I couldn’t resist and I had to sneak in a bit of what my thoughts are about the iPad. I’m just going to run down the specs and see what’s different between Apple’s over-sized iPod Touch and our beloved netbooks. By the way, the specs I’m using are the lowest end model, the US$499 iPad 16GB WiFi only one since most netbooks fall into the same price range. I’m using current entry level netbooks for comparison.

  • Disk space: 16GB vs 2.5″ HDD. No doubt if you need a lot of disk space, you’re leaning towards a netbook. It has enough space for your movie AND music collection, with a few thousand photos thrown in for good measure. It also goes in favor of netbooks that you can easily swap the hard drive and RAM as well, with only a bit of elbow grease needed.
  • Processor: 1GHz A4 vs 1.66GHz Atom. It’s a toss up since the operating system is the clincher when it comes to the final user experience. So while there are more horses under Atom’s hood, the Windows 7 OS kind of cramps its style, though only a little bit.
  • Screen: 9.7″ display vs 10.1″ and above. The smaller display might be handier but you might find it a bit wanting when watching videos, especially since it can’t do widescreen very well.
  • OS: iPhone OS 3.2 vs Windows 7. With Apple tweaking their OS to mesh well with the hardware they have, I see that as a leg up over Windows 7 which Microsoft made to be compatible primarily with laptops and desktops. There are other operating system options for netbooks I know but most would just opt for what’s in the box, commonly a Windows 7 variant. The lack of multitasking is a big downside though which would have been nice since they beefed up the processor already.
  • Ports: Dock connector vs USB, VGA and everything else. Personally, I cry over the fact that they still didn’t put in USB ports in the new iPad but I guess that’s because it’s a battery sucking beast. It’s crazy though that you need to buy extra connectors to plug into universal standards like VGA but that’s how Apple works I guess.
  • Keyboard: external/touchscreen vs built-in 98%. Having a keyboard is better than none at all for me. Sure there’s one on the screen and you can use the keyboard dock or a Bluetooth one but that takes away both the portability of the device and eats up more cash from your pocket.
  • Navigation: multitouch vs trackpad. Apple wins in this case since their implementation is pretty snappy unlike those in netbooks. Trackpads can only do so much and touchscreen are much better for consuming content.
  • Weight: 0.63kg vs 1.1kg and up. Together with the sleek design, the iPad trumps netbooks hands down. Using netbooks while walking around is nearly impossible not because of the weight but because of the design.
  • Apps: Appstore vs Installers. Most software you get for netbooks are full versions meant for faster, bigger machines. Those from the Appstore are focused on the device itself and get to play well with all of its hardware features. On the other hand, I like that being able to install my own software and tweaking it is much more rewarding to my modding sensibilities. They also offer way more functionality and can work with other apps, not like the sandboxed apps in the Appstore.
  • Battery: 10 hours vs 11 hours. Okay, there nothing much to fight on here since they both pretty much eat the same amount of energy.

I’ve put in bold what I think was the winner in each category with the iPad specs at the left and the netbook specs at the right. As you can see, I’m more towards the netbooks side even though I really do want to get an iPad too. It’s the same argument with the iPhone vs other smartphones. Content consumption and passive usage does well with the iPad but netbooks shine when you actively create those content (like I do!) and want more control over your device configuration. To be clear, Apple does let you upgrade but they will cost you and there are limited options. I’m sure you can only connect on device to the iPad’s dock connector so adding in an external display AND external power AND a keyboard dock would be a feat in itself.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy the iPad. While market analysts saying the niche where the iPad will be selling, the area between notebooks and mobile phones, is not yet established, I say that netbooks are occupying that spot pretty comfortably but there can still be room for improvement for both devices.

In short:
iPad = consume content = fun
Netbook = make content = work

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  • Brandi Belle
    i think i pad is best than note book i'have said this coz i have one ipad.
  • Katy Reed99
    What about the fact that the ipad doesn't support flash? Seems like a gimmick to me.
  • Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! Cheers.
  • Shea
    ...also consider price. A fully loaded netbook is still half the price of a fully loaded iPad.
  • Yes, what you said about the price is true. Yet, the iPad could be more convenient than a netbook at times, so each of us needs to weigh advantages and disadvantages before buying any of these devices.
  • Until the tablets have USB ports and a webcam I'll keep watching and not buying. At least I can play my mailVU.com video emails on the tablets. What I want is to be able to record videos from it, but alas I would need an internal webcam or a USB webcam. I'll keep waiting.
  • After reading your post.., I remember a song entitled "The way we were" Great post..
  • Really cool article. Points mentioned above gives a clear picture why one should go for iPad.
  • eurovacationexpert
    I'm about to go on a short vacation of two days with my backpack, and I just sat there for 5 minutes holding my netbook and wondering if it was worth taking it, since the second day I do not have a hotel and have to carry my backpack with me everywhere.
    Conclusion: I'll leave it at home. I don't want to buy an iPAD becasue it doesnt run windows or external hard drives nor USB. But when a lightweight winPad-usb appears on the market weighing half a netbook, I'll buy that.

