What's the optimal size of a personal computer? That's a question PC makers wrestle with all the time in designing new models, and it's a question every PC buyer should consider as well.

The trend is clear: Small. For the most part, stationary desktop PCs as well as portable PCs have gotten smaller over time, one exception being monitors, which have increased in size.

When taken to an extreme today, you wind up with a handheld computer, also called a palmtop computer. Taken to an extreme in the future, we'll likely have fully functional, voice-activated, talking computers embedded in our wristwatches, clothing, and eyeglasses.

For now, the more mundane and more practical issue is how small should you go when buying a new computer device for work, play, or both.

Netbooks

A relatively new category of computer devices, netbooks, adds a new option. Also called mininotebooks or subnotebooks, these are the smallest computers today that have keyboards that you can type into with both hands for quick data entry. Unlike notebook PCs, they don't typically include a CD-ROM/DVD drive.


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Reid Goldsborough  |  Contributing Writer
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.