Our editorial staff evaluates products and services independently, but Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links. Learn More

Best Picks

The Best NetBooks of 2017

Netbooks: For Everyday Computing

Author by
Latest Update
Author by


Why Netbooks?

With the continuous waterfall of tablets, you may not see the need for a netbook. But these mini laptops are a great tool for general internet browsing and working with Microsoft Excel and Word. Plus, with their small price tags, netbooks are great computers for students that keep the traditional keyboard and monitor combo. Netbooks are small and affordable, and they are a great way to entertain the kids during long car rides.

In the past few years, the introduction and proliferation of tablets has inspired netbook manufacturers to start implementing touchscreens and detachable keyboards. This type of netbook will amplify your experience by letting you forgo the traditional mouse and keyboard setup and use your netbook as a tablet as well.

Netbooks use the same hard drives as larger laptops, but many lose the optical drive. Netbooks such as the Lenovo ThinkPad, Asus VivoBook S200E and the HP Pavilion TouchSmart are best suited for light work and watching movies on the go due to their lightweight design and cloud-computing capabilities. We recommend that you don't try using these small laptops for video editing or hardcore gaming, because the video cards are built into the processor, so you could fry some components if you try. Check out our articles on netbooks for more information on how they can improve your mobile computing lifestyle.

Netbooks: What to Look For

Netbooks aren't meant for everyone, but these mini laptops maintain some quality features that are great for specific uses. The following criteria are what we looked for in the netbooks we tested.

Netbooks aren't high-performance machines. They focus on performing everyday tasks like browsing the web and watching movies. A netbook with at least 4GB of RAM lets you accomplish these activities. Even multitasking is easy with these devices. However, you should look for netbook manufacturers that let you upgrade the memory to 8GB. You also want one that maintains a processor speed of 1.4GHz, though you won't see speeds much higher than that because the netbook architecture doesn't accommodate faster CPUs.

Even though they have small design, netbooks still have large hard drives that range from 320GB to 500GB of storage. Even with moving hard drives, the mini laptops we looked at have a battery life ranging from four to 12 hours, which is the same amount of battery life that ultrabooks have.

Netbooks maintain the same type of style as normal laptops, but with a smaller screen. They used to have screens that were 10 inches or smaller, but the units we reviewed have screens that range up to 11 inches. Though slightly larger, the small screen size makes these mini laptops as compact and mobile as they were when the netbook was first released. They are perfect for learning and business on the go. And with the added benefit of a backlit keyboard, these computers have extra features that tablets don't have.

We were able to find several netbooks with touchscreens that turns the screen into a tablet. Make sure you test the touchscreen to see how responsive it is to your touch. Even with the screen attached to the keyboard, a netbook with a touchscreen makes it easier than ever to access your files without using a trackpad or mouse.

The top netbooks always include several connectivity options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. They also have memory card readers for multiple card sizes, Ethernet ports for wired internet and HDMI ports to connect to an HDTV or monitor.

Technology is about as unpredictable as the weather, so look for manufacturers that offer at least a one-year warranty on all parts. They should also provide a user forum and FAQs to help answer your questions. This will help you avoid long wait times when you need support. Many manufacturers also offer assistance by email and live chat to help you with any technical issues.

Updates to technology such as larger hard drives and smaller touchscreens have revamped netbooks to make them a strong computer for classrooms and business trips. They are great for everyday internet use and movie watching, and they have enough CPU power, memory and storage to function as strong multitasking machines.