Netbook or iPad? The Pros and Cons

eeepcI was a big fan of netbooks when they first came out.  They’re cheap, provide plenty of functionality, and make great traveling companions.  Despite the booming popularity of netbooks, I believe that the iPad will create a new market for tablet-styled devices.  Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, the iPad’s perceived ease of use, design, and portability will assure it has a place.  The question some are now asking is whether they should buy a netbook, the iPad, or a similar unreleased tablet.

The core of this question ultimately relates to the device’s purpose.  What exactly do you need to accomplish?  While it seems that the iPad is primarily a consumption device, there will likely be many available applications that make it a useful tool.  The iPad’s extra accessories such as the keyboard dock highlight that it will offer an extended experience rather than simply being a large iPod Touch.

Here is a simple comparison of the pros and cons for a netbook and the iPad.

Netbook

Pro Con
Low cost Usually lower performance
Size Often smaller, cramped keyboard
Battery life Small screen
Integrated webcam Lower build quality
Various OS choices Lacks Apple coolness factor?
Multitasking Impractical compared to full featured notebook

iPad

Pro Con
Low cost for entry unit Apple controlled App Store
Ease of use No physical keyboard (unless using keyboard dock)
Portability Lack of inking/pen support
Battery life Lack of webcam
iPhone OS iPhone OS
140,000 Apps Lack of multitasking
What does $499 get you in the netbook department?  Amazon has several winners to consider.
lenovostThe Lenovo S10-3t 10.1-Inch Tablet Netbook comes in at a surprising $499 even and features the following specs:
  • 1.66GHz Intel Atom Processor
  • 1GB 204 Pin DDR2 SO-DIMM Memory
  • 250GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM); 802.11 b/g/n
  • 10.1″ 1024×600 LED Display (16:9); Intel GMA 3150 Graphics
  • Windows 7 Starter

Another sub $499 choice is the Acer Aspire One 751h 11.6-Inch Netbook.  This machine is available now for $465 and features:acernetbook1

  • 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520 Processor
  • 2GB DDR2 667 SDRAM
  • 250GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
  • Windows XP Pro (SP3), Up to 8 Hours of Battery Life (6-Cell 5200 mAh)
  • 11.6″ High-def Display (1366 x 768), Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500

Ultimately, the iPad will develop with software updates and official/unofficial community support.  Remember that the first iPhone and iPod Touch lacked something as simple as cut and paste.  The success of the iPad largely depends upon Apple’s direction and development.  The iPad will not succeed if it is a syncing, harddrive mirroring, oversized iPod.  Most folks desire a device that can standalone, independent of any other computer.  Sharing and syncing of information is great, but hopefully the iPad can be used apart from a notebook or desktop.

With an extra $499 burning a hole in your pocket, which would you buy?

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Comments

  1. SAM says

    The iPad seems to be specialized device that won’t run
    your regular pc programs, it seems to be physically large,
    and you can not write on it?

    Some will be disaapointed in the lack of features, but others
    I’m sure will liken it to the Holy Tablets(Just kidding)

    Too bad they didn’t include the features of a true tablet.

    The Leveno looks interesting, but according to the specs it’s body it is almost as big as a 12″ tablet– 7″ x 11″ oa dimensions with only a 10″ lo-res screen…

  2. Tatej says

    I really seethe netbooks and ipadsserving 2 different functions. In my mind the ipad is gong to be used along side my laptop/ netbook/ desktop.

  3. Al says

    I would buy a netbook. Let me explain. If computing devices are laid out on a timeline, with smartphone on the extreme left and laptop on the extreme right. Ideally a device that has some of the features of both a smartphone and a laptop would be right in the center of the timeline. The iPad as it was announced, is not in the center, it is much too close to the smartphone to be the ideal convergence device. The netbook on the other hand is far too close to the laptop to be the ideal convergence device, however, the netbook will be far useful and convenient than the iPad. Sure the netbook weighs more than the iPad, but it is still quite portable, multitasks, has a real keyboard (of which most are 90% the size of a laptop keyboard), usually a multi-card reader, and a couple of USB ports.

    Ideal
    convergence
    iPad device Netbook
    Smartphone |_____|_________|__________|_______| Laptop

  4. jcrouzzo says

    the key point everyone is overlooking is the true power of the iphone os. we have photoshop for the iphone, dragon dictation for the iphone, various photo manipulation apps, even 3d modeling and sophisticated painting/drawing apps (i.e. the one demoed that took the developer 2 weeks to get to a very usable state) the sdk is already in developers hands. most of the apps used on the mac will probably be adapted for near fully capable use on the ipad. imagine what can be done with the power of the iphone os but the screen real estate to be truly usable? Apple developed an amazing office suite using the simplicity and ease of the iphone style interface, combined with maybe 80 to 90 percent of the desktop apps. consider these with the very high quality browser and email, and you have the computing functionality necessary to make it through most workdays. for all intents and purposes this could easily find its place right where Steve predicted. Netbooks watch out, you will likely soon be relegated to those who cant afford, or are to cheap to buy, the ipad.

  5. Norman D. Robinson says

    I have only one thing to say to ***”jcrouzzo”*** above.

    Dude….!!! Get your head out of the clouds…!!!! :-o Mercy….!!!!

  6. ChrisRS says

    I think that there needs to be a comparison of iPAD – Windows Mobile Device – Netbooks – Notebooks – TabletPC.

    The capabilities of devices using a full OS vs a limited OS are difficult to compare. They can each peform certain functions well, with some overlap in functionality.

    The iPad and other companion devices will provide a subset of the capabilites of thier more powerful siblings. THey will have a cool factor that is missing from the full funtion devices.

    There is room for both. Personall I would like to see Apple enter the TabletPC market with a high power fulol funtion device. (10 mobile viersion, 14 inch “Power user” version)

  7. Kamal DS says

    I am pretty sure that iPad will get the ability to multitask. If it does not get that functionality, I am sure Cydia will take care of that ;)

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