August 21, 2009, 12:46 PM — How big can a netbook get and still be a netbook? The initial netbooks had screens with a diagonal width of 8.9 inches, and were deemed too small. Today, the most popular screen size is 10.2 inches. ComputerWorld just ran Review: 4 'large' netbooks – are they better or just bigger? with screen sizes of up to 13.3 inches. Are those large netbooks or small laptops? Where's your size cutoff for a netbook?
If we asked Goldilocks, is the 10 inch netbook just right, with the 8.9 inch too small and the 11.6 inch netbook too large? I believe your personal choice depends on how fat your fingers are and how sharp your eyes are. Bigger may be better for you, even at the expense of portability. Your computer, your choice.
But shame on vendors trying to sell small laptops as netbooks. If the box has a Core 2 Intel processor, that's not a netbook. If the screen is 13 inches, it's not a netbook. These follow my guidelines of what a netbook is, and your definitions may vary. But vendors, as they often do, glom onto the trendy and try to shovel the tired. OK, I wouldn't mind a faster processor, but I demand to keep the small size and long battery life. So far, vendors can't do that.
Read the ComputerWorld roundup and see if you agree with the reviewer: the best choice for a new netbook is the smallest and most portable of the four options, the new Acer Aspire One. If you think small and portable when you think netbook, you'll probably agree. I need to get my hands on one, however, because it appears to be two inches deeper than my HP 2140. Those inches give you a bigger screen. Is it worth it? Not sure it is to me, but your mileage may vary.