You say netbook, I say notebook, oh, let's call it a mobile PC

The name doesn't matter, just buy it for what it does (See video below)

When it comes to naming categories of new mobile computing devices, even the experts can get confused.

There's the mobile Internet device, or MID, and there is the netbook, which some say is the latest name for the ultramobile PC (UMPC).

Both MIDs and netbooks are bigger than smart phones but smaller than laptops, which a lot of vendors insist on calling notebooks. They are all mobile computers, but they have significant differences. In the end, the category names might not be terribly useful.

"This is a very interesting area because there are no defined boundaries to these devices," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northboro, Mass. "Everybody makes up their own names for a category. You change a name to make it sell."

Gold said Intel Corp.'s general description for an MID is a computer with a screen that's 7 inches or smaller, while a netbook's screen runs from 7 to 10 inches.

Intel makes the Atom processor that's used in MIDs and netbooks, but Gold said he fully expects the Atom to be used in much bigger machines at some point. "These are all Intel definitions and not industry standards," Gold said.

Intel showed several Atom-based MIDs and netbooks at Mobile Internet World last week in Boston, and it demonstrated how they could be used with WiMax wireless networks. Some devices include embedded WiMax Link 5100 series modules from Intel, and others have WiMax USB dongles. (See video, below.)

At the Consumer Electronics Show last January, Intel cited the MIDs as an example of devices that would function well over mobile WiMax.

Despite the general screen size differences between MIDs and netbooks, Gold said screen size isn't the only distinction. The differences might also involve the device's operating system, its weight or its functions.

It's a mini-PC; no, it's a netbook

For example, Gold said the Eee PC from AsusTek Computer Inc. in Taiwan should really be called a mini-PC, because some Eee models run the Windows XP operating system. For example, the new Eee PC S101, which was announced Oct. 21 and will go on sale for $699 on Nov. 1, runs XP but it's just 0.7 in. thick and weighs 2 lbs., according to a company statement. It also has a 10.2-in., laptop-size screen.

Officials at AsusTek said the Eee PC is properly called a netbook because it falls into a category of "simple, lightweight, low-cost, energy-efficient" mobile devices that allow users on the go to stay connected to the Internet and perform online activities such as streaming videos, e-mailing, surfing the Web and instant-messaging.

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Intel showed mobile Internet devices from several manufacturers at Mobile Internet World in Boston. All of them used Atom chips and were designed for WiMax and Wi-Fi access.

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