Netbook is an informal classification for a variety of small, low-power mobile personal computers (PCs) used primarily for e-mail and Internet access, that are becoming less common because of tablets such as Apple's iPad.
At their inception in late 2007 as smaller notebooks optimized for low weight and low cost — netbooks omitted certain features (e.g., the optical drive), featured smaller screens and keyboards, and offered reduced computing power when compared to a full-sized laptop. Netbooks split the difference between traditional, full-service laptop PCs, or notebooks, and smaller, more-limited devices such as Web-enabled “smart phones” and personal desktop assistants (PDAs). Over the course of their evolution, netbooks have ranged in size from below 5" screen diagonal to 12". A typical weight is 1 kg (2–3 pounds). Often significantly less expensive than other laptops, by mid-2009, some wireless data carriers began to offer netbooks to users "free of charge", with an extended service contract purchase.
In the short period since their appearance, netbooks have grown in size and features, now converging with new smaller, lighter notebooks and subnotebooks. By August 2009, when comparing a Dell netbook to a Dell notebook, CNET called netbooks "nothing more than smaller, cheaper notebooks," noting, "the specs are so similar that the average shopper would likely be confused as to why one is better than the other," and "the only conclusion is that there really is no distinction between the devices." Early netbooks ran either Microsoft Corporation’s Windows XP Home Edition or a custom configuration of the free operating system Linux. Typically, netbooks support Internet communication via high-speed Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Their size precludes optical storage devices, but they usually include slots for solid-state flash memory cards.
A major factor in popularity decline was the lack of netbook competition. Specification restrictions imposed by chipset supplier Intel mean netbooks are arguably looked on unfavourably. A main factor being the low resolution screen. This Intel screen restriction certainly meant that the iPad was viewed more favourably further impacting the popularity of netbooks.