comes with a 13.3-inch display and will cost you around Rs 56,900.
The HP Pavilion dv2 notebook can also be included in the list of finest laptops for students. A 250 GB hard drive, an inbuilt 512 MB Radeon HD graphics card and a four GB RAM are some of its striking features. At Rs 38,000, this excellent gadget is cheaper than many of its competitors.
Apart from these laptops, the Toshiba Satellite P205 notebook and Dell Inspiron 1318 notebook are some of the laptops you can consider - all priced well under Rs 40,000.
It always makes sense to buy brands you have heard of - like Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony or Apple. It may get both difficult and expensive to find spare parts otherwise.
However, netbooks come with some limitations. Many have a relatively low screen resolution (1024 600), which will limit how much you can see on your screen at a given time. If portability is what you are looking for, a netbook is a clear winner.
But if you want to get around with computing horsepower, a notebook fits your bill. College students wanting to buy a laptop should consider the whole picture presented by each computer's specifications before deciding which one is value for money.