Last week, I asked readers whether they would choose an iPad or a Netbook. Those in favor of a Netbook--or notebook, in some cases--stated practical reasons, while those in favor of the Apple device often pointed to its media-viewing capabilities and novelty.
In all, Netbooks seemed to come out on top, in terms of clear utility. That's probably because they have been out there a lot longer and have time-tested designs. The iPad, on the other hand, is not only new, but it defies traditional usage models, lacking a standard PC operating system and physical keyboard.
A couple of items worth noting: this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. To state the obvious, the iPad and Netbook are different designs. But a purchase decision can come down to an either-or choice, when considering that both devices fall into the gap between a smartphone and a high-end laptop--not to mention the fact that not everyone has the luxury of buying both. It's also worth noting that a few readers saw the choice as simply the traditional mainstream laptop versus the iPad.
I've listed some of the more cogent and/or representative arguments in favor of buying either device.
Cheap, simple: "[The Netbook] fills a unique need for casual computer users who need a cheap, simple, portable computer [that] can perform any computer-related task. So...while the iPad is interesting, I don't see it filling a need for cheap, simple computers, which can do everything." Full keyboard: "At the end of the day, my Netbook goes to class with me. It has a full keyboard and Microsoft Office." And another reader: "A keyboard is the fundamental difference. Virtual keyboards just aren't as efficient in their current form as physical keyboards are. The iPad's solution, a separate keyboard module, is much less elegant than the integrated keyboard of laptops." Multitask: "I don't see the iPad replacing my Netbook when the iPad can't multitask. That means I can't get NZBs
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