Last year, so-called "netbooks"--smaller, cheaper versions of laptop computers--made their way into the hands of countless students and educators. Now, concerns about the economy are driving a further increase in the number of netbooks available to schools.

Netbooks are computers that often cost less than $400, with small screens and keyboards that make them look Lilliputian next to laptops that seemed perfectly portable only a year ago.

These little computers introduced consumers to the idea that extreme portability could be combined with a low price, as long as people were willing to use the computer for getting online or connecting to a...

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