Netbooks are something that seem great on paper. They’re small, they’re less expensive than a laptop, have great battery life, and you were only planning on using it to go online and maybe some email. So – is it worth it to buy a netbook?

The answer in most cases, unfortunately, is no. Netbooks typically have extremely small screens – 10 inches or less. Laptop screens are usually 14 – 17 inches, by way of comparison. My current laptop has a 14.1 inch screen – and although it’s lightweight, I wouldn’t want to stare at it for very long. Subtract 30% of that 14 inch screen, and that’s what you’ll be dealing with. The screen resolution also means that you will be scrolling sideways to view entire webpages at a normal font. That may be something you can deal with, but it’s definitely a factor to consider.

Additionally, the processors in netbooks are not designed for much work. It may be fine for web surfing, but what about Flash video (YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix)? Generally, the low-power (i.e., crippled) processors are not up to the task. They also have limited memory (RAM), and although it can be upgraded once, you won’t be able to upgrade further.

So what are the alternatives? Any laptop that might cost you a little more will be well worth it. Right off the bat, you’ll be getting a useable screen, a normal processor (perhaps even two processors) and more memory. It might be a couple hundred bucks more, which is nothing to take lightly, I know. But in the long run, you’ll be much happier overall.