Understanding Netbooks: How They Differ From Notebooks And Why You Might Need One

You've Come A Long Way, Baby!

This might come as a surprise to you, but netbooks have been around since as far back as 1994! The distinction of being the first ever netbook-like device goes to the HP 200Lx, which boasted (for its time) an 8 MHz x86 CPU, 640 x 200 non-backlit monochrome screen, and upto 2 MB of RAM. Weighing only an amazing 300 grams, it was powered by 2 AA batteries that lasted weeks at a time. The only reason this little marvel never caught on was that it could only run basic DOS and Windows 3.0 applications, with multimedia being far beyond its reach. Still, it was an honest-to-goodness netbook, once you connected a modem to its serial port.

The next step in the evolution of the netbook was the Psion 5, launched in the late 90s by an eponymous British company that had manufactured the Psion Organizer series of PDAs around a decade earlier. The Psion 5 took a fundamentally different approach to the problem of packing the maximum power into a limited form factor by choosing the much more powerful 36 MHz ARM processor with upto 16 MB of RAM, using the same screen type as the 200Lx. Since the CPU was not compatible with DOS\Windows, Psion came up with its own OS from scratch, called Epoc. This piece of software was so good, it was later developed into the Symbian smartphone OS, which powers millions of devices today. In fact, Psion receives most of its current revenue from the royalties generated by the OS.