Can the iPad Really Replace A Netbook?

No matter how I cut this, I am going to get grief. So let me say the following. Despite being a full time Linux user, we own two Macs, two iPhones. No one is this house has eliminated Apple products from our home. Okay, moving on.

The problem with comparing the iPad to a netbook, is that it’s more about the form-factor at work and less about the alleged ease of use. I mean, in theory you can use an iPad like a netbook with a keyboard should you wish to. I might even go so far as to say that an iPad might be more versatile and a better comparison will be the iPad against the Android powered tablets, as they share more in common. Unfortunately though, most people are more likely to own a notebook or in this case, a netbook, than an Android tablet.

The iPad advantage

The iPad offers three strong items worth mentioning. First, it’s going to provide you with an insane battery life. So good in fact, that it’s a little better than even the best battery using netbooks. Perhaps only by a couple of hours, but that is a couple of hours for reading or watching videos. Second, the apps. If the app you want doesn’t exist yet, blog about it and check back in a couple of weeks. There really isn’t anything missing from the app store that you need. Third, it takes portable to a whole new level. Three years ago when my wife and I were using Microsoft powered Tablet PCs to check down the list at the showroom for what was to be included in our home, we had to use a stylus. Worse, the entire feel of the Tablet PC was heavy  and awkward. The iPad is light, there is no need for the stylus and it’s keyboard is surprising useful.

The netbook advantage

Can the iPad Really Replace A Netbook?
Photo by Yagan Kiely

Using an iPad is awesome, until you are done watching video, blogging or skimming the news. Yes, it’s also pretty good for taking notes, but managing a website from this platform is going to be interesting. There are simply somethings where not having a mouse or at the very least, a touchpad, feels wrong. This is also the case if you’re working a lot with images or happen to be needing software that just isn’t available for the iPad yet. Yes, it does exist.

Which is best

For my money, I am a netbook user because I want that tactile feel of a real keyboard, without being left out to buy one just to use the device in this manner. Same applies for my ability to slip in a USB mouse and utilize software like “Filezilla” to manage different websites. For my needs, the netbook does it. But for others in different situations, I am sure that the iPad may very well be a better fit. It’s slimmer and can be held closely while being used by the other hand. Something you don’t see with the netbook.

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  • Bryan Price

    Are you serious?

    When it comes to applications, extant or begging to be written, you still have to have a computer to sync the iPad to. That’s not something you have to do with a netbook, nor is it even necessary with a tablet based on Android, or even ereaders like Nook and Kindle.

    The iPad is joined at the hip to SOME computer, which isn’t true with netbooks.

  • Matt Hartley

    Bryan: To be ultimately fair, we are assuming this is not the primary computer, rather the portable option. Obviously in both instances there is a “mothership” computing appliance waiting at home with iTunes running, 😉 Good point though.

  • Meagan

    First off, the fact that you have to pair it to a computer to activate the iPad is not as much of a headache as it may seem. I only had to connect it one time, and then I was set to purchase from iTunes from the device itself. One time pairing is not a deal breaker in my mind. I really love pages, but I don’t like it that I don’t have many font options. At first I was disappointed about the lack of USB port, but it actually hasn’t been an issue because I store what I need on the iPad itself and it has more than enough memory to do so. The fact that it is entirely wireless has actually been more of a convenience than a headache. I do still have my laptop but I very rarely use. I use my iPad for school work, reading, gaming, web surfacing, and presentations; and I print wirelessly from the iPad, so all in all, in spite of the lack of USB and camera, it was worth the purchase.