Netbooks and Laptops: What's the Difference?

Since the release of Apple's most recent MacBook Air, the lines between what differentiates a netbook from a full-fledged laptop are becoming blurry with every new upgrade. According to our own Jim Valenti, many of the new netbooks have about as much power and capabilities as most of your average laptops. The rise of internet programs like, Google Apps and other cloud-based software, the need for a large hardrive has decreased of late. Many professionals can nearly operate their day-to-day tasks with internet access alone, making the portability of netbooks becoming increasingly attractive.

Sony VAIO W SeriesAs we spoke about before here, the new MacBook Air has the small size and portability, similar to a netbook. While it also has a slightly smaller size computing power than it's MacBook Pro relative, it can still do just about anything your average user would require. However, Apple isn't the only game in town. Other technology companies are jumping on the netbook bandwagon, coming out with powerful units at lower price points.

Sony's new VAIO boasts similar features that your normal notebooks do - except with half the size and cost. Their new W Series PC has a 250GB storage capacity while having the ability to maintain up to eight hours of battery life. With 1.83 GHz of ram and weighing in at a mere 2.93 pounds, this featherweight device hits like a heavyweight. It's lower-than-a-normal-notebook price point also adds to the appeal.

HP's Mini 5103 is nothing to sneeze at either. Targeted at the HP Minismall business segment, their 10-inch device has a stylish design and a feature lacking on many netbooks: a comfortable keyboard. It also has 1GB of RAM and one-ups the VAIO with 250GB of hard-drive storage space. The Mini also has two front-firing stereo speakers, aiding those who need that volume for video chat purposes. Aside from a mediocre battery life and slightly higher price point than the VAIO, this personal computer from HP definitely ranks among the higher end of the netbook segment.

So what is the difference between netbooks and traditional notebooks? After a quick scan of the tech specs of the HP Mini and VAIO W Series, one can see the differences are hardly noticeable. Will there always be a defined line between netbooks and traditional notebooks? Or do you all think there will eventually just be one line of devices?