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.

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

Netbook

ProCon
Low costUsually lower performance
SizeOften smaller, cramped keyboard
Battery lifeSmall screen
Integrated webcamLower build quality
Various OS choicesLacks Apple coolness factor?
MultitaskingImpractical compared to full featured notebook

iPad

ProCon
Low cost for entry unitApple controlled App Store
Ease of useNo physical keyboard (unless using keyboard dock)
PortabilityLack of inking/pen support
Battery lifeLack of webcam
iPhone OSiPhone OS
140,000 AppsLack 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

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  • 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.

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