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Netbook vs Laptop vs Tablet: Which is better?

Which is better
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Laptops, netbooks and tablets seem to be the same, but there are some differences in them. Depending on our work, we can choose between laptops, netbooks and tablets. All three devices are portable, but the tablet is the lightest to carry around. For people on the go, a tablet seems to be the best choice. But then, you can’t do any creative work on the tablet, as it is mainly a device for consumption, not work. If you’re in the market for a laptop/netbook or tablet, then take a look at all the advantages and disadvantages of netbook vs laptop  vs tablet, and then make an informed decision.

Netbook vs Laptop: Which is better?

Netbook vs Laptop vs Tablet

Laptops came as a welcome relief to people who were tied to their desktops. They were able to do most of their work on laptops which they could carry around, making it extremely convenient. It could be connected to the internet as well, thus opening up whole new avenues of work and entertainment. You can watch and download movies on them, download heavy files, write on them and more. Architects can carry them around and make designs and design changes according to their client needs. The uses of laptops are innumerable.

Netbooks are basically smaller laptops, being lighter in weight as well as having less storage space. They are affordable and can be used for less technical jobs like writing, and browsing online.

Pros and cons of laptops and netbooks

Pros and cons of laptops and netbooks

  • Netbooks have a very compact size, and can be carried around much more easily. The screen size on an average is 9-10 inches, as compared to the 15 inches for laptops.
  • Netbooks have much less hard drive space as well as processing power. Laptops have over 250GB hard drive storage space, whereas netbooks have only about 16-64 GB. Laptops today have quad core or dual core processing which gives them the upper hand over netbooks. This is one of the major pros for laptops, when you consider the pros and cons of laptops.
  • Though both laptops as well as netbooks have same input options, including USB and Ethernet ports, laptops have several options due to larger size. Laptops have DVD drive but netbooks do not have optical drives, to keep their weight down.
  • Price point is the deciding factor for many people when it comes to choosing between laptops and netbooks. Netbooks are available at a fraction of the price of laptops. If you don’t need high processing power or greater storage, and your work is limited to writing, and using software such as Word and Excel, sending emails, gaming and net browsing, then you could go for the affordable netbook or ultrabook, which some companies are naming them.
  • Netbooks have solid state drives which gives them access to data much faster, whereas, laptops have spinning hard disks, and thus they have slower data access.
  • One of the disadvantages of netbooks is that they cannot be upgraded to new operating systems.
  • Battery size of netbook is limited.
  • Netbooks may not have cooling fans and can get heated up faster. On the other hand, laptops have cooling fans and can be used for a long time without the device overheating.

Slower processors mean netbooks cannot be used effectively for graphics, task completion as well as streaming media. As most of us cannot do without Netflix, Zulu and other video streaming services, the netbook will not be of much use. Besides, with less storage space, you would have to keep transferring your photos, videos etc to external hard drives. However, with cloud storage, storage is not much of a problem now.

Laptops, however can be used for the simplest to complex tasks, including making graphics, presentations, storing photos and videos, downloading movies and streaming videos seamlessly. They can also be upgraded to new OS as well as updates.

Comparing tablets and netbooks

Comparing tablets and netbooks

Now, we have seen that netbooks are suitable for you if you do have any tasks which require high processing power and memory. Netbooks are cheap and highly portable and best if you only have to stay connected to the net, and need to type in data.

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  • Tablets too are similar to netbooks, as they are also highly portable and can stay connected, giving you access to the net. Tablets are used for entertainment and some kinds of work, such as sending and receiving emails.
  • Tablets came into being in the first part of 2000s, but gained popularity with Apple iPad in 2010. The standalone, touch screen, connected devices were lapped up by people who want something more portable than netbooks.
  • Tablets are better than netbooks as they have more processing power and storage. They can stream videos easily, and have in-built high res cameras that people can click photos and upload immediately to the users’ favorite social media platforms.
  • Tablets offer quick navigation and have processing abilities similar to that of laptops i.e. higher than netbooks.
  • Price of tablets is higher compared to netbooks.
  • Most netbooks these days can be updated, specially Android ones.
  • Tablets are not meant to do any work such as writing on Word etc. Most of the apps on tablets are for entertainment purposes and not for any kind of meaningful work.
  • Netbooks have a keyboard which allow students and writers to work on them easily. Touch typing is a hindrance for most people. You can buy a keyboard for a tablet which will cost extra, but it could be worth it, if you do not want to lug around a big laptop all the time!
  • Netbooks cost less to repair. If your tablet touchscreen is damaged, you have to shell out a good amount of money to repair.
  • Reading news and articles is easier on the eyes on netbooks. The bright, glowing screens of tablets are not recommended and might disrupt your sleep, especially if you have the habit of reading before bed.
  • Because you netbook costs less, you can buy an e-reader which uses e-ink and thus is easier on the eyes. Once you invest in a tablet, you will think twice before buying a second device dedicated for reading.

What about the touchscreen laptop?

touchscreen laptop

There is another product on the scene and that is the convertible laptop. You get all the functions of the laptop with the advantage of a detachable or foldable keyboard. This makes the laptop even more portable and useful. You can do all your work on it, browse the net, stream videos and watch and download movies.

The sleek, convertible or detachable touchscreen laptop  are priced higher, but the price will go down as these laptops become the norm. These laptop models might be preferred by many as they offer more functions and cost as much as high end tablets. Only disadvantage: touchscreen laptops do not have cameras!

So what are the reasons to buy a netbook, laptop or tablet?

Price point

reasons to buy a tablet

For low cost computing, without the need to stream videos etc, you can go for netbooks. If you need more hard disk storage, DVD drive, mobility and streaming, the low cost laptops are also feasible. If you want to play games and want only a device for entertainment, then tablet should be your choice.

If you’re stuck between a cheap laptop or tablet, then depending on the kind of work, especially if you do  not want to use apps which require a lot of typing, you can choose a tablet. You can attach a Bluetooth keyboard for typing purposes and you would have the camera as well.


Size wise, netbooks and tablets are certainly more convenient. They can fit into small bags and purses and the lighter weight makes them easier to carry anywhere with you. The smaller screen size and smaller batteries make them lighter in weight than the laptops. Most laptops weight more than two pounds, whereas the average tablet is approx one pound.



This is a difficult to analyze as different devices of each category differ in their capabilities. Laptops have better specifications than tablets but not netbooks. For educational purposes, netbooks such as Chromebooks are preferred. Number crunching jobs can be done on tablets and netbooks, but most people prefer laptops for this work. For students who need to research and write, laptops are preferred. Standard laptops also have more storage for media and gaming, so they are the device of choice for young people in colleges or young professionals.

You can shop easily with netbooks as well as tablets, but to buy many items or to make major purchases, it is easier to view on the laptop’s larger display.

For artists, detachable laptops are the best option, or larger iPads. If you have to make presentations etc professionally, then laptops or netbooks are better as they can be connected to projectors, broadband wires and printer.

Depending on your use and budget, you can make a choice between netbooks, tablets and laptops. All three are portable, but before buying, check if the software can be updated or not, or else your device will become obsolete in a short time!

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