Minicomputer Functions

By Daniel J. Gansle

The minicomputer (a.k.a. netbook) has gained popularity for its diminutive size, its portability, its cheap price tag and its convenience on the go. While the netbook has its advantages, it is not a laptop replacement because it lacks the memory and software native to larger laptops. Yet for users on the go who would like a smaller, lighter computer with basic entertainment, productivity and web surfing software, the netbook remains a convenient option.

Checking Email

Netbooks are convenient for checking and responding to email when away from home or in hotspots such as airports, bookstores and cafes. Rather than a tiny mobile phone keypad, the netbook features a full-size QUERTY keyboard and software that allows for quick and easy messaging. If you frequently check email in a hotspot, you may want to consider an internet-based email client such as Yahoo! Mail or Google Mail for the sake of convenience and to use less memory on your netbook.

Productivity Software

Most netbooks ship with basic productivity software including word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. However, these software programs are limited in what you can do. For example, you can't write a book using the pre-installed word processing software, but you can write basic letters and documents. In order to get full functionality, you must either purchase new productivity software or enter into the "cloud" with online productivity applications such as Google Documents. Hard drive space and RAM memory is limited as compared to a full-size laptop, so big programs such as Adobe CS or Microsoft Expression Web may be very slow to respond.

Web Surfing

One of the most widespread uses for the netbook is on-the-go web surfing. The user can check the news, read e-books, check stock reports and chat away on social networking sites. Watching videos is also a fun way to pass the time, though some have reported problems due to the lower capacity memory installed in the machine and limitations on memory upgrades. New Wi-Fi technology has enabled people to surf the web just about everywhere, even away from hotspots. The ability to get online fast from any location makes the ultra-portable netbook a wise choice.