  • Danny
    Nice breakdown, but I don't agree with this line though.
    "Netbook = make content = work"
    I work on either my desktop or sometimes my laptop when I'm on the go, but never on my netbook, the thing's particularly useless for work. If I wanted to get actual work done I would opt for neither a netbook or an iPad.

    But between the iPad and the netbook, I'd choose the iPad because it offers a different experience than using a laptop. I could only dream about browsing the web, reading an ebook or watching a movie while lying on my couch or walking on the street until the iPad came along.

    And yes, the iPad is mostly for consuming content (though it has great potential for creating content for artists, just look at Brush, it's like a portable canvas, an artist's dream come true!), but if I really wanted to create content I'd get a better desktop instead.

    The iPad isn't without its flaws though, I hate the fact that I have to cramp all my apps, movies, games, photos and music into 64GB. I hate the fact that it doesn't have a built-in camera despite all the emphasis on photo. And c'mon Apple, 800 bucks? :/

    But that's another story.
  • I defintaly think the iPad is well worth the money, its gonna be much more powerful than anything else!
  • transcape
    I just cannot see how iPad can win over netbooks.

    This is sad
  • you gotta experience the iPad first. You may get addicted :-) . i love mac ideas..brilliant.
  • It's really useful to get a breakdown like this. Too many claims about the iPad go unsubstantiated. I don't think the iPad will be that big of a success, at least after the initial boost its sales will drop and netbooks will pick back up. Just my 2 cents.
  • Great article dude. Clear approach.. read 2 times from the top.. coool
  • rutherford
    I think the ergonomics for surfing while sitting on the couch give netbooks a further advantage too - http://aleatory.clientsideweb..../
  • Shinrai

    We'll see what the future brings. Let's hope Apple gets some technology that will enable better typing on the iPad on the go without needing peripherals. And if the rumors about shared storage comes true, that would help a lot in getting work done on the device. Multitasking too, even if just for a few apps, would make me leave my netbook altogether.

    @tim, lol. A pro-iPad article in a Mac site. A pro-netbook article in a netbook site.
  • Nick
    Its the next step in creating apps to work for the users other than the other way around.

    Creating content is just as easy and with the right apps, even faster. It will take a while to get the apps to share data without having to plug anything in. ( There's an app for that with the iphone )

    You can access all of what you need on an ipad..thats a pointless argument.

    Windows 7(Vista with a different UI) better than any Apple UI? lol anyone who deals with actual UI user experience's knows this is why Mac is supreme.

    64gb is plenty btw...But can we say web service anyone?

    This doesn't replace a laptop and to think it is, your missing the point of the ipad or it would have been called a MacBook. It's bringing the evolution of how business can empower their employees to get more done..It's just in its infant stage.

    Good luck.

    I'm a PC web developer(.net) btw
  • My partner and I harmonise along with your data and will thirstily look onward to the subsequent messages. Only expressing thanks will never merely be adequate, for the extraordinary readability with your posting. I'll immediately seize the rss to stay informed with any revisions. Good job and much success within your internet business efforts! Whatwhat!
  • The Ipad looks like fun to play with, but I doubt if you can really work with it? But many people will buy it because of it look.
  • What will be more interesting to see is the second generation iPad, to see exactly what they have in store for real progress (probably more memory, battery life, different screen sizes,etc.).
  • Damo
    Unfortunately everyone waits for '2nd generation' apple products. Is this a problem? iPhone OS 4...finally has multitasking so Apple can put iAds in stuff. Nice wait. But like 7 billion people have bought the iPad according to news reports, they all gunna go buy the 2nd gen?
  • Netbooks will have Google Chrome OS soon, am I right? :) Netbook is better than iPad, but iPad has bigger potential :)
  • Steve Job's stellar iTablet will rapidly gain some steam after this initial push time during it's unveiling. The touch screen and Mac's potential to fix issues will begin to make the iPad a success in the futuire.
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