Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: Netbook or Notebook?

A lot is being said now about the newest form of laptops – the netbook. Laptops were originally designed to be semi-lightweight, portable computers that a legal nurse consultant could easily carry from home to the medical library, to work, to wherever. Soon form was forgotten and notebooks became larger, more powerful and screens became wider. Before long, laptops were “desktop” replacements and almost as heavy to carry.

My old Compaq laptop had such a small form factor that I could easily open it on an airplane and work even if the hospital administrator slacker in front of me decided to crank his seat all the way back and sleep on the flight from Poughkeepsie to Sioux City. My new Dell hardly fits on the seat tray and Vickie has to belt my elbows to my waistline before I can type. Sure I’m envious of your Apple® MacBook®, but I can’t wait to see you try and open it up while seated next to me in steerage.

Netbooks and mini-notebooks are the backlash. These are tiny laptops usually weighing under three pounds with 10-inch screens, Windows® XP and Microsoft® Works (Linux and OpenOffice, if you’re daring), a relatively small hard drive, 80 GB or so, or a 40GB SSD (solid state drive), 1GB of RAM and a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor. They are priced at just over $400. That sounds like a pretty good deal – but is it? Sure, it is a computer but they’re not designed to be used by a hard-working, multi-tasking Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. These are designed with one purpose in mind – portability.

They’re great if all you want to do is surf the web. You can do research for your legal nurse consulting business, stay in touch with your attorney-clients via email and maybe do a little word processing (such as drafting that report at the library or taking notes while interviewing a potential plaintiff). Do not, however, expect much performance from one of these. They’re better than trying to surf the Internet on a smart phone, but don’t try to edit photos, include graphics in a report or render a report into a PDF. Netbooks generally do those tasks – but you’ll spend a long time watching the onscreen hourglass. And, if you’ve got big hands or thick fingers, the tiny keyboard will make you crazy. You may also need to consider an external CD/DVD drive if you plan on installing software other than what’s preinstalled.

But, you can tuck the netbook in a backpack or purse and travel fast and loose. We have an old Fujitsu P-series Lifebook (yeah – it’s old and slow) that’s about the same size and weight as a netbook that we carry on vacation. With my Verizon Wireless Internet card or the hotel’s wireless, it keeps me on the Web, in the know and weighs a little over three pounds (and it’s paid for).

If you’re considering a netbook purchase, here’s some basic specs:

  • Windows® XP.
  • 80-120 GB hard drive (not solid state) running at 5,400 rpm or higher.
  • 1-1.5 GB of RAM.
  • Largest keyboard supplied by that maker (92% is great!)
  • Built in Wi-Fi card (802.11b/g) and an 10/100 Fast Ethernet jack.
  • 6-cell battery, if you’ll be traveling or using your netbook away from your office.
  • Built-in speakers.
  • VGA-out so you can plug in an external monitor at home.
  • Two or more USB inputs/jacks (one for your USB hub at home).
  • Microsoft® Works with the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack.
  • Norton or MacAfee Internet security software.

If you have money for just one computer this year – buy yourself a full-fledged notebook as a desktop replacement and skip the netbook. Then get yourself a dock and all the other stuff discussed in my earlier Tuesday Tech Tip Extend Yourself with a Hub, published December 23, 2008. You’ll have a better experience and get more out of it.

If you have the money and the need to buy yourself a $400 convenience – consider a netbook. It’s a convenience you won’t regret.

Keep on techin’,

Tom

6 replies
  1. Diana Schmitt says:

    Thanks Tom for the tech tips! My office is growing. I recently hired an individual to come in once a week to help me get my systems under control. I can no longer do it on my own. When I am busy with cases, my marketing plan suffers. I also have a computer tech that comes in periodically, and your tech tips help him know just what it is that I need. I also installed ACT! after listening to the annual NACLNC® Conference audio recordings, and I used your tips on how to do this without spending top dollar.

    I have been shopping for a laptop and I am glad that I did not get into a big hurry to purchase it. Your tech tips concerning notebooks were right on cue in helping me with this.

    Also, Vickie incorporates technological components into the CLNC® Certification Program, such as the CLNC® Marketing LaunchBox, the Contracts! Contracts! Contracts!, Tom’s annual NACLNC® Conference presentations and Tom’s Tech Tips. You do not get this in any other legal nurse consulting program. You do not need to spend your money, and time in trial and error, hiring consultants and webpage companies. Vickie’s CLNC® Certification Program is worth every penny, if for no other reason than this.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer Massara says:

    I am gearing up for my CLNC® Certification training in Las Vegas with Vickie and a new career in legal nurse consulting. I have so many thoughts and questions. I have learned some new information from this blog and Tom’s Tech Tips. I am very glad to know that they cover technical components in the training.

    Reply
  3. Bonnie Smith, RNC,CLNC says:

    It always helps to hear how other persons handle certain situations. It grows our knowledge of the subject and how certain techniques are applied and how they work. I am another “silent blogger.” I have never had the experience of blogging before. The comments have been very enlightening to me.

    Speaking of “decades” in nursing. That’s me. About 25 years in long term care has been my story. I trained in Jackson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Miami, FL in the early 60s and worked in hospitals for several years after that. I love research and would like to get my feet wet subcontracting. I am looking forward to devoting my time to nursing again.

    Reply
  4. Teresa Sharkey, RN, CLNC says:

    Hello Vickie and fellow bloggers,

    Nursing and IT is an oxymoron in my opinion. I have been a nurse my entire adult life and have done just about everything our industry has to offer. I have used just about every healthcare computer program known to man and have served as a consultant to many of them. Meditech, CPOE, EMAR, HSM etc. (meaning I was working at the facility prior to them going live) LOL we would “test” them to see how our charting and their programs would interface.

    In our profession (those of us who have been practicing longer than 10 years or so) we didn’t learn computers in school and had no use for them in the hospital so we were kind of slighted when computers became the new typewriter. I remember when my son came home from school when he was in second grade and they were using computers.

    I can manage but Tom’s tech tips help me to focus on aspects that I had not previously been privy to. (Didn’t know I needed to be LOL)

    Jennifer, You’ll have a great time and learn a lot in Vegas. From a novice CLNC® consultant perspective I can tell you they hold your hand the whole way and really look at the program holistically. (I just did the home study program and have been certified for about 2 weeks) If you want a preview I suggest you read Vickie’s book Inside Every Woman. You’ll feel her compassion and dedication to excellence.

    Reply
  5. Kristen says:

    Thanks for the information on the Netbook.

    I became concerned about traveling with my laptop as it is my “brain” and is my only computer. What if it was damaged or stolen while at a conference or attending to a case out of town? The Netbook is exactly what I am looking for – portable, small, capable for email, Internet searches and some documents. When traveling for a particular case, I put my files for that case onto a flashdrive so I am taking just files pertinent to the case. I am not traveling with my whole computer. I feel much more secure traveling with a Netbook, knowing my “brain” is safe at home. And the price is right.

    Reply
  6. Shannon M. Goddard, RN, CLNC says:

    Thank you so much for the article on Net vs. Notebooks! I have been planning on getting the 160GB Acer Aspire One Netbook for its size and portability, but now I am reconsidering and may get the larger version in a Notebook for my home office.

    I look forward to reading more Tech Tips and learning from you!

    Reply

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