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I actually made a similar observation to this in high school, and promptly used what money I could to get myself a crappy netbook. (I also didn't really have that much disposable income back then, just what I made working retail)

An observation that I've made after using (a later, the first one broke) netbook with a conventional build versus the same netbook with a SSD is that with a hard drive, netbooks are painfully slow. Once you've swapped that for a really fast SSD, and stopped using Windows on it, it boots in 10-15 seconds and programs usually launch almost-instantaneously. I've found it to be almost as nice to use as my (much nicer and newer, quad core with a nice graphics card) desktop. There are exceptions to the 'almost as nice': flash doesn't work well, screen size is an annoyance sometimes, and you clearly aren't going to be doing much with CUDA. But considering it cost ~$550 with the SSD (which was almost as expensive as the netbook), as compared to well over $1000 for the desktop+screens, it's pretty awesome (and portable, too) for someone who doesn't always have extra cash (students don't have the best salary).

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