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What is a Subnotebook?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2016
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The subnotebook is one of the newer entries in portable computers. When portable computers first hit the markets, those capable of running full programs like word programs and the like were still pretty big in size. Early entries like the Apple® Power Book 100, was roughly the size of a piece of binder paper, with a width of about 2 inches (5.08 cm) when closed. Apple’s notebook weighed about 5 pounds (2.28 kg). Other competitors released models that were both smaller in dimension and lighter, such as the Gateway Handbook®, the Hewlett-Packard Omnibook®, and the Toshiba Portege T3400®.

These early “superportable” computer notebooks seem like giants next to the subnotebook types developed in the late 2000s. For instance, the 2007 released ASUS Eee PC® is about 9 by 6 inches (22.86 by 15.24 cm), and users will note that although a full keyboard is offered, it is much smaller than the average sized keyboard on a PC or larger laptop. Some people claim it takes a while to get used to the smaller keyboard, and that at first, even good typists may have trouble not making plenty of errors with the much smaller keys and width between key spaces.

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One advantage to the subnotebook, which can be classed as between the sizes of standard laptops and tiny handheld computers like Nintendo DS® game systems, is its ease in carrying. Most subnotebook versions also tend to be less expensive than standard sized notebooks, and you can obtain one with plenty of software and options for about $300-400 US Dollars (USD). If you want more memory capacity or more “bells and whistles,” higher priced variants will run about the same in price as larger sized notebooks.

A subnotebook may be best described as easy to use for specific applications. Most will run programs like Microsoft Office® which include Word and Excel. Almost all subnotebooks give you WiFi connectivity, so you can access your email and search the net. Some users do complain about the smaller screens, which make it harder to view full Internet pages or tables built in things like Excel. Also, many reviewers note that most of these notebooks don’t support the graphics or memory needed to play complicated games.

Those who prefer a smaller, lighter computer for general use, and those who like the price value may feel the allure of the subnotebook. In fact, a number of schools are turning to subnotebooks as a means for providing computer access to students, because they are generally far less expensive than larger portables. There’s certainly a niche market for these tiny fully functioning computers, but it remains to be seen whether they will become “giants” of the computer industry.

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