I am thinking of buying of laptop today but it came across my mind of the new netbooks that are out now, I don't know the difference between the two other than the netbook is smaller but do they function the same and have all the same gadgets such as: usb drive, dvd/cd drive, microsoft word, excel, and powerpoint? I am really confused, can you just tell me the difference between the two and which one would be better for a freshman college student?
No, they are not the same and it depends on your needs.
Netbooks generally use lower power CPUs, have less RAM, smaller screens and don't come with CD/DVD drives, but they tend to have incredible battery life and are really light. They tend to only go from 9 to 12 inch screens. They can handle word and excel fine.
Laptops are generally more powerful, but carry the size and weight that go with it. They generally have more features and offer better performance, but at the same time netbooks weren't designed to do much more than surf the internet and such.