Netbook vs iPad – Portable, Personal Computing Comparison

Computing demands of today have leaned towards the personal and the portable, and in this field, contenders such as a netbook or tablet are the leaders in the compact personal computing device market.

Although, it could be argued that the popularity of a netbook has already begun to wain with the focal point of innovation seemingly on tablets. In addition, in just a few short years, the iPad has taken the world by storm with the latest iPad selling millions over the course of a weekend. So, when comparing a netbook to an iPad, where do they stack up?

The netbook was Intel’s attempt to put the power of a PC into a very portable design and package. So far, though it might not be as much eye candy as an iPad, the current series of netbooks has its fans.

Though the netbook is a laptop in design and the iPad is a tablet, we can still compare aspects of the devices that matter most when it comes to portable, personal computing; aspects such as internet connectivity, battery longevity, processing power, and overall usability.

Internet Connectivity

Despite the release of the new iPad, the iPad 2 remains the most widely used iPad. The iPad 2 can offer Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G, the same as leading Netbooks that can also hook up nicely to wired connections through standard hi-speed Ethernet. The Netbook, however, has the advantage of being a fully capable PC, which provides versatile browsing experience not just with several browser options, but also full support for a bunch of plug-ins and other browser tools. Take note though, that the new iPad sports 4G LTE – and as soon as the technology spreads, the new iPad will be the fastest on the market.

Battery Longevity

An inherent weakness of current lines of netbooks is Intel’s PC-based microchip, which is incredibly power-hungry. The iPad 2 can go over its advertised 8 hour battery life even ion moderate use, which the Netbook can only futilely hope to accomplish. Intel, however, will soon release the new Z2460 Atom chip, which matches iPad 2′s ARM-based A5 chip in terms of power consumption. By then, it might just be anybody’s game.

Processing Power

Intel’s chip combined with typically 1 to 2 GB of RAM and over 250 GB of storage is more or less equal to Apple’s A5 chip with the iPad 2′s 1GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage. The iPad might be on the low end in terms of storage, but its touch-based design makes it ideal for some tasks such as scribbling or drawing with a light pen. By overall design, however – even in the architecture of the file system – Netbooks make more productive devices over iPads, especially when it comes to multitasking.

Overall Usability

iPads are great as a personal computing tool that you can take with you and use as a portal to Web connectivity. Netbooks, however, though far from laptops and PCs in terms of usability as a work machine or terminal, are still better than the iPad with a full keyboard and inherent features of its software. Of course, in terms of cost, the netbooks are far cheaper (staring from $250 or even lower) than the iPad 2′s almost $500 price tag.

Given that new generations of netbooks will soon follow the new iPad, we would probably see more Netbook vs iPad comparisons and changes in the way the devices measure up, but so far, the iPad leans towards personal, enjoyable computing while the netbook leans toward productive, processing-central use.

But, there really is no reason to enjoy the best of both worlds if you are willing to spend the $500 for an iPad, simply add the Zaggmate case or some other keyboard case if you prefer and your iPad instantly becomes a netbook.

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