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Think you want to buy a netbook? Which? can help you decide between a netbook and a laptop, depending on your needs – and our independent netbook reviews reveal the best models available, rating top brands including Acer, Asus and Samsung models.
Deciding on the best netbook for you will depend on how you're going to use it. Our netbooks expert explains more in our video guide.
Whether you want a portable computer for the whole family to use around the home, or a model for basic admin tasks as you travel to the office each day, our video guide helps you decide whether the answer lies in a netbook or a laptop.
When you're deciding between a netbook or laptop, consider portability, price and what you'll want to do with it. If you want a really portable computer – for school or to take to work – the best netbooks are light and affordable, have long-lasting batteries and are great for surfing the internet. You'll have to cope with a smaller screen and keyboard, however.
But if you're replacing your home PC, it might be worth investing in a laptop. A preference for Apple computers might also make your choice – as yet, there's no Mac netbook on sale.
There are differences in the size of screen and keyboard on a netbook, and often layout of keyboard. The best netbook manufacturers fit keyboards across the entire surface of the netbook’s chassis – but others squeeze them in tightly. Also, some keys may be in different places than expected.
The touchpad – which acts as the mouse – can also be pretty small on a netbook, but it's possible to attach a mouse if there's a USB port.
Unsurprisingly, the bigger the keyboard, the bigger the screen – if you plan to watch video footage on a netbook, you might want to go for one with a 12-inch screen.
If you'll be using your netbook while you're out and about, good battery life is vital. You can use our compare netbooks tool to find reviews of netbooks with the best battery life (click on 'Which? ratings').
Power isn't just about battery life, though. A netbook’s short-term memory – Ram – determines how fast your netbook will work. Most netbooks come with 512MB or 1GB. You’ll need to choose between a hard disk drive or a solid-state drive. Solid-state storage uses less power but offers less storage – the maximum available is around 20GB. If you want to store lots of photos, for example, choose a netbook with a hard disk drive.
Be wary of deals for free netbooks with mobile phone or broadband contracts – compare the costs against deals that don't offer a netbook, and check that any netbook offered is really what you want.
Netbooks are pretty affordable portable computers, but there are ways to get them even cheaper. Buying a netbook over the phone, rather than in a shop, means that you can often get a more competitive price – though you can't try out the netbook first. But it's online where you'll find the cheapest netbook deals – though you'll have to know what you're looking for and understand computer jargon.
Which? netbook tests are thorough and independent, so you can choose Which? Best Buys with confidence.