Web Extra: Why Netbooks are So Popular

The advent of Netbooks caught many in the tech world by surprise, including CNBC contributor and New York Times personal technology columnist David Pogue. The mini-laptops, stripped down of features and hardware and heavily reliant on the Internet for functionality, have seen a boon in sales with 35 million units estimated to sell this year alone.

The proof is in the price. Netbooks run in the range of $350 to $450, a fraction of the cost of a fully-loaded notebook computer. But if your main purpose in computing is to do simple tasks like check email, surf the web and give presentations, the lack of features may not matter much.

Pogue explains that Netbook users range from businesspeople, utilizing them as second computers to launch PowerPoint presentations or to do light work on airplanes (another plus: around seven hours of battery life), to senior citizens who need a simple device to read and write emails and look at photos.

Netbooks have in fact become so popular so fast that they are threatening to take a bite out of Microsoft’s PC market share. That’s because many of the devices don’t run Windows and instead opt for the barer-boned Linux operating system (when they do run Windows, it's almost always XP - NOT Vista).

If you find yourself in the market for a Netbook, Pogue notes that wireless companies like Verizon are now selling them for even cheaper – around $200 – so long as you sign a contract for Wi-Fi service.