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I am about to replace my laptop.
I use it for word processing, surfing the net and occasionally watch DVDs on it.
Which should I buy?
With netbooks and ultrabooks you will need an external DVD player if you want to watch DVD's. Netbooks tend to be a bit limited on performance but offer excellent battery life if that is really important to you. Best compromise and value for money tend to be standard laptops as they usually have DVD built in and the format has been around long enough not to demand a premium on price. As has been asked already, "What's your budget for it?" Also of relevance is how portable you need it to be.
Netbooks are comparitivly low power and as already stated do not come with a DVD drive, but cost about a third to a quarter of the price of an Ultrabook. A Netbook would probably be more than suitable for the uses you have specified, but you would need to purchase an external DVD drive to play the DVDs.
I have an Acer One 751h, and have used it for a lot of home use, homework etc when was in school (which was a lot of multimedia creative sort of stuff) and I used it for my college course since February which relied heavily on using all the Microsoft Office programs.
Me being a iMac/iPod user, I'm now more used to stuff basically being instant, so I can't really stand using my netbook for most things like just casually browsing the web which i mainly do on my iPod.
But my netbook, I really don't regret having.
When I still had it on XP, it played videos really good, browsing the web it done reasonably good, and most my favourite games worked exceptably well, (now that using a mac, looking back I wouldn't class as exceptably well lol), but it did start slowing a lot after a time which is when I came across Auslogics Registry Booster and then Tuneup Utilities which is so beneficial.
Ubuntu worked like a charm on it, but when they put unity on, had no choice really to use xubuntu which worked lovely.
When I put Windows 8 on (since developer preview), I was using it at college, and wow I was soooo impressed with the performance.
Since i installed the Dev preview it just wouldn't slow considering how much/heavily I was using it each week day at college and I only needed to do maintenance about 2 times (overall since sept to now) compared to xp which i wasn't using for half as heavy duty stuff which needed me to defragment the registry every month at least to keep it up to speed.
It worked a lot better than the college computers which were 1gb RAM on Windows 7, far much better doing all word processing etc.
For videos though, my netbook didn't do quite so well playing videos with Windows 8, as the sound was about 2 seconds or more in front of the picture especially when playing a DVD. On YouTube it was alright, but just had to make sure not to go into full screen as then had problems.
For surfing the internet, the only browser that was expectable performance was Opera.
I've tested Safari Firefox chrome and internet explorer (10) performance, and opera used about 86mb of RAM on Google (homepage) compared to firefox and safari which used about 100-120mb RAM on Google (homepage).
Chrome it was ok, but it still ate up a massive amount of RAM.
If I wasn't a Mac/iPod user, then I'd be able to easily cope with my netbook as my main device, and I do not what so ever regret my netbook.
I can't say about other netbooks as the only one I've used massively is mine and my sisters Intel (/Rock) Classmate (touchscreen stylus) netbook, but ones I have used, they didn't seem as a wise choice.
(sorry if i went a bit long winded -_- )
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