As a busy freelancer, your life constantly involves darting from place to place at break-neck speed, whilst trying to juggle your various streams of freelance work.
To accompany this mad mobile lifestyle (that only the bravest of people choose) you need a tool that can keep up the pace and never drag you down.
So, you go to the computer section of your favorite electronics outlet and you begin to wonder what equipment to purchase. What will best meet your needs?
You wonder, should I get a netbook, should I get a laptop, or something else?
In this post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons for selecting a laptop and a netbook.
Netbooks–also known as ‘mini-laptops’–are small, lightweight and ultra-portable computers which have been growing in popularity. However, these useful modifications to the laptop do come at a cost. Let’s look at the pros and cons of selecting a netbook.
Here are some benefits to selecting a netbook:
They are small and lightweight. This is brilliant for those on the move constantly. Being able to whip it out anywhen and anywhere to type up those final notes or jot out a life plan, is essential for a freelancer of any type. Also, with the ability to shove it into a bag without anyone knowing it is there, you are protected from potential computer-thieves.
Long battery life. The average netbook has a longer battery life, ranging from anywhere between four to over ten hours. When constantly moving in an ever increasingly hectic freelancing lifestyle, knowing that you have the battery life to sustain you on the longest of train journeys, lectures and meetings gives you peace of mind. The irritating beep-beep of a dying battery will seldom be heard.
Money, money, money. Netbooks are noticeably cheaper than regular laptops. So, whilst you are out freelancing your backside off, you can be safe in the knowledge that you still have a chunk of change leftover, compared to your mate who bought a £2500, bright-light, whizz-machine.
Now that we’ve examined the benefits of selecting a netbook, it’s time to look at some of the disadvantages.
Here are some disadvantages to selecting a netbook:
Power. With a netbook you do not have a bright-light, whizz-machine. Netbooks are not as powerful as laptops. They can only handle so much information before their little internal processor screams bye-bye. Sure they cope with MS Office and browse the web pretty effectively, but if you’re a freelancer gamer, a netbook will not cope with this kind of information and should be avoided.
Small keyboard buttons. It is a known fact that people have been getting taller throughout the ages. With great height comes great big hands. Due to their size, netbooks have tiny little buttons that big fingered guys and gals just won’t be able to type on. There would be a fair few documents written with a ‘dfdshjcvmbvl vkjdfds’ nature. However, major netbook companies are countering this by trying to incorporate full size keys into their newer machines.
No Disk Drive. There is no disk drive in netbooks. If someone at a freelance networking event has something to show you on CD/DVD and you all confess to owning netbooks, the colleague’s little video or song will have to remain un-witnessed. Also, the ability to be in a meeting whilst watching a Buster Keaton film on DVD, is taken away.
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of netbooks it’s time to look at laptops.
And now we come to the laptop; the bigger brother of the little netbook. These machines have been around for near on 30 years with its ancestor rooted in the IBM 5100 – arguably the first commercial portable computer. Is there still a place for these machines in this day and age?
Here are some of the advantages of choosing a laptop:
Larger screen. For those of you with small eyes who need those extra few million pixels to read articles and watch YouTube videos, a laptop is a must-have. With a larger screen you can have multiple files opened up simultaneously, and spread out across the screen, without the need to squint at what you are doing. Also, when people inevitably look over your shoulder to see what you’re up to, they don’t have to lean in so close and freak you out.
Power. Laptops are far more powerful and can work with extremely complex programming that netbooks would whimper in a corner at. If you’re a freelancer in the field of multi-media, film, music etcetera, having that extra processing power allows you to work on projects that would be impossible on a netbook. There are also some office programs that are far too complex for netbooks to carry out.
Larger hard-drives. Netbooks do have pretty decent hard-drive sizes, ranging from 60-160GB. However, laptops have huge mammoths containing more information than your own brain. Once more, a larger hard-drive will be dependent on the type of work you are conducting. If you edit HD music videos for a living whilst out and about, get a laptop: if you write little articles on Microsoft Works for a living, consider going elsewhere.
Now that we’ve examined the advantages of laptops, it’s time to look at some of the disadvantages.
Here are some of the disadvantages of choosing a laptop:
Size. Obvious one first: they are huge. Dragging a laptop around with you for hours on end, causes severe sores to the shoulders and back. If you are a constant mover-and-shaker in your line of work, then having the small netbook would be ideal. Then again if you are trying to get a work-out whilst darting from place to place, consider the laptop.
Battery Life. The battery life is dire compared to a netbook. Imagine a Fiat 500 and a GT 40 heading towards London from Edinburgh; sure the GT 40 is the massive all powerful force cruising along, but it’ll be stopping every half hour for a fill up, whilst the little Fiat put-puts along happily. Another concern is that if you are in a meeting/lecture etcetera and your battery goes down to 3%, who’s the clown trying to find a power source whilst their laptop is screaming beep…beep…beep: you are.
Money, Money, Money (again). Laptops are generally more expensive that netbooks. All the power comes at a price – like a GT 40 – and if you do not genuinely need the power, then a laptop just isn’t necessary. In this age of austerity in governments and individuals alike, aiming for that pricier option just sometimes isn’t the way.
The laptop versus netbook debate is completely dependent on the line of work you are engaging in. If you are a freelance writer, constantly out and about, picking up stories, writing articles and sending them out on the web, then get the Net.
But, if you are freelance rocket scientist (they might exist) then you might want a machine that can handle programs with greater magnitude.
In an ideal world, the best recommendation would be a netbook for the bulk of your work and a laptop for your super-happy fun-times. Then again, in an ideal world, you’d be a millionaire without the need to run round like a crazy person, picking up work left right and centre.