Could Netbooks be the next step in reducing ecological waste and energy consumption for the personal computer user? In some ways, the answer is yes. Netbooks, in their inherent design structure, offer a more eco-friendly and energy efficient alternative to other current laptops. Still, depending on the needs of the consumer Netbooks may not be a practical possibility.
First, one needs to know what is a netbook. A netbook is a labtop computer expressly designed for wireless communication and access to the internet. These computers rely primarily on web based applications and are minute in size when compared to traditional laptops. Because of their small size, usually weighing two to three pounds, netbooks consume less plastic and metal in their production. At the same time toxic materials used in computing, such as lead, are also reduced. So, in effect netbooks are the most material efficient of current computer models.
Second, one needs to look at energy. For a computer to work it needs electricity. That is an absolute. Netbooks have a very narrow aim to connect and work while on the internet. Traditional computers have a very wide aim, to serve any need of the personal computer consumer. This ranges from connecting to the internet to producing complex databases and even graphic intensive video games. Since the narrow aim of notebooks requires much less processing power, less energy is used. For example, Intel’s Atom processor is used by 19 of the top netbooks. Atom posses a maximum thermal design point (TDP) of 2.5 watts; compare that with Intel’s Core 2 Duo chips, which have a TDP of 65 watts.
On the other hand, netbooks do have drawbacks. The small processing power and limited memory storage of notebooks make them incompatible for any data or graphic intensive work. Graphic designers and information technology officers should look elsewhere. Likewise, those individuals concerned about computer waste must examine the individual manufacturers. In the end, if you are using a computer only for checking e-mail and Facebook in the local Peets then a netbook may just be the perfect way for you to reduce your carbon footprint.