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Tablet vs netbook – which is better?

Monday 07 March 2011

Tablet vs netbook – which is better? A true netbook-killer?

There’s no doubt that 2011 has been the year of the tablet. Where once we had just the iPad now there are dozens and dozens of tablet contenders all lining up to try and squeeze a tiny slice of the tablet pie from Apple’s grasp.

All those tablet sales have to come from somewhere, of course, and if you ask most people, it’s netbooks that are going to give way. Of course, just a couple of years ago netbooks themselves were the new darlings of the consumer tech world, brought to the fore by the affordable and innovative Asus Eee PC.

So what exactly has changed, and do netbooks deserve the cold shoulder they seem to be getting from the tech world? Let’s line up the two techs and see which is better…

Netbooks – the advantages:

They’ve been around longer: netbooks already have a space in the market, one that they had to fight hard for in the first place. One of the big issues asked of tablets is whether there really is space for them in the first place.

They’re far cheaper: the Eee PC set the tone for netbook pricing by coming in at about £200, and you can still get an awful lot of netbook for not a whole lot more. That’s cheaper than any but the most feature-bare tablet.

They’re built for productivity: from the physical keyboard to the full-sized OS, netbooks are real computers, and run full desktop software. With the right power and battery life on board, that’s still far more useful to the mobile professional than a tablet.

Tablets – the advantages:

They’re more mobile: the second decade of the 21st century is undoubtedly going to be about personal, mobile technology. Tablets run mobile processors, operating systems and interfaces, and can plug into the app culture currently in vogue thanks to smartphones. Netbooks feature too many technologies associated – rightly or wrongly – with an older age.

They’re more desirable: and that’s largely because Apple makes one. Ask most people and the iPad IS tablets, and that’s a factor no netbook can counter. With their sleek looks and touchscreen interfaces, tablets have a desirability those clunky netbooks don’t offer.

They’re more efficient: the big tablet push and their emergence from the mobile sphere means everything on a tablet is about efficiency. Power- and space-saving components that offer more versatility and convenience are debuting here, not on netbooks

The future?

Netbooks may lack the glamour and current publicity of tablets, but to write them off altogether is a little harsh in our view. In the end the pure laptop-based netbook is likely to face extinction, yes, but there’s certainly room for a hybrid coming-together of the two concepts – and we’re already seeing several manufacturers moving in that direction, including netbook champion Asus itself.

What we’d like to see more in the future is the fully featured docking stations Motorola has announced for its forthcoming Atrix smartphone and Xoom tablet. With their dedicated screens and full QWERTY keyboards, these clever add-ons can turn a mobile product into a computing product in just seconds.

So who said netbooks were dead and buried?

Tags:

tablets, netbooks

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