Are Netbooks Green? 6 Pros and Cons

netbook outdoors photo

Photo via iJammin via Flickr CC

Netbooks are those wonderfully tiny, ultra-portable computers that are all the rage right now, beating out notebook sales in 2008 and beating their own sales in the first quarter of 2009. They're stripped down versions of notebooks, giving users just what they need to surf the web and email, run a few programs like photo editing and word processing, upload images and watch videos online - you know, the basic things the majority of us use our computers for. The ability to do essentially everything we do on larger computers all on this shrunken down device sounds wonderful, but begs the question - are netbooks greener than notebooks? Yes! And no.

3 Reasons Netbooks are Greener Than Notebooks

netbook on lap photo

Photo of via Roland via Flickr CC
1. Netbooks are smaller and use fewer materials than notebooks
Netbooks are tiny versions of notebooks, weighing usually from 2 to 4 pounds, with smaller batteries, screens ranging from 8.9 to 10.1 inches and keyboards shrunk down to 89-93% of standard notebook keyboards. They're still highly usable once the owner gets used to to the smaller screens and slightly scrunched typing surface.

The smaller size means fewer materials go into not only the making of the computer itself, but also the packaging. The lighter weight makes for a smaller carbon footprint when it comes to shipping as well.

netbook with cat photo

Photo via elefevre7 via Flickr CC
2. Netbooks use less energy than notebooks
Netbooks typically come with 3-cell or 6-cell batteries. They require power supplies of just 30 Watts, versus the 65 Watts of notebooks. The batteries are also long lasting, considering the netbooks are made to be stripped down and ultra-efficient, often lasting 2-3 hours on a charge for 3-cell batteries and 6-7 hours on a charge for the 6-cell batteries.

Factoring in even more variables like getting a solid state drive for higher efficiency (which is a trade off since it has slower read/write speeds), netbooks blow right past notebooks when it comes to power consumption. And the efficiency is only getting better as netbooks become more popular among manufacturers and consumers.

netbook asus eee pc photo

Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch
3. Netbooks get us back to Less Is More thinking
Most people have notebooks that are far more powerful than really necessary. The majority of us use laptops for basics - surfing the web, watching videos, email, word processing, photo editing, listening to music, and other basics. Yet the notebooks we buy are capable of far more than we require them to do.

Returning to devices that are simplified yet can accomplish the things we need them to without additional bells and whistles - and the associated energy consumption and carbon footprint - reminds us that, really, less is more; less bulky devices, less money spent, less consumption of materials, and thus achieve more overall satisfaction.

It all sounds pretty great, right? Well there are a few cons, too. Check them out on the next page.

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