Whenever there’s a mention of ultra-portable laptops, ULV laptops are the most obvious option for most people. However, since the introduction of netbooks, there seems to be a question whether a netbook would suffice instead. We would not have said yes, a few months ago, but now that dual-core netbooks are quickly making their way in, people might prefer the performance of a ULV laptop in a smaller and lighter package.

There are major advantages that ULV laptops have over netbooks, mainly concerning the features and ofcourse form factor. But again, the same could be said for netbooks as well, when it comes to portability and affordability. So, let’s see how well netbooks can actually match up with ULV laptops in various aspects.

Screen size
This is one area where netbooks will never match up, because if they do, their sole purpose of being tiny and super-portable is defeated. ULV laptops have larger screens; say 11.6/13/14 inches, and higher resolutions than netbooks, 1366 x 768, which is common to most laptops. Netbooks on the other hand have lesser screen space like 10.1/11/12 inches, and lower resolutions. Be it for work or even light entertainment like watching movies, ULV laptops are certainly better, so that’s one point to ULV laptops.

When speaking of portability, the first thing you want to look at is the weight, and this is where netbooks score. Owing to their smaller size, lighter battery packs and absence of some features, netbooks are obviously lighter in weight than most ULV laptops. The latter could weigh anywhere from 1.5 kg to about 2 kg, whereas a netbook could weigh even lesser than a kilo. While there are heavier netbooks too, they still score this one, categorically speaking.

This one goes to ULV laptops, hands down, especially if you’re comparing them to 10-inch and 11.6-inch netbooks. The smaller the machine, the lesser the space there is to accommodate a proper keyboard, touchpad and overall working space. No matter how hard the manufacturers try, a 10-inch netbook can never give you the same typing comfort that a 14-inch ULV laptop can. It’s not only the typing, even factors like using the touchpad, mouse buttons and the stability of the machine on your lap, are influenced when you’re using a netbook. So when it comes to overall usability, a ULV laptop is definitely a better choice.

This one is slightly tricky, mainly because each product is designed differently, and more than anything else, it’s a matter of personal choice. For someone, a netbook might be too tiny to be stylish, or it might seem like a toy. On the other hand, there are stylish netbooks that even cost over a lakh. Also, when conducting presentations, a slick 14-incher may make a far better impression than a ‘tiny gizmo’. But again, as I said, since it’s a matter of personal choice, this one’s a tie.

Currently, you’ll notice that many, if not most, ULV laptops feature an optical drive, discrete graphics, HDMI/eSATA ports, 3 or even 4 USB ports, 3/4 GB RAM and more hard drive room. Most of these additions can’t be accommodated in netbooks, due to space constraints. The only scope for advancement is the hardware, specifically the CPU, RAM and hard drive, and that is being seen already. Since, it’s clear that ULV laptops offer better features, another point for them.

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