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5 Reasons Netbooks Are Better Than (Or At Least As Good As) Laptops

Flash back to 2004, when we warned you that PDA and PIM functions crammed into phone form would make your corporate policy banning unsanctioned mobile devices not worth the paper it was written on.

We have a bit of history repeating now as employees pick up sub-$400 netbooks. According to the latest statistics from DisplaySearch, netbook shipments surged to $3 billion in the second quarter from $845 million in Q2 2008. In no way is 264% year-over-year growth a fluke. Research firm VDC predicts that 2010 sales will surpass $33 billion.

If we've learned anything from the rise of smartphones, it's that resistance to popular new end user devices is futile. In our latest InformationWeek Analytics report, at netbooks.informationweek.com (registration required), we lay out a plan for smoothly bringing netbooks into the fold, but here are five good reasons you should develop a policy now:

  1. Netbooks can fly under the CFO's radar. Your capital budget for new PCs, and maybe even smartphones with data plans, is probably frozen. But the low price of netbooks means you can equip users who have minimal needs for processing power and not worry about depreciation.
  2. Netbooks lack multimedia capabilities. No DVD players, for instance, and Intel reports that a netbook encodes iTunes six times slower than a laptop. As if that were a bad thing.
  3. Netbooks can be managed just like laptops. Netbooks running Windows can be managed with the standard tools from Altiris, Microsoft and others. They support most encryption software and can be joined to Active Directory.
  4. Netbooks sip power. Sleeker CPU design and smaller overall footprint ensure you'll get 10% to 15% less power consumption from a netbook vs. a laptop.
  5. Netbooks can help get desktop Linux in the door. Some come with preloads of Novell SUSE or Ubuntu Remix. Intel has released its own Moblin (Mobile Linux) for the netbook, and the ever-hyped, if rarely seen, Google Chrome OS reportedly has a netbook focus.