When the iPad was first released, netbook makers such as HP and Dell held their breath; would the iPad signal the beginning of the end for the netbook market? While they've definitely taken a hit, don't expect to see the complete extinction of netbooks quite yet. These sub-notebook computers are inexpensive and small and have found a market; but can they compete with the iPad? Here's how things stack up:
The entry-level iPad starts at $499, for wi-fi only with 16 GB of storage, and goes up to $829 for a 64 GB 3G version. Netbooks are significantly less expensive, starting at just a few hundred dollars for 150 GB of hard drive space.
The average netbook weighs about 2.5 to 3 pounds, while the iPad tips the scales at a whopping 1.5 pounds. It might not sound like much, but if you're a woman who wants to carry her mobile computing equipment with her, it makes a big difference when it's hanging from your shoulder.
The challenge I had with my HP Mini was processing speed; it was extremely slow. I had no problem sacrificing it at the altar of all things Apple and bringing home a lightning-quick 3G iPad.
The netbook can be limited to what software comes pre-installed, or that you purchase separately. And the iPad… well, you've heard the saying; “There's an app for that!” With most apps costing under $5, you can do pretty much whatever you want, from fashion design to rocket design, with your iPad, for cheap.
Cool Factor
Whether you purchase an iPad or a netbook may come down to the simple question of how cool you want to feel. Younger people, particularly kids, immediately see the possibilities of the iPad and know intuitively how to interact with it. Older folks have a bit harder time learning the ropes; they may prefer the tried-and-true mouse/trackpad/keyboard interface of the netbook, to the all-in-one aspect of the iPad.
But let's face it; at price points pretty low and getting lower, you may just want to have one of each. See which you use more, and sell the other one on eBay – or give it to your kid.
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