Netbooks are laptops that are light-weight, economical, energy-efficient and especially suited for wireless communication and Internet access. Hence the name netbook (as “the device excels in web-based computing performance”).
With primary focus given to web browsing and e-mailing, netbooks are intended to “rely heavily on the Internet for remote access to web-based applications” and are targeted increasingly at cloud computing users who rely on servers and require a less powerful client computer. A common distinguishing feature is the lack of optical disk (i.e. CD, DVD or BluRay) drives. While the devices range in size from below 5 inches to over 12, most are between 9 and 11 inches (280 mm) and weigh between 0.9–1.4 kg (2–3 pounds).
Netbooks are mostly sold with light-weight operating systems such as Linux, Windows XP and Windows 7 Starter edition.
Because they’re very portable, Netbooks have a few disadvantages. Because the netbooks are thin, the first such products introduced to the market had their primary internal storage in the form of solid-state drives and not hard disks, which are essential to installing very many programs. Hard disk drive technology and form factors have since been adapted to fit into netbooks.
Given their size and use of more rudimentary components compared to notebooks and subnotebooks, netbooks also generally have a smaller-capacity hard drive, slower CPU, and a lower-profile RAM capacity.
Recently, Google has announced to be developing an own operating system called Chrome for this market.
The big breakthrough for netbook computers did not happen until the weight, diagonal form-factor and price combination of < 1 kg, < 9”, < U.S. $400, respectively, became commercially available at around 2008.