Tablets are all over the news at the moment, whether it be an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Eee Pad or anything in between – you have to admit, they are popular. Basically most of them are just mobile phones on steroids – they provide a larger, higher resolution screen which makes things like composing emails and surfing the web much easier. Plus they are portable… very portable. But there is another contender for the portability crown that the Tablet currently holds…the netbook!
For those of you that don’t know, a netbook is basically a small laptop. They usually have a 10.1″ screen instead of the standard 15.4″ screen on a laptop. They run a normal computer operating system like Windows 7 (which means they can do everything your laptop or PC can do) but are they better than a Tablet, let’s discuss…
As an IT professional and general geek I have both a tablet and a netbook, so I think I am in a good position to comment on the pro’s and con’s of both of these devices. I personally have a Samsung Galaxy Tab which has a 7″ HD touch screen, 256MB RAM, a 1GHz processor and it runs Googles Andoid Operating System. All in all this is a great device that I use a lot. It’s great for composing emails on the run or even just googling something that I think is interesting without having to boot one of my computers up.
The battery on my Tablet will last around 3-4 days or around 7-8 hours on heavy use (like watching movies), so this is a definite pro over the netbook. I can get Internet access pretty much anywhere – most tablets have 3G or HSDPA connectivity (the same Internet connection as your phone) which means you can surf the net anywhere as long as you have a mobile signal. With some tablets you can actually use your tablet as a phone! It’s fast and looks pretty cool. I think that is where the advantages over a netbook end.
Now on to the con’s… they’re expensive! My tablet costs around £400. Tablets also don’t really work well at multi-tasking (as I said earlier, they are basically a big mobile phone) so if you want to compose a spreadsheet, check your emails and surf the net, all at the same time then I would go for the netbook. Whilst some tablets will do all of the above, it isn’t an easy process swapping between applications often and it will slow you down. When it comes to typing you can buy blue-tooth keyboards or docking stations for most popular tablets but as standard you have to use the touch screen. This is ok when composing shorter emails (maybe a paragraph or two) but if I had to create this blog post for example then I would be pretty frustrated by now using my touch screen (incidentally, I am using my netbook to create this post).
As previously mentioned, the netbook is basically a mini laptop. Personally, my netbook is running a Linux variant called Elementary OS (but that’s just because I am weird). Most popular netbooks come with Windows 7 or Windows 7 Starter (a stripped down version of Windows 7 for lower spec computers). Because the netbook runs Windows (or Linux in my case) you can have all of the applications you are used to in the office or at home, like Internet Explorer, Word, Excel, Outlook, etc This means that you can pretty much do anything you need to do on the machine. The battery life on most netbooks is designed to last longer (on average around 5-7 hours) so that you can use the netbook whilst on the run for the whole day. Some netbooks even come with 3G connectivity, so, like the Tablet you can have the Internet anywhere.
Netbooks tend to be a lot cheaper than tablets (around £200-300), but whilst being more portable than a laptop, the tablets wins on portability hands down. I can pull my tablet out of my bag at anytime and be on-line straight away. On the netbook, I need to get it out, boot it up and have a Wi-Fi network to connect to (mine doesn’t have 3G) – this isn’t really feasible when I truly am on the move.
Both netbooks and Tablets have distinct advantages and disadvantages over each other; they both have their place in the world, but which would I rather have? For me it’s the Netbook, it’s not quite as portable but the trade off is that I can do a whole lot more than on the tablet. I tend to use my netbook for work and serious computing and my tablet tends to be a bit of fun, I don’t really see it as a viable business tool – although some may disagree, this is my humble opinion.