What It Is: Netbooks have hit a nerve. According to DisplaySearch's forecast, sales for these small, low-cost notebooks will rise 65 percent in 2009, compared to just a 3 percent growth for standard notebooks. The form factor is attractive. For example, the HP Mini 2140 costs just $500, sports the low-power Intel Atom processor, has a battery life of six hours and weighs just three pounds.\n\n\nMore on CIO.com\nSix Reasons Netbooks ARE Enterprise Ready: IT Pro Speaks\n\nHow to Choose: Netbook Vs. Ultraportable Laptop\n\nWhy The Hype: Netbooks meet a need. Smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone, are intended for what DisplaySearch analyst John Jacobs calls a three-minute experience\u2014enough time to check e-mail or call the office. A notebook is for longer sessions, maybe three hours. A netbook fits in between. It's designed for a 30-minute experience including Web access, e-mail and document editing. Ezra\u00a0Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, says netbooks are travel-friendly, fit well with enterprise hot-swap repair procedures (since they are easy to manage) and thus can work for both IT managers and mobile professionals such as sales agents.\n\nThe Real Deal: Netbooks seem viable. JeffreyBreen,the CTO at Yankee Group, tells of an employee who bought his own netbook and found it worked well for quick Web and e-mail sessions. Yet, if there was a jury for enterprise decisions, they would still be deliberating netbook value. Gottheil notes that more robust e-mail products, such as Outlook or Notes, run best on a dual-core processor. In a mass deployment of netbooks, an enterprise might have to add more wireless access points or change wireless configurations to avoid interference issues, which add to the cost. "Netbooks may be an optional [device] in enterprise environments in the future," says Thomas Endres, CIO with Lufthansa. But right now, they're not fit for engineering and other complex applications.\n\nBob Hersch, the global managing director of the workplace technology and collaboration practice at Accenture, thinks netbooks work well for consumers of information but not creators of information.\n\nThe company, with 180,000 knowledge workers across the globe, has given a solid "it depends" answer on netbooks. Hersch says it is important to match the needs of the end user to the device. In many ways, that's even the consensus among netbook manufacturers. Lenovo, which makes the IdeaPad S10, markets the netbook as an accessory.\n\nShould You Invest? In an enterprise environment\u2014where standardization is key and superfluous accessories are verboten\u2014the netbook is a hard sell. It's another form factor for IT to support, and the more limited processor is not a good fit for anyone who creates information\u2014say, in an Excel spreadsheet. Interestingly, netbooks\u2014and related nettops (for example, thin desktops)\u2014may become a good option for thin computing after the hype of massive consumer interest subsides. According to Jacobs, the sub-$500 price point is also attractive as a quick replacement unit in the enterprise\u2014a Hyundai loaner while your Audi gets repaired.\n\nJohn Brandon is a Minnesota-based freelance writer